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Mass of Creation

posted Aug 27, 2015, 3:54 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Nov 20, 2015, 12:19 PM ]
The next few decades will determine whether we will pass on a planet to future generations (and indeed to all life) that is sustainable and life-giving or a planet devastated and dying. This may be the single most important issue facing us today. (Marty Haugen, composer)
When 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. But each of these groups was using whichever Mass setting suited their needs and instrumentation best. He 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.  And due to its popularity, Tony Alonzo has even adapted a bilingual setting of it.

For its 25th anniversary, Marty 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.” This parish sings it during the Christmas season.