Saturday, 24 October 2015

Beautiful Mass from Paderborn Cathedral

When I'm not jolted by some incongruous or clunky aspect of the ceremonial of a Novus Ordo Mass, I'm surprised - in the best possible way of course. It strikes me that video below comes rather close to realising what the mid-twentieth century liturgical reformers may have had in mind - not that the actual liturgical reform was by any means the only possible eventuality that could have followed from a faithful reading of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, but the video above does seem to approach a best case scenario for celebrating what ended up being the papally-mandated New[er] Order of Mass.

So when the Archbishop of Paderborn sings "In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti ... Pax Vobis", and the congregation responds in kind, and it doesn't register for several minutes that this was even in a "strange", "dead" language, the signs are good. The more that it becomes again second nature to regard Latin as the Mother Tongue of the Roman Rite, the better. The bishop chanting the celebrant's prayers in Latin is also, I think, worthwhile. If our shepherds are not going to put themselves up publicly as the custodians of the Church's tongue, and more generally Her ritual (including especially Her great musical treasure including the age-old tones for chanting the Mass) who will? Having the introit, gradual, alleluia all chanted is a bonus in some ways, but shouldn't be in a cathedral setting. It should be absolutely fundamental.

A few matters are obviously able to be questioned in a more considered analysis of the post-Conciliar liturgical usage - the orientation of the priest, the reconfiguration of the entire sanctuary of the cathedral, the altar rails that seem to have be "lost" etc etc. But I suppose one is duty-bound to make the best of the situation that one is given, and it seems to me that the archbishop has in essence done just that. No costly restorations to undo the potentially costly apparent re-orderings of his predecessor (though there may come a time when the People of God require this to be done - Brisbane Australia is perhaps a good example where there is a pressing need to undo some truly horrible - and surely hideously expensive - 1980s design atrocities inflicted on a poor innocent (heritage listed) Gothic-revival church - think 1980s tower lobby of grey marble and palms).*

One thing that is slightly odd (though personally I rather like it) is that the Archbishop sings the Preface to what I like to call the "super solemn" tone - I think its actually referred to as the "more solemn" tone in the books of the older rite, but as far as I am am aware this never made its way into the Missal of the newer rite - in my view a very great shame. It's actually fiendishly difficult to master though, but the Archbishop does a rather good job of it. And could be justified on the basis that this was some rather important saint's feast day - I gather that of the patron saint of the Paderborn Cathedral and Archdiocese Saint Liborius. The fact that I'm even saying that an Archbishop is intoning a Preface in Latin in the newer rite is making me pinch myself.  

The Mass setting - a twentieth century one by Wolfgang Seifen (Missa in hon. Sancti Libori) is I think a worthwhile one. 

I'm waiting for the day when that great bastion of liturgical excellence - Westminster Cathedral - makes its Sunday 10.30 am Mass more like its Saturday 10.30 am Mass, viz. a genuine Latin Novus Ordo Mass. I understand that this may be perceived as a rather pedantic observation in the circumstances. 

On another note, I'm not sure whether I love or not the custom at Cologne Cathedral of having a rather extravagant organ introduction to the Gloria. Musically, it has rather a flamboyantly French flavour to it. What do you think? There is however  no doubting that that organ is SENSATIONAL. Also in the video below enjoy Haydn's Schöpfungsmesse with orchestra.  

* I understand that the building was in need of restoration at the time, but what eventuated went far beyond restoring the building to its intended design and was almost certainly driven by the prevailing erroneous ideologies of the administration of the day. Actually, come to think of it, Perth's St Mary's Cathedral is arguably even worse - though also more complicated because the cathedral's original design had not been fully realised when the restoration was undertaken).

St. Stephen's Cathedral Brisbane

Does this look like the interior of a Gothic-revival church? Perth trying to outdo Brisbane.