No missals or hymnals in your pew? Get an e-Missal with hymns!

As we return to church on Sundays following the pandemic, chances are your missal booklet did not return (a virus transmission touchpoint). Sure, you can use a handy missal app on your mobile device and read along.

Read, not sing.

If you want the hymns, you have to go to the music license holder. That is why Oregon Catholic Press, a major U.S. Catholic liturgical music publisher, produced a missal app for this 2021 liturgical year that includes popular hymns and other musical selections used at Mass.

Breaking Bread 2021 ($4.99 annual) Apple | Android is likely the only app in the market that offers not only the texts for Mass (readings, prayers, responses, propers etc.) but the music to give you an opportunity to engage more fully at Mass on Sundays and holy days. It’s approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for use in the United States and tailored to the U.S. liturgical calendar for the Roman Rite. Here’s a video overview of the app…

OCP’s app includes a generous portion of its extensive catalogue of contemporary and traditional hymns along with all those sung parts of liturgies. Yes, that included the Easter Triduum. The moment you open the app, you’ll see the complete texts of the Mass for the next Sunday’s liturgy all in order (very easy to read). Music is the variable, of course, because each church makes its own selections. That’s where this app diverges from other missal apps; while it offers music, it is up to you to insert the selections where prompted in the text.

So Breaking Bread 2021 requires a bit of preparation so the entire missal—text and music—scrolls in the palm of your hand. No flipping pages from text to music. This ideal use of the app requires you to find out your parish’s Sunday hymn selections beforehand (perhaps check the parish’s online bulletin).

If you don’t want to go through that level of preparation, you can also access the music on the fly by typing in the selection’s name or number in the app’s search field during Mass.

Screen shot from Oregon Catholic Press’ eMissal, Breaking Bread 2021. Music is NOT going to be offered in any other missal app out there.

Happily, you can increase font size and change light settings to night mode so as to not distract your fellow pew-sitters. Unfortunately, you can’t zoom the text of the music lyrics–a major flaw with this app.

Another stumbling block is the church jargon which correctly labels the “Gospel Acclamation” or “Pres. & Prep. of Gifts,” but most Catholics likely do not know what those titles allude to. And do you want a “Penitential Act” with our without “Invocations”? I just don’t think most people will understand that jargon.

If you prefer a printed text,  the Breaking Bread app provides a pdf file you can print out to read at home or take with you to church (Missals may not be returning to pews any time soon). It’s up to you to print the correct music selections.

So, with the use of church-jargon and all kinds of options we may not be used to choosing, I think the best use for this app would be for a parish employee to set it up on the parish end (if the parish is legally subscribed to OCP) thereby compiling a text/music PDF missal. The parish can provide a link to the pdf and/or provide a QR code online (or on their video feed) for users to access. This is something St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City does. Works like a charm for us when we access their livestream Mass on YouTube. Just shoot the QR code and you instantly get the missal/hymnal in the palm of your hand. 

The other drawback to this app is the annual $4.99 fee. Music licensing fees must (and rightfully should) be paid.

We take it for granted that we used to have music supplied to us in our pew. We also take it for granted that if you pay a modest fee for other missal apps (although most are free), you’ll likely get a bonus offering like a digital Bible or other liturgies (including complete daily Mass) with free text updates each liturgical season. That’s the expectation in the marketplace. But you won’t get the music.

Keep in mind that $4.99 investment for a digital missal/hymnal is limited to Sunday/Holy Days and only in this liturgical year, 2021. No free updates for the next liturgical year which we presume you can purchase in the fall of 2021.

Is the Breaking Bread app worth it?

It depends on whether you want the hymns and other liturgical music like responsorial psalms for your personal use. Personally, I definitely want the lyrics, but the music would be nice. Perhaps the issue is mute if you attend a church that projects hymn lyrics on giant screens.

While I don’t see parishes expecting congregants to bring in their personally-sourced music in this way, I do see parishes who subscribe to the OCP missals offering missals in PDF format as a free download or a handy QR code we can use to open up our custom missal on our mobile device.

Check out OCP’s Breaking Bread comprehensive FAQ page for more details on using this app.

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Categories: Blog for Catholic Apptitude

Author:Jennifer Kane

Content Evangelist, Jennifer Kane, is a secular Carmelite (OCDS), wife, mother, grandmother who worked for more than 30 years in marketing/communications which included 20 years in radio broadcasting including news director. She holds degrees in Journalism/Communication (BA) and English (MA) from St. Bonaventure University. In 2016 she authored the Vatican application for minor basilica status for The Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels in Olean, New York. Pope Francis granted that title in 2017. Research on the basilica formed the basis of her history book, A Place Set Apart. She previously authored the book, A Worthy and Capable Clergyman, the second part of the history book in a slightly different format. She is founder and editor of the website, CatholicAPPtitude.org, the #1 English language website cataloging/reviewing Catholic apps for mobile devices.

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