Tuesday, November 04, 2008

All Souls Mass at St. Paul's in Philadelphia

A few months ago, back when we were still sweltering in the summer heat, I got a call from Fr. Gerald Carey, the former director of worship for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and now pastor of St. Paul's at 9th and Christian Sts., which is right near Philadelphia's lovely Italian market (which I, regrettably, have yet to patronize.) I got to know Fr. Carey while doing some occasional substituting at the cathedral, and in the process of all this, I got to watch this musician priest play the organ part to the Durufle Requiem. Note perfect. (He also has an organ in the rectory which is better than many church organs, and on it sits many scores of the best organ music ever written, including lots of Messiaen!) Carey has taken his new assignment with a great deal of enthusiasm and has a lot of fantastic ideas, and an All Souls Mass was just one of them. He asked me to put together a schola to sing the Gregorian chant Propers, etc, for a Requiem in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

We put this Mass together over the course of several weeks or months. It was, in its own way, a challenge. At this point I am so accustomed to the Traditional Requiem (Step 1. Open Gradual; Step 2. Sing what's there) that I had to grapple with some of the peculiarities of the 1974 Graduale Romanum. The biggest question I was faced was how to make use of as much tradition as possible without crossing the rubrical line, as it were. (Here in Philadelphia we must tread carefully about such things, even if we be not enthusiasts of positive law.)

I've posted the Ordo musicae below, and you'll see that I disregarded all the alternative selections offered in the modern Graduale; many of them, to be sure, are utter absurdities. I would like to point out just a few things:

1. At funerals in the Traditional Rite, the Subvenite is often sung as the clergy make their way to receive the body of the deceased at the door of the church. I therefore added this as a prelude to the Mass. It's just too beautiful not to do.

2. We made sure to retain the use of the Kyrie by using Form B of the Penitential Rite. We opted against the Confiteor for a number of good reasons.

3. The Dies Irae is not in any of the liturgical books for the Ordinary Form as a sequence and I just wasn't going to go there.

4. Making use of the alius cantus aptus rubric, we used the traditional format of the Communion antiphon.

5. I knew we had some time at Communion to do some additional music. Since there is no absolution at the catafalque (in fact, there isn't even supposed to be a catafalque) in the Novus Ordo, I opted to sing the Responsory Libera me after the completion of the Communion antiphon, which normally would be sung at the final absolution. This is one of my eight or ten favorite chants from the Requiem Mass, a masterpiece of charming agility, delight, and utter terror.

Ordo musicae:

Prelude: Subvenite, mode 4
Introit: Requiem, mode 6
Kyrie: "XVIII-B," mode 6
Gradual: Requiem aeternam, mode 2
Alleluia: Requiem aeternam, mode 8
Credo III
Offertory: Domine Jesu Christe, mode 2
Offertory motet: Si iniquitates, by Samuel Sebastian Wesley. Found here: http://wso.williams.edu/cpdl/sheet/wes-siin.pdf
Sanctus XVIII
Agnus Dei XVIII
Communion: Lux aeterna, mode 8
additional Communion chant: Libera me, mode 1
Recessional: In paradisum

We held this Mass on Saturday evening during the parish's regularly scheduled anticipated Sunday Mass. Most of the people there were ordinary parishioners. The altar servers came from a local high school for the occasion, and it was also a delight to have members of the local chapter of the Latin Liturgy Association supporting this endeavor with their presence. Keep an eye out for more good things from St. Paul's.

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