Should we sing the 'Our Father' in Latin?

In the past few weeks, my church choir has started singing the 'Our Father' in Latin. I'm not sure whose decision it was, and whether this has been instituted in all the churches, but I'm not so sure that it is such a good thing, especially when one of the principles of the revised General Instructions of the Roman Missal is that "participation of the faithful is the goal to be considered before all others".

I quite like the Latin version in fact. I think that it is good to change things about the way we celebrate mass because as human beings we will eventually find things repetative and stale. But people need to be taught in a systematic way how to understand and pray the Latin words. Otherwise, it will become a rote song and a meaningless prayer. I also disagree if someone thinks that it is good to sing in Latin because we are returning to our traditional "roots" - the way it was sung 40 years ago. If they want that why don't we sing it in Aramaic?

Does your church sing the 'Our Father' in Latin? Do you think we should?

If you have not heard it before, I have a beautiful version sung by the late pope here. (right-click and save-as)

Pater noster qui es in coelis,
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum,
fiat voluntas tua,
sicut in coelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
et ne nos inducas in tentationem
sed libera nos a malo.


irene said...

being a member of the choir, i know it's the choir's duty to lead the congregation in song during mass. lead not perform for the congregation. sure, the "our father" in latin is nice to sing. i listened to the recording posted. and sad to say, while i appreciate the music, i totally zoned out with regards to the music. i don't understand what is being sung/said. do we want a congregation that zones out regularly at church?

in my school choir, we sing choral pieces from the latin mass on occasion. beautiful melodies and all. but tremendously tedious to be sung in a normal mass. latin pieces belong in a grander atmosphere. so i guess it would be nice to do latin mass parts during high mass or really grand and special occasions.

i can imagine what would happen if we sang pater noster at my church. the priest would stare, the altar servers would stare, and the congregation would be in shock. what da heck is the choir singing??! it would become a performance, not a participation.

the point i think of doing mass other languages other than latin is to allow the congregation to understand and participate. imagine, the little kid already struggling to follow what's happening being forced to comprehend latin which is as alien a language as Alien. my church sings "lord have mercy" in latin, the "kyrie eleison". i bet even the choir members don't really know what the latin means. it's a pity if people sing praises without knowing what exactly they're singing.

remember "the passion" in aramaic? if there weren't subtitles, we would be totally lost. only those who already know what's happening would know/infer what's going on on screen. think about the non-catholics who drop by for mass on occasion. they would be lost. they wouldn't know what's happening and would not be able to know more about god.

i know i'm taking things to the extreme here. we're only talking about "our father". but think, if we just start with "our father" in latin, it'll gradually spread to all the other mass parts too. then where will we be?

Br Lawrence, O.P. said...

I don't wish to nit pick but it may interest you to note that the 'Kyrie eleison' is in Greek, the ancient liturgical tongue of the Church. Only after the Roman empire had eclipsed the pan-Hellenic world did Latin become the common liturgical language.

In Latin, 'Lord have mercy' would be "Domine, miserere mei/ nobis".

Daniel said...

"All things being equal, Latin chant is to occupy “pride of place” in Mass. Other types of sacred music appropriate to the spirit of the Mass and which fosters participation of the faithful are not excluded. As people “from different countries come together all the more frequently, it is fitting that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, set to the simpler melodies” (GIRM no. 41)."

I got this from this website: http://www.catholic.org.sg/lmc/

It's the website of the Liturgical Music Committee. They are having a choir leaders workshop this Saturday afternoon at Church of Sts Peter & Paul, 9am - 3pm, for those interested. (Check under events).

Anonymous said...

As a young adult in the Church I think people usually want an easy to understand instant coffee Mass where we can be finished in an hour or less and just get on with life.

The Latin bits are easy to learn if one puts in the effort. I wish it was all in Latin so I could understand the Mass when I go overseas.

There again, the Mass is so easy to follow that I enjoyed it while visiting Germany on choir tour.

BTW Aramaic Masses are WOW! Thank the Lord for YouTube, seriously!