The Parallel Mass Project

While the typical US Catholic congregation will have members who are not willing to sing the Mass Parts - Ordinary - in Latin...there is an additional difficulty to deal with, the issue of education.  Just like horses and water, you may offer classes and special rehearsals...but the people that come tend to be people that are already involved...like horses returning to the water holes they know, rather than searching out new ones...

The largest objection is that people do not understand the words they are singing.

Even so we have noticed that at our church:

1. Weakest singing is at Communion - people are not singing at all
2. Hymn singing shows lots of people standing there, waiting for it to be over
3. The strongest singing is on the Latin Sanctus and Agnus Dei and responses

The reason is repetition...the greatest number of people sing the Latin responses, after singing them week after week.

How do we get them  to sing the great Hymn of the Church, the Gloria...and later on the Credo?

To infuse the music with the meaning of the words by singing them back and forth in English and Latin.

We followed Pope Benedict's brother's lead and got the Agnus Dei in by singing it in Latin right after the priest consumes the Body and Blood of Christ...also preparing the people to hear the Communio in the same place in the future.

Singing before Mass is also very effective, and does not always require a formal music teaching session, just make it a habit for the choir to sing before Mass, and include what you want the people to learn.

The Project

I've taken three Gregorian Mass Parts and set them to English. Then a Gloria set to an Ambrosian Chant as well, trying to keep it in simple melodic range.  The Credo is also in Ambrosian Style Chant and is written for use with The Pulse of Music - A Beginner's Guide to Reading Gregorian Chant Notation, also on this site.

The Sanctus and Agnus Dei were chosen to be different and more challenging than the common simple on used in most churches. so that you may build upon what they already have heard and sung.

Break your singers into two groups, I recommend dividing Men and Women, and teach them to sing this antiphonally from either side of the sanctuary, if you are up front.  One groups sings the English, other group the Latin. 

You have permission to copy and distribute this music.  Audio files and CD's will be available shortly.

The Gloria Translation relies heavily on the as yet unapproved new version, as it matches the Latin to a higher degree.  Use of this at Mass would require singing it antiphonally, as the Latin Mass text IS approved and would have to be sung.

Yes, singing it back and forth line by line in both languages at Mass WILL lengthen the Mass a bit.  But if you do this only one at a time, it is a negligible amount of time to add for the benefit of getting your church singing in Latin.

We also always have the cantor intone up to the Asterisk...and let them all sing a Capella. So even when you do not have an organist you may sing the Mass.

Eventually, we stop singing it in English, people retain the meaning, having heard it and noticed the word relationships and also having the brain absorbing it with the music, just like the children's alphabet song...