The following is a guest article by Sandra Eller.
AINT BENEDICT Catholic Church in Duluth, Minnesota, will be hosting a Solemn High Mass (traditional Latin Mass), celebrated by the parish pastor, Father Eric Hastings, for the Ascension on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. The choir will be singing the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei from Missa Pange Lingua by de Prez, a beautiful Mass we have done a few times in the past, in addition to Masses by Byrd and Victoria. The Duluth Men’s Schola will be singing the Gregorian propers.
The choir, which will have about a dozen voices, is comprised of members of my parish choir at St. Ben’s and members of the Duluth Men’s Schola, a group my husband founded several years ago and which is now directed by Kevin Pilon, who will also conduct the polyphony Thursday evening.
It will be our third Solemn High Mass, the first with both deacon and subdeacon from our diocese. It’s sort of the latest stage in an ongoing exploration of what’s possible in liturgy and particularly liturgical music in continuity with tradition, accompanied by a lot of catechesis from Father Hastings. Musically, things have grown from simple chants to more ornate Gregorian ordinaries and Gregorian propers and finally polyphony. We have also included new compositions inspired by the Church’s sacred music tradition, such as pieces by Kevin Allen and various projects of setting English translations of the propers to plainchant, something we use routinely. After the new translation of the Mass, the parish moved to the Adoremus hymnal, as well. The congregation is now fairly comfortable with singing the Gloria in Latin and a few other more ornate chant ordinaries.
The extraordinary form plays a relatively small role in parish life, celebrated Sunday afternoons twice a month and sometimes on special occasions like this one, ranging from low Masses to the full blown Solemn High Mass. Two of our regular weekend Masses, Father celebrates ad orientem.