Thursday, September 21, 2006

Christmas Octave in Strasbourg

A message from Michael Procter:

If any colleagues are or could be in Europe at Christmas, my annual 'Christmas Octave House Party' at Mont Ste Odile in Alsace could be interesting. Mont Ste Odile, near Strasbourg, is an ancient religious site - the original monastery was founded by Count Eticho in the 7th century, and his daughter (St.) Odilia was the first Abbess. After many vicissitudes it is now run by the Diocese of Strasbourg as a 'pilgrim hotel', directed by three secular priests. One of the impressive things about the place is that it has maintained round-the-clock prayers for peace, interrupted only by masses, for over 75 years - in other words, including all through the war: relays of 'Adorateurs' come from every diocese in France to carry out this impressive duty.

Since 2001 I have had the privilege of contributing sacred polyphony to the daily masses during the Christmas Octave - in practice this has become a residential course from December 28 to January 2, singing on December 30 and 31 and January 1. We are usually a group of about 20 singers, some of whom also play instruments. Last year, for example, we sang the splendid double-chir Missa Hodie Christus natus est of Palestrina and a wide range of Christmas repertoire. This year I hope to programme at least one French mass from the fascinating repertoire published by Ballard either side of 1600.

Here are details in case anyone is able to come. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience the 'real' Christmas, rather than the commercial one which started several weeks ago and ends on December 25 or 26...It would be great to meet any colleagues from the New World who could be there!

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