Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lassus Scholars Director Offers Her Perspective on Recent Rome Conference

We recently reported, of course, on the Year for Priests Clergy Conference in Rome organized by the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. For the various liturgies of that conference, the Lassus Scholars from Dublin were present to offer their musical expertise.

I thought some of our readers would be interested in their own report coming from their own particular perspective.

Here are a few excerpts.

... Tuesday’s Solemn Pontifical Mass, also in the New Rite, (Vatican II) took place in the ancient church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, the main celebrant being Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos.

Here the programme was Lassus’s magnificent 8-part Missa Vinum Bonum, with Palestrina’s Hodie Christus Natus est (8-part) and Lassus’s Ave Verum. The plainchant Introit sounded magnificent in this 4th century Basilica and seemed to connect the worshippers of the past, when Rome was the centre of the early Christian world, with the international gathering present who could rightfully be said to represent the universal church of the early 21st century. From the choir’s point of view, it was wonderful to sing Lassus’s setting of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and double Agnus Dei, knowing that it was viewed as an integral part of the Liturgy.


...in SS Trinita dei Pellegrini, the Lassus Scholars, now positioned downstairs, led the singing of Solemn Latin Vespers and Benediction (Extraordinary Rite) with the main celebrant being the Dominican Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia. How wonderful for the choir-members to sing all five psalms of the second Vespers of the Epiphany in Latin to the ancient plainchant melodies with a full response from the congregation of clergy gathered before us. I had been asked prior to the service how long was the setting of the Palestrina’s 8 part Magnificat. Primi Toni. Fearfully (expecting that being long would be an issue) I had mumbled ‘about four or five minutes.’ “Wonderful!” was the reply.


Thursday January 7th. Today is a special, and a busy day. For the first time since the close of Vatican II in 1965, a mass setting by Haydn would be sung in the Papal Archbasilica of St John Lateran during Solemn Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Rite, celebrated by Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments... From 2.00 p.m. the massive Archbasilica resounded with sweet sounds as tempos were chosen to suit the acoustic, music was rehearsed and singers and players had time to become a united and confident ensemble for this historic occasion. In addition to the Haydn Mass the Lassus Scholars sang Stanford’s exquisite Beati Quorum Via and were joined by the orchestra for Mozart’s Ave verum and Laudate Dominum The dramatic organ processional played by Fr Nicholas Dillon was balanced by the orchestral Recessional which was Mozart’s Epistle Sonata K 278, scored (as was the Missa Cellensis) for two oboes, two trumpets, timpani and strings. As the Liturgy progressed, we all knew that our music was contributing to the prayerful atmosphere. We also knew that we were giving a good musical performance, but it was only when we came home and watched the YOUTUBE video links on the New Liturgical Movement website that we could fully appreciate the wonderful ceremonial celebration in which we were participating. It was magnificent! It was heroic! It was awe-inspiring! And we had helped create it!


Friday January 8th. ... with warmed-up voices we entered St Peter’s basilica, one of the most magnificent sacred places in the world, to sing the 8.00 am. final Mass of the Clergy Conference at the Altar of the Chair, celebrated in the New Rite by Archbishop Raymond Burke. Despite the early hour, The Lassus Scholars were in good voice throughout. Ubi Caritas was sung as a second motet at the Communion following which the assembled clergy joined us in a strong rendition of the hymn Holy God We Praise thy Name before the long procession of clergy exited the Basilica. It was all over. We were relieved that all had gone so well but also sad the great adventure, indeed the great pilgrimage, was at an end. As we stood on the steps in front of the Altar of the Chair to take the usual choir photo, we were surprised to see the clergy, still in liturgical dress, coming out. Thinking they were, like us, looking for the photo opportunity we were bowled over to discover that, no, they were coming out to thank us, to share their heart-felt gratitude with the Irish singers who had contributed to their Roman Liturgies.

The Lassus Scholars

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