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.