Friday, September 25, 2015


While I want this setting of the Dies Irae sung at my Requiem Mass with full orchestra, I know that this type of bombastic music is not appropriate for the Mass, although quite fine for a concert in a concert hall or even in a church, but not as a Mass.:

At another blog, I saw where a deacon who heard the music at the Mass for the canonization of Saint Junipera Serra wrote that it was bombastic.

I agree and it tends to be the model that the excellent choir director chooses for music at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It is beautiful, well done but bombastic and thus I don't think completely appropriate for the liturgy of the Church, especially Mass.

The same was true of some of the music at Saint Patrick's last night at Vespers. It was beautiful, well executed but bombastic. And having the cantor sing over the choir in a microphone in front of the people was competition to the choir, he was a bit off because of the time delay in what he hears and what the choir and people are hearing and especially on television when overpowered it all!

In the late 1800's there was a move by Rome to curb the use of concert Masses, especially those very complicated ones by the great masters during Mass. There was a desire that Gregorian Chant and Polyphony have a pride of place over these bombastic settings of the Mass.

There is no need for an orchestra at Mass or Vespers either. The pristine approach would be no instrumentation. The organ should be the only instrument with brass for special solemnities and occasions, not for the priest, bishop or pope, but for the solemnity of the Feast for God or one of the saints!

At least the bombastic music for the papal liturgies is well done bombastic. When parishes with limited resources are bombastic you can only imagine how horrible it is!

But with that written, and speaking of bombastic,  I want to applaud Cardinal Dolan for the exquisite restoration of Saint Patrick's Cathedral. It is stunning inside and out.

But most of all kudos to him for removing the competing altar in front of the high altar. The high altar is now the only altar in the main sanctuary. Kudos! Kudos! Kudos!


TJM said...

Father if the Dies Irae used was bombastic why would you want this at your Funeral Mass? The Gregorian chant version is hauntingly beautiful

Anonymous said...

Yes nice to see the "dinner" table removed from the altar area, now the only thing St. Patrick's needs is the Traditional Latin Mass, but under Dolan this will not happen. As to the music last night oh boy, just ghastly no Gregorian chant, Polyphony nothing Roman Catholic at all. Once again, if you what to hear good music you ironically must attend a High Church Anglican Mass. The cantor had a pony tail and we had the usual female singer "flailing" her hands all over the place and of course nobody sings at Novus Ordo gigs. Everything Pope Benedict the XVI had started has been crushed. On a side note please take a look at the new book by Edward Petin called The Rigging of A Vatican Synod, in it Cardinal Daneels of Belgium admits he and other Cardinals were part of a "Mafia" yes that's what he called it to destroy Pope Benedict and he said that the leader was BERGOGLIO!!!! Take a look at the story over at Father Z's blog.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'm bombastic, I like some of this stuff!

Anonymous said...

I thought the Vespers service was "Vespers" something that went away with Vatican 2? Never hear of any Catholic church in Atlanta holding it. Maybe the closest to it is "Evensong", held during the non-summer months at Atlanta's Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip (though they also offer communion at that, even though in Anglican tradition, Vespers and communion are separate). Curious also as to why some of the priests around the pope did not wear stoles (though the rector of the cathedral did last night)., and why the pope did not use the high pulpit for his address? And since I have not been to New York in a while, what is different about St. Patricks after the renovation?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The Church has Morning Prayer(Lauds) midday prayer, Evening Prayer and night prayer which is the official liturgy of the Church called the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours.

In monasteries, it is normally chanted and unfortunately has been the domain mostly of priests and religious who are required to pray from it daily.

Some parishes have small groups reciting it and on occasion special liturgical celebrations similar to what you saw last night.

Normally it is chanted in a variety of chant styles. A hymn is always included in the sung version

But it lends itself to private, personal prayer anywhere, not in a church necessarily and without fanfare.

We have it in our church each Wednesday at 5:45 within the context of Benediction, but normally the psalms are all chanted. We have done Solemn Vespers on occasion completely chanted. The Magnificat is the Gloria or Sanctus of Vespers

Anonymous said...

Father, thanks for the explanation. I may have been thinking more along Anglican lines---in days of old, many Southern Episcopal parishes had "Morning Prayer (and Sermon) for their main Sunday worship (without communion)---perhaps communion would be the early worship, Morning Prayer at the main service (with communion perhaps once a month at the main one and on Feast Days). But with then-new emphasis on the Eucharist as the main worship service back in the 1960s and 1970s, many Episcopal parishes switched to Eucharist every Sunday at every service, so Morning Prayer became more a weekday service. Most Episcopal parishes in Atlanta follow that model (multiple Eucharists on Sundays), with the priest wearing the same type vestments a Roman one would---alb, stole and chasuble---and like the modern Roman model, the altar in the middle of the sanctuary, the priest facing the people. I think the Orthodox Churches often have Morning Prayer (Orthos) before their Sunday Eucharist (Divine Liturgy), though some may have Vespers the night before (Saturday night) and then Divine Liturgy Sunday morning.

Andy said...

I think they were going for majestic, rather than bombastic. I admittedly have a soft spot for that arrangement of the OLD HUNDREDTH tune that they used toward the beginning of the service with the crazy re harmonization at the end. However, I thought the cantoring was poorly done specifically because of the placement of the Cantor, like you mentioned Father. I actually stopped watching in the middle of the psalms because it was so distracting. I think Majestic has its place, but it seems odd that a night time prayer service would be the time for it.


gob said...

The big Papal Mass is about to start in Madison Square Garden. Bet there will be lots of First Communions made. WWJD? He'd be available to EVERYBODY.....I hope Pope Francis has the strength and stamina to make it through this very long event....

John Nolan said...

I watched the Vespers on YouTube and apart from the 'Old Hundredth' didn't find the music overly bombastic. I agree the psalmody was not done well; there were no proper antiphons and no alternation of verses. I have been one of two cantors at Vespers (the only time as a layman I get to wear a cope!) and we sing alternatim with the congregation, facing the altar. Apart from being out of sync with the choir, what was this so-called cantor there for?

The HF would have appreciated the Mozart Laudate Dominum. Remember Christmas Midnight Mass when he inserted the Et Incarnatus from the same composer's unfinished C minor Mass into the Creed? This bravura aria for soprano and orchestra was considered too operatic by Mozart who abandoned it, but Francis has singled it out as one of his favourite pieces of music. Pope Francis knelt at his prie-dieu; the assembled prelates had to endure the cold marble floor of St Peter's for ten minutes or so, and at least one cardinal was seen to give up and stagger to his feet. It's the most pontifical, not to say regal, thing Francis has so far done.

Anonymous said...

Yes, just read about the book by Edward Petin "The Rigging of a Vatican Synod" on the site Jihad Watch a blog by the brave Robert Spencer and the ultra modernist Cardinal Daneels who destroyed the Belgian Church tells in his new book how he and a gang of Cardinals were the ones who forced His Holiness Pope Benedict the XVI to step down. VERY VERY scary story and shocking that the leader they wanted as Pope they got, its BERGOGLIO!!!!!

Carol H. said...

I loved the music at New York, and felt sorry for the out of sync cantor. My favorite, though, was the chant during Holy Communion at Madison Square Garden.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Daneels and his evil gang had on our good Pope Benedict anybody have an idea????? Yet Francis invited him to the synod once again, hmmmmmmmm.