Thursday, 13 December 2012

Liverpudlian to be next Apostolic Nuncio to Australia

It was announced on Tuesday that the next Apostolic Nuncio to Australia will be the Most Reverend Paul Gallagher, who hails from Liverpool.

Read his CV here, and see information here and here.

Several Australian Sees remain vacant.

New Apostolic Nuncio to Australia

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Westminster Cathedral Choir sings at Eleventh International Festival of Sacred Music and Art

The Fondazione Pro Musica e Arte Sacra held its eleventh Festival in Rome and the Vatican recently, during the course of which visiting choirs and resident ones alike sang at various Masses and concerts.

The Choir of Westminster Cathedral sang at Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, and gave at least one concert.

At the Mass, celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the Offertory motet was the glorious eight-part Victoria Ave Maria, with the Choir showing every bit of the rich, continental sound for which they are celebrated.  Indeed, one even has cause to consider whether this might be precisely the sound the Iberian composer had envisaged for his music. 

At communion: 

At the concert the day before in St Mary Major the Choir sang the exhilarating Mawby Ave verum corpus

The programme suggests that this concert was a joint one with the Sistine Chapel Choir, that Choir singing music of the Roman School and the Westminster Cathedral Choir singing music form the British Isles.  The Youtube video suggests that Colin Mawby was directing his own piece.  This might well be the case as I’ve read that he was instrumental in organising the closer collaboration of the London and Vatican choirs.  If he were present, what could have been more fitting than for him to conduct his own composition? 

The Choir had the honour of singing for the Pope as well.  

Thursday, 8 November 2012

All Souls in London and Sydney

In London, at the Cathedral on the north side of the Thames, the Mass setting was the Anerio Requiem - beautiful  well-structured Italian polyphony in a style akin to that of the great Palestrina.  The said Cathedral has recorded this work.  And here is a wonderful video of the Bach Collegium of San Diego singing the Introit and Kyrie:

At the Oratory on Brompton Road it was the sublime Victoria Requiem, with sackbuts and cornetts.  

In Sydney, the setting was the Faure Requiem, and it was sung by the Cathedral Choir quite stunningly. The Mass was well attended, especially considering that it was Friday evening.  The Cardinal was present in choir, having returned that very evening from the Synod for New Evangelisation in Rome, of which he was a member. The Mass was celebrated by the Dean of the Cathedral ad orientem at the front altar in the main Sanctuary.  

Incidentally, Westminster Cathedral will be singing the Durufle Requiem for Armistice/Remembrance Day.  This year, the 11/11 happens to fall on a Sunday, however I am given to understand that in the UK, the second Sunday in November is known as Remembrance Sunday, and is the official commemoration of those who served in the Great War (and later conflicts).  The Cathedral Choir then heads off to Rome for the International Festival of Sacred Music and Art where they will sing at a Mass in St Peter's Basilica on Tuesday 13 November.  More to come on that.  

Monday, 5 November 2012

Update to Maestro Reuss and Bach Mass in B minor

As I write this, the fabulous performance of the Bach Mass in B minor that I drew attention to in an earlier post is being broadcast across Australia on ABC Classic FM.

How lovely that this music is being shared even more widely!

A reminder that you can listen to the whole performance again on YouTube, courtesy of the Dutch public broadcaster:

Monday, 8 October 2012

Solesmes Singing the Mass - Update

By way of update to my posts on Singing the Mass (compiled by the author of this blog and published by Solesmes), below is an adapted version of the preface to the book.

First, here are some sample pages of the book.  Click in the centre to enlarge.  

Preface (abridged and adapted)

"In the newly implemented English edition of the Roman Missal (promulgated in 2010, published and implemented in 2011) we not only have a book that more closely mirrors the normative Latin edition of the Missal of Pope Paul VI, but one that also beautifully captures the ancient and venerable melodies to which the text of the Roman Rite Mass is sung.  

In the most basic respect, the Missal contains the dialogues and acclamations in which the faithful are called to participate, as they have been through the ages. Credible church documents have consistently exhorted the celebrant and faithful to engage in sung exchanges, and this is the primary way in which the voices of the faithful may ring out at the Holy Mass, praising God and giving their assent to the liturgical and sacrificial acts undertaken in His name. 

Then there are the other unchanging parts of the Mass, the Ordinary chants: the Kýrie, Glória, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei.  These, too, are conducive to participation by the faithful for the regularity with which they are sung. The latest English edition of the Roman Missal includes a simple vernacular chant version of all of these parts of the Mass, to establish a common repertoire of music for the Mass throughout the English-speaking world. Importantly, the Greek/Latin equivalents of the Kýrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, and incidentally also the Pater Noster, as they appear in the normative Latin edition of the Missal have been included as alternatives. Further chant settings of the Ordinary in Greek and Latin, many dating back to the 10th century, are printed in a separate authoritative volume: the Graduale Romanum, the Church’s only official ‘song book’, which was revised and republished after and in furtherance of the Second Vatican Council’s resolutions. 

For the gathered congregation, their participation is at its most apparent when singing these parts of the very celebration of Mass itself.  Yet participating in this same manner in respect of the other parts of the Mass that ought to be sung is not “of the essence” for the congregation, either because those parts are the preserve of the ordained (the Collect, the Eucharistic Prayer, etc) or because they are more suited to the schola (the Propers, i.e. the Introit, Offertorio, etc – all of which are to be found in the aforementioned Graduale in that style of music that the Second Vatican Council confirmed as the supreme model of sung prayer – Gregorian chant).  The participation of the faithful, however, should be no less diminished in these circumstances, instead manifested by listening, receiving, seeing and praying (for the Mass as a whole is indeed the highest form of prayer). 

In order purposefully to foster the singing of the Roman Rite, and particularly the participation of the faithful, Singing the Mass includes, on opposite pages, the current English Order of Mass from the 2010 Roman Missal) and the corresponding Latin Ordo Missæ from the 2002 Missale Romanum (as amended in 2008). Also included are several of the more well-known chant settings each of the Glória, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin, so that these prayers may be sung by the people in Latin, where so desired (in accordance with the the Second Vatican Council’s exhortation to this effect).  The book, therefore, provides the necessary people’s parts to facilitate a sung or said Vatican II Mass celebrated entirely in English, entirely in Latin, or in English interspersed with Latin, much like the 2010 English Missal with its various Latin alternatives, as described above. 

Thus, priests in parishes throughout the English-speaking world have the utmost flexibility when choosing how to celebrate the Mass. They can be assured that the people will be able to participate fully in the parts that pertain to them. Many, probably most, will choose to sing the Mass entirely in English, and the people will accordingly avail themselves of the pages on the left hand side. Some will choose to sing just a few parts in Latin, for example the Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei. In such cases, the people need only cast their eyes to the opposite side of the page for the relevant parts in Latin. Or, if desired, the Order of Mass may be sung entirely in Latin according to the Ordinary Form, with the readings, the homily, the Prayer of the Faithful, etc being in English. This book, therefore, accommodates the particular pastoral circumstances of any given parish, both at present and into the future. 

On eve of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, it is apt to recall one of the opening paragraphs of the document on the liturgy that the Council eventually settled upon, Sacrosanctum Concilium: 

"In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle; we sing a hymn to the Lord’s glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ, until He, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with Him in glory" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, para 8). 

Our earthly liturgies should always hearken to the great heavenly liturgy. Each celebration should be noble, worthy, sincere, faithful and beautiful and at all times directed towards heaven, to God the almighty Father. Chanting at least some of the texts of the Mass, through which Truth itself in all its mystery is revealed to us, is surely a pre-requisite to satisfying these criteria. As Pope Benedict XVI said in his letter on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music (26 May 2011): 

"… in light of the conciliar constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, [Popes Paul VI and John Paul II] reiterated the purpose of sacred music, that is to say, ‘the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful’ and the fundamental criteria of the corresponding tradition ... a sense of prayer, dignity, and beauty; full adherence to liturgical texts and expressions; the assembly’s participation and, therefore, the legitimate adaptation to local culture, at the same time maintaining the universality of language; the primacy of Gregorian chant as the supreme model of sacred music and the careful assessment of other expressive forms that make up the historical-liturgical patrimony of the Church, especially but not just polyphony; and the importance of the ‘schola cantorum’, particularly in cathedral churches."

The celebration of the Catholic Mass is a solemn act of sacrifice and devotion. When the words of the Mass are set to music, particularly in the chant style, the celebration takes on an even greater sense of gravity and beauty. The hope is that Singing the Mass may assist those who use it to participate fully, consciously and actively in the singing of the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries, and that it contributes to the continuation of the great musical tradition of the universal Church, which, in the words of Vatican II, is "a treasure of inestimable value.""

Reviews of the book

Thank you to all those who have made comments about the book by way of review.  I'm so glad to hear it is having a positive impact in parishes and seminaries across different lands.  

"This book contains the Order of Mass with chants in both Latin and English. It includes the most frequently used settings of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, as well as other chants for the parish Mass.  This latest Gregorian Chant book from Solesmes will be a much needed asset and resource as the Church begins work with the new Mass translations." (Paraclete Press)

"This volume is a watershed in the history of Gregorian chant: Solesmes has published chanted music in the vernacular. And a glorious thing it is. At last, the highest ranks of liturgical expression have seen what a gift English really is to the faithful. This book makes possible beautiful singing in every parish and religious community. It immediately becomes an indispensable item in the real and eternal worlds of sung prayer." (Jeffrey Tucker, Church Music Association of America)

"This pew-book, 279 pages in hard cover, is a most welcome addition to the bumper crop of liturgical aids being printed as a result of the new English translation of the Mass. With the Latin and English texts/chants on facing pages, it is possible to use this book for Masses entirely in Latin, entirely in English, or partially in each language. The lay-out is very attractive and easy to follow. This work will be a great boon to promoting the kind of liturgical celebration envisioned by the Fathers of Vatican II but rarely realized. Highly recommended." (Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.)

"Recently published book, Singing the Mass:- AN EXTREMELY USEFUL AND PRACTICAL book of collected Mass chants in both Latin and English (new translation) with this title has been published by Solesmes, at the instigation of Christopher Barlow, who deserves much credit for his achievement. It will be fully reviewed in the next edition of Latin Liturgy, but we can already recommend it warmly. The price is approximately 25 euros, with a 50% discount for 50 copies or more." (Latin Liturgy Vol 141, Association for Latin Liturgy, UK)

"This volume is a very exciting sign of progress in our present chant revival. Nothing like it has come before from Solesmes." (Adam Bartlett, CMAA) "[This] fine effort that will surely be of great use to parishes and musicians throughout the English-speaking world." (Ibid)

"Celebrate the liturgy with the reverence of Gregorian chant.  Featuring the new English translation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition, this beautifully bound book—published by the monks of the Abbaye Saint-Perre de Solesmes in France—presents English and Latin on facing pages for all of the chants of the Order of Mass. … Offering both solemn and simple tones in the Gregorian chant style, Singing the Mass also contains a shorter Kyriale with nine complete settings in Greek/Latin, chants in English and Latin for the Sprinkling Rite, as well as alternative settings of the Lord's Prayer—including well-known settings in the U.S. (Snow), U.K. (Rimsky-Korsakov) and Australia." (Oregon Catholic Press)

"Two fine books for the Novus Ordo:- 
The concern of Pope Benedict to promote a renewed sense of the sacred in the celebration of Mass has had its effect in the publication of many books and resources - see New Liturgical Movement and the Musica Sacra if you are a Church musician and don't already know of the high quality, copyright-free resources that are there to help your choir aim for the best.
Two books that have kindly been sent to me by the publishers illustrate this trend. Les Editions de Solesmes have produced "Singing the Mass" which was put together by Christopher Barlow of Sydney, and approved by Cardinal Pell. It contains the sung Order of Mass in Latin and English, and a selection of Masses from the Graduale which would constitute an ambitious repertoire for a parish choir - much along the lines that my own has managed over the past few years. Musical notation is "square notes" throughout, which I think is sensible - choirs need to learn how to read the traditional notation and with practice, it becomes easier. The book looks and feels like something made for serious worship, printed beautifully on light, off-white paper. You can order copies from the Solesmes website at 25 Euros each. There is a 50% discount for orders of more than 50 copies. 
[Then follows a review about the CTS Daily Missal] 
These resources are a reminder of the value that we place on the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and of all materials associated with it. They tell us in their own way, that we only give the best to Almighty God."  
(Fr Tim Finigan, The Hermeneutic of Continuity blog)

"I don't have the [new] Gregorian Missal. I do have Solesmes' "Singing the Mass" (which I heartily recommend). I can confirm it is ictus-less." (Commenter on the Musica Sacra blog)

"The Second Vatican Council encouraged the Mass to be sung according to the simple, beautiful, and timeless melodies of the Roman Rite. They are contained in the Missale Romanum of Pope Paul VI.  In the new Roman Missal in English (2010), we see the excellent adaption of these chants from the original Latin into the vernacular. To coincide with the new English translation of the Missal, Solesmes has published a new book—Singing the Mass—containing all the chants of the Order of Mass in English and Latin on facing pages. Singing the Mass is for use by the people, and serves to encourage sung celebrations of the Vatican II Mass." (Gregorian Institute of America)

"The text for Vidi Aquam (inside Easter time) and Asperges (for the rest of the year) are clearly in the Missal. The music for Vidi is even in the Missal for those who want English, and Solesmes has provided a beautiful Asperges in English. These are chants. They are in the Missal. These are real chants, with real histories. They are familiar and very beautiful." (Jeffrey Tucker, CMAA)

"Yesterday there arrived to my door all the way from Solesmes in France the copy of "Singing the Mass" I ordered. It has the Order of Mass in English (new translation) and Latin with all the chants in proper plainsong notation. Fuller details are available at the link above but one or two things are worth a mention.

The English and Latin texts and music are printed on facing pages which enable one to switch from one to another with ease and to make comparisons regarding the setting of the English texts with the Latin originals.

The work appears to have originated in Australia and carries the imprimatur of Cardinal Pell. Two interesting British inclusions appear to be an alternative setting of the Lord's Prayer courtesy of Westminster Cathedral and an Alleluia by Dom Gregory Murray O.S.B. This last piece I have used for many years having first heard it sung in Clifton Cathedral about thirty years ago. It also features on a disc of chant I got last year but this is the first time I have seen its source acknowledged. I have particularly favoured it as a means of giving the well-known Easter triple alleluia a break." 
(Porta Caeli blog)

Purchasing the book

Singing the Mass may be purchased from individual sellers such as (US) Paraclete Press, GIA, OCP, Aquinas and MoreCatholic Church Supply (UK) Royal School of Church Music, Foyles.

Alternatively, purchase the book directly from Solesmes, with the following discounts applying:

20% (5-19 books)
30% (20-49 books)
50% (50 or more books) (email

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Consummate performance of the Bach B minor Mass

This is extraordinary in many respects.  On 30 August 2012, in the Jacobikerk, Utrecht, the Dutch Capella Amsterdam, accompanied by the Belgian period instrument ensemble Il Gardellino, performed Bach's chef d'oeuvre, the Messe in h-moll. The director was Daniel Reuss. This performance confirms that in Reuss we have a new Bach master conductor. 

Of the many excellent performances that I have listened to, either on disc or live, I would say this is the best, and I do not use the superlative lightly.  Now, opining on performances of the Mass in B minor is a bit like expressing an opinion of Handel's Messiah. It is such an oft-performed and recorded work, with a wide scope for interpretive decision:  Period instruments or modern?  Large choir or small, or even one or two voices per part?  Counter-tenors or mezzos, boy trebles or female sopranos?  No one person will agree with the next over which is the 'proper' interpretation of the score, or which is the best performance technique, let alone which is the best performance. Endless comparisons invariably ensue.  

The above comments notwithstanding, here is why I love this performance, and consider it to be "one for the ages".   

There is a liveliness in this performance that is neither contrived nor overwhelming.  The conductor gives primacy to the score, the occasional ornamentation being natural and, importantly, subtle, complementing rather than competing with the work's innate spirituality, energy and beauty. The tempi are very well chosen.

As for the recording quality, the Dutch radio station Radio 4 and the Algemene Vereniging Radio Omroep have utterly excelled themselves, capturing the sound of the choir, soloists and ensemble with a clarity to rival (and in many respects better) studio recordings, but there is also a warmth and spontaneity that one would expect in a live recording. A lot of this is also down to the expert balance that the conductor achieves between choir and orchestra.  (A good word must also be said about the audience - very few coughs!!)

Indeed, this performance quite easily competes with (and arguably betters) the so-called 'reference recordings' of the B minor Mass: 
  • Collegium Vocale Gent (Ghent), Herreweghe (period instruments) (the 1998 Harmonia Mundi version)
  • Taverner Consort, Parrott (period instruments, two voices per part) (Virgin Classics)
  • Gächinger Kantorei & Bach Collegium Stuttgart, Rilling (modern instruments) (the 1999 version) (Hänssler)
  • Monteverdi Choir & English Baroque Soloists, Gardiner (period instruments) (Archiv Produktion)
  • Netherlands Chamber Choir & Orchestra of the 18th Century, Brüggen (period instruments, recording of live performance) (Philips, aptly) (the one from the early 1990s with the wonderful Michael Chance, although apparently Brüggen has recorded the work again, also with Orchestra of the 18th Century, and the Cappella Amsterdam as in the instant case, in a live performance from in Poland in 2009 - must investigate)
  • King's Consort, King (period instruments) (Hyperion Records)

If there is anything which I might have wished were done differently, it would be that for some of the alto parts they had used a counter tenor - for example, the Qui sedes solo, and the Et in unum duet with soprano.  A very minor point, hardly worth mentioning given the standard of the mezzos.  

Some highlights:
  • the natural horn and the bassoon in the Quoniam tu solus (the reason why only period instruments will do)
  • the passus et sepultus est of the Crucifixus is one of the most tenderly sung I've ever heard, and the Et resurrexit that follows is positively explosive
  • the oboes in the Et in Spiritum
  • the tenors singing the pleni sunt caeli of the Sanctus (which as a whole is surely one of the great choral fugues)
Even where there might be other recordings in which an individual movement might be regarded as 'superior', there is no doubt in my mind that the supreme quality of every singly movement of this performance makes its whole far far greater than the mere sum of its parts.

The penultimate word must go to the maestro.  I first came across Reuss when he conducted the RIAS Kammerchor and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin in a recording of Handel's Solomon, which I believe to be the first definitive recording of that work (and which I purchased, incidentally, at the wonderful Heffers in Cambridge - support classical music shops please, lest they disappear for good!).  Apart from obvious technical competence, he seems perfectly attuned to the spirit of the works he conducts, and he brings to bear a certain astuteness when interpreting a score that sets him apart as a master director.   

And finally, that all this has been provided in high definition by Dutch public broadcasting - free on Youtube - is perhaps the most extraordinary thing of all.  Thank you for letting this marvellous music, and extraordinarily good performance, be shared around the world.  I, for one, am very grateful indeed. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney to decide episcopal appointments

Nestled away in the "Other Pontifical acts" section of the Vatican Information Service on Saturday (22 September 2012) was this piece of information of interest to Antipodeans and the wider Catholic Church:
"The Holy Father appointed: ...
Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, as a member of the Congregation for Bishops."

This means that Cardinal Pell will be asked to opine on the suitability of episcopal candidates. Together with with those of the other members of the Congregation, his Eminence's views as to the best candidate for a particular diocese shall be conveyed to the Pope, with the Holy father usually accepting the majority recommendation.

Several Australian sees remain vacant.

Cardinal Pell ordains eight men earlier this year

The Pope and the Cardinal converse during WYD 2008

The Pope is accompanied by the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney and the (now) Bishop of Parramatta

Cardinal Pell in the foreground, and his Cathedral in Sydney

Celebrating the Chrism Mass 2012

Monday, 24 September 2012

Music for the Ordination of Monsignor Egan as the Eight Bishop of Portsmouth


Download the Order of Service here.

The Ordination is due to commence at 14.30 BST in the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, with processions starting at 13.30 during which there will be the following choral and organ music:

Exsultate iusti, Viadana

Ubi caritas, Gjeilo
Prelude and Fugue and in D major, Buxtehude
Jesu, joy of man's desiring, J. S. Bach
Psalm 150, Mawby (see this great video recording from Midnight Mass at Westminster Cathedral):

Holy Spirit, Inwood
Laudate Dominum, Berthier
Entree Pontificale, Bossi
If ye love me, Tallis (here sung at Westminster Abbey for the Pope's visit in 2010):

Praise to the Holiest in the height, Bl. John H. Newman

The Mass

Introit Salve Sancte Parens (listed in the Order of Service but not in fact sung due to the altar being incensed while the hymn, above, was still being sung). Given the new Bishop's views on Gregorian chant (see below), one can only imagine that he will establish a schola cantorum to sing in praise of God in the best traditions of the Roman Rite; to sing in a manner worthy of the Cathedral of which he is now in charge. The special choir formed for the celebration (with singers drawn from the parishes of Portsmouth) answered that description, so it is possible.

Mass Ordinary: Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei from Proulx, Community Mass, all in English; Kyrie from Dean, Sussex Mass, Greek.

Alleluia Diffusa est gratia from the Graduale.

Gospel sung in its entirety.

Preface was sung in its entirety, as were the words of consecration, according to the Missal tone, naturally. However, the Mystery of Faith was from the aforementioned Community Mass.  I've posted on this issue before, and this Ordination Mass provides another prime example of why the Missal acclamations at the Mystery of Faith should be preferred above all others.

In his address before the conclusion of the Mass, the new Bishop expressed his hope to be a humble, holy and orthodox Bishop.

On music, the Bishop wrote, in the Order of Service:

"I have tried to incorporate some of the plainsong chants for the feastday. Gregorian chant is always the 'native' music of the Roman Rite and the Church encourages us to give it pride of place in the liturgy (General Instruction of the Roman Missal 41), along with the use of the Latin language, especially in large-scale celebrations (Sacramentum Caritatis 62). I hope we will all rediscover the beautiful treasury of chant. With its changing moods and lilting melodies, it expresses so eloquently the prayer and affectivities of the human spirit in the presence of the Transcendent God.

In our post-modem culture, it is also critically important to incorporate other musical styles too. I have chosen parts of the Mass setting from A Community Mass by the celebrated North American composer Richard Proulx (d. 2010). It has great solemnity with interesting harmonies and rhythms. We will also sing some classic hymns: Blessed John Henry Newman's 'Praise to the Holiest', and two Marian hymns, '0 purest of creatures' and at the end 'Hail Queen of Heaven' by Fr John Lingard (d. 1851). During Holy Communion we will sing two pieces linked to the sacred realities symbolised by the episcopal coat of arms: Psalm 41, 'Like the deer that yearns for running streams', in a setting by Dom Gregory Murray (d. 1992) and 'Sweet Heart of Jesus', the latter a favourite of Canon Paddy Healey, my first parish priest when I was assistant at St Anthony's, Woodhouse Park. Please remember him at Mass today, as it is the first anniversary of his death."

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Portsmouth Ordination to be broadcast on excellent new website


The ordination to the episcopate of Monsignor Philip Egan will be webcast at this site at 13.30 (British Summer Time) this Monday 24 September (the actual Ordination will commence 1 hour later, but is preceded by various processions during which choral music will be sung - see my post above for details and to download the Order of Service).  The Monsignor will become the eight bishop of Portsmouth.  The current Archbishop of Westminster, the Very Rev Vincent Nichols, will be present, as will his predecessor, Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O'Connor (who was also, incidentally, once the bishop of Portsmouth). The Ordaining Bishop will be the outgoing Bishop of Portsmouth the Right Rev Crispian Hollis, assisted by the Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Rev Peter Smith and the Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Right Rev Mark Davies (the Bishop-elect was from Shrewsbury).

The website hosting the broadcast - - is actually quite amazing.  Masses from across the UK and Ireland may be viewed live, and watched again on demand (and even downloaded).

Screen shot of the churches the Masses at which are broadcast on

This really is a commendable service for those unable to make it to Mass (it would be particularly useful in places like nursing homes and hospitals, and even schools as the peerless UK Catholic Herald reports).  It is also a significant resource for those interested in liturgical affairs.  For example, it is possible to see the degree to which the Mass is sung in different places, and to see which Churches (particularly Cathedral Churches) have a dedicated schola cantorum to sing the Liturgy in the best traditions of the Roman Rite, as very strongly encouraged by the Second Vatican Council.  The Cathedral of St Peter in Belfast established one very recently, admirably showing that it is never too late to set things right.  You can hear them sing at the 11 o'clock Mass at the Cathedral every Sunday. And here is a video of the Choir singing the Schubert Mass in G for Easter 2010 (broadcast from the Cathedral via RTÉ): 

BBC Northern Ireland has also made a documentary about the Choir

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

More videos from Cologne Cathedral

It is now possible to acquaint oneself with the liturgies at Köln Cathedral by watching the domradio broadcasts from there of important celebrations throughout the Church's year, uploaded either to the domradio or to the Cathedral's own youtube channel.  

During the European summer holidays, visiting choirs are invited to sing for the Solemn Sung Mass at the Cathedral.  A few weeks ago, it was the Durham University Chamber Choir filling in, and they sang the Byrd Mass for Five Voices, as well as the Robert Parsons Ave Maria.  They have a very appealing soprano line, with a pleasing sound overall, although the use of choral effects for the "cum Sancto Spiritu" and "Amen" of the Gloria arguably could have been less 'deliberate'. 

And here is the resident liturgical choir singing at the Mass of Easter Sunday (in this video of the whole Mass there is the Easter Introit, Latin Chant Greeting, Confiteor and Collect, Rheinberger's Cantus Missae and much more that commends itself to one).  

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Vienna Boys' Choir Tour of Oz

The famous Vienna Boys' Choir (VBC) is this week embarking upon a lengthy tour of the Antipodes. The tour, which should prove to be very popular, is being marketed in a thoroughly modern fashion:

See also here. The choir is seeking to include two Australian members. 

The VBC is similar to the Vienna Mozart Boys' Choir (VMBC), apparently established in 1936 by a former choirmaster of the VBC.  It was the VMBC that, during a world tour, was stranded in Australia at the outbreak of WWII, and that ultimately formed the first boys' choir at the Cathedral of St Patrick in Melbourne. A programme from that tour states:
"For more than 500 years the Boys' Choirs have been the pride of cultured and music-loving Viennese people, maintaining a tradition of polyphonic singing unsurpassed anywhere in the world. As Viennese Choirboys Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Richter and many other famous musicians received their training and earliest inspiration".
In a rather tongue-in-cheek review, The Chicago Tribune asserted that "they put the birds to shame", and the New York World Telegram gushed "One actually suspected the angels must sing thus ... The audience was enchanted with the entire programme" (clearly this was an age when it was not a hangable offence for journalists to use the impersonal pronoun "one", and when "British English" spelling prevailed across the pond - unless of course there was some judicious editing of the quotes for the programme so as not to offend the sensibilities of the Antipodean audience!).

Programme for Concert  at the Adelaide Town Hall on Saturday, 12 August, 1939

One intriguing aspect of this tour is that the VBC will be singing a specially commissioned piece, by Uzbekistani-Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin, based on one of Australia's most well-known poems - My Country by Dorothea Mackellar (the one the second stanza of which starts "I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains ...").

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Assumption in Sydney

For the Feast of the Assumption at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney the Full Choir sang the Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus Dei from Victoria’s Missa Vidi Speciosam.  The Sanctus was from Mass IX for Feasts of the BVM (Cum Iubilo). 

Almost the full set of chant Propers was sung:  the Introit Gaudeamus, the Gradual Audi, filia, the Alleluia Assumpta est Maria, and the Communio Beatam me dicent. The Offertory motet was Bruckner’s Ave Maria. 

The organ postlude was Toccata sur Ave Maris Stella by Peeters. 

The Mass was preceded by Vespers sung by the Choral Scholars. 

Assumption also saw Credo III in Latin make a welcome return to Sydney. As far as I am aware, a sung Latin Creed was last heard at St Mary's Cathedral in 2008 during the Papal Mass for WYD. The recording below is taken from the Mass, and note that the quality of the recording is rather poor, that commentary may be heard at the start of the Credo, and that the picture of the Pope sprinkling Holy Water was one of very few high quality images of the Mass that I was able to find on the internet (and naturally the Choir would have been singing an appropriate chant to accompany the Sprinkling Rite at this particular point in the Mass, which was for the dedication of the then new Altar at St Mary's Cathedral).

The Mass at St Mary's Cathedral on the Saturday of WYD 2008, and that at Westminster Cathedral during the Pope's 2010 visit to London, are regarded by many as the finest examples of Papal liturgies outside Rome in recent memory. 

Beautiful vestments designed by the Australian firm St Bede Studio were worn by the Holy Father at the WYD liturgy at St Mary's Cathedral in 2008, and now reside in the sacristy at St Peter's in Rome

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Of Ordinations and First Masses

At St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, on Saturday 4 August, the Feast of St John Vianney, eight men were ordained to the priesthood. See also here

The procession began with the hymn All Creatures of Our God and King.  As the clergy approached the Sanctuary, the choir sang the Introit Os iusti meditabitur.  The altar, adorned with seven candles in a so-called ‘Benedictine’ arrangement, was then incensed by the Cardinal.

Cardinal Pell incences the altar (at the Liturgy of the Eucharist)

The Kyrie was sung by the Choir (Palestrina, Missa Papae Marcelli).  The Gloria was sung by all in English (an Australian setting by Paul Taylor, Mass of St Francis, which is fast becoming the Mass of choice throughout the Antipodes, replacing in that regard the previously ubiquitous Smith Mass Shalom).  For large Archdiocesan events like ordinations and the Chrism Mass, the use of an English congregational setting is a common departure from the normal practice at Solemn Sung Masses at St Mary’s (usually the Gloria will be a Latin polyphonic or chant setting). 

The Choir singing from western transept of St Mary's Cathedral, the choir stalls in the Sanctuary having been given over to the clergy of the Archdiocese

The Responsorial Psalm, when not replaced by the Gradual, is usually sung by the choir, but was on this occasion sung by a cantor.  The Alleluia was a simple 'triple' setting (Dom Gregory Murray OSB), with the verse sung by the choir (whereas the usual practice at the Solemn Sung Masses at the Cathedral is to sing the Alleluia from the Graduale). The Gospel was proclaimed by a deacon, and the opening and closing parts were sung. The candidates were presented and then the Cardinal preached the homily.

The promise of the elect was made, and then the Litany was led by two seminarians. The congregation positively roared the responses, giving credence to the view that Catholic congregations cope best with simple chant melodies (and this was unaccompanied congregational chanting at its very best, rising ever upward to the Cathedral's vaulted ceiling and far beyond)!

The Litany of Supplication

The music during the laying on of hands was the chant Iam non dicam sung by the Cathedral Choir.

After the Prayer of Ordination the new priests were vested in stole and chasuble as the Choir sang Tu es sacerdos.

Then the new priests' hands were anointed with the Sanctum Chrisma, and then there was the presentation of the bread and wine. 

During the kiss of peace, folk/devotional music was sung by members of the Neocatechumenal community to the accompaniment of, inter alia, guitars. Immediately following this the Choir exquisitely sang the motet In spiritu humilitatis by Croce (written for the Basilica di San Marco, where Croce had been a chorister and also the choirmaster, and perfectly in place at the Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians in Sydney), which provided a most dramatic contrast between music that is instantly recognisable as sacred in nature and that which is manifestly more difficult to distinguish as such.

The Sanctus was the English Mass XVI setting, found in the Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition (whereas again the normal practice at the Cathedral is to sing a Latin chant setting), and the Roman Canon was used. 

The Mystery of Faith was the Missal chant setting number one (We proclaim your Death).  The Doxology was sung, as was the Lord’s Prayer, in English, using the Australian tone. The Agnus Dei was from Missa Papae Marcelli, Palestrina. 

Then followed the Communio Beatus Servus, and a post-Communion hymn In faith and hope and love. The organ postlude by Mulet was played by the director of music of Parramatta Cathedral.

Felicitations to all the ordained, and may God cause these men to be possessed of an unwavering zeal for evangelisation!  

First Masses

The first public Mass of the Rev Joane Epeli Qimaqima was a joyous affair.  Held at 9.30 am on the Sunday Following the Ordination, the church of the Sacred Heart in Cardinal St, Mosman, on the Lower North Shore of Sydney (and in this author's local parish), was filled to capacity. As it was at the Cathedral, the altar of this church was arranged in the so-called Benedictine fashion, with six altar candles and crucifix.

The Mass was concelebrated by, amongst other priests, the current and former Parish Priests, immediately to Fr Epeli's left, and the current assistant priest, immediately to Fr Epeli's right (Fr James McCarthy, whose father John McCarthy of Queen's Counsel was recently appointed as Australian ambassador to the Holy See). 

There was incense, and the music, largely familiar in the parish, was provided by local musicians, including a Tongan choir that sang during a solemn procession of the Word (Fr Epeli is Fijian).

Fr Epeli sang most of the celebrant's parts of the Mass, from the Missal, and most beautifully too. In the afternoon, Fr Epeli celebrated Mass in the Fijian language at Villa Maria Church, Hunters Hill.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Ballarat has New Bishop-Composer

It has recently been announced that the new Bishop of Ballarat is to be the Rev Paul Bird, currently the Provincial of the Redemptorists of Australia and New Zealand.

The website of the Redemptorists of the London Province informs us that the Bishop-elect is in fact the composer of a new setting of the Ordinary of the Mass, specially written for the new translation of the Roman Missal.  Now, I know of many a priest-composer, but I've never come across a bishop-composer.  Is this a first, I wonder?

In any event, you can listen to a recording of this Mass setting, the Mass St. Alphonsus, on the Redemptorists' Australian website.  A short selection:  

There have been numerous episcopal appointments in the Antipodes recently, many in Sees which had been vacant for a period of time.  In the UK, too, there have been some notable appointments.  Portsmouth's new bishop-elect Monsignor Philip Egan will be ordained at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist on 24 September 2012.  

Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, Portsmouth
Photo taken by the author of this blog in August 2011
Portsmouth is, of course, where Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson's HMS Victory rests in dry-dock.  

HMS Victory
Photo taken by the author of this blog in August 2011 

Any excuse will do to post some more excerpts from Haydn's Masses! So, following are some extracts from his Missa in angustiis (Mass in straitened times), having developed the nick-name Nelsonmesse either because it was written to commemorate Nelson's victory over the French at Aboukir (Battle of the Nile) (HMS Victory not being present at this battle), or because the celebrated naval officer in question was reputed to have attended a performance of the Mass as guest of honour at the Esterhazy palace in Eisenstadt.

It is impossibly difficult to choose a favourite movement from the Mass, though if pressed I would nominate the Kyrie and the Benedictus, for in each Haydn has ingeniously captured the themes inherent in the Mass texts and masterfully portrayed the political anxiety of the times.  The final "in nomine Domini" is astounding.  

Note in the first video the depictions of St Paul's Cathedral pre-1666 (Great Fire).  A fact not mentioned in the notes accompanying the video is that Nelson is entombed in Wren's St Paul's.  

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Vintage Performance by Westminster Cathedral Choir

Found this video on YouTube of David Hill directing the Westminster Cathedral Choir in the 1980s.  The choir is singing in the Lady Chapel, situated to the right of the Sanctuary (when looking down the nave to the Altar).  I'd say that this was part of a Christmas concert broadcast on the BBC. Great camera work and superb singing.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Palestrina, Perosi and Plenty of Pallia at Papal Mass for Peter and Paul

Updated on 1 July 2012

Courtesy of Papal Music, here are videos of the pieces I refer to in my previous post, and a few more of interest.

Introit - very impressive, sung by a group of men from the Cappella Sistina

unc scio vere, quia misit Dóminus Angelum suum:
et erípuit me de manu Heródis,
et de omni exspectatióne plebis Iudæórum.
Ps. Dómine, probásti me, et cognovísti me:
tu cognovísti sessiónem meam, et resurrectiónem meam.

ow I know that the Lord really has sent his Angel,
and has delivered me out of the hands of Herod,
and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.
Ps. O Lord, you have searched me and known me;
you know when I sit down and when I rise up.

Gloria from Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli (directed by O'Donnell)

Credo from Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli (directed by Palombella) - refreshing to hear a polyphonic Credo every now and again

* Brisbanites may be interested to see their new Archbishop, Mark Coleridge, above at 2:00-2:10.

Offertory Motet - Byrd Hodie Simon Petrus (Abbey Choir alone)

Communion Motet - Byrd Ave Verum Corpus (Abbey Choir alone)

Prior to the Mass, during the imposition of the Pallia, the following music was sung:

Tallis Loquebantur variis linguis (Abbey Choir alone)

* Perthians may be interested to see their new Archbishop, Timothy Costelloe, having his Pallium imposed by the Holy Father, above at 0:23-0:55.