Friday, April 18, 2008


I didn't get to watch the Papal Vespers or the Papal Mass LIVE. However, I did get to watch a good chunk of the midnight rerun of the Vespers at the Crypt Church of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception the other night, and I must say that the music for the Vespers was very good, if not excellent, done in typical National Shrine style.

It's too bad it wasn't Dr. Latona who ran the music for the Mass at Nationals Stadium, because my review of the Papal Mass music is the exact opposite of what I thought of the music for the Papal Vespers.

I've been watching the video of the Papal Mass at the Boston Catholic TV website. Unfortunately, the video only started at the last chord of the Entrance hymn. The Kyrie was awful. The Gloria wasn't bad, but I think would have been better without the handbells (I don't know why, but I've never really been a fan of handbells). I would have prefered either the Gloria VIII straight through or something more Vatican-like (e.g., alteration between chant lines for congregation and motet-like lines for choir).

Now, most people that know me know that I am a huge fan of Alexander Peloquin, and normally that includes the Psalm setting played for the Papal Mass, but not as performed on this day. The "joint music ministry" did it an absolute injustice - 1) it was too fast; 2) they should have lost the piano and handbells. I thought it sounded like a Mexican version of something Dan Schutte would have written instead of what Peloquin envisioned when he wrote it.

I'm also a big fan of the Alleluia from O Filii et Filiae. However, again, I think the handbells and the Mexican-like tempos killed it.

I don't know what the hell they were singing when the people were presenting the Holy Father with gifts, but it was awful. So was their third-world thrashing of the normally-beloved chant, Veni Creator Spiritus at the offertory itself.

I think you all know my opinion of Mass of Creation. I think they could have done a lot better than using that particular Mass. Not to mention that the trumpet fanfares sound like something from MahonyFest (er, the LA Religious Misedumacation Congress)

The chant Lord's Prayer in English is one that just about every American Catholic congregation should know. I highly doubt there was any need for a miked cantor when there was a full choir to lead it.

The Agnus was ok. The melody was a little weak, but I'm happy that it was in Latin.

Now for the Communion music round-up:
All the Earth, a hymn I normally like, was thrashed by that same quick Mexican-style tempo. I do, however, like the various harmonies used in the verses. Next was some gospel type piece that was far more fit for the Billy Graham Crusade than a Papal Mass. The chant Ubi Caritas would have been a far better choice than the Hurd. The Spanish song that followed was awful as well. See my opinion of the gospel song. Finally, they do go into the chant Ubi., well, just the antiphon, before going into some MahonyFest-styled rendition of the Pange Lingua. Then there was My God and My All (no, not the beloved "Sweet Sacrament we thee adore" version). That guitar's got to go. The best piece of the Mass was the Franck Panis Angelicus.

The closing hymn was good too - Lord, You Give the Great Commission, set to HYFRYDOL. Though the fanfares (once again) sounded more fit for MahonyFest, as does whatever it was they were singing after.

I think the New York Masses will be far better. Overall, I think the Pope deserved better. The music should have represented our Catholic culture, not so much our secular cultures (but then, I feel that way about every Mass).



Lyn F. said...

I didn't have the opportunity to watch or hear the Mass. However, there was a small snippet of ... something ... played at the tail end of Pope B16's homily (downloaded via iTunes, btw) ... it was something in Spanish, fast tempo, sounded Mariachi-like. Luckily, it was indeed only a small snippet. That was probably all I could have withstood before the bile would have inevitably started rising ...

Richard Chonak said...

For me, a little O Filii et Filiae goes a long way. It's the Renaissance's precursor to the Celtic Drinking Song.

Jason Pennington said...

I have to agree with you, RC. I can hear Dandrieu's zillion variations on it once a year. After that, put it back on the shelf.