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    A View from the Pew

    A Matter of Mystery (and other good stuff) 

    In their most recent newsletter, the Bishop’s Committee on Divine Worship (BCDW), one article in particular caught my attention. The article reads:

    USCCB Administrative Committee Approves Change to Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship

    In response to a request from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the USCCB Administrative Committee adopted a change on September 12, 2012 to the U.S. Bishops’ 2007 guidelines on liturgical music, Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship. Number 188 of the document has been altered to remove any further permission for the use of Christological tropes or other adaptations to the text of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).

    Earlier legislation for the new Roman Missal allowed that previously written music that included such invocations (Holy Cross Mass by David Isle, Mass of Creation by Marty Haugen, etc.) could continue to alternate ‘Lamb of God’ with other Christological names. Newer settings written after the new Roman Missal changes could not compose substitute tropes in Lamb of God litany. This week, the BCDW ended the discussion and removed permission for the adapted tropes to the text of the Lamb of God.

    At first blush, some people may bridle a bit at what appears to be just one more miter-power legality. Allow me to offer a more positive perspective and see if this makes sense to you.

    In the June/July issue (39.5) of Ministry and Liturgy Magazine, World Library Publication senior liturgy editor Alan J. Hommerding  wrote an article called Translations and Transitions: Evaluating their effect on pastoral music. In the article, Alan addressed this question of invocating different names for Jesus, the Lamb of God. (I.e. Jesus, bread of life; Jesus, hope for all; Jesus, Son of God, etc.).  This is what Alan writes:

    “Looking at the larger context of the communion rite in which the Lamb of God is located, we see that it precedes the invitation in the revised translation: “Behold the Lamb of God,” in which we are “called to the supper of the Lamb.” The rite clearly has the image of Christ the Lamb at its heart; any additional invocations are to be repetitions of “Lamb of God and not other titles for Christ.”

    I think that in the early years of post-Vatican zeal, we focused a great deal on our communal sharing of the banquet table and perhaps forgot that baptized Christians are called to the feast of the Lamb in the “now” but “not yet” of eschatological time. We’re not just called to the supper to share a meal; we feast at the banquet of Christ the Lamb with all of the baptized past, present and future for the life of the world. That’s what makes the food a ‘heavenly’ meal, the heart of our faith.

    While Fr. Tom Gaughan, C.S.C. and I were planning the first Living Room Dialogue for the inaugural Roncalli Center on October 23 at 7:00pm (yes, I slipped in a little ‘ad’ for the kick off!), he pointed me to  the Lamb of God from the Mass of Our Lady, composed by Steve Warner and Karen Schneider Kirner of the University of Notre Dame. Steve and Karen seized an opportunity to combine our Latin rite heritage by invoking ‘Agnus Dei, Lamb of God’ throughout this lovely litany. This is allowed. As the trope repeats, the image of Christ the Lamb begins to dent your heart. This repetition of Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God who continues to sacrifice, self-give, pardon and restore us gives us a chance to reflect on this wonder that somehow got a bit lost in the last version of the Roman Missal. If you want to hear Steve and Karen’s Agnus Dei/Lamb of God, go to, look for Mass of Our Lady and click on the ‘listen’ button.  By the third time around, you’ll be singing the litany by heart. Isn’t that the goal?

    I included two PDF links in this blog. The first is a bulletin-ready announcement of The Roncalli Center. Be social and share. All of the information for the first Living Room Dialogue is included in the PDF.  Just click on the link here

    The second PDF is a FREE issue of Celebration Magazine’s October issue on the Second Vatican Council. Print it out for your parishes, ministries, faith formation programs, bulletins and wherever you think the magazine would benefit someone. Click here to open.