After years of neglect in many American parishes, chanted Mass propers are making a comeback, thanks in part to new online resources.
The publication of the new English translation of the Roman Missal has helped revive interest in the use of chant in the ordinary form of Holy Mass. The Roman Missal includes many more chanted texts than did the previous edition, allowing clergy and people alike to “sing the Mass, rather than merely to sing at Mass,” as Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, executive director of the ICEL (International Committee on English in the Liturgy) Secretariat, said in a 2010 address.
The new Roman Missal includes a new translation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), which also has fostered greater interest in chant. Citing Sacrosanctum Concilium (the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) and subsequent curial documents, the GIRM states that “the main place should be given, all things being equal, to Gregorian chant, as being proper to the Roman Liturgy.… Since the faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is desirable that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Profession of Faith and the Lord’s Prayer, according to the simpler settings” (nos. 41-42).
When Catholics think of Gregorian chant at Mass, many tend first to think of chants associated with the Ordinary of the Mass—that is, the parts of the Mass that tend not to vary from day to day—for example, the Kyrie, Gloria, Profession of Faith (Credo), Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.
But there is also another set of chanted prayers at Mass: the propers, that is, five chants that are proper, or specific, to each Mass. The past two years have witnessed a revival of interest in the propers in parishes in the English-speaking world.
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