New Translation – Mass of Praise by Ray Martin

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[mp3-jplayer list=”n” tracks=”Glory to God@01-Glory-to-God.mp3, Alleluia@02-Alleluia.mp3, Holy Holy Holy@03-Holy-Holy-Holy.mp3, Memorial Acclamaition@Memorial-Acclamation-Rev.mp3, Amen@05-Amen.mp3, Lamb of God@06-Lamb-of-God.mp3, Kyrie Eleison@Kyrie-Eleison-Mixdown.mp3, Lenten Gospel Acclamation@Lenten-Gospel-Acclamation-Mixdown.mp3″]

I talked about the new English translation of the Catholic prayers and mass music in my review of Matt Maher’s Mass of Communion.  This is my setting of the new mass parts with the revised text for a Praise and Worship band.  I’ll run through a few brief notes about the different movements.  Overall, I tried to avoid getting above a D in the treble clef because that gets pretty high for the congregation.  I wanted there to be a lot of continuity between the different parts and so you’ll see and hear that they’re like a family.  They each have common traits that make them related, but there are differences that give them their own personality as well.

Glory to God
Every other piece in the mass setting relates in some way to the Glory.  I have this written in C and I like to play it on the guitar capo 5 with C=G chord fingering.  It’s bright and crisp in that voicing of the guitar.  I tend to favor settings of the Glory that have a refrain and verse feel to them.  A congregation doesn’t always sing the verses so this gives them something to still get comfortable with and sing to.  The challenge is that if you do 3 verses and repeats of the refrain it gets long and people are standing on their feet staring at the band praying that it will be over so they can sit down!  What I like to do is have a 2nd verse go into a bridge section so that you eliminate an extra repeat of the refrain.  The bridge is very much like the melody to the refrain, but the harmony changes into the relative minor of the key.  You’ll hear that section again in the Memorial Acclamation.  Did I mention how tough this text is?  This new translation doesn’t make it easy on anyone to sing.  There’s a lot of words to fight through!  Take note from the recording that the electric guitar doesn’t play distorted rhythm during the verses.  It would get pretty dull if everybody in your band plays or sings the entire time.  Give it some variance.  The bridge is another great place to do something different.

The melody is new, but similar to the Amen later. If you listen to the Glory, I reference this melody in the electric guitar solos between the verse and refrain just to put it the congregation’s ear.  I moved the Alleluia into G to give it a different feel, but the chord progression is almost the same as the refrain of the Glory.   It is the same progression as the Lamb of God and same key, but you’ll see that the Lamb of God is in 6/8 so it has it’s own identity.  I was going for some kind of trumpet like melody that accompanies the procession of the Gospel by the priest.

Holy, Holy, Holy
The Holy stems directly from the Glory.  It sounds just like the refrain and verse.  You might be careful not to be quite as big with this as you are with the Glory.  That would be my only caution with this one.

Memorial Acclamation
I tried to do something different for the Memorial Acclamation with the instrumentation.  This is the Glory melody with that progression from the bridge.  It’s a little ominous, so try something different with the drums.  I give example on the recording of playing more of a tribal beat on the toms and using cymbal splashes.  I finger picked the guitar.  Piano arpeggios would be a nice change on this one too.

The Amen melody is like the Alleluia, but back in C major like the Glory.  This feels long enough that you probably don’t need to repeat it, but it’s your call.

Lamb of God
The Lamb of God has it’s own melody line and is in a different time than the other pieces.  It felt warm to do this one in 6/8. I was trying to give a feeling of a big hug.  I would recommend finger picking this on the guitar down in G.  That would sound great, or I liked arpeggiating the chords on the piano as I did on the recording.  There’s a lot of opportunity for sweet harmonies in the vocals.  I went totally different with percussion and used a shaker and a cajon on the recording.

I’ve revised some of these melody lines a few times.  If you have any suggestions or feedback, I’d love to hear them.  I hope you’ll be able to use this mass setting with your praise band or church group at a contemporary or Lifeteen mass.  E-mail me if you’d like sheet music transposed in a different key or capo versions for the guitar.  I hope you enjoy the examples I give you on the recordings, but please make this your own and use the talent in your group to enhance these traditional prayers, move the mass along, and bring your church closer to the Lord.

*****UPDATE FEBRUARY 21, 2012*****
I revised the Alleluia into a Lenten Gospel Acclamation and changed the words to, “Praise to you Lord, Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.”  I also wrote a Kyrie (Lord Have Mercy).   It’s the same progression for the bridge of the glory (or Memorial Acclamation) but moves from A minor back into C for the final line of text.