tisdag 31 maj 2011

Strange music in the liturgy

Went to Mass on Sunday "somewhere in the south of England". The choir showed real talent, pity about the music, mostly from the 1970s, some written by P*** I*****. Rumty-tumty stuff, OK for listening to whilst half-asleep in a park deckchair, not quite the thing for the Sacrifice of the Mass. Afterwards there was an opportunity to to try out a setting for the new English translation which comes into use later in the year. I don't know who the composer was but the style would have been right for a TV ad for some washing powder.

Adaptations of the Gregorian settings for the Ordinary of the Mass might just work with the new English translations. Some of the Swedish settings for the Mass are simple adaptations from the Gregorian music originally written for the Latin texts and these are very acceptable. They were done in the first place for the Lutheran church, presumably just after the Reformation, and the Catholic church borrowed them when the vernacular was permitted after Vatican 2.

Things go wrong when contemporary composers try to be original and modern. It rarely works. If composers fail to come up with decent settings for the new English settings, the obvious answer is to sing the Ordinary in Latin to the original Gregorian settings. But it would be a pity if competent adaptations of the Gregorian settings did not emerge in the next few years now that we have a reasonable set of English texts.

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