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Byrd's mass for three voices - a word of thanks

posted Jan 20, 2014, 9:19 AM by Rochester Ordinariate   [ updated Jan 20, 2014, 9:39 AM ]
When our small band of pilgrims set out to create an Ordinariate community here in Rochester, we dreamed of a church that would worship God with the very best we could offer, in full communion with the Universal Church.  That included drawing on the incredibly rich artistic and musical culture of the Western Church; not only the specifically Anglican forms approved and promulgated by the Catholic Church, but also the pre-reformation Sarum English practices, as well as traditional Roman liturgy. This gives a tangible sign of Catholic unity, as well as continuity with our forefathers in the faith.

With that context in mind, what a joy it was to celebrate mass on Sunday with William Byrd's Mass for Three Voices sung as the mass setting for our customary Ordinariate liturgy.  Byrd, an English Catholic at the time of the reformation, wrote both Catholic and Anglican church music.  He composed the mass for three voices in 1593, with a second edition in 1598.  It is incredible that works of such beauty were written in those difficult times.  We wish to thank our choir for the mass,

Sarah McConnell
David Klosterman
Aaron James (director, and organist)

who sang beautifully.  During the coffee hour, after the mass, some of our choir members commented that our service Sunday was most likely the context Byrd himself had in mind when he was composing the settings:  within the Catholic mass, sung by three (and only three) voices, intended for a small congregation in a small Catholic church, or more likely, within recusant households.  These days, one typically hears similar mass settings only in concert halls, which is a pity.  I would like to think that Byrd was smiling down on us from heaven.

Thanks also to our visitors - all are very welcome to attend mass with us at St. Albans every Sunday - any Catholic in good standing is permitted to receive communion.  We were also honored to have David Fiorito visiting and serving as subdeacon.

Bernie took some video footage, which will be posted here soon.