Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Full Polyphonic Papal Mass!

I wonder if this is right that this is the first since 1963:

With the Mass celebrated in the cathedral of Saint Stephen on Sunday, September 9, Benedict XVI revived a musical and liturgical tradition that had been interrupted for many decades.

Within living memory, in fact, the last papal celebration accompanied by the complete performance – Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei – of a great polyphonic Mass dates all the way back to 1963. That Mass was celebrated in Saint Peter's, and the composer selected was Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, the dean of Roman polyphony in the sixteenth century.

This time, the Mass was celebrated in Vienna, and the composer was, rightly, Austria's Franz Joseph Haydn and his stupendous "Mariazeller Messe" of 1782, for chorus, soloists, and orchestra.

Gregorian chant also made an important return appearance in the papal Mass on September 9. During communion, the choir repeatedly sang the antiphon "Vovete," from the propers for that Sunday in the missal of the ancient rite, in alternation with verses from Psalm 76, also sung in Latin: "Make and keep vows to the Lord your God. May all present bring gifts to this awesome God, who checks the pride of princes, inspires awe among the kings of earth."

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