A while back NPM (National Pastoral Musicians) held a contest for new musical settings of the English Mass which was recently approved by the US Roman Catholic bishops. For those of you who aren’t Catholic, even small changes in the language of the mass can be a pretty big deal, with publishers scrambling to release new versions of mandated text.
Of course, you know how I am about composition contests. You’ll remember that in the calm before the storm of this year’s Calvin Worship Symposium, I completed a Robot Dance Music contest entry (I won) and started a mass. I made enough progress on the mass before the symposium started that I was able to complete it during the event. This was helped along by my friend Kelly at GIA who was gracious enough to give me excellent feedback from her symposium vendor’s booth, and by Jeremy Begbie, who was kind enough to overlook that guy in the back who was editing a mass while he gave a lecture.
Fast forward a few months. I lost the NPM contest, which is not entirely unexpected. But I can’t just let 13 pages of music languish because of something as benign as losing a contest. So I did what any reasonable person would do–I asked for a second opinion in the form of YouTube. That’s right. I’ve published a “bouncing ball” version of the mass on YouTube so you can sing along while watching the music scroll by.
I named this setting “A Humble Mass” not because I think it’s a cool name like… I don’t know–Missa Lunesta or Mass of the Proletariat–but because I just couldn’t find a great name. I wanted to convey that this is a simple mass that is quite usable in congregations that only have a keyboard available to them. And it’s quite singable, with a few themes tying the whole mass together. But you never really know how effective a piece is until it’s sung by a living, breathing congregation.
If any of you would like to give this mass a go in your congregation, let me know and I’ll get you a PDF file of the mass.