While considering what exactly I wanted to say in this post, I remembered reading an amazing essay I believe was composed by young Marc Barnes, the purveyor of BadCatholic Blog that typified virtually all of the traits and aspects that are most toxic about the Catholic Blogospheres. If someone can locate this article and provide a link, I’d be greatly in your debt. It needs to be read by any habitués, casual or calcified, of cyber-Catholicism.
Recently, Jeffrey provided me a golden opportunity to review a Mass setting that crossed his desk that caught his eye, Mass of the Mediatrix by Dr. Patrick O’Shea. And that was a gift that is going to keep on giving, as we read it thoroughly in rehearsal last week, and it confirmed that yes, Virginia, there are great Catholic composers out there not named Kevin Allen. (Joke, just a joke.) But as Jeffrey, myself and others took note, this setting’s pedigree line is tenuous, at best, to the chant ethos; it is decidedly a choral Mass, an incredibly worthy, singable and beautiful choral Mass.
In my review of the Glory, I made a very slight observation that I didn’t quite understand the necessity in the very opening phrase to have the soprano/alto sections singing “Glory to God in the highest,” while the tenor/bass voices omit “in the” ostensibly to set up the suspension in the tenors cleanly. I get that. I’ve done that in my composed companion Gloria to Proulx’s Oecumenica Mass with the women declaiming “You are seated at the right hand of the Father” and the men following in canon, but with “You are …. at the right hand of the Father.” These are the oblique concerns involved with multi-part text setting that, as Jake (Tawney?) pointed out below composers have had to figure out how to parce out since polyphony made its- (choose one) 1. ruinous; 2. miraculous- debut, doubtless first in what is now “France.”
Pax Christi et Soli Deo Gloria.