Saturday, 16 August 2008

ICEL and music

There has been a lot of discussion on the New Liturgical Movement site (passim) recently about permissions to write and publish musical settings of the new ICEL texts. ICEL (or perhaps the bishops' conferences that really pull the strings in the background) seem to be very chary about granting permissions. Why might this be? They allege the importance of keeping the texts pure. Well, yes, sure, but certainly people are going to write more paraphrased texts and publish those for use. We've seen plenty of these over the past years, and I can't believe seriously that we are not going to see more, permitted or not.
But perhaps there is something else going on. At a musical day in this diocese conducted by Stephen Dean a year or so ago, a setting of the Gloria in the new translation was produced for the assembled musicians to try through. The copies were all collected and counted back afterwards. This implies, does it not, that the approved liturgists and musicians (presumably Stephen Dean, Paul Inwood, Bernadette Farrell et al) have already had the new texts for some time. One may speculate that this is so that they may present the Church with its new repertoire some time soon, and hit the ground running, while other, non-approved, musicians must wait for approval, pay their royalties, and, basically miss the boat.
Am I being too cynical?

Update: Do read the comments to this; there is a particularly interesting one by 'The Cardinal'.


gemoftheocean said...


No. My guess is right on the money. Which kewpie doll would you like.


Pastor in Monte said...

What on earth is a kewpie doll?

gemoftheocean said...

If you go to a county fair and play a game of chance like ring or hit the pyramid stack of bottles down, traditionally you won some kitschy a kewpie doll.

See here.

a tout at such things would say "Gents, step right up and win your sweetheart a kewpie doll." Or some such.

Mulier Fortis said...

I suspect that you are dead on the nail with this one. Why else would ICEL be so unwilling to accept the idea of free musical compositions written for the new translation of the Mass texts?

Anonymous said...

Cynical? Toi?

The new Gloria translation is much easier to fit to a Gregorian tone, but will that be encouraged?

Pastor in Monte said...

Yes, I saw the one on NLM, but it seems unfortunate that that particular one chose the dullest of all the chant glorias to put the English words to. Still, if it goes to that melody, perhaps it'll go to others.

The Cardinal said...

A significant number of composers published by OCP have indeed had access to what were assumed to be the new texts. They were sent them in March 2007, with a request for settings by the middle of May 2007, so that OCP could be ahead of the game.

However, those who went to the trouble of writing new settings (or adapting old ones) will have been disappointed to see that the new texts as recently provided by Rome are not identical with those that the US Bishops submitted for recognitio - for example, the first line of Sanctus is different - so there will have been more than a little time-wasting and (presumably, now that they know the texts are not what was previously thought) much weeping and gnashing of teeth. At least one distinguished American composer has been testing out a complete Eucharistic Prayer setting and will now have to go back to the drawing-board.

As a matter of fact, Paul Inwood is on record as saying, on various fora over the past 18 months, (a) that he did not intend to waste his time doing anything at all until such time as it could be certain what the final texts would actually turn out to be, and (b) that what the US Bishops have posted on their website is most probably not the end of the story.

His wisdom turns out to have have been well-placed, in the light of what has happened so far. It is still not clear what the final position will be on the 40 amendments that the US Bishops asked for along with their request for recognitio. For example, the word on the street is that "Christ has died", currently omitted from the latest recension, will be reinstated. There may yet be other changes to the text that Cardinal Arinze sent to the US Conference. (The Bishops of England and Wales have not yet received anything. It is believed that the same text is sitting on Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor's desk, awaiting his return from absence at World Youth Day and subsequent holiday, but who knows?)

Because the Order of Mass will not be implemented until the entire Missal (and Lectionary - but that's another story) is ready, and because the US Bishops have rejected a large part of the Proper of Seasons, it now seems quite likely that the earliest starting date for using the new Order of Mass texts is Advent 2012. Anything could happen between now and then. (As the late John Tracy Ellis said, there is nothing wrong with the Church that a hundred good funerals wouldn't fix.) If Mr Inwood sticks to his guns, he may have the last laugh.

As far as paraphrases are concerned, I think you will find that ICEL, acting under instructions from the American BCDW, will be much fiercer about not giving permission for paraphrased texts than it has been in the past. I think you'll also find that ICEL is not currently granting any permissions at all precisely because of the uncertainty surrounding what the texts will finally be, and not for any sinister reason such as restricting permissions to particular favoured composers. Anyone is free to set these texts. It's just that they might be unwise to do so just yet.

So, yes, a certain cynicism is in order, but I don't think it's correct to say that any of the major composers have had the kind of head start that Pastor in Valle is implying. If the new texts in fact never come to pass (as another word on the street, this time in Rome, suggests), then all the "approved" composers who have spent time working on them, whoever they may be, will have egg on their faces.

Pastor in Monte said...

Many thanks, your Eminence; that is quite fascinating!

Anonymous said...

Most of the translating was done by Thomas Cranmer in glorious English, and such publications as The Manual of Plainsong put his work to Gregorian chant. Certainly alter his eucharistic theology where it is heretical but elsewhere why reinvent the wheel?

Anonymous said...

Your Eminence,

I believe you to be all wet.

The Ordinary of the Novus Ordo, as appearing on the USCCB website, will stand. Did you not read Cardinal Arinze's letter?

"The attached text is to be considered binding."

I don't believe the "Christ has died..." acclamation cooked up by the old ICEL will be restored. Too much water has passed under the bridge on this one.

Also, shadowy figures "in Rome" are the bane of the Catholic blogosphere. It drives me into dithers when they're attributed with undisclosed authority. For myself, I can envision only three instances in which the new translations will never see use:

1) The Holy Father passes to his reward, and a sympathetic liberal is elected in his stead.

2) The rumors - this one stated by Bishop Fellay at a May, 2007 conference which I've seen on YouTube - that a new Benedictine Missal is in the works turn out to be true. Bishop Fellay specifically mentions insertion of the old Offertory as an option.

3) And by far the preferred in my eyes - the Novus Ordo is utterly abrogated and consigned to history's dustbin (or trash can, as in this case we say more fittingly and prosaically on this side of the pond.)

Personally, I don't think any of those are going to happen.

~ Belloc

TACITO said...

I note that similar comments, indeed with similar phraseology, to those of "his Eminence" have been made by "Southern Comfort" on the site in the ICEL text discussion. That whole discussion is worth a look.

The Cardinal said...

How interesting! Southern Comfort has obviously been talking to the same American source that I quoted (in fact I quoted from several).

Anonymous said...

GIA and OCP really really really scare me. Scare me like deep in the soul scare me. My soul is tired. I so desire a valid and licit Mass. I have hope that should I find eternal rest as much as I do not deserve it that I'll finally attend a Mass to please my heart. I did see one Mass as it is intended. It was so beautiful, but alas it was on EWTN.