Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Cathedral of Saint Cecilia
"Progressive Dinner" Today
I have tried to find the exact Order of Worship for Archbishop George Lucas’ Installation Mass today with no success. So, my reflections on the service will be “on the fly” or “off the cuff,” so to speak.
One of the most difficult things I wrestle with when watching these ceremonies is that it’s obviously an easier path to criticize from a negative perspective when assessing from afar than to acknowledge liturgical “improvements.” This was made clear with the fur flying over Abp. DiNoia’s installation.
So, in bullets, off we go:
*Could the setting, tempo and performance of the first processional hymn set to “Lasst uns erfreuen" have been sleepier? By the seventh stanza or so, when the harmonization took some extreme turns, the organist's shoes seemed to have leaden soles a bit. I know that select camera shots don’t give an accurate portrayal of what’s actually going on in toto, but everytime a camera zoomed in upon an unwary priest already installed in a pew, said priest wasn’t singing. And there wasn’t much in the first processional to really look at, frankly.
*The second processional; was it a proper Introit? Was it antiphonal?
*Then “Praise to the Lord” (Lobe den Herrn) was taken up with some verve by all.
*As the archbishop finally entered and processed the choir took up a polyphonic proper, I assume. Nicely done. It also edified the notion of active participation through keen observation by the Faithful and ministers assembled.
One wonders at this point: why, if the intention is to engage both types of participation, was it absolutely necessary to stack so much vocal music before the episcopal introit? At subsequent moments in the Mass, much action was accompanied by instrumental music alone.
*Did anyone else hear some sort of “wind chimes” after the choral proper, and before the “In Nomine Pater?” And, given the extraordinarily milky tenor voice the Abp. possesses, why was that not cantillated? I mean, really?
*The welcome and introduction by Abp’s successor evoked laughter immediately after the commencement of the solemn liturgy. Why? I didn’t see the Dolan liturgy, but what is it about the presumed necessity to have a “Tonight Show” moment at American mega-liturgies?
*Does anyone else hate those flesh-eating Broadway wireless mics besides me?
*I don’t have my Ceremonial of Bishops handy at home, no Kyrie but a through sung “Glory to God” that seemed to quote “In Babilone” with some acceptable choral interludes.
*Everything seemed to be fudged half-way a bit:
a. Three candles flanking both sides of the altar, no crucifix.
b. The First Reading read in Spanish, AND then all the verses of a serviceable psalm also exclusively sung in Spanish?
c. The “communities” reception by the archbishop-
*The most decked-out cleric was, in fact, the Winnebago chief?
*Were the identically clad women in nylon print outfits nuns or twins?
* Was the gentlemen in the fez a Shriner, a dervish, what?
*The Gospel Acclamation: I defy anyone without the music to guess where the melody would go next. The verses rendered by the choir weren’t intelligible from the broadcast, hopefully not in St. Cecilia Cathedral. But I couldn’t help thinking that would have been an ideal location for a Latin Alleluia to be chanted.
*The “Heldentenor” deacon intones the Gospel collect and the congregation responds in force with his upper tessitura chestily. Then he RECITES the Gospel?
*The Spanish/English General Intercession’s setting was very, very tiresome. And what was with the yellow flowered English garden hiding the cantor at the lecturn? And the Abp. recites the concluding prayer of same instead of chanting…..But bishop, your voice….you could be one of the Priests! (From Ireland fame.)
*This is an honest question. What was the silver container (percolator-like) from which the wine was poured into the chalices?
*No Sanctus bells, no way, no how! How’d that happen? Or not happen?
*The Community Mass/Isele “Lamb of God”- stolid, safe choices.
*The “Pater noster” recited. I though Rocco said the archbishop knew his liturgical stuff?
*Why does the Sign of Peace at these events always morph into the “Murmuring of peace” or the “Din of peace?”
*Finally, a Latin Communio….sung well by the women….for a whole thirty seconds or so….then
*Not one, but two settings of Psalm 23 (St. Columba) and an antiphonal setting of which I’m not acquainted.
*Very long choral motet, seemed to be from the Romantic era, or the neo-polyphonic style but not like Stanford…..
Then my Tivo DVR, programmed for the block assigned by EWTN ended.
I’m not going to digest any of this yet. Just reporting what I observed.