New OCP Mass Setting... What the ???
  • MarkB
    Posts: 746
    I thought of putting this in the P&W thread, but I think it deserves its own discussion.

    The newest Mass Setting released by OCP. Touted as a festival setting for the big seasons and feasts. Composed by Curtis Stephan, whose Mass of Renewal I use and like because it's singable and I use it in the parish Mass settings rotation as the "contemporary" setting, along with Heritage Mass and the ICEL chants and the Jubilate Deo Latin Sanctus and Agnus Dei.

    But this setting sounds like something from an early-80s Chicago album. In the link below, I've set it to begin at a point where the composer amazingly discloses the "movie inspiration" for this setting. I was aghast.

    https://youtu.be/SouW6FvPI3c?t=773

    Go to time stamp 3:12 to hear the Glory to God with the Chicago-style 80s brass in all its glory.

    I really don't see this being singable in a parish, never mind that the musical style is way too much like 80s pop for me to consider using it.

    What do you think?
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  • Liam
    Posts: 4,440
    Well, trying to start with something positive ... I will say I like that it is sung-through without a refrain.

    It would be interesting to hear it a cappella, and get a sense for how likely it would be for a congregation to be able to sing it given just a pitch. (A basic test for settings of the Ordinary, btw.)



    * * *

    Personal tangential aside: I am not happy to have this associated with St Kilian, who was the patron of the OSB parish of which my family was a member until suburban parish cell-division occurred, though I chose to worship there from high school onward, as it formerly had a boys choir of some repute, of which Árpád Darázs was once director. It was a parish that *sang*, and not just hymns. (The first place I experienced the Ordinary sung by the congregation with the choir; it was a stark exception, a lush island in a sea of mediocre music.) The parish was dedicated to St Kilian because the area's Catholics were largely Irish and German, and the saint was the Irish Apostle to Franconia. Just because the church was greatly expanded in the 1980s, and there's a dearth of photos online of the old church and the choir, I am including a few images for posterity. The Mass setting that is the subject of this thread would not have fit happily in this context.






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  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 145
    I can’t say I’m surprised. I wouldn’t mind listening to it as a form of entertainment….but at Mass….that’ll be a “no” from me, dawg.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • I would like it except for the fact that people want to use it at mass.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,779
    It reminds me of John Michael Talbot's early work, such as this "Glory to God" from about 1980, when he was introducing Evangelicals to Catholic liturgy through his album "The Lord's Supper":
    https://youtu.be/qff1ZOtw7dc
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  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 538
    Yucky poo.
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  • davido
    Posts: 556
    Bad music is bad music.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • Mark,

    Why were you aghast?
  • MarkB
    Posts: 746
    I could hardly believe the composer acknowledged that movies were the inspiration for a Mass setting. Does he not realize the inappropriateness of using music inspired by pop entertainment and pop musical soundtracks for a setting of the Mass ordinary?
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  • no
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  • MarkB
    Posts: 746
    Reminded me of this that I saw a few years ago: a parody Mass setting set to Star Wars music.

    https://youtu.be/OOexC3fNmiA
  • The problem with satire today is that too many people don't think it's satirical!
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,750
    But this setting sounds like something from an early-80s Chicago album.


    Mass settings like this were part and parcel of the repertoire at the Newman Center near to where I used to live, so it's more of the same, really - Missa [P]et[er] Cetera.

    I will say, though, you could choose worse inspirations than Chicago - or Alan Silvestri, or James Horner, for that matter. I've been obsessed with them since before my roommate in college got a chance to meet them, lucky expletive. Just don't play this mass setting backwards.
  • Beautiful! It's wonderful to behold when the musical character and style of a composition fit so perfectly the ethos of a text, of a rite. Harmonic language, syncopations, instrumentation, everything. The voice production especially: just as the ekphonesis bespeaks Byzantine liturgy, so those vocal freedoms say Novus Ordo. Bravo.
  • Caleferink
    Posts: 374
    It's like the composer couldn't decide between duple and triple meter, so he said "Why not both?"

    Ironically, it's these same types of people who shout from the rooftops for us to "get with the times" only to find their works stuck in the 1980s.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,660
    Mark... Why are you surprised? I recognized it immediately. NO option 1,483,592.
    Thanked by 2dad29 StimsonInRehab
  • Andrew...are you...serious? Shouldn't there be purple?
  • I seriously mean to say that this music fits the cultural and religious milieu of the rite it was written for. A rite does have a cultural and historical context at least somewhat proper to it. Indeed, when a man or a family or a tribe adopt worship in a particular rite, they're entering that cultural context, and learning their Christianity from it.

    The Novus or Montinian rite is from a historical point of view rather young, rather unsettled. But it bears the cultural context of its origins in the late 1960s in the developed West. And so, genuinely, this composition of Stephan's is most fitting. A little anachronistic, maybe -- like prima prattica imitated in the late Baroque. But realistic and proper all the same.

    I think the “sounds like Chicago” effect is due to the brass instrumentation (and rhythm) in the Glory To God. Would it still sound that way if sung by more commonly appearing parish band? But probably it's not really intended to be performed that way.

    Thanked by 1francis
  • MarkB
    Posts: 746
    I agree with Andrew that the arrangement and production enhancements in the recording make it sound much better than a typical parish would be able to pull off, even a P&W ensemble.

    Using the sheet music images provided in the recording, I played through the Glory to God on the piano. It sounds like it's missing a lot. It falls flat in comparison with the recording. The rock drums, as in the recording, strike me as essential to providing the piece with its excitement. And without the brass it hardly sounds interesting.

    It's not a piece whose melody stands on its own for congregational singing with simple instrumentation. It requires a rock ensemble with brass to sound good, and it's for soloists or for a band to sing. Some music is like that.

    The eighth notes are too difficult for a congregation to sing correctly. I found myself wanting to ignore them and smooth out the melody into quarter notes. I think if any congregations attempt to sing it, they will smooth out the difficult rhythms as they do with "Be Not Afraid" and the like, or they'll just stand silently while the band performs the song.

    And some of the accidentals will not be mastered by a congregation. The Eb in the melody against a G-major chord in measure 56 will not fly.

    This setting seems to me to be OCP's attempt to compete with WLP's/GIA's very successful and widespread Mass of St. Anne. But whereas Mass of St. Anne can sound good with only a piano accompaniment and is quite singable for a congregation, I don't think Stephan's Mass of St. Kilian succeeds as well at that.
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  • Mark,

    If Andrew's right, that it fits perfectly within the rite for which it was composed, can you see why people who claim a hermeneutic of continuity are less credible than a teenage boy in a dark alley in his candy-apple red Lincoln Continental?
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,236
    I could hardly believe the composer acknowledged that movies were the inspiration for a Mass setting. Does he not realize the inappropriateness of using music inspired by pop entertainment and pop musical soundtracks for a setting of the Mass ordinary?

    I have made my thoughts on this well-known in other threads, particularly the recent PW tome.

    Suffice it to say, your honor, I rest my case.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • MarkB
    Posts: 746
    Well, Chris, I did not comment on that aspect of his critique; I merely said he was right about the recording sounding much better than how a typical parish would be able to make it sound if it attempted that setting.

    As to the other point, dwelling on it risks derailing this thread. I'll only say in response that this new Mass setting sounds like a perfect fit for the Novus Ordo only if a bunch of other things are done improperly in implementing the reformed Mass. If the reformed Mass is celebrated properly, a-la in accord with liturgical tradition, then this Mass setting sounds out of place. No need to re-hash those arguments in this thread.
  • I love the band Chicago, BUT NOT IN CHURCH MUSIC! This is an abomination!
    BMP
  • did that guy say this Mass is "braveheart meets back to the future" ? What the....
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,460
    I don't know, guys. It would be hard to top the "Pirate Eucharist."

    https://www.sjmpbooks.com/files/pirate.pdf

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  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,750
    "braveheart meets back to the future" ?


    "No, Biff. You leave my Scottish Independence alone!"

    [later]

    "Annibale. Annibale. It's Mago . . . your brother, Mago Bugnini! You know that 'Novus' sound you're looking for? Well, LISTEN TO THIS!"
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,750
    Does he not realize the inappropriateness of using music inspired by pop entertainment and pop musical soundtracks for a setting of the Mass ordinary?


    To be fair, this isn't something alien to music prior to the Council. One example, di Lasso's Missa Entre vous filles is based on Clemens non Papa's 16th century equivalent of "Baby Got Back".
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,236
    And it would have been frowned upon then, for the same reasons we frown upon this now.

    I was just reading to find a nice quote for my "music minute" since I have some room in the worship aid this week, and this jumped out to me as apropos:

    (Mediator Dei)
    8. Indeed, though we are sorely grieved to note, on the one hand, that there are places where the spirit, understanding or practice of the sacred liturgy is defective, or all but inexistent, We observe with considerable anxiety and some misgiving, that elsewhere certain enthusiasts, over-eager in their search for novelty, are straying beyond the path of sound doctrine and prudence. Not seldom, in fact, they interlard their plans and hopes for a revival of the sacred liturgy with principles which compromise this holiest of causes in theory or practice, and sometimes even taint it with errors touching Catholic faith and ascetical doctrine.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 746
    Jeff Ostrowski has commentary on what he has dubbed "Missa Back to the Future".

    https://www.ccwatershed.org/2022/01/15/ocp-missa-back-to-the-future-not-kidding/

    Does he lurk around this message board?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,460

    To be fair, this isn't something alien to music prior to the Council. One example, di Lasso's Missa Entre vous filles is based on Clemens non Papa's 16th century equivalent of "Baby Got Back".


    No question, much of the so-called "classical" literature for church use is hacked from more ancient secular works. A hundred or more years later, the secular context has been forgotten or lost. I can think of works from Handel operas that now have religious words and are sung often in churches.
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  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,750
    Jeff Ostrowski has commentary on what he has dubbed "Missa Back to the Future".


    If he is lurking around here, we could certainly benefit from a comment or two from him, based on the sheer hilarity of the first paragraph of his article alone. The snark. That delicious, delicious snaaark.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,785
    It's like the composer couldn't decide between duple and triple meter, so he said "Why not both?"

    Maybe that's what Anton Bruckner was thinking: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruckner_rhythm
  • My thoughts, as someone who plays contemporary music at Mass:

    First, this isn't stylistically praise and worship. It has drums and guitar, but that's kind of where the similarities end. The sheet music has a key signature of C, but there are Bb and Eb major chords all over the place. In contrast, praise and worship uses mostly chords that belong to the key. The chord progressions, rhythms, and the ways the instrumentation are used are all some other style of music that I'm not that familiar with.

    Gloria - I found it interesting to listen to but I couldn't remember the melody at the end. I agree with the above comments that the melody is not memorable and that the song gets all it's mojo from driving drums and guitar, which most parish ensembles couldn't reproduce. I also thought that some of the phrases seem to use not the most natural melody in what seemed to me to be an effort to avoid sounding like other mass settings. I think the text fits the music well. The time signature will intimidate less experienced ensembles. Overall this Gloria doesn't interest me much.

    I Saw Water Flowing - I liked this quite a bit. I was impressed with the melody here. Has a good build, very convicting. In a couple placed words seemed forced into not enough space. Is the whole song here an approved lectionary text, or did he write some extra stuff?

    Penitential Act, Option B - I think this is in some mode other than major or minor. Stylistically adjacent to chat. I liked it.

    Kyrie - also seems to be in a mode other that major or minor, I liked it, though not as much as the other penitential act options and not as much as just the regular chant of the Kyrie.

    Alleluia - I really like. Melody is awesome. I think this this is a very strong song that will work with basically any ensemble. I thought this was very creatively written and had a unique sound.

    Sanctus - I didn't like. Seems like it tries too hard to use the melody from the Gloria, but the words don't fit as well. And, this melody already wasn't great when used for the Gloria. Something feels off about this to me in addition to what I've said so far but not sure how to describe it. I think this is the worst song of the lot.

    Memorial Acclamation - is missing.

    Lamb of God - Decent. No strong feelings.


    In general, there aren't enough great parts to this Mass setting to interest me in acquiring it, save possibly for using the Alleluia as a stand-alone option. Annoyingly, this Mass setting is good at the things that are easy to write for and bad at the things that are hard to write for. I'm yet to find a contemporary Mass setting whose Gloria and Sanctus I love. Those tend to be the Achilles heels of Mass settings, and it tripped this one up too.
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • Is there no Creed?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,848
    It's stipulated that everybody should sing the Creed, perhaps alternatim, and therefor as with the Gregorian chant there are standard settings.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,460
    Sad to say, in the NO almost no one sings the Creed any more. Makes the mass longer, you know.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 746
    Yeah, the Creed is just recited with apathy and indifference. Such a shame.
  • In Canada, nearly** no one recites the Nicene creed any more: it also makes the Mass longer, so I’ve been told. (I've also been told the Nicene is “divisive”, but that can't really be true, can it?)

    **There are honourable exceptions. Also this is only about the Novus rite, wherein the Creed to recite at Mass may be the Nicene or the Apostles’.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,848
    ¿The Nicene Creed divisive? ¡ of course not !
  • I have never been to a Mass where the Creed was sung. Similarly, I have never encountered a Mass setting that had a setting for the creed in it.
  • You're missing out, a sung credo is wonderful! Not to mention desired by the Church.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,660
    We sing credo 1, 2 or 3 each week or a polyphonic setting ( the congregation genuflects at “the Word became flesh” (NOTE: ours is the Roman Catholic Latin Rite)
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  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,848
    My father was not given to spontaneous song, but when full of the joys of life he would erupt with the intonation of Credo III. Into the 1980s the congregation at Westminster Cathedral could shake the roof with it, and can still give a good account of it.
    My 2012 CTS hand-missal gives Credo III, and in English an ICEL setting.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 746
    The only Masses at which I experienced a sung Credo were at St. Michael's Abbey in Silverado, CA. But they sing Gregorian propers and the Kyriale there.

    At no typical parish have I ever experienced the Creed sung. Not even the ICEL setting.

    Way back in the 90s when I was at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, CA, they sang Christopher Walker's refrain-setting of the former translation of the Creed. The refrain was "We believe in one God. We believe in one Lord. We believe in one Spirit." That was repeated by the congregation after sections of the Creed were sung by a cantor or choir. I don't think that setting would pass the USCCB's muster today because it took liberties with the Creed's text. That's the only "contemporary" English setting of the Creed that I was ever aware of.

    I agree it should be sung. The ICEL setting is nice for an English setting.

    However, I think many parishes would have as much resistance to singing the ICEL Creed as they do to singing Mass parts in Latin, at least initially. A pastor and music director had better drill the ICEL Creed into the choir for a month or more before singing it at Mass so that they don't mess it up, and the pastor needs to be committed to singing it for many, many months despite initial complaints to give it a chance to take hold among the parishioners.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,440
    The practice of singing the Creed in the OF in the USA never got far off the ground in many places because of pragmatism buttressed by the US bishops' Committee on Liturgy's "Music in Catholic Worship" (1972) that advised: "It is usually preferable that the Creed be spoken in declamatory fashion rather than sung."

    (To the best of my recollection, the three heavy-hitter (in terms of distribution through missalettes and early hymnals) settings of the Ordinary of the 1970s in the USA did not include a sung Creed: Kraehenbuehl's "Danish Amen Mass", Vermulst's "Peoples Mass", and Peloquin's "Mass of the Bells".)

    This advice was not reconsidered in the US bishops' "Liturgical Music Today" (1982).

    "Sing to The Lord" (2007), the more official successor document of the US bishops, erased but did not reverse that 1972 advice in the sense that it never commended singing the Creed, only described in distinction to reciting.

    Consequently, there's been no particular movement to including musical settings of the Creed in new settings of the Ordinary in the USA.

    The late great Dr Theodore Marier included a recto tono vernacular Creed in his hymnal, with harmonic organ and choral parts. It worked. Very well.
    Thanked by 3Don9of11 WGS CHGiffen
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 538
    I don't ever recall singing the Creed in the NO when I sang in St. Mary's Choir (1977-2010) even when we used Latin mass settings. It was always spoken.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,460
    The last time I heard the Creed sung, was at a midnight mass Christmas 1966. The choir sang it to the music of "Sheep May Safely Graze." This was pre-novus ordo days using the 1965 missal.

    In my Byzantine parish we sing the Creed every Sunday - no filioque.
  • We sing it every Sunday in the OF at our small southern parish! ICEL Credo III. And indeed, I drilled it into the choir for a month, and have drilled it into the heads of the congregation subsequently every Sunday for around four years. Those in the congregation who sing hymns, ordinaries, etc. sing it. Those who don't, don't.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,750
    You know, it is rather apt that the one thing we have been able to agree on across the board is that the Credo should be sung. Our creed really does unite us.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 1,224
    Our parish’s NO congregation sings Credo I in English, and sometimes chants the Our Father in Latin.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,785
    Give this version a try. The music is actually adapted from a Byzantine/Slavonic chant used in the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Before moving to Wisconsin, I had used a precursor of this at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlottesville. After the ICEL text came out in 2010, I made the present setting. It can be sung either harmonized (as the Ukrainians would) or just as a monodic chant (hence the square note edition).