Monday, 26 August 2013

Choral music of the modern Dutch school

The twentieth century has - perhaps surprisingly - produced numerous choral settings of the Mass (in Latin), in part thanks to the not inconsiderable efforts of Westminster Cathedral in commissioning new works for liturgical use.  Less surprisingly, the bulk these settings were composed after Pope Pius X's masterly exposition of the purpose of sacred music (as a means by which the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful in the celebration of the Mass might be complemented and enhanced), and the qualities which the music for use in the liturgies of the Church of God must be possessed of.  Tra le sollecitudini was of course not the starting point of the renewal of sacred music and authentic liturgical composition that manifested itself in the first part of the twentieth century (one immediately thinks of the renewal of the French school - see brief account here).  But it was perhaps its high point.  Was Pope Benedict XI's pontificate the modern high water mark?  If so, we should see the effects well into the next fifty years. Let it be so!

Which is a rather long-winded way of introducing these beautiful videos of a relatively modest, but effective, setting of the Mass by Hendrik Andriessen (1892-1981) - Missa Christus Rex - sung here by the Haarlem Cathedral Choir.  The collapse of the Faith in the Netherlands is well documented.  These videos give comfort that it is not a complete spiritual and liturgical wasteland.  The bishop even intones the Gloria!