Monday, October 13, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For ...

We go to the most formal of our parish Masses with a full choir and the most likelihood of having older songs selected. As my husband puts it, "the good ones, written before 1900."

So some time ago when we began singing the "Lamb of God" bit of the liturgy in Latin (Agnus Dei) I though it was charming. Since it was short I was able to go through the mental translation into English while I was singing and still get something out of it.

Then, months ago, the Glory to God in the Highest went partially to Latin (Gloria in excelsis Deo). I likewise mentally translated that. It was getting painful (I ain't that good at it) but I was hanging on.

Recently we had the third Latin encroachment and the "Holy, holy, holy" turned completely into the Sanctus. This was too much for me to mentally translate and I took the tactic of lowering my head and murmuring the English words to the tune. Otherwise I was left in the cold for any meaning on this third section.

Unusually enough, I didn't mention it to anyone, not even my husband. I thought of Augustine asking Ambrose about different customs and receiving the advice, "When you are in Rome, live in the Roman style; When you are elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere." But I really saw the wisdom of the Novus Ordo being in a language we commoners could understand.

This Sunday the Sanctus went back into English. As I listened to the lector teaching the congregation and heard the "solemn modern" tune, I looked at Mary's statue and thought, "What would Mary do? She would do what the elders of the temple said." I inwardly laughed, thinking that I got the English I wished for, but at a cost.

So I resigned myself and forgot it until that moment broke upon us during the Mass. I sang and looked at the crucifix. I thought of the real suffering of Christ and my whining about a simple tune. In the middle of these thoughts I was startled at what shot abruptly and sharply into my mind, "Hey, I have to listen to it. Just sing."

So I sang. And laughed.

I love a mutual sense of humor.


  1. Our English Solemn Mass sings the Kyrie in Greek, and the Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei in Latin. We really belt 'em out and I think folks like them.

  2. That kind of misses the point of what I was writing about, actually.

    I have to add that I thought everyone sang the Kyrie in Greek. :-)

    Our church has 7 masses between the Saturday vigil and Sunday evening. The music changes from mass to mass with something for everyone. Latin chant on Saturday, On Eagle's Wings Sunday at 9 a.m., etc. I think all of them sing the Kyrie in Greek. :-)

  3. Oh, that is absolutely hysterical! We had to sing "Gather Us In" at Mass this Sunday. I will remember this the next time I have to choke out that one!

  4. Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Holy, Holy, Holy
    Dominus Deus Sabbaoth Lord God of Hosts
    Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria Tua Filled are the heavens and the earth by your gloriy
    Hosanna in excelsis. Hosanna in the highest
    Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Blessed (is) (he) who comes in the name of the Lord
    Hosanna in excelsis Hosanna in the highest.

    Sanctity comes from sanctus porbably sanctuary too
    Dominion comes from Dominus
    Deity comes from Deus
    plentiful may be related to pleni
    sunt is "they are"
    et is "and"
    terra gloria tua should be easy enough
    Benediction comes from benedictus (to speak well)
    qui = who. Latin has qu like we have wh
    venit - think advent (coming to/towards).
    Also veni, vidi, vici. I came (tense difference because a difference in vowel length)
    nomenclature, cognomen both come from nomen = name

    This may help you keep track of where you are in the Sanctus.

    And I haven't heard the Kyrie in Greek in decades.

    I had the opposite problem this weekend - they played songs I like and I couldn't sing due to asthma.

    1. Thank you Marie. It is just that translating it on the fly, while singing, while trying to connect with what the liturgy was saying to me at that point ... well, it was all a little too much to juggle. And that was the point.