Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist

I suppose I'll post this under the actual name of the cathedral, since I don't really have much to say that is negative... which, btw, it is quite a lovely cathedral, and really looks exactly like what a Catholic cathedral is supposed to look like... (unlike, ahem, certain dioceses in another state to the northwest...)

So, on this day which was both mine and my dear husband's last Sunday without both of us having church/work commitments, we decided to go to the cathedral for Mass, and were not only blessed with the bishop saying Mass, but also were pleasantly surprised with the beautiful music selections!

I didn't take a copy of the bulletin (which had most of the congregational of the music selections in it,) but I'll write about what was notable to me.

Apparently the full choir does not normally sing, and they certainly sounded quite prepared and professional!
There was a lovely organ prelude, followed by the choir singing some beautiful polyphonic piece (I believe it was in Latin, but unfortunately I have no idea what!)

The opening hymn was "Lord whose love in humble service" which isn't such a terrible hymn, although some of the verses have some very annoying PC social justice-y themes to them.
The Kyrie was surprisingly lovely; I believe it was an interesting combination of simple call-and-response with the congregation, with a middle "Christe" verse that was a beautiful polyphonic choral setting.

Followed by, unfortunately, the awful diocesan-mandated setting of the Mass of St. Paul the Apostle Gloria. I mean, it's not such a bad piece of music, but...suitable for the liturgy? And to be sung by a congregation? And the accompaniment, to be played by your average church organist? It's just so...syncopated. I love it when non-musicians (or else professional musicians with no sense of appropriate liturgical music) choose music to be learned by an entire diocese...
Lansing, consider yourselves lucky!
Anyhow, the choral section was really neat to listen to, and the organist was of course fabulous, but none of it really made anyone in the congregation attempt to sing along!

I don't remember much about the might have had cool choral verses.
The Alleluia was taken from "For all the Saints."

The Offertory was a modern-sounding choral piece, probably a bit dissonant for some people, but very nice for the occasion, IMHO.
I believe that the Sanctus/Mem Accl/Amen were from an old-translation Mass.
And now I'm trying to remember the Agnus...I *think* it was similar to the Kyrie (or else I'm mixing them up,) with some congregation, and some lovely choral singing.

The song for communion was that awful "Center of My Life" song, that seems to be the absolute favorite of every single church around here (but I had never heard prior to coming here,) As a song, it really just makes me want to link arms and rock and sway with everyone else around me. Maybe we should all pull out our lighters (or cell phones) and wave them in the air.
I can't remember the verses, but I'm pretty sure that every time I've heard it, something about the theology (or lack of) has really bothered me about...maybe the last verse?
Finally, the closing hymn was the ever-wonderful and rousing "For All the Saints." (with, I must add, the PROPER rhythm... "ALLLLLLLL who by faith..." NOT "All WHOOOOOOOO by faith..."

And then I believe that there was a nice but relatively brief (the church emptied fast) postlude, although I didn't listen closely.

Anyhow, overall the best cathedral liturgy that I've ever seen! I'd give it an 8.5/10!


Cita Online said...

Admittedly I'm not a fan of Mr. Inwood's "Center of My Life" because of it's sing-songy-ness... but the theology should be fine since it comes straight from Psalm 16, unless of course it's the translation that's off :-)

Cita Online said...

Apologies for my grammar mistake... edit below! Sheesh.

Admittedly I'm not a fan of Mr. Inwood's "Center of My Life" because of its sing-songy-ness... but the theology should be fine since it comes straight from Psalm 16, unless of course it's the translation that's off :-)

Mara Joy said...

You are right! I heard it at (yet ANOTHER)church this morning, and I realized that I must be mixing it up with another song that I heard the very first time I heard "Center."

But, this morning it was sung at a slower tempo (well, all the songs were done a bit too slow for my taste,) but I actually didn't mind it so much! It made the verses much more clear and singable, since it "smoothed out" the weird rhythms.

Charles Culbreth said...

A whole lifetime ago I assisted at an OCP local showcase at which the former sister Marie Steiner Phillipi was the "clinician." I was, at the time, DoM at our cathedral, and knew the Inwood piece for years prior in my former diocese. Anyhoo, Marie was introducing it to us yokels and decided it needed to be done at a fairly rapid clip. During a break I tried coaxing her to let the song breath a bit with a more "contemplative" tempo; she demurred, saying "This is how I first heard the song."
One moment among many in which I thanked God for the grace to sight read proficiently and to discern tempi, dynamics et al off the page, rather than by someone else's interpretation, including the composers' in many cases.