Another July 4 commemoration
  • In a happy confluence of the calendar, July 4th marks the 180th anniversary of the first Catholic Mass celebrated in Waltham, Massachusetts (the city situated just west of Boston on the Charles River). It’s not known whether those first immigrant Catholics wore shoes or could read or write, but it was recorded that they collected $63 to help construct St. Mary’s parish whose 175th anniversary is also celebrated today.

    The anniversary was marked this morning with the singing of the introit for the day, Suscepimus, the hymn Ave Maris Stella at the offertory, and Gustate et videte at communion. At the conclusion of Mass, the celebrant and acolytes processed to the statue of Mary where the schola led the congregation in the singing of Salve Regina.

    I have been very privileged throughout my career to have worked with several distinguished musicians. Nothing has given me greater satisfaction however than the development and growth of St. Mary’s chant schola. Of its eight members (four women, four men), only one could read music when they first assembled. Now, they prepare with confidence the propers for a monthly chanted Mass. Even better, they’ve developed a joyous camaraderie and look forward to getting together weekly to rehearse.

    There are still challenges. St. Mary’s now includes large Hispanic and Ugandan populations. To date, there has been little success attracting new members from those communities to Gregorian chant. As has been my habit, I continue to peruse the CMAA forum for remedies.
  • Randy: thanks very much for this, not only as a notice of very great interest, but also for the important issues of musical style, inculturation, multi-cultural parishes, their relationship to the 'new liturgical movement'. Your work in a bustling old-line semi-suburban town like Waltham is very inspiring!

    I wonder if we might look profitably to the example of the musical practice of the California missions to the indigenous population there in the 18th and early 19th centuries. While I'm far from an expert in this area, I understand that there exists the record of a very lively musical culture synthezised by the friars and native musicians that made use of the pre-existing cultural-musical practices in ways that oriented them toward the traditional music of the Church in the liturgy. Much of this 'mestizo' music in a sense linked the secular world with the sacred, leading from the plaza to the mission, but only entering the liturgy in fairly limited ways. Might this be a model for the role of non-liturgical, well-loved Catholic religious music now used in the liturgy, but (mostly) inappropriate to it?
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Daniel, you are exactly right. The problem is finding someone (or a team of people) broad-minded and skilled enough to do this very difficult work.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,303
    Much of this 'mestizo' music in a sense linked the secular world with the sacred, leading from the plaza to the mission, but only entering the liturgy in fairly limited ways. Might this be a model for the role of non-liturgical, well-loved Catholic religious music now used in the liturgy, but (mostly) inappropriate to it?


    That sounds like what I was talking about over at this other thread.