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.