New and Revised Mass Settings I’m Considering UPDATED 7/7

We’ll be needing lots of Mass settings at the abbey. We have one hymnal used only for Sunday Mass; either we’ll add a supplement or purchase a new hymnal which will also need a local supplement. For daily Mass we now have 15 settings in the binder in the choir stalls; this will probably increase to about 20. For big occasions with visitors from all over (Midnight Mass, university commencement), we’re limited to settings everyone already knows, or else call-and-response settings that work instantly. Weekday feasts and solemnities call for a different genre of setting than ferials. Some daily Masses are accompanied by organ, others are not. We want to stretch the harmonic vocabulary and artistic creativity here and there, but many settings need to be, in the best sense, simply functional.

I’m excited about this opportunity. The field is open – any publisher, online sources, locally written are all fair game. Some of the things on my list are copyrighted but unrevised so far, and I’ll have to get permission to revise.

Despite my best resolve to stay angry about the new missal (both the product and the process), I’m getting taken with enthusiasm for this creative musical project. I’m disappointed in myself and my ability to nurse resentments. The musical part of the revision is just too much fun.

(Don’t worry, Pray Tell will continue to give voice to many angles about the new Missal, including critical voices, as a service to the Church and a contribution to the next revision, which, please God, will begin sooner rather than later.)

We’re having two readings sessions this week and next for interested monks. Before hearing my confreres’ feedback, I thought I’d share  my thoughts so far. This is preliminary. No doubt other settings will come in between now and September or Advent.

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– ICEL chants –goes without saying. For liturgical reasons it’d be nice to have a stronger assembly affirmation of the Eucharistic Prayer – I’m thinking of a lengthened Amen such as this. Don’t they do something like this at papal liturgies in Rome? Or did I dream that?

– We now have one Latin chant Mass in our choir book, the simplex recommended in Sing to the Lord. It was a huge step when that got introduced in the early 90s, but now it is unproblematic. I’m thinking of adding two or three more Latin chant Masses– probably Mass VIII and the Ambrosian setting from Graduale Simplex, not sure what else.

– The German Lutheran Sanctus derived from a Latin chant Mass after the Reformation which was setting 2 in the Lutheran Book of Worship and is now setting 4 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. I’ve seen various versions of this in German-language Catholic hymnals since the 19th century, including the current official Gotteslob. I wish Catholics and others would pick this up as a historic and ecumenical setting. I’ve developed MA and Amen based on the Sanctus.

– Calvin Hampton, my revision based on Hymnal 1982 S127. We’ve already done an Alleluia based on this delightful setting and it went over well, which inspired me to revise the Sanctus and create MA and Amen. The Agnus would be 1982 S374 (in “Service Music” accomp ed., not in the hymnal).

– Michel Guimont’s setting which is one of three in the Canadian national resource Celebrate in Song. For my money, this setting is stronger than the one he wrote for GIA, “Mass for a Servant Church.”

– Douglas Mews, his new setting for the New Zealand bishops’ conference. I’m told it’s getting mixed reviews down there. This setting is very simple but not without interest, and it may be just what we need for some occasions.

– John Karl Hirten, “Rose Hill Mass” from GIA, if we can revise it. Michael Silhavy put me on to this soft, pleasant contemporary setting.

– Richard Connolly, “Mass of Our Lady, Help of Christians” from CanticaNova, one of six recommended by the Australian bishops. Not super interesting, but I think it’s usable. I fear the Latin refrain of the Gloria is a bit long for one-time visitors – I wonder if they’d let us use just the first line with the text “Gloria in excelsis Deo, Glory to God in the highest”?

– Richard Proulx / Michael O’Connor, “Missa Simplex” based on the “Gloria Simplex” Proulx wrote shortly before his death (World Library Publications). It’s simple and quite lovely. I also like Lisa Stafford’s Mass of Grace from WLP, but we’ll have to think through the similarity between that, Missa Simplex, and Corpus Christi Mass.

– David Hurd, “Mass in Honor of St. Cecilia” from Liturgical Press – this was commissioned by Omaha archdiocese, and I’m glad LitPress picked it up. I’m curious how monks will react to this somewhat melismatic setting with diatonic melody and nice mild chromaticism here and there in the accompaniment.

– My attempt at a simple setting based on Gregorian psalm tones. I might write a simple organ accompaniment. Or if we do it at Sunday Mass, a small schola might sing simple organum unaccompanied in alternation with congregation. Or if it gets voted down, I’m OK with that too.

– ADDED 7/7: Adam Wood’s  “Missa Sakanala” Sanctus came to my attention just in time for the reading session. It is excellent – truly American folk chant, truly inculturation at its best. Here is the version I distributed, with Adam’s permission. It was a huge hit.

– Richard Proulx, “Corpus Christi Mass,” GIA. I think GIA might not be planning to reissue this, since they laudably want to promote the ICEL settings for those wishing to do chant. But we need lots of chant settings at St. John’s, so we might ask them if we can revise this. It could be done at daily Mass with the simple organ accompaniment Proulx wrote; or at Sunday Mass we could do it as now, with alternation between schola (my simple TTB arrangement) and congregation.

– My arrangement of Michael Haydn, the Austrian Mass from LitPress. I have mixed feelings about this one – it’s kind of cute, and I think it might fit the English text slightly better than Proulx’s “Deutsche Messe,” but I’m not convinced that such typically Alpine melodies work in the U.S. It is striking that this is the oldest Catholic Mass setting in continuous use – in the 18th century the Austrian empress mandated it for the entire country, and it spread to Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Bohemia, and even northern Italy for a time. (The people sang vernacular paraphrases while the priest said the real text in Latin.) Haydn’s setting, with the paraphrase in English translation, appeared in some U.S. Catholic hymnals from the 1920s or so.

– J. Michael Joncas, “Sing Praise and Thanksgiving” from WLP. This is strong and appealing.

– David Hurd, Misa de la Santa Cruz, written in Spanish, never published. I got a copy from him and worked up an English setting which of course I’ll run by the composer before doing anything with it. I love his interesting harmonies and delightful, energetic melodies! Gloria could be sung by everyone all the way through, or first line could become a refrain.

– Collegeville Composer Group, Psallite Mass. This has gotten good reviews over at CMAA. It can be a challenge to hold a large group together on text rhythm settings, but with strong leadership from cantor/schola, I think this could be very effective.

– Gerald Near, “Mass of St. Augustine” from MorningStar Publications. Like most everything from Gerald Near (see acc to Hymnal 1982 #37, EVENING HYMN), this setting is really beautiful. It’s rising to the very top of my list, and I hope monks don’t find the melodies too difficult.

– Chris Mueller, Missa pro editione tertia at benesonarium. Gentle dissonance, very beautiful, at times similar to Taize (though perhaps the trad composer wouldn’t appreciate the comparison). Through friendly conversations with the composer, I’ve learned that there’s no way the first line of the Gloria can be used as a refrain – he belongs to the school of thought that would prohibit Gloria refrains. The composer received well my suggestion to correct the grammar in what was originally “Missa pro editio tertia” – pro takes the ablative.

– H. Barrie Cabena, my adaptation of his Mass in Catholic Book of Worship II (Canada), copyrighted 1971 by Huron Press. My revision worked so well that I’m curious whether I’ve reconstructed what he wrote for the 1966 text, or whether his setting was original in 1971. The harmonies are slightly out there in a quirky way I really like. We’ll see what the brethren think.

– Jacob Bancks, “Mass of the Most Sacred Heart.” This Gloria is rising to the top of my list because – as I said at the reading session at our CCMLA conference – it moves forward with exciting energy. There is no wasted space (e.g. measure of suspended chord, measure of resolved dominant seventh chord – arrrrgh!). I think the congregation could sing the entire hymn. The Sanctus is, as they say, different. The first “Hosannah” is very beautiful, sort of reminds me of Langlais. I’m curious what others will make of the opening notes D – E flat – D – A – A on “Holy Holy.”

– Robert LeBlanc, “Mass in Honor of St. Benedict.” LeBlanc is an excellent composer, right up there with Richard Proulx with whom he shares (loosely) some similarities in harmonic vocabulary. This is LeBlanc at his less adventurous, and it’s solid and usable.

– Kevin Vogt, “Mass in Honor of St. Paul.” This is in RitualSong, but as of now GIA isn’t revising it. It’s in 4 and has a nice sort of Anglican arch to it. Kevin shared with me his revision which – gasp – puts in in 3. At first I thought that was a deal-breaker. Then I came to think that it is precisely this which makes it work well with a revised text.

– Richard Proulx, “Carillon Mass.” From GIA. I didn’t know of it until a couple weeks ago. It’s a candidate for call-and-response at Midnight Mass. We’d use the version with organ accompaniment, alternate between schola and congregation, and add trumpet to the congregational parts to help them follow the somewhat syncopated melody (it’s in 6/8). The Benedictus goes crazy – either a tenor solo would take it, or I’d write a simplified short version based on the Pleni sunt. The setting is beautiful, mystical, delightful. The syncopation might argue against it – that can be difficult in a large church with a thousand people.

– J. Michael Joncas, “Missa ad Gentes,” GIA, commissioned for Maryknoll’s centennial. At this point it’s either Proulx “Carillon” or Joncas “Gentes” for the call-and-response big occasions – we’d use Sanctus, MA, and Amen from these settings. I think the solid rhythms of Joncas’s Mass might make it less risky and more usable. The alternation between Latin (schola) and English (congregation) is nice. The melody is sort of tending toward high Anglican, but there is a slight influence of popular contemporary which, in my view, softens it in a good way and saves it from being triumphalistic.

– Robert LeBlanc, “Mass of Jubilee.” This is an oldie from GIA, much done around here back in the 80s when LeBlanc was part of the Benedictine musicians’ organization. It pushes the envelope on harmonic dissonance, which I think we need more of. We’ll see if anyone else here wants to see it revived and revised.

– I mined the 1966 Benziger Catholic Hymnal and Service Book and found two things from the 1966 translation which work well with the similar revised text: J.G. Phillips Gloria and Frank Campbell-Watson’s Agnus. The former might be too repetitive. The latter is really beautiful.

I expect we’ll continue using Haugen “Mass of Creation” (good for big occasions when visitors are from all over, but only if the revised setting also catches on), Vermulst “People’s Mass,” Lee Gloria (we alternate the psalm tone between TTB schola and congregation to nice effect), Proulx “Mass of the City,” Proulx “Community Mass” except the revised Gloria which is a train wreck, Andrews Gloria if everyone is OK with the massive revisions the new text required, Becket Senchur’s “Confidence” Sanctus and Trinity Agnus from Benedictine Book of Song, and his Gloria in E flat (I’ve revised the refrain and verses) which somehow migrated from Benedictine sources to People’s Mass Book to the GIA hymnals and is now copyrighted by GIA. I fear we might drop Hurd’s “New Plainsong” if GIA doesn’t revise it. Still waiting for James MacMillan’s revised settings, and the score for his Newman mass.

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The 19th century Cecilians wanted to rid Catholic music of secular influences (sound familiar?). For them this meant vernacular hymnody (sound familiar?) and orchestral music of Mozart and Haydn and their second-rate and third-rate imitators, and secular instruments (sound familiar?) such as violins and kettle drums. They wanted to be really, really Catholic (sound familiar?). At their worst, the Cecilians maneuvered themselves onto the sidelines of bland mediocrity. That great towering composer of the nineteenth century, Anton Bruckner, said of the Cecilians, “They call it ‘churchly’ when nothing has occurred to them,” and he once called Cecilianism “a disease.”

As you see, plenty of online resources have made my list. But some haven’t because they are, in my view, the dull and uninspired, supposedly Catholic Cecilianism of our day.

I think we need more Hampton, LeBlanc, Cabena, Hurd, Near… and less dullness.

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I was initially overly confident of my ability to judge a score by playing it through on piano. It was a revelation to sit on the panel at our CCMLA conference and sing while another played. It was then that the sheer beauty of Gerald Near (to name one example) really hit me. I’ve also found that piano gives a quite different effect than organ, especially in settings with moving chromaticism against sustained notes. I’ve made sure that our readings sessions will take place in the abbey church by the pipe organ, since that’s where they would be used. I encourage you to experiment with singing through settings as well as playing them through, and to try out the settings in your actual worship space.

We all have biases and limitations. It has been a good thought-experiment for me to sing a particular setting as if a hero such as Richard Proulx wrote it. It puts it in a different light and opens up more generous evaluations. Give it a try and see what happens.

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See Adam Wood’s interesting and perceptive reviews of WLP, GIA, and OCP, and Gerry Galipeau’s response (from WLP) here. Here is Adam Wood on Mueller and Psallite.

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Thoughts? Fire away.



34 responses to “New and Revised Mass Settings I’m Considering UPDATED 7/7

  1. John Drake Avatar
    John Drake

    “Don’t worry, Pray Tell will continue to give voice to many angles about the new Missal, including critical voices, as a service to the Church and a contribution to the next revision, which, please God, will begin sooner rather than later.)”

    “…including critical voices…”

    Fr. Ruff, thanks for starting my day with a laugh!

    I don’t know how you can possibly squeeze in any critical voices amidst all the gushing praise for the new, corrected translation you have published the last year or so!

  2. Gregg Smith Avatar
    Gregg Smith

    Fr. Ruff, great post! In my mind, the ONLY good thing about this translation is the musical creativity it has triggered.

  3. jeffrey tucker Avatar

    Fr., have you considered putting your very nice Psalm tone setting in a four-line staff. I bet someone at the forum might do it for you.

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      JT, honestly hadn’t thought about it. Good idea. Let me see how it goes at the reading session, and let me think about whether I want simple organ accomp or unaccompanied organum. I could put up the cantor/congregation part in 4-line easy enough – I use Meinrad for that.
      Thanks for the suggestion.

  4. Xavier Rindfleisch Avatar
    Xavier Rindfleisch

    For Latin: may I suggest one of the two “Marian Masses” in the Kyriale: Mass IX, cum jubilo; Mass X, Alme Pater?

    For a wonderful English Gloria, I would love to see someone adapt (it would only have to be slightly, since it’s the 1964 text), the Gloria from Father Joseph Roff’s “Festive Mass in English” (GIA, 1964).

  5. John Farley Avatar
    John Farley

    But resentment leads to such wonderful ends: low-grade hostility, passive-aggressive behavior, eruptive forms of anger, to name a few. I’m glad you’ve found a silver lining to this cloud and hope it nourishes your joy.

  6. Paul Schlachter Avatar

    Father Anthony, don’t discount the teaching moments especially at those big occasions. People visit the abbey, as I once did, to broaden our awareness of the universal church and the creativity it has encouraged. We expect that what we sing there will stretch our horizons beyond the fare that we have sung at home for years.

    1. Michael Podrebarac Avatar
      Michael Podrebarac

      An excellent point!

  7. Jeff Rice Avatar
    Jeff Rice

    Father Anthony, thanks for this very helpful survey. I particularly like the David Hurd setting, and am looking forward to checking out the Near setting (awaiting its arrival!). Revising the Proulx Corpus Christi Sanctus would be a simple matter… the fun part would be constructing one or more “mysteries of faith” to the Adoro Te melody. Also, has anyone tinkered with Missa de Sancta Maria Magdalena by Healey Willan?

  8. Jeff Rice Avatar
    Jeff Rice

    Oh, and I meant to comment on your last point… as Peloquin apparently said, “I don’t think worship calls us to boredom.” Composers, please dig deep and take some risks!

  9. Adam Wood Avatar

    He linked to me! He finally linked to me!

  10. Cody C.  Unterseher Avatar

    Lots of rich stuff here, Fr. Anthony. . . thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! My own, for what they’re worth, follow.

    Of Latin, chant/chant-based settings: I’m favorable to Ordinaries X and XVII in the Kryiale of the GR/GT. I am also exceptionally (perhaps overly) fond of Bob Hurd’s “Missa Ubi Caritas,” which can be sung in Latin or English — and the Gloria, with a Latin refrain and English, tone-based verses. Monophonic or harmonized, it’s a useful and beautiful setting that could easily be revised.

    Of your expansion of the German/LBW/ELW setting: nice. I’d add bars 3 and 4 from the Sanctus to the Amen, while keeping the final cadence that you’ve written — it would be a fourfold, rather than threefold, Amen….

    I’m not convinced of the Psalm tone setting, in part because I use the plainsong tones in the daily office (as well as many of the four-bar tones that Saint John’s Abbey uses: alas, I don’t have a choir in my cupboard for singing the office with proper Anglican Chant at home alone!) Where a community isn’t using the plainsong tones regularly, this will probably hold greater appeal.

    I’m listening to “Missa Simplex” right now as I write, and I am duly impressed. I hear potentials for harmonization, particularly with equal voices. . . .

    I’ve written in a number of places on this blog about “Sing Praise and Thanksgiving”: I find it unfortunate that it didn’t catch on with a wider audience sooner, but as Fr. Joncas has done magnificently in revising the setting, I am glad that it’s getting the attention it deserves.

    Hurrah for Proulx’s “Corpus Christi Mass,” so dear to me from my time at Collegeville as a student and ultimately from my diaconal ordination. Revised, it’s call-and-response style will mitigate flubs over the new texts.

    I am fond of the Vermulst “Mass for Christian Unity,” which I think hasn’t yet gotten the attention it deserves. I’m not convinced of the revisions to the “People’s Mass,” but that may be from an ongoing need to use it in its pre-revised state.

    I do wish OCP would revise the Grayson Brown Mass of St Paul: it has the advantage of working in traditional and contemporary idioms, and hasn’t gotten a fair reading/hearing/listening in the past.

    The masses from the Liturgical Press collection “Lift Up Your Hearts” are most impressive, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole booklet didn’t make it into your choir stalls — and not just because they share a history and mission with the abbey.

    1. Linda Reid Avatar
      Linda Reid

      “but as Fr. Joncas has done magnificently in revising the setting, I am glad that it’s getting the attention it deserves.”
      I had used it at my parish and at our seminary House of Formation in it’s original incarnation, and will continue to use it in it’s reincarnation at our parish! It was truly loved and very well sung in both places!

    2. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      Cody, thanks for all your comments.

      I like your LBW/ELW idea, and I now think it’s the way to go. If each Amen got two measures, we’d have a three-fold Amen – that would work, wouldn’t it?

      I LOVE the Hurd Ubi Caritas – but for me, that melody is so tied to Holy Thursday – the monks sing it in Latin in the refectory – that I can’t bear to see it be a Sunday Mass setting, alas. Somehow, Adoro te devote doesn’t have the strong associations that prevent it from being a good Sunday Mass setting – Proulx’s Corpus Christi.

      I will check out OCP Grayson Brown’s St. Paul right away.



    3. Kevin Vogt Avatar
      Kevin Vogt

      RE: the Gotteslob/LBW/ELW setting,

      I’m so glad Fr. Ruff brought this one to the fore. Very strong with deep roots. There is probably a whole article to be written on the pedigree of this Sanctus, including a supposed harmonization by J. S. Bach.

      Fr. Ruff’s acclamation seems strong enough to match. I also agree with Fr. Unterseher that the Amen might be extended. I can imagine it working as it is, but since the second Amen already arrives on the tonic, the final cadence seems weakened. If one was not too concerned about the text underlay of the first two Amens matching the articulation the first two Holies, another possibility would be for 5 . 3 . | 2 . 1 . | 5 . 6. | 5 . . . | 6 4 3 4 | 2 . 1 . || could be set as [A . (ah) . | meh . (ehn) . | A . (ah) . | men . . . | A (ah) (ah) (ah) | meh . (ehn) . ||] OR the last one, [A (ah) (ah) (ah) | (ah) . men . ||]

      In any case, I’m excited by this suggestion. I’ve often wanted to use it myself, but working in parishes where only a couple of settings are used at a time, I was nervous about using something not used elsewhere. Somehow, Fr. Anthony’s suggestions give me permission to consider things based on a higher standard than I might ordinarily apply.

      1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        Kevin, I like your Amen even better than Cody’s, which was way better than what I had. I’ve updated it to include your Amen, and our Novice Theophane’s improvement to the first line of the Sanctus. (Some of you knew him as Kraig Windschittl.)
        Thanks for the improvement.

      2. Cody C.  Unterseher Avatar

        Great solution with the Amen!

  11. Matthew S. Still Avatar
    Matthew S. Still

    Keep an eye out for Mass in Honor of Saint Dominic, amongst some fine new settings by Fr. Ruff, David Hurd and others, in Lift Up Your Hearts from Liturgical Press! Preview pages should be up soon… Peace, Matthew Still

    1. Brian Eisenschenk Avatar

      Mass in Honor of Saint Dominic now is available for review:

  12. Peter Haydon Avatar
    Peter Haydon

    “Despite my best resolve….”
    The way God works will ofton surprise us and give benefits when we least expect. Once we were billeted at the Espeluges in Lourdes which was a long way to walk to get anywhere. But it meant going past the Grotto, something easily missed if working at the station as usual.
    Good on you Father

  13. Paul F Ford Avatar

    Thanks, Father Anthony, very helpful. I also recommend Jeff Ostrowski’s “Mass in honor of St. Ralph Sherwin (†1581),”, which I am going to use at my seminary. Jeff’s work is part of Corpus Christi Watershed. When I heard the gloria, I went into orbit.

  14. Fr. Jim Blue Avatar
    Fr. Jim Blue

    Thanks, awr. I have reviewed a few, but you mentioned a few I have not seen.

    Generally speaking what I see is the work of many highly skilled composers bending over backwards to fit ugly unsingable texts into the best-possible musical settings.

    My hat is off to all of the composers – I wish they had been given something worthy and beautiful to work with.

  15. Kevin Vogt Avatar
    Kevin Vogt

    Thanks for mentioning my “Mass in Honor of St. Paul,” Fr. Anthony. If you or anyone else ends up using it, I’ll be curious to know how the “extreme” metrical revision is received in practice.

    Since the Mass was never finished after parts of it were included in RITUAL SONG, GIA has very graciously released it to me. The revised Sanctus, original Amen, original (but unpublished) Agnus, new Acclamations, and a new Gloria will be included in the next edition of LitPress’s SACRED SONG and accompanying periodical Missal resources. I’m hoping that all of the LitPress Mass settings will be eventually be available online as are the Psallite antiphons.

    In any case, just wanted to add that LIturgical Press is now administering rights to this setting.

  16. Clay Zambo Avatar
    Clay Zambo

    I’d be very interested in knowing what happens with Proulx’s “Corpus Christi” and “Emmanuel” masses; we use them, unaccompanied, during Lent and Advent respectively, and I was just starting to gear up to do my own retrofit if needbe.

    Congratulations, Fr. Anthony, on finding your happy-place with all of this. It was an enormous pleasure to meet you at CCMLA, and I’m terribly glad to know that there is a silver lining.

    1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
      Anthony Ruff, OSB

      Missa Emmanuel is slated to be included in Worship 4 – and maybe in Gather Comprehensive, I don’t know.

  17. Heath Morber Avatar
    Heath Morber

    Don’t overlook Adam Bartlett’s beautiful Gloria:

    It’s a great chant-like setting that could be used in addition to the ICEL setting.

  18. Timothy Johnston Avatar
    Timothy Johnston

    Thanks Adam for sharing the Missa Sakanala. I really like it and I can’t wait to hear the rest of it.

    1. Adam Wood Avatar

      Glad you like it!

  19. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
    Karl Liam Saur

    It could be adapted for the housing of the the bishop and diocesan priests….

    Call it the Transparent House of Religion.

  20. Kevin Vogt Avatar

    “I’m thinking of a lengthened Amen such as this. Don’t they do something like this at papal liturgies in Rome? Or did I dream that?”

    See page 27 of the following PDF from the Vatican:

  21. Fr. Ron Krisman Avatar
    Fr. Ron Krisman

    Fr. Anthony, the three-fold Amen you have notated was included in the 1998 ICEL translation.

  22. James Avatar

    The Irish Church Music Association has just published a book of 3 new mass settings and several reworked masses (Mass of Peace – Bodley/ The Lourdes Mass – Lécot / and Mass of the Immaculate Conception – Fintan O Carroll) – The new masses are available to purchase on:

  23. Catherine Benskin Avatar

    I want a revised Corpus Christi Mass. If you do it, let me know. I may start it myself. It’s great for funerals & weddings.

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