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Mass of Creation

posted Dec 28, 2013, 9:18 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Dec 28, 2013, 9:19 AM ]
Thirty years ago, Marty Haugen became the music director of a suburban church outside St. Paul, MN. The parish had a well-developed music program including a large choir; a guitar ensemble; a children’s choir; a handbell choir; and two organists. And each of these groups was using whichever Mass setting suited their needs and instrumentation best.

Marty quickly realized that if a parishioner attended a different weekend liturgy than usual, they might not be able to participate in much of the music, including such critical pieces as the Eucharistic Acclamations or the Lamb of God. So he composed the Mass of Creation to provide a mass setting that could be used for all the groups of his parish. He and its publisher, GIA, believe it became so successful because it was one of the first to fulfill a need common to many parishes: a single mass setting that could be used by different ensembles with various instrumentation—a setting that allowed parishioners to focus on the rite and the words of the rite rather than which musical style was supporting their singing.

Five years ago, for its 25th anniversary, Marty Haugen said the “Mass of Creation, written for a very specific community with its own gifts and its own quirks… has surprised and delighted me by taking on a larger life for so many other communities—as my children have surprised and delighted me by their accomplishments as they have moved from childhood to adulthood. While there are those who may not like or use the setting for various reasons, it has become a staple in parishes in the United States and other parts of the world, in no small part due to the fact that it crosses lines of musical style. In the end, a musical setting is nothing more than a frame for the words that we offer—in thanksgiving, praise, petition, and hope—to a God who changes not and who is deeply in love with the world and with us.”

We’ll sing the Mass of Creation for the Christmas season. Visit the Mass Settings page on our website to listen to audio samples of it, or the other Mass settings we use, and find out how to purchase accompaniment music, mp3's or CD's.