Saturday 6 June 2015

Corpus Christi Mass

On Thursday, it being Corpus Christi in the traditional calendar (and indeed in the new calendar except where the collective idiocy of certain conferences has decreed otherwise) Fr Millar celebrated Mass according to the traditional Missal at Our Lady and St Joseph's in Carlisle.

It was a magnificent occasion, complete with a fine homily from Fr Millar, and a procession and exposition afterwards.

We had the same choir as on the occasion of the bishop's visit last June, though I think there were just three of them this time. They sang a Lotti Mass for three voices (which I hadn't previously known, and which was very enjoyable), and the chant propers.  As last time, they were clearly skilled singers, but equally clearly under-rehearsed.

Last year I wrote: 'there were some dodgy moments, and with a little practice it could have been truly excellent.  For some reason, people imagine that chant is easy, because it is monophonic: then when they sing it, they realise that it is not, and that each person is interpreting certain neumes differently...'

This year it was not just the chant that had some dodgy moments, most notably in the Gradual, but also throughout, where occasional misreadings led to unexpected polyphony. But the Lotti also suffered. In the Kyrie, in particular, they almost lost it all together in the Christe section, but managed to salvage it for the final Kyries.

They also got some things wrong, through lack of knowledge: for the Alleluia, the cantor intoned it, and the rest joined in with the jubilus, rather than singing the Alleluia again, plus jubilus. That is fairly basic, really... Had I not had to dash away after Mass, I would have mentioned this to them. As it is, I will have a word with Fr Millar, whom, I assume, knows how to contact them.  Mysteriously, they didn't sing the Credo, nor the responses to Dominus vobiscum, sursum corda, ite Missa est, etc: if I had not been there it would have been very odd indeed...

As it happened, I had arrived at the Church very early, and heard them rehearsing. It was clear that this, some 40 minutes before the start of the Mass, was their first rehearsal together. They are clearly talented musicians: I could not sight-read such music to such a high level at first go.  But nonetheless, they simply had not left themselves enough time to iron out any problems, and they are not good enough to sight-read to performance standard.

Given Fr Millar's comments in the homily on the need to give the very best to God, I think they should learn from this: it is not, after all, the first time...

After Mass I rushed over to the second celebration of the night, at the nearby parish hall of St Margaret Mary's, where the Dominican, Fr Lawrence Lew, was giving a talk on the liturgy.  I will post about that separately.

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