The Catholic press and some blogs have been covering Scottish composer, James McMillan's article on his blog concerning the composition of his Mass for the Papal Visit to Britain. In the article he reveals that Britain's "trendy" liturgists tried everything they could to prevent him getting the commission and later, branded the work as inappropriate for parish choirs. I would believe MacMillan because I remember a few months ago some "liturgical composers" complaining that MacMillan was an "art composer" and so not a good choice to write the new Mass.
Related to that story, I hear that the new priests' association here in Ireland is opposing the new translation of the Mass - no surprise there given its membership. They are saying the "people" will not take to it and that experiments in South Africa show that the new translation is a disaster. They did not say that when the "people" were confronted with the Novus Ordo in the 1970's, a much more stressful transition. Ironically, those who oppose the new translation want to hang on to the old one! But fathers, sisters, people, are we not supposed to be progressive - we move forward, not backwards!! The new translation is moving forward, move with it. Ah, how things go full circle!
Both stories reveal the tedious attempts by aging sixties revolutionaries to keep their Sandinista regime in place through manipulation of the liturgy. James MacMillan is one of the few great contemporary Catholic composers who can hold his head high in the music world. His work is infused with faith and beauty, and is well written, something most of the ditties composed for the liturgy over the last forty years lack. He is a professional composer who knows his art and excels in it - who better to write a Mass in the new translation? His genuine ability as a composer can be seen in the fact that he can write for amateur choirs and provide a Mass which can be sung by congregations - many composers today cannot do that, not even professionals. MacMillan has done that. Listening to the new Mass both at the Mass in Glasgow and then at Blessed John Henry's beatification, I was impressed - it is very beautiful and real, and it is sensitive to the nature of the liturgy and the varying abilities of choirs around the English speaking world. It will last, I think, unlike the compositions of some of our liturgical composers which sound outdated almost as soon as they are trawled out.
Now, a treat! Some MacMillan for our Sunday listening:
His Tu est Petrus, written for Pope Benedict XVI and performed at the Westminster Papal Mass. Can I get Rathkenny choir to perform this, I wonder?
His Gospel Fanfare at the same Mass. This is just fantastic!!