Sanctus – New Setting of the New ICEL Text – Missa Sakanala

I’m not done with the whole setting, but I think I may be soon, so I thought I’d let people see and hear the Sanctus from my Missa Sakanala.

The Mass is based on (inspired by… copied from…) early American Chant, particularly Shaker chant. Many people are aware of Shaker songs, but fewer seem to be aware of their chant tradition. I find it quite refreshing and wonderful, and I really think this (rather than pop/rock) is really what is meant by “enculturation.” The idea here is to keep the inherent solemnity and simpleness of Latin plainchant, and yet write in a music (melodic) idiom that is not quite so foreign to contemporary American ears.

The name of the Mass setting is Missa Sakanala. (UPDATE: Actually, that’s not true anymore. See below.)

Sakanala is, according to Shaker tradition, the name of an angel who delivered to one of their members a lengthy message about God’s protection over their community through all strife. The tune of the song forms the basis of the Sanctus melody, and the story of the original text is (while I don’t believe in Shaker cosmology) appropriate to our time- indeed, to all time.

I hope you enjoy.

Under advice from my wife and Fr. Anthony Ruff, I have changed the name of this setting to Mass of the Blessed Fire. Please take a look at the website for this setting and sign up to get email updates about its completion.

3 thoughts on “Sanctus – New Setting of the New ICEL Text – Missa Sakanala

  1. Pingback: New Mass Setting Reviews: Missa pro editio tertia, Chris Mueller | Music For Sunday

  2. Mass of the Blessed Fire is a better name than Missa Sakanala. It tells me that we’re Catholics worshiping the fire god instead of the Shaker angel. A much needed improvement! Clearly, we should all heed the advice of Father Anthony Ruff, that beloved dissident. He is, after all, the expert on the new Roman Missal.

  3. And when we name Mass settings after saints, does that mean we worship saints?

    The Shakers were Christians. Heretics, for sure, but Baptized brothers and sisters nonetheless. Like Pope Benedict has indicated with regards to the Anglican Ordinariate, there can be a place in the Roman Rite for musical cultures which developed outside of the Roman Church.

    As for the name-
    I agree that Sakanala gave the wrong idea in reference to legitimizing Shaker cosmology.

    The new name, “Blessed Fire,” references a line in a Shaker hymn about the founding of their community: “In Manchester, in England, the Blessed Fire began.”

    Given Catholic’s use of fire and flame in our rituals, I thought it was somewhat appropriate.

    Further, the Shaker’s were something of a renewal-movement, born out of a decadent Church of England, attempting to get back to the root of what they saw as the true faith.
    I thought there was just-enough similarity here with the renewal process of rolling out a new, more faithful translation.

    Stylistically- there is a connection there as well with the process of the new translation. Gregorian Chant is the natural musical idiom of the Roman Rite. But, like the Latin language, Gregorian Chant is foreign to most people. As with Latin, we should continue to endeavor to make it less foreign to people. But we also should recognize that this will never be a finished job. Thus, we are free to celebrate Mass in the vernacular- providing that the translation is, while comprehensible, faithful to the original.

    The Mass of the Blessed Fire is an American Chant setting. The musical language is familiar and understandable (like American English), but it is not pedestrian or everyday (like the new English translation, particularly as opposed to the older one). Like the folk music that dominated the first translation’s roll-out, it is accessible and easy to sing. But UNLIKE that folk music, the Mass of the Blessed Fire is based on an explicitly religious musical idiom, one that is both unmistakably Christian and American.

    I’m sorry if you don’t approve of the company I keep, or of the music I write. I pray that you will continue to work for widespread fluency in Latin and traditional forms of Sacred Music. Perhaps one day efforts like mine will not be needed.

    I pray that you will also continue in your prayer and work toward a universal acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the life of all the Church’s ordained ministers. May Fr. Ruff, his brother priests, and all Bishops be, as St. Ambrose was, men after God’s own heart, leading with wisdom and courage.

Comments are closed.