A few years ago, on a Friday evening, my daughters and I were heading to a concert by liturgical musician Dan Schutte.
From the back seat, Alicia, then probably 9 or 10 years old, sighed and said, “I hope he plays 686.”
Puzzled, I asked, “What is 686?”
“Here I am, Lord,” she responded with that how-could-you-not-know tone in her voice.
“That’s my favorite song,” she told us, promptly engaging in a rousing rendition of it.
Later that evening, Alicia got to meet the composer, and when I mentioned that she loves “686,” he looked as puzzled as I was a few hours earlier. Glad that he had such a young fan who knew his songs by number, he explained that the numbers are different in the various hymnals.
The recessional hymn at Mass a few weekends ago was 686. As we sang, I wondered whether the upcoming revised version of the Roman Missal, to be implemented this Advent, would affect Alicia’s favorite song in any way.
I have heard that changes will be coming to the way we celebrate Mass, but I was not aware of specifics.
Many of you probably have the same question our 14-year-old daughter, Chiana, had a couple weeks ago after she attended a presentation on the changes at her high school, “Why do we have to change the words, anyway?”
We are used to doing things a certain way, and are comfortable with the familiar. Change can be difficult, especially if it means letting go of favorites or at least that which we are used to. In this case, some of the new responses seem a bit stilted, or at least are not the way we generally speak in English.
Isn’t “And with your spirit,” more cumbersome than “And also with you”? Perhaps to our English speaking ears, but when you think that around the world, the response is more true to the original translation in Spanish for example, “Con tu espíritu,” the changes make sense for a universal church.
At each Mass, throughout the world, worshippers and celebrants will be uttering the same words.
From what I have learned, we won’t have to let go of “Here I Am, Lord,” when the new translation is implemented this Advent. In fact, none of the changes will affect the hymns we sing, but rather will affect some of the prayers of the priest and our responses, and will also affect some of the musical settings for parts of the Mass that are sung by the assembly, most notably the Gloria; the Holy, Holy, Holy; and the Memorial Acclamation.
In this issue of Catholic Herald Parenting, in our feature story, “Change is on the way,” on Pages 6 and 7, reporter Karen Mahoney helps explain the reasons for the changes and also offers suggestions to parents on how to make the new translation a teaching moment for the whole family.
Many catechists and priests are eagerly embracing the changes, looking upon the transition as a time to re-examine our approach to worship so that the meaning behind the words we repeat at Mass week after week, regain their intended meaning, rather than becoming just rote responses.
Hopefully, the changes will not only make the English translation more closely in line with the original Latin text, but will also generate a renewed appreciation for the celebration of the Mass among the faithful.
And, while some parts of our celebrations are changing slightly, much of what we pray and sing during Mass, will remain in the same, familiar format we Catholics cherish. Alicia, no doubt, is happy; that means “#686” will continue to be on the hymn board.
By the way, for others who enjoy the music of Schutte, the liturgical composer will be in concert on Sunday, Oct. 30 at Changing Lives Assembly of God Church, Cudahy.
It’s a fundraiser for the Interfaith Airport Meditation Room at Mitchell International Airport. Tickets for “Experience an Afternoon of Sacred Music with Dan Schutte,” are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, $10 students, and are available by calling (414) 570-9906 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.