Well, nobody should have been singing “Jesus, Lamb of God” in the first place. Adding words to the “Agnus Dei” is called “troping,” and every time it’s been allowed the Church authorities have ended up having to stop it and lower the boom. Several Church documents came out about this, for years and years before the new translation, begging music ministers and composers to stop, and they were mostly ignored.
The words in the Roman Missal are “Agnus Dei,” or in English, “Lamb of God.” If you change the words, you’re not singing the Mass part right. (You’re also not quoting St. John the Baptist anymore, and there are some possible theological problems. But anyway.)
So what some parishes have done with the new translation is to continue using Mass settings from the 1980’s -2000’s, but just getting rid of the offending troping violations in the wording. If they are singing it clumsily, like La-la instead of making it clear that it’s one stretched out word “Lamb,” that’s bad.
It sounds like you are hearing the Mass of Creation Lamb of God which used to start out, “Jesus, Lamb of God…” Since the new translation was put into place the name of Jesus is no longer permitted since it is not part of the standard text. Instead the word “Lamb” is held for the number of beats that were previously used for the words, “Jesus, Lamb.”
I don’t know if you are actually hearing “La, La.” (Is the letter “a” pronounced like the “a” in “lamb” or differently?) Or perhaps that is just your way of indicating that “Lamb” is being held for length of time that was previously given to three syllables? Or could it be the the people are confused about when to start singing the word “Lamb” and are all coming in at different times?
In any case, you should NOT be hearing the word Jesus at the beginning.
Yes, but that doesn’t mean we are forced to use it. I don’t purchase the wonky stuff.
These decisions are made at the parish level. They can publish all they want, people have to discern what is good and what is bad.
And, many Directors write their own Mass pasts. Ultimately, the priest could put a stop to the wrong stuff, but since most church musicians are volunteers, they are unwilling to offend them.
That’s what I mean by hiring. You have a better shot at authenticity with trained musicians.
I haven’t heard the “Mass of Creation” since the new edition of the Roman Missal myself. Before the new edition, it was used almost everywhere (because of how basic is was - it was incredibly easy to sing and play on the guitar, and needed very little practice to get it right).
There was a MOC Kyrie?! We haven’t sung the Kyrie in this parish in the 17 years ive been here. I could count on one hand the number of times we’ve used anything but the third option of the Penitential Rite.
Oh, Claire, may I ask you another question? Since you seem to know about music?
Why are some tunes good for Mass and others not? I mean, I can often tell within a few bars if a song is one if the new songs or an old one, but I have no idea why. The words I can see are written more simply, in more modern language, and lack the depth of ideas found in older songs, but I’m asking about the music.
And now that I have found all this out, I understand better what happened to the Gloria in those Masses… … Sigh…
Also FYI the “old” tune has always been sung the way you heard it, with “Lamb” in "Lamb of God’ as several syllables. That is not new. My old parish sang it that way for 20 years. They did not use tropes.
Just curious… Did you have published copies for parishioner use? I ask because all of our older hymnals (and our 100 or so copies of the full choir score) had tropes as the only option for the words. “Jesus, Lamb of God” was the default for Mass of Creation although obviously not everyone sang it that way.
…Of course, I don’t think the congregation ever LOOKED at the words in the hymnals.
(please music directors, musicians, I’m just answering with my opinions as a musician, please don’t jump on me, I’m not trying to start a DEBATE on church music)
Well, there could be several reasons:
First, we have to distinguish a difference between hymns and what we refer to as “church music” or “Mass music”.
Hymns tend to be in 4 part harmony, with 6-8 lines all tied up in a neat little package. Basic intro, proceed to two lines of words, and a couple lines of refrain.
Easily accessible keys for playing (not so much for singing, the public sings lower and lower these days. )
Modern church music tends to have a long, kind of rambling introduction, and is not always to clear when to jump in. these pieces are composed as melodious songs…with the words composed together with the music, not necessarily to fit the notes. So, sometimes the melody will be slightly altered to accommodate the melody. Often, people in the pew don’t readily adapt to this, and may take a few airings to learn it outright.
Also, some newer music can transpose up for the last verse, sometimes twice! I always laugh…we have a high soprano cantor…bless her heart. By the time she finishes, only the dogs can hear her. LOL
Sadly, SOME new music tends to be more, how shall we say “jingle” composed. This comes form a misguided notion that people can’t sing complicated melodies, or can’t read music. So some, not all, composers have written their Mass parts with sort of a “hook” that is endlessly repeated for the parts. Once as a upbeat thing, repeated many times for the Gloria, more majestically for the Holy, a bit mournfully for the Lamb of God, maybe in a minor key, you get the idea. By the end of the setting, you’re pretty well tired of it, but it has the “advantage” of people knowing the one main melody. Easy to remember as a new thing. Not pretty, or inspiring, but easy to remember.
For myself, the words are more problematic than the music. All of us can argue as to the beauty of Panis Angelicus, vs. the plaintive, Take Lord, Receive, and we can like them both or dislike them both. But the lyrics…the lyrics. I prefer lyrics that are soundly Catholic. I can take an odd melody, a dreary refrain, a flippy verse, or what not. But when I am compelled to sing words that don’t jive with what the church teaches? I lose it. Some of the radio Christian music is GREAT to listen to in the car, but in my opinion, and yes, I’m an old fart, not suitable for the Mass. I like upbeat music. I love joyful songs! But some are just not exactly right for Mass. And I do NOT believe that choirs and congregation can’t learn some of the better, more complex music. When I started in the previous parish as the music director, they were singing only old old music, and the choir was singing meditations that were on a junior high school level. In the 16 years I was there, you would not recognize them. They had an enormous repertoire…enough that if some were absent, (the lead singers) they could still pull off a beautiful musical offering. It took a long time…a couple of years, but we were committed to singing liturgically correct pieces, and teaching everyone to read music. the first piece I handed them, they were like…oh no, we can’t sing this, it’s way too hard! By the time I left, I could hand out something and they were like " ok, what’s the starting note? Let’s do this".
Nice when your pastor says “the Archbishop is coming, I can’t wait till he hears our choir”.
Also, one needs to take care that the KEY you are playing/singing is accessible to most people. With the advent of digital instruments, there’s not excuse to sing anything in a too high key. The timbre of the cantor has a lot to do with the psychological idea of “can I sing along with this”. If your cantor is a high coloratura soprano, people won’t even try. They can sing an octave down, but they won’t. It “sounds” too high for them.
But I digress…
Some music is just not great. Well meaning composers that think they are helping to get full participation, but for as many people that find it easier, just as many are turned off and just sit there staring. Nothing worse. Also, we find that re-working old favorites into new “versions” just upsets people. I see the older folks excited, like “Great! I know this one!” and then the melody takes a u-tune and they put their worship aides down, and give up. Not good if you are seeking congregational singing. It’s a prayer! We all need to enter into the prayer! But music directors can go a long way to make it more accessible for the people in the pews. And when a whole congregation is singing, it’s glorious.
I long for beautiful Mass parts. There are some out there…
Back to your regularly scheduled programming…
I don’t recall ever seeing the troped version in our missalettes. I don’t recall what vendor we used either, though. MOC got used a lot in my parish, but other settings as well. Never any tropes though.
Of course, MOC might not have been in the missalette at all… the words are in there but I don’t know what mass settings were printed.
We had a professional organist and she used all sorts of settings, they just taught them before mass if they were settings we’d not used before. They changed settings every quarter or so.