Catholic musicians gathered to blog about liturgy and life
Praying for Baby Wood's speedy and safe delivery. What a fortunate child to grow up surrounded by beautiful music and poetry!
Indeed a fortunate child. Regarding recent comments about Renaissance composers, would anyone like to comment on the following? In the first decade of the 19th century an obscure European court commissioned settings of the Ordinary of the Mass which led to the late six Masses of Haydn, the crown of that great composer's career, the Mass in C of Beethoven, and five splendid Masses by Hummel, who is unjustly neglected (I am listening to one of his Masses as I type).
I remember walking into Brompton Oratory in 1973 and being hit by Haydn's 'Nelson' Mass – after years of 'kumbaya' and 'Michael row the boat ashore' I was immediately reconnected to Catholicism.
Hello, JP! I can't imagine the thrill of walking into a church and hearing music on that scale. It would never happen in my diocese that is for sure. I don't know any of the Masses you mention but will look them up. The only Hadyn Mass I know is the Paukenmesse which is spectacular of course. My husband and I are very fond of Bach's Mass in B minor but I'm not familiar with very many orchestral Masses.
The Brompton Oratory is a very special place. When I go to London, I always try to attend Sunday Mass there, as well as at Westminster Cathedral, and evensong at Westminster Abbey and St. Paul;s Cathedral.
Hearing these very special Masses on occasion aids in the attendance at the usual parish Mass; one recalls the beauty of the experience, and, since it is the same Mass everywhere, the recollection of that wonderful Mass helps to make up for the limitations of the parish Mass.
Many of us can recall the time when a really beautiful Mass helped to rejuvenate our faith; for me, it was simply Gregorian Masses for Holy Week.
Four years ago the feast of Pentecost coincided with the bicentenary of Haydn's death, and B XVI marked it with the liturgical use of the composers last (and arguably greatest) Mass setting, the Harmoniemesse. The application of the late 18th century symphonic style to the Ordinary of the Mass works brilliantly; the through-composed style is not overlong, although it's better suited to the EF (the long Benedictus should be sung after the Consecration). Nor is Hummel second-rate Haydn; his use of the brass and woodwind is individual and innovative, and his soaring melodic lines are memorable.
I recall Easter Sunday Mass in Prague in 1993 (Jakobskirche) where the resident choir and orchestra gave us the Mass in D by Dvorak, which is probably the last in that great tradition. A schola of twenty university students provided the Propers, and the Mass was mostly in Latin. Standing room only, and the sermon was too long (and in Czech). But as soon as the priest intoned "Credo in Unum Deum" and choir, soloists and orchestra burst forth in what can only be called Brucknerian splendour, I was utterly transported. A young girl standing next to me had tears streaming down her face.
The Easter Mass in Prague sounds like heaven! I'm listening to the Dvorak Mass in D now on YouTube; it's very moving.
Thanks for mentioning the Harmoniemesse also. Absolutely delightful. I listened to YouTube, but I'm happy to see that John Eliot Gardiner has a recording of this and the Schopfungmesse— since I'm partial to his work.
Must be lovely to visit all these amazing places and hear such splendid choral music! I've never attended an actual orchestral Mass, though I've heard recordings. It must be quite a moving experience.
To be fair, the London Oratory doesn't have an orchestra very often (Xmas Midnight Mass, and perhaps St Philip's Day) and usually the organ has to stand in. The same goes for the other English Oratories, and I read today that York is to get a Congregation, which means that there will be five (London and Birmingham having been joined by Oxford and Manchester). Wherever they go it means Latin Masses in both forms, exemplary ars celebrandi, and good music.
Dr Mahrt's comment about evensong is apposite, since with the Ordinariate this service (combining vespers and compline) is now part of Catholic liturgy. Benedict XVI is certainly the pope of Christian unity.
Another bit of good news. A high proportion of young men applying for the priesthood in Westminster diocese say they are influenced by the Old Mass. Only a few years ago they would have been shown the door. Not any longer, and I understand the situation in the USA is similar.
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