Adoro Te

Charles’ suggestion in this thread got me thinking. It was the farewell weekend for our associate pastor. I had also drawn accompanist duty at the 10:30 Mass, so I pondered something along these lines would be appropriate, given Fr Dennis’ love of chant. And of course, who can go wrong with our patron saint?

Actually, my parish has long abandoned the automatic four-hymn sandwich–music at preparation is generally instrumental. So we didn’t sing either the GMH words or Kathy’s. I skipped a few minutes at the festivities in between Masses to get the music ready and practice with one of our summer students on flute.

As it turned out, another student (a priest from Ghana) presided at Mass. Fr Dennis preached and just as the Adoro Te melody began on the silver instrument, walked out a side aisle. Ah well.

I was also reminded of the practice in my old parish of using the Mass setting based on the Adoro Te melody. Didn’t Proulx arrange it? The musicians there, all of them pretty much, wanted to retire it when I arrived there in 2002.

I’m not a believer in adapting a well-known tune for a Mass setting. I’ve seen Proulx’s Missa Emmanuel, and it inspires me to ask: why? If a composer doesn’t feel like an original tune isn’t forthcoming from the muse, why not comb through the great but obscure tunes in the Sacred Harp?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Adoro Te

  1. RP Burke says:

    Proulx did indeed use “Adoro Te Devote” as the basis for his Corpus Christi Mass. I have found it useful when I have had to undertake music for a campus ministry Mass, in that it’s simple and melodic, and many (though more faculty than students these days!) have heard the tune before. Missa Emmanuel isn’t as effective, I don’t think, because the tune is so associated with a much better known text.

    Then, from the Sacred Harp’s musical style, comes Proulx again with his Land of Rest Mass. Uniquely American actual folk tunes, shape-note and Sacred Harp style music offer a Vaughan Williams moment.

    Why won’t a composer “comb through the great but obscure tunes”? Easy. They’re public domain and thus there’s no money to be made.

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