My friend Jeffrey Tucker of the estimable The Chant Cafe has a fascinating post about changes in the noew, corrected translation of the Missale Romanum which will affect sacred music in our worship.
Here is his piece, which I am cutting down so that you will be forced also to go to his place and read the rest… as I am sure you will want to do anyway.
My emphases and comments.
Dramatic Changes in Music Rubrics for New Missal
Posted by Jeffrey A. Tucker
Some of the most advanced thinkers in the world of music and liturgy have long identified the critical problem in Catholic music today. They have pointed out that the Mass itself provides for the texts and the music for the Mass, but in the General Instruction on on the Roman Missal, there appears a loophole. Musicians can sing what is appointed, or (“option 4”) they can sing something else, and that something else is limited only by what the musicians themselves deem as “appropriate.” What this has meant, in effect, is: anything goes. This is why it often seems that when it comes to music at Mass that, well, anything goes. [Thus the texts of Mass, the actual texts, are in large part ignored, unknown, and the sense is implanted firmly that we can do anything we want to the Church’s official worship.]
I’m happy to report that the legislative ground has just shifted, and dramatically so. The new translation of the General Instruction removes the discretion from the music team to sing pretty much whatever it wants. The new text, which pertains to the new translation of the Missal that comes into effect on Advent this year, makes it clear beyond any doubt: the music of the Mass is the chanted propers of the Mass. There are options but these options all exist within the universe of the primary normative chant. There can be no more making up some random text, setting it to music, and singing it as the entrance, offertory, or communion.
I have no doubt that the practice of singing non-liturgical texts will continue but it will now continue only under a cloud. If I’m reading this correctly, any text other than an appointed text for the Mass will now fall outside the boundaries provided for by the authoritative document that regulates the manner in which Mass is to proceed. [Thus, we shall see that many people simply don’t care that they are violating the rubrics on yet another level. Will ecclesiastical authority do anything about that? Sure! They will probably place more roadblocks for traditional expressions of our liturgical worship.]
[This is good…] We can be sure that gigabytes of digits will be produced with the intention of explaining to me and everyone why what we can clearly read below does not really mean what it seems to be saying, that there has been some mistake in phrasing, that taking this literally is only the penchant of “traditionalists,” and that the prevailing practice surely has equal normative status. Nonetheless, the text is there, clear as a bell, and will be printed in all editions of the Missal that is now in preparation.
Catholic musicians of the world, the GIRM would like you to meet a new friend: the propers of the Mass.
Let us compare old and new: [Hey! Great idea to do that! Maybe someone should do this with the prayers too!]
47. After the people have gathered, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters with the deacon and ministers. The purpose of this chant is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, introduce their thoughts to the mystery of the liturgical season or festivity, and accompany the procession of the priest and ministers.
48. The singing at this time is done either alternately by the choir and the people or in a similar way by the cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the dioceses of the United States of America there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.
48. This chant is sung alternately by the choir and the people or similarly by a cantor and the people, or entirely by the people, or by the choir alone. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for the Entrance Chant: (1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Gradual Romanum, as set to music there or in another setting; (2) the antiphon and Psalm of the Graduate Simplex for the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) another liturgical chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.
Comment: There are several crucial differences. The new version clearly elevates the antiphons from the Roman Gradual or the Roman Missal as the core text. The old version had a mistake that had been confusing for years: it referred only to the Psalm from the Gradual. The new version clearly states that it is the antiphon and Psalm that are applicable from both books. Option three makes it clear that we are not talking about any song; we are talking about the liturgical chant, and there is a huge difference. Finally, option four blasts away the vague word “song” and again emphasizes chant, and with this important proviso: “suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year.” One would have to be deliberately obtuse not to see that this refers to the proper text of the day in question.
For the sake of length I will slice this off here. Do go read over there as well.