One thing I like about my parish is that the musicians never fail to let me hear about it. The parish initiated and learned Christopher Walker’s Celtic Mass before I arrived in June. It had a good run during the summer months. Since they put the effort into learning it, I thought we should bring it back before Lent.
First, let me offer some personal experiences and observations about this music.
I like the Celtic Alleluia well enough, especially the refrain by Fintan O’Carroll. Nice melody and easily arranged for just about any instrument. It works a cappella, too. I was at an NPM Choir Director School in ’88 and the staff was really, really promoting it heavily. Especially the OCP writer/musician on staff. That’s usually enough to turn me off, especially since at the participants’ conducting session I brought my own setting of Psalm 134, and the OCP person was offended that I used the time to “promote” my own material. One psalm setting. Unpublished. No matter that my friends liked the setting and we were, after all, given the freedom to conduct anything we wanted, especially if it were something that needed to be taught to the choir.
I didn’t care for the publicity campaign OCP Publications put into the Celtic Mass. I think I have two or three copies of the choral score in the basement–I received them in the mail. I like the SLJ’s old method: use the music in parishes and get all the bugs out before publishing.
Anyway, we use the Eucharistic acclamations and the Agnus Dei. One musician echoed what I think, “Why not use a theme from the very singable alleluia refrain, and expand it into the music for the Mass?” It’s a good question. Another group leader thinks the Lamb of God is very nice, but not enough to swing using the whole Mass. I might agree.
I agree the Agnus Dei is very good. But it has nothing from the original alleluia. I think the memorial acclamation is decent. The daily Mass people at my parish can sing the Sanctus a cappella –and that’s an accomplishment. I don’t like the melody line that much, though it’s not hard to make the accompaniment move–if you abandon the part as written.
One of the very good instrumentalists asked me to rewrite all the c-instrument parts.
Another singer confided she felt railroaded into using this Mass. “Everybody is using it,” they were told. The OCP page for the Mass confides that it has “become one of the most popular (Mass) settings ever written.”
Maybe it will grow on me. Anybody out there use it? What do you think?