Sunday, December 02, 2012

Kyrie ha-ha-ha-ha -ha -haa -a -ha



Mass XVII is the Advent (and Lent) Mass, we sang it this morning.
I love the beautiful simplicity but I find it impossible to sing this Kyrie without smiling. It is plainsong laughter set to music. I just can't imagine Mother Abbess ever remaining poe-faced singing this. For me it is the sound of the Church chuckling at the Coming of Christ, it would be so easy to to replace eleisons with "ha-ha-ha-ha -ha -haaa -ha". It seems to sum up Christian hope - call on the Lord, then laugh in the face of old Nick.
I can so easily imagine Our Lady looking at her swelling womb and giggling at the though that the long awaited is on his way, that Redemption is at hand, that God has dealt so kindly with his handmaid..


The Sanctus is more sober, it is the voice of Christians in the presence of Angels and Archangels reaching out to the Holy but there is a bit more than a wry smile on those Hosannas. The Agnus Dei is just so simple, but it is hardly joyless, it doesn't giggle, but it retains the memory of laughter, there is no sorrow about it, just delight, exultation, in the Lamb.
It is fine for Advent but I think it is a little frivolous for Lent, but then maybe the Church is telling us to delight a bit more in Lent penances and lighten up.


7 comments:

umblepie said...

Beautifully sung,thank you Father.

johnf said...

Are you familiar with 'hocketing', Father which is heard in some mediaeval music - sounds like laughing (see Dufay or Marchaut)

Fr Ray Blake said...

I don't think this was "hocketed", it is from about 75 years after the fad was at its height. Though it does appear to be two voices, in the sense of a statement and response. I don't think it is French, but it would be fun, outside of the liturgy, to play about with laughing bits.

Matthew Roth said...

Beautiful Father. Thanks. I wish my parish would use the plainchant for the Ordinary; after a bad experience with a less-than-well sung Missa Orbis Factor (which when well-sung, like the bright young voices at Christendom College does, it's beautiful) we switched back to an English 'chant' ordinary...

Andrew said...

That last Kyrie bit gave the choir kids the fits the first time we tried it. I think some monk somewhere was having a contest of who can sing the longest 'eeeh' without collapsing in a heap.

Scott Vannan said...

I think the "ha ha" effect could be eliminated with a more legato approach to singing this. Maybe being less metrical and letting the natural stresses in the text guide the singing would be best.

John Nolan said...

Mass XVII (and it should be remembered that these numbered 'Masses' were only put together in the nineteenth century, and represent a selection from a larger number of chants composed in different times and places) has three Kyries. The oldest and simplest of these (Kyrie Salve) is the most suitable for Sundays in Lent. The reason why it was rarely sung was that it is in Mode I, which is a typical chant mode but sounds 'foreign' to congregations, who find it easier to memorize melodies which seem to be in a major key (like the Kyrie you quote, Mode VI with B Flat).

This also explains the popularity of Gloria VIII and Credo III, despite the fact that Gloria XI and Credo I are more authentic Gregorian settings.