The Mass of Chrism 2009

Opening HymnBring to the Lord a glad new song
KyrieMissa Orbis Factor
GloriaGlory to God in the Highest (John Bell)
Responsorial PsalmI will sing for ever of your love (Barry)
Gospel AcclamationGospel Acclamation 2 for Lent (Foster)
Procession of the Oils, O Redeemer (Ford/Barry)
Preparation of the GiftsHear my Prayer, O Lord (Purcell)
Sanctus, Acclamation, AmenCommunity Mass (Proulx)
Agnus DeiMass XVIII & Missa super Laudate Dominum (Lassus)
CommunionOculi Omnium (Charles Wood, 1866–1926)
O Lord, I will sing of your constant love (Walker)
Soul of my Saviour
Recessional HymnGuide me, O thou great redeemer

The annual Mass of Chrism has several purposes: the blessing of the oils, the renewal of priestly commitment and a kind of grand gathering of all the diocesan family. We make a festive occasion of it, with the choir at full strength, our splendid six piece brass ensemble Celebration Brass adding to Anthony's masterful demonstration of what our Makin organ can do, and music chosen to bring the best out of the enormous congregation.

This year we began with Michael Perry's hymn text Bring to the Lord a glad new song, a stirring re-working of Psalms 149 and 150 to the tune of Parry’s Jerusalem. As the sounds died away (not that there's any reverberation to speak of with the Cathedral so full), Bishop Terence said he could hear the quilismas bouncing off the roof.

O Redeemer is the traditional hymn for the procession of the oils on Maundy Thursday. My setting uses the very fine translation by Paul Ford (one of the Psallite composers) from his collection By flowing waters. The people's refrain has the same harmonies, more or less, as Pachelbel's Canon, and the brass arrangement explores the similarity.

One of our tasks in making music at the cathedral is to serve as a role model for parishes. Over the years I've tried to find settings of the Eucharistic Acclamations for this occasion that people might (metaphorically) take away and use in their own parishes. This year we sang Richard Proulx's Community Mass, which to my mind deserves to be commended, especially to parishes still using substandard settings from thirty-odd years ago that don't respect the liturgical text.

All that and (on the one hand) Purcell, Lassus and Charles Wood, (and on the other) Chris Walker, John Bell and Martin Foster too. And plainchant. And Soul of my Savour! For me, getting the mix right is part of getting it right in general.

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