Over the last decade, the Church has struggled to draw people closer to the celebration of the liturgy — and especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Lack of attendance at Mass among younger Catholics, a lack of belief in the Real Presence, and congregations minimized by COVID-19 (and the resulting strictures on public gatherings) have all been contributing factors in this struggle.
But Adam Bartlett, CEO and founder of the liturgical publisher and tech company Source & Summit, hopes to provide the resources necessary to help renew and refocus the beauty and simplicity of the liturgy at Catholic parishes, campus ministries and other faith communities in the Church. And, as Bartlett sees it, Source & Summit couldn’t have come at a better time to help the Church meet the challenges it faces in fostering transcendent and transformative encounters with Christ in the liturgy that help form and equip disciples for the Church’s mission.
Pope Francis, in his recent apostolic letter on the liturgy, Desiderio Desideravi, acknowledged that there are those who know about the Church’s invitation to participate in the liturgy but “have forgotten it or have got lost along the way in the twists and turns of human living.” The Pope’s words seem especially true in the U.S.; for, while Pope Francis does not offer specifics about those who “have forgotten” the liturgy, according to a 2016 Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate report, 86% of baptized and confirmed Catholics of the millennial generation in the U.S. no longer regularly practice their faith. In addition, even those who are practicing their faith may not even know what they’re practicing, as a 2019 Pew report indicates that 70% of Massgoing Catholics in the U.S. do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. To compound the dismal state of belief these statistics reveal, bishops and pastors are still looking for ways to return their flocks to the pews after COVID depleted churches in 2020.
This past summer, on the Solemnity of Corpus Christ, the U.S. bishops offered a formal response to these challenges when they announced a three-year Eucharistic Revival. But hand-in-hand with an effort to revitalize belief in the Eucharist through evangelization and catechesis, Bartlett said, bishops, pastors and the faithful also have an opportunity to “help revive Eucharistic faith by elevating the beauty and reverence of our celebrations of the liturgy, and especially through sacred music.” And that’s where Source & Summit comes in.
According to Bartlett, Source & Summit “is aimed at helping make authentic liturgical renewal as accessible as possible to ordinary parishes, in a way that helps inspire and invigorate missionary disciples to undertake the work of the New Evangelization.”
The name of the organization itself — Source & Summit — speaks directly to this connection between worship and the Church’s mission in the world, Bartlett said. The constitution on the liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Article 10, states that “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows.”
“Our mission, ultimately, is to help parishes realize that ideal,” Bartlett said, adding, “With this image, the Church tells us that the liturgy is set upon the mountaintop of the Church’s life, above all the other important and necessary things we do [such as catechesis, evangelization and charitable outreach], but it’s distinct from these, and serves as the font and goal of them all.”
Noting that Sacrosanctum Concilium also describes the liturgy as a sacramental reality comprised of “signs perceptible to the senses” (SC, 7), Bartlett said that “while formation is needed to help the faithful move from these signs to the invisible realities they contain, what is needed first and foremost is for the signs themselves to be clear, beautiful and radiant, so that they radiate their inner realities in an attractive and powerful way.”
“Perhaps the most striking and immediately perceptible element of this sacramental tapestry,” he continued, “is the music used in the liturgy. And that’s why we encourage parishes to renew their music programs as a centerpiece of their efforts to elevate the liturgy.”
Source & Summit offers two primary resources to help parishes in their work of authentic liturgical renewal, Bartlett told the Register.
“First, through the Source & Summit Missal,” he said, “and, secondly, throughout the Source & Summit ‘Digital Platform’ for liturgy and music preparation. Both resources are designed to be used together, but they also can be used independently, based upon the needs of the parish.”
A Missal Set Apart
According to Bartlett, the Source & Summit Missal, first published in 2021, is the flagship of Source & Summit’s offerings.
“When you first hold the missal,” he said, “you immediately realize it was designed for something sacred and important. The custom cover art, whether it’s St. Gabriel the Archangel or Christ the High Priest, is set in gold leaf that radiates from the front cover, immediately drawing its viewers into the beauty of the liturgy.”
Describing the missal’s contents, Bartlett said that “while it offers parishes much of what they would expect to find in a pew missal or hymnal, such as the Lectionary readings and Order of Mass, what sets the Source & Summit Missal apart is its presentation of all of the texts that the Church invites us to sing in the Mass, paired with simple, beautiful melodies. This includes the Entrance, Offertory and Communion Antiphons, each of which can be sung in simple, congregation-friendly settings or to one of eight simple tones. This is in addition to the Responsorial Psalm and Alleluia, as well as the various special chants that occur throughout the year.”
Recalling the September 2020 directives on evaluating Catholic hymnody issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, Bartlett said that the Source & Summit Missal also “contains over 400 hymns in English, Latin and Spanish that come from the core repertoire of time-tested, theologically sound hymnody for both liturgical and devotional use.”
The Source & Summit Digital Platform, Bartlett noted, provides subscribers with a variety of features, including tools to help music directors, liturgists and pastors prepare for weekly and daily liturgies.
“With the help of a dynamic interface that pulls together the various Mass texts for any given liturgy, allowing for point-and-click preparation,” Bartlett told the Register, “as well as an expansive music library, liturgy preparation has never been easier.”
“One of the platform’s distinctive features is the ability to prepare a fully customized Order of Worship, including music and readings, that can be delivered as a booklet or bulletin insert, as customized music scores for the choir, or even shared digitally for mobile and tablet viewing,” Bartlett said, adding, “If there is musical content that a parish is not finding on the platform, they can upload their own. Through this interface, they can prepare all the musical and liturgical content needed for just about any Mass.”
An important practical benefit of the Source & Summit Digital Platform, Bartlett said, looks to help parishes sidestep the high cost of licensing services that other liturgical publishers demand due to copyright, licensing and other fees.
Jethro Higgins, Source & Summit’s director of marketing, spent nearly a decade working for the liturgical publisher Oregon Catholic Press. According to Higgins, parishes have greater freedom in how they use the music that Source & Summit provides than they would with other liturgical publishers. Many parish music and liturgy directors, he explained, are hampered by the copyright restrictions that legacy liturgical music publishers place on the use of their music.
“For example,” he said, “if, as a music director, you find the default key of a piece of music is difficult for your musicians or for your congregation, with Source & Summit, you can change that key to one that is more comfortable for their range or skill level. But with the music from legacy liturgical publishers, because of copyright laws and other legal restrictions, music directors are prevented from creating derivative works; this includes transposing music into another key and sharing it with your music program.”
“For example,” Higgins added, “if the piece is only written in the key of G-flat, then in most cases, you’re not legally allowed to disseminate a version of the sheet music in the much easier key of G. But with our hassle-free licensing promise, Source & Summit takes a more forward-thinking approach with licensing, which allows us to give more freedom to parishes in how they use the content they are paying for.”
According to Bartlett, pricing for Source & Summit resources is based on the size of the parish and provides a sliding scale based on parish size. That means that a parish of fewer than 50 registered families can subscribe to the “Essentials Plan” for $219 per year (which includes basic online access), while a parish with more than 2,500 registered families that can also add 700 missals to their subscription would subscribe at $4,584 per year (which includes complete Digital Platform access and the annual Source & Summit Missal).
As the price ranges suggest, Bartlett sees Source & Summit is an affordable investment for a parish of any size because a parish of any size will find a Source & Summit plan that is right for them, no matter the limitations of resources and personnel.
“Singing the Mass can be done anywhere,” Bartlett said, “whether in an urban cathedral or country parish. Any parish can sing the Mass beautifully and with integrity, even if it’s in an extremely simple form.”
Msgr. John Cihak, pastor of Christ the King Parish in Milwaukie, Oregon, started subscribing to the Source & Summit Digital Platform during its pilot phase in 2020 and then added the Source & Summit Missal in 2021. Because his parish has more than 1,300 families and a grammar school to keep him busy, he has found Source & Summit to be a convenient and time-saving resource.
“Source & Summit has helped me because their missal and digital platform are eminently practical,” he said. “As a pastor, I don’t have the time to find the content necessary for a beautiful liturgy, and I found that Source & Summit has already done that work for us. My sacred music director got familiar with these resources and started incorporating them gradually into the liturgy.”
Before coming to Christ the King, from 2009 to 2018, Msgr. Cihak served as an official for the Congregation of Bishops and papal master of ceremonies in the Vatican. His four years of service under Pope Benedict XVI and five years with Pope Francis have helped him grow in his understanding of the Church’s view of the liturgy. It is an understanding he was keen to share with his parishioners at Christ the King.
“We strive at Christ the King to celebrate the sacred liturgy as asked for by Vatican II,” he said.
To help implement the Council’s vision of the liturgy in his parish, Msgr. Cihak said that Source & Summit is an invaluable resource “to help people understand and see the beauty of the liturgy. Once they get the beauty of it, the whole tenor of the Mass changes. Since we started using Source & Summit, I’ve had people say to me, ‘Mass is more prayerful, more peaceful. It’s easier to pray.’”
For more information about Source & Summit and its resources, or to request a free review copy, visit SourceandSummit.com or call (888) 462-7780.
Joseph O’Brien Register correspondent Joseph O’Brien writes from Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin. This article originally appear here at the National Catholic Register and is reposted here with permission.