Saturday, December 22, 2007

It's Now Official! Gregorian Chants Are Back In Force. Cheers

To a worldly traveler, nothing could be more annoying than to attend Mass in any city in the world and celebrate the Mass in vernacular. The familiar squeaky voices, the choir out of tune, the plink plunk of guitars or, more often than not, the blast of an ungodly electric guitar which was guaranteed to wake the dead. It put me to sleep instead or bored me.

I am all in favor of using one’s own native language to celebrate Mass. It can be a matter of national pride. One of the first acts of a back to the roots movement by Martin Luther was to order the Bible translated into German. He also composed sacred music in German. So far so good. But the splendid, majestic, awe inspiring and sublime Gregorian Chants should have never been omitted.

Since Vatican II, my grandmother adamantly refused to attend a Mass in any language except in Latin. There was only one in Manila, a metropolis of millions. It was appropriately named The Sanctuary of Santa Teresa (of Avila) Let’s not get confused here. This Teresa is one of the learned Doctors of the Church. She founded the Order of the Carmelite Discalced Nuns. A mystic, a tireless and vibrant Saint with a great sense of humor.

“My dear Jesus. It is past midnight. We are freezing. Our carriage is stuck in the mud. Our destination is a long way off. Now it has begun snowing. If this is the way you treat your friends, I am not surprised you have so few.”

She faced the Inquisition several times fearlessly and called the religious judges who sat in judgment over her so-called demonic nuns confused. Jung, Reich, Tesla and Einstein studied her acute observations on Depression, then known as Melancholia.

But I digress. If on her travels, there was no church, which sang the Mass in Gregorian chant, also known as High Mass in Latin, my grandmother passed, as is said in the argot of gambling. I followed her example. That is one of the principal reasons why I cultivated Their Eminences and Their Excellencies. All the celebrations at Saint Peter’s Basilica are in Latin and all the songs of the faithful in plainsong /Gregorian chant.

This held true as well for all the dioceses, which had a Cardinal in residence. The many Christmas Eves in Florence at Brunelleschi’s Duomo are imprinted in our spirits. The choir was a joy to hear. It became a challenge and a science to discover which cathedrals and in which cities a Gregorian Mass was held. It is no surprise that Salzburg always had more than a few, Bayreuth as well. The fearsome Cosima Wagner saw to it that it became a tradition. She picked Winifred to marry her son and heir. He was a closet homosexual. The few times he ventured out of the closet, horrific scandals ensued. So, Winifred Wagner, a sympathizer until her death with the NSDAP ran Bayreuth as Mutti Cosima and Papa Richard (long a corpse) would have wished.

Aachen Cathedral where Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor yet again had a Gregorian Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany that was utter perfection.

We owe the Gregorian chants to Charlemagne. He decreed that they be sang in every city, town, village and hamlet throughout his Empire. The Pope had crowned him Emperor just outside of Rome. The Pope had no choice. His armies stood at attention, as he became Emperor. Out of respect for the Pope, he did not enter Rome and humiliate him. In those days, 800A.D. the Popes had immense temporal powers. So that his people in Germany could glory in his coronation, he ordered that he be crowned again.

Notre Dame de Paris had splendid Gregorian Chants, so did Chartres and Avignon. One of the most moving was at Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The most unforgettable occurred during the Christmas Eve of the millennium in London, at the Brompton Oratorio in Knightsbridge. The boys in the choir sang German and English carols of the 15th and 16th century accompanied only by occasional carillon.

A beautiful experience not to be missed is the Congolese Missa Luba. It is sung entirely in Latin but the music is Congolese with Gregorian chants mixed in and the drums are an important feature of the Missa Luba. It is something divine for God.

Now the Panzer Pope Benedict XVI, the Amadeus loving pianist, the dazzling thinker and theologian, the music lover has realized what young people have been saying to no avail for 27 years.

“Bring back the Gregorian chants. We want to be inspired and uplifted. We can listen to folk and rock music anytime. We are tired of it. Give us something which was taken from us without our approval.”

All the churches and cathedrals I have been to throughout the years where Gregorian chants and Latin was recited were packed. The faithful stood in the aisles with their prams, strollers, backpacks and papooses. They held children in their arms and sang their hearts and souls out. Yes indeed. Most of the people I saw were young.

Bravo! Cheers! Dear Ratzi! Someone with enough clout has understood at last. Music that penetrates the heart and the soul is intertwined with God. Music is also politics, big time. This is of vital significance. During the Latin Mass on Easter Sunday, after the Pater Noster (Lord’s Prayer) the faithful pray for the conversion of the perfidious Jews. There used to be a prayer for the conversion of Russia, but since Vladimir the Great has officially declared Russia to be a Christian nation, the prayers have ceased.

The ACLU has protested loudly as usual. The Cardinal of Genova, one of His Holiness most trusted men in the Curia countered with. ”We’ll stop praying for your conversion when you stop calling Jesus a son of a whore, who was hanged by the Sanhedrin and whose body was boiled in feces, according to your Talmud.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Isabel Van Fechtmann

Create Your Badge