Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tomorrow is the Patronal Feast of St. Agnes parish

Although the formal feast day of St. Agnes, is on Wednesday, January 21, the Parish of St. Agnes in St. Paul will be celebrating its patronal feast on this Sunday, tomorrow, at the 10:00 a.m. Mass. Being it is the third Sunday of the Month, the Mass will be celebrated in the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine). Prizes will be given to those who can come close to guessing the number of alter servers present at the Mass.

From their bulletin of last week: We are very privileged to celebrate the Feast of our patroness Saint Agnes next weekend at all the Masses. Again this year, I have invited all our altar servers to attend the 10:00 a.m. Latin Mass as a magnificent way to specially honor them on our Feast day. For others, this might be a good opportunity to see first hand a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, especially for those who may regularly attend a different Sunday Mass. We have so much for which to be grateful in our parish. Let us gather in praise and Thanksgiving.

The Mass will be accompanied by orchestra, chorale and schola and will be Charles Gounod's Saint Cecilia Mass.


Our Word said...


My guess is 26. What do I win?

Chris said...

Ray- did anyone else take you up on your offer? ;D

I counted after Mass and there was right around 60 altar boys. I never would have guessed.
Were you there?

Unknown said...

Mitchell: Oh, ye of little faith!

I might have been low at 53! There were another dozen or so that I wasn't sure processed in with the celebrant.

Chris: Yup! Right in my customary pew, about 5 or 6 from the front on the right side, underneath the oil painting, where I can find one that doesn't have a heater behind it that cramps my footsies.

I thought the St. Cecilia Mass was wonderful. Great homily by Fr. Ubel, too. I should have contacted you and we could have had coffee afterwards.

Our Word said...


I'm glad to hear it went so well. The Gounod is a particular favorite of mine - actually, Gounod's music is so lush and sensuous (Romeo & Juliet, Faust - which we'll be seeing next week) that there has been some question as to whether it's too rich for liturgical use. The best opinions I've heard suggest that it's OK, although it's probably pushing the envelope with regard to its length being liturgically appropriate.

I'll simply say what I've said in the past, that my real quarrel is with the tempo that Dr. Peterson uses in all the Masses he conducts, which is (to my ears at least) slower than that which Fr. Schuler used to use. As I've said many times, there is a distinct difference between "solemn" and "deliberate," and I think he sometimes comes down on the side of "lachrymose." It distorts the sound, and mangles the original intent of the composer.

I don't pretend that Dr. Peterson is a professional, one as capable as, say, Levine or Conlin or Rilling (all very good in conducting with choral groups), let alone our own Vanska; and I know that we're discussing liturgy rather than musicology. Nonetheless, I'd bet that the Gounod at St. Agnes ran at least 20 minutes longer than the same piece of music when it was done at Holy Childhood a couple of years ago (you recall, we met there for the Mass in honor of Fr. Reidy's anniversary).

Ach, I don't mean to nitpick on this - I hate it when other people do. But of course, you must have known that talking about the music would push a button with me! :) The important thing, as always, is the Mass; and I'd rather have beautiful music played at less than ideal quality as opposed to the dreck that passes for music in so many Catholic churches.

P.S. I think you're right on about the schola. Now, if you want to really appreciate an excellent schola, check out the Cathedral's,or that of St. Louis the King in DT St. Paul. Or if you want to travel, I think St. John Cantius in Chicago is as good as it gets!


Unknown said...


The entire Mass (with a long Communion distribution because of the large crowd) lasted about 1:45.

I couldn't comment on the tempo, but I thought the Gloria was rather long and especially the Sanctus. Father had to wait four or five minutes before he could proceed with the Consecration.

I don't mind you commenting on the music at all. My formal music training (voice only) ended in eighth grade). So I get to learn a bit when someone comments on something with which I am a bit familiar.

I used to think I couldn't sing, but I have really been enjoying myself with our little schola. And I haven't been thrown out yet. As long as there no sopranos near me, I seem to be able to follow the others.

I am smart enough to know that when I can't reach a note or get lost, I just stop for a bit rather than bleat out something cacophonous.

It was rather amusing the other day at the hospital. Abp. Nienstedt said Mass on Thursday so I was added as a second server.

The principal server at the 11:30 Mass is a retired surgeon who still works part time in the outpatient clinic, who also happens to be a retired Major General and a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

Apparently he doesn't sing that well though. We did a bunch of singing because the archbishop loves to sing. But the other server, rather than attempting to sing along, he quietly sang a bunch of nonsense syllables that only I could hear to keep his mouth moving so that it wouldn't look as if he was just standing there.

I had to sing with a big grin on my face.

Our Word said...


1:45 is actually pretty good for that piece, I think.

You mention the Sanctus, and I agree with you 100% - it is a beautiful, but very long piece of music.

Interestingly enough, when they did the Faure Requiem at St. Agnes last November (a breathtakingly beautiful Mass, by the way), they were faced with a dilemma. The Sanctus is by far the most famous part of that Mass, but it does not have a Benedictus. (One reason why it is seldom done in a liturgical setting.) So naturally enough they turned to another French composer and used the Gounod Benedictus.

The Faure is much more gentle and not nearly as lush as Gounod - it's a little more sparse, for a smaller orchestra, and has a slightly faster tempo. And so they adapted the Gounod both to the size of the orchestra and the tone and tempo of the Faure - and did a wonderful job! Anyone not familiar with the respective pieces would have had a hard time telling that Gounod's Benedictus was not an original part of Faure's Requiem.

For all that I've said, both above and in the past, I thought their presentation of the Faure was very, very good. And I should add that Fr. Ubel's homily that day discussed the use of the music - contrasting Mozart's Requiem (what St. Agnes usually uses for All Soul's) as portraying the Lord's judgment, and Faure's representing the Lord's mercy. Both of which, he said, are necessary for salvation.


Chris said...

Ray- shoot, I should have looked for you! I came in during the processional- a combination of slightly slippery roads for the commute, and nowhere to park at 9:55! So I was back a little further than usual.
I too thought Fr. Ubel's homily was well-done and his comments to the altar servers brought tears to my eyes.
Just my 2 cents' on the Gounod....this is the first time I have heard it "live" but I bought the Chorale recording of it last summer and I bet I have listened to it 100 times. (The Gloria is my favorite followed closely by the Sanctus.) The tempo sounded pretty consistent with the recording's (which would have been Msgr. Schuler), however I have noticed that in general, Masses sung by the Chorale do seem a little slower when compared to other recordings of the same Masses which I have listened to.
But for me, the longer the merrier. It takes me an hour to get there and I want to get my gas money's worth so I am happy to spend 2 hours. :D
Mitchell- I agree- if a Gounod Mass is too lush or too long for some, we can consider it reparation for those who have to endure Haugen & Haas week after week .D

Chris said...

Say, does anyone know the name of the piece they played for the entrance procession? I only caught part of it but I would be curious to know what it was.