Tag Archives: Mass Setting

Music’s Measure

Icon of the Pentecost
Icon of the Pentecost (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m writing this on the feast of Pentecost, hours after being a part of two wonderful Masses at St Julian’s. First, a glorious afternoon where our Lady Chapel and New Build was dedicated anew to her patronage and prayer, and today the glorious end of Easter itself. In both cases, the message was about exciting new beginnings – first to ensure our new building is used well in the service of God’s church, and second to ensure our own lives show the Holy Spirit alive in mission and outreach.

I hope the music in our liturgy over these two days has helped to express that sense of ‘work to be done in and through us’.

In the Mass of Blessing itself we started with the hymn ‘Let us build a house where love can dwell’, words and music by Marty Haugen, a North American based composer who has written extensively for the Roman Catholic church. We make good use of his material (for example, the new sprinkling song at Easter this year, ‘Up from the waters’, was one of his pieces). ‘Let us build a house’ is an obvious metaphorical choice for dedication/building focussed events but it is written in a way that emphasises the contents  of the building – the people, the reaching hands, the service to the outcast, the sentiment that  ‘all are welcome in this place’. It speaks of the parish church we strive to be – the welcome at St Julian’s is something we rightly cherish.
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Mixing up the mass setting

You will surely have noticed that shortly after the summer holidays, we rang the changes, mid-way through ‘Ordinary Time’ as we are, and changed the mass setting. Always a bit of a risk, as it was clear the people of the parish were just getting comfy with Christopher Walker’s Celtic Mass that we’d had in play from Trinity. However, it’s still a long haul to Advent so better to move now before things get too boring!

Our new Sunday setting is actually a composite setting – four different mass settings have been ‘glued together’ from two different composers; I wonder if you can spot the join!

The Gloria and Eucharistic Setting are both from David Ogden – the Gloria is a driving, responsorial setting from his Mass of New Wine but alas, he appears to have served the ‘best wine’ first and the remaining parts of that setting are less inspiring. To redeem this, David Ogden’s White Light Eucharist provides the Holy Holy, Memorial Acclamation and Great Amen – three pieces joined quite tightly thematically; once you know one, you know them all.
For the Kyrie and Agnus Dei, we turn to Irish composer, Liam Lawton. Again, these are from two separate mass settings. The Kyries come from the Glendalough Mass, simple and evocatively celtic in form, but in responsorial style to make for easy singing. The Agnus Dei comes from his Mass of the Celtic Saints, a setting we’ve used before in part, but not the Agnus Dei itself.

Finally, you may have spotted a changed mass setting at the last All Age Mass. For some time now (many years!) we’ve used Jimmy Owen’s Holy Holy, a metrical setting that covers the Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Great Amen. Of course, it even offers a sung Doxology for those clergy brave enough to attempt it. Whilst it’s well known, I have been searching from some time for an alternative so we can ‘rest’ it for a while. The one I’m trying out at present is a setting by David Haas called ‘Mass for the Life of the World’. This is a gospel-flavoured setting, again with common themes throughout, that I hope you’ll enjoy learning and singing. It’s actually a bi-lingual setting, in both English and Spanish, and has been published recently as part of a glut of works to address the introduction of the revised Missal in the Roman Catholic Church. The rubrics for musical settings of the new missal are exceptionally tight – no paraphrasing is permitted so it means that all existing settings had to either be adjusted to fit the new words, or in some cases, abandoned completely. Settings such as the CJM Gloria we use in All Age Mass simply are not permitted for use (as a gloria) in the Mass in the RC church anymore which is a great shame – it’s up to the Anglicans to keep this music going!

As with all the music you participate in during Mass, I welcome your feedback on what works and what does not work for you – do let me know!