14 April 2008

Musica Sacra: Pentecost 2008

Music that does not SURGE is not great music.
~ Carl Ruggles

The program of incredible music continues at Saint John the Beloved in McLean! For Easter, we sang Dvorak's absolutely jubliant and powerful Mass in D, complete with a full chamber orchestra. Several people approached me afterwards to thank the Choir and David Lang, our wonderfully talented Director, for providing such a feast for the soul. As exhausting as singing for six days in a row was, I was pleased to hear that all our hard work paid off.
Pentecost will be just as glorious. You may recall that last year we sang a Vierne Mass. We follow up 2007's soul-stirring performance with another powerful piece, this time from Vierne's teacher: Charles Marie Widor's Mass, Opus 36, a missa cantata composed for two choirs and two organs, much like Vierne's Missa Solennelle. This year, we are bringing in a second organ for the occasion. At rehearsal on Thursday, we did a quick read of the Kyrie and Gloria. I thought for sure I had died and was standing before the throne of God. I can only imagine how it will be when we have both organs going!

The best recording I have found so far was one done in 2005 at St. Sulpice, where Widor was organist for over sixty years. It is a French Latin choir singing in the style the Mass would have been sung in at the time of its debut. Westminster Cathedral Choir also did a recording of this Mass on the same CD that the Vierne Mass was recorded on.

All this liturigcal and musical beauty is thanks to the pastor, Father Franklyn McAfee ~ one of the most cultured, educated and holy priests you will ever meet. His love of the Church and his commitment to authentic liturgy has created a haven where such sacred beauty is preserved and can be experienced on a weekly basis. Perhaps I am baised, but here is a sampling of things people have said after experiencing Mass at Saint John’s:

“I was in Rome for Easter last year, and I was sad because I would be missing the incredible music and majesty of Holy Week at Saint John’s.”

“We drive an hour to attend Mass at Saint John’s. Where else in the Diocese do you have such an incredibly beautiful liturgy with breath-taking music?”

“There are two places you can go to hear beautiful sacred music: the Kennedy Center and Saint John the Beloved in McLean."

I hope you can join us on Sunday, May 11, 2008 for the Feast of Pentecost and experience the Extraordinary Rite of the Roman Church as it was meant to be celebrated.

Oremus pro invicem,

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