Monday, August 18, 2008

Feast Day of the Assumption of the BVM

Last Thursday and Friday, I was at the console of the Cathedral of St. John here in Lafayette for the feast of the Assumption. I was subbing for my colleague on those days. The feast day is a big deal (or should be) most everywhere, but down here in South Louisiana it's an even bigger deal, since Our Lady of the Assumption is the patroness of the Acadian Peoples. Back when I was organist under Bishop Provost, this fact was always made very clear both from the pulpit and in the bulletin. And it was absolutely de rigeur that the music of the French Royal Chapel should dominate the day's music list. Second in line on my old lists were excerpts of the Franck 3 chorales and the big chunky sections of the Piece Heroique (The A section up to the drum beats, the recap of the A section after the drum beats and the final chorale). Out of respect for the day and its cultural import locally, I stuck to the tradition of having French repertoire for the Assumption. All selections are from the Couperin Messe pour les Convents, of course with the exception of the improvisation at the offertory, through which I offered hommage to Jean Langlais and Olivier Messiaen.

Ordinary: Celtic Mass
Prelude: Plein Jeu (premier couplet du Gloria)
Dialogue sur la voix humaine
Introit Hymn: Hail Holy Queen
Gradual: Basilica Psalter
Alleluia: Triple
Credo: recited
Offertory: Improvisation upon Ave Maria (Gregorian)
Communion: Elevation: Tierce en taille
Plein jeu sur l'Agnus
Final: Offertoire sur les grands jeux (final section)

The instrument at the cathedral is a fabulous three manual Casavant (1985 -- 53 ranks) which has all you need for anything French, including the delicious snarling reeds and copious mutations. In south Louisiana, I couldn't imagine attempting playing a Mass without reeds or mutations! The French tone colors are bold yet nuanced, and reflect a liturgical worship integral to local culture.

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