Friday, January 28, 2011

Tu es Petrus

In his earlierpost Jeff gives us a pointer to the PapalMusic YouTube channel, one I discovered a while ago. And fantastic it is too!

I wanted though to pick another piece of music from that channel that I had wished he'd selected.

Imagine this. You are the Pope. You've come to England and Scotland on a State as well as pastoral visit. The "Magic Circle" of liberal bishops have put together a prayer vigil in Hyde Park that looks like a combination of televangalist kitsch meets sci-fi movie set with more kum-by-ya than you can wave a pontifical crozier at. Westminster Abbey has pulled out all of the stops and threatens to be the liturgical highlight of the visit. You are saying mass at Westminster Cathedral and you want it to be the exemplar of how the Ordinary Form should be said, you want to make your point to the bishops by example. It has the potential to go quite horribly wrong.

Or does it?

At Westminster now is an ArchBishop, who in spite of his leftist leanings on social teaching is the product of his time as Cardinal Hume's Auxilliary and has been schooled in the late Cardinal's appreciation for dignified liturgy. Assisting him is the Administrator of the Cathedral Canon Chris Tuckwell, a former Grenadier Guards officer with an understanding of "occasion" having been involved in state occasions as a soldier. With him is a highly intelligent and orthodox Sub-Administrator Fr Slavomir Witon. The Master of Music, Martin Baker, is a fine musician with an ear for the right music in the right place. In the background of this small group is Msgr Marini the Papal Master of Ceremonies.

A decision was taken, and it was a fine decision. Before the introit would be a motet, Tu es Petrus, and it would have to set the tone for the occasion. There are many fine settings, but it was fitting and proper to commission a new setting. The Cathedral commissioned James MacMillan.

James is a committed, orthodox Catholic. He (in spite of being a world famous composer) conducts his little church choir in Glasgow. He loves this Pope. He understands liturgy, he understands that when the Pope enters the Cathedral, the Mother Church of England that his music must say something about who the Holy Father is. And so he writes his piece. As Fr Z would say, MacMillan "gets it", he really, really "Gets It!"

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