…The Archbishop has chosen to commission a new Mass for Life, specifically a Mass of Thanksgiving on the Feast of St. Agnes for the gift of life. Join him at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption on January 21 at 9:30 am. Many of you will be in town for the West Coast Walk for Life. The Cathedral’s livestream is here. I don’t know if the setup will be good enough for you to really hear this new Mass but his homily will certainly be broadcast and you can see it at least.
This work by composer Christopher Mueller (whom you may recall compiled our free e-book work of parish liturgies by 14 living Catholic composers) has generated media attention. In an interview with Aleteia, Archbishp Cordileone explains:
“Quite some time ago I foresaw that the Mass preceding the annual Walk for Life – which always falls on the Saturday closest to January 22 – in the year 2023 would be the perfect occasion for commissioning a new Mass of sacred music, as it would be the 50th anniversary of the tragic Roe decision (although I did not anticipate at the time that we would have something to actually celebrate, as it has now been overturned). The massive killing of the unborn for over 50 years cries out to heaven for a special Mass honoring the sacredness of all human life, from conception to natural death.
The idea came to me because we have been commissioning new Masses of sacred music through the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship with our composer in residence, Frank La Rocca. The idea is to identify major contemporary themes, and use the beauty of sacred music to highlight the issue and unite people around it. But because it is in line with the tradition of polyphony and chant, it also has a quality of timeless beauty to it – at once contemporary and classic. Because Frank was already occupied composing the “Messe des Malades honoring Our Lady of Lourdes” that will be celebrated at Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light on February 11 with the Benedict XVI Choir….
No one has heard this new Mass for Life yet but the musicians, so we are lucky enough to get a report from our own Archbishop Schola’s director Rebekah Wu who is singing in the Mass. She says its fantastic and holy:
“I have the honor of being part of a choir that will be world premiering a new Mass for Life composed by Christopher Mueller (b. 1971), and commissioned by the Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone in 2022.
“As I was reviewing the music prior to our first rehearsal, I immediately knew that Mr. Mueller is likely a very faithful Catholic man. His vision of life in heaven came through in his composition, particularly in the Gloria where the name of Jesu Christe is sung reverently twelve times the first time….”
The above came in a Jan. 19 email from the Benedict XVI Institute for sacred music and divine tradition.
Read the whole interview at Aleteia. Archbishop Cordileone has made a surprising beginner’s error in commissioning this Mass. The Mass ordinary is supposed to be singable and sung by the entire assembly, not only by the choir. To commission a Mass setting in which the Mass ordinary is intended to be sung by a children’s choir misses the whole point of the ordinary being for the entire assembly to sing or say. If the assembly will just listen to the kids sing the Sanctus, Agnus Dei and so forth, then the celebration is not living up to the vision for liturgy according to the reformed, post-Conciliar rites. The Mass ordinary is for the people; it should not be a performance piece. This is an example of trying to turn the Novus Ordo into the TLM, where people just do nothing while the actors in the sanctuary and in the choir loft perform the Mass for them.
There are plenty of singable, known, good settings of the Mass ordinary already. Why not sing the Heritage Mass or the Missa Simplex? Or chant the Missa de Angelis, if you want. People know those. Why something new that people don’t know and that won’t ever be sung in parishes? Come on, let’s do the liturgical reform right. It’s been 50 years, for crying out loud. Why are we still experimenting? Why are we still treating Mass like a show? Do it right.
beginner’s error, your comments remain a bit theoretical at this point since you have not yet been able to hear the mass. It would be much more hands on if you could critique the music and mass from experience, “praxis’, and then show how you apply the Council’s principles.There has been a sacred music tradition of mingling adult and child voices since even before the Renaissance. The Council recognized a place for choral music in the Mass in Sacrosanctum Concilium, Archbishop Cordileone reminds us. This particular mass is composed around the sanctity of Life. At least admit that even a one-time use of such a gift is a worthy gift to God. The Mass exists first of all to offer worthy worship of Him. The mass ordinary is from Him and for Him. Do you not have faith that the People of God can go be raised to higher levels of song and prayer if only someone could pull them up? (PS: The Benedict XVI website has issued a corrected link for the january 21 9:30 am mass. It is now to be found on the SF archdiocese Youtube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiCsPRA-V_A
Why your obsession with the TLM? That’s not what the Archbishop is trying to do. The Novus Ordo Mass can be celebrated reverently. According to the Second Vatican Council, Latin still has pride of place in Mass. And, this Mass was, as noted, commissioned in gratitude for and to celebrate human life, so needed in our time. Be honest. At many Masses, even those with various types of contemporary music, many, if not most, in the congregation do not sing. Sometimes, whether traditional or contemporary, the music is pitched so high we can’t sing it. At least (hopefully) no parish still sings the inappropriate secular songs of the 70’s, like “Teach Your Children.” God rest David Crosby’s soul.
CatholicArtsToday.com interviewed Archbishop Cordileone concerning his intentions in commissioning a new choral mass on the theme of gratitude for human life
I watched it. Music was terrible. I doubt that setting will get played ever again after the currently scheduled exhibitions. I hope the archbishop didn’t pay a lot of money for that trash.
It was the worst of the TLM imported into the Novus Ordo. People were silent spectators and strangers at Mass.
There was nothing in that Mass that would attract people to being Catholic.
I really wonder about the church these days.