Today is the second day, first full day, of Pope Francis’s apostolic visit to the country. He spent his day in Washington DC today. Here is a video of the Mid-Day Prayer with the bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
Reception of the Holy Father: 27:00
Mid-Day Prayer: 37:15
Personally, I thought the music selection was pretty good. The music reflects noble simplicity. Even though the psalm tones weren’t Gregorian, but they are definitely worthy for the liturgy. I am also surprise by the amount of Sacred Silence they had between psalms and reading. Those moments are very peaceful and contemplative. And of course, it’s always nice to have the brass along with the organ for the Holy Father, and Tu es Petrus is the perfect and appropriate piece for papal liturgies.
On the other hand, the Mass and Canonization of Fr. Junipero Serra shows all the main problems of the Sacred Music in the country.
Reception of the Holy Father: 15:00
Holy Mass: 1:04:00
There are some nice pieces in this video like the glorious Christus Vincit at the beginning of the reception of the Pope, Veni Creator Spiritus at the beginning of the canonization and the Gloria at the beginning of the Mass. However, I hate to say this, most of the music at this Mass is just bad and unworthy. The music shows the main problems of American Sacred Music nowadays. Here are five points to summarize these problems:
1. The Lack of Resources for Spanish Church Music
2. Bilingual (or more languages) Masses
3. Cantors performing solos and “leading” the congregational singing
4. The Bad Taste in music and arts in general
5. Having church music that is not holy, not set apart from the secular music
The two parts that upset me the most is the second reading and the offertory. I am not upset because the lector didn’t read well. But I really don’t understand people’s mind. Why did they choose someone who has difficulties in reading to read? It is good to show our love and care to the “least of us”, meaning those who are sick and suffering. Exposing someone weakness is not how do that though. And if you pay attention to the end of the offertory, you will realize that the music actually interrupted the Mass. There might be some miscommunications, but the Pope just kept on going in the “Orate fratres“ after he washed his fingers. That is something that should not happen at a parish Mass, and definitely unacceptable at a Papal Mass! My fellow church musicians, we have a lot of work to do!