Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mass appeal

Every Sunday at Mass one of the things I think about is how many people, through the centuries, have heard what I am hearing. I often think of how many great musicians of the past must have absorbed this music, and the effect it must have had on them.

Just as an example of what I think about, one part of the Mass I love is the "Asperges Me," which, well actually, it is before the Mass even starts. It is a kind of preparation. There is this ancient psalm asking God to purify us and the priest sprinkles everyone with holy water.

Here is the Asperges Me so you can hear what I'm talking about. I found this video from a church in Scotland. It reminds me of what I experience every Sunday here at church. I love the people walking in during this video, by the way. It is funny and kind of touching to hear the ancient chant juxtaposed with people in down jackets and one woman with her dog. Very Buffalo!

Here is a crazed looking guy out in the snow singing the Asperges Me. I like that kind of Russian twist he gives it at the end of lines. And how at the end he stands there and smiles.

OK, let me get to the point. Listen to the beginning of the Asperges Me, the part where the choir takes it up, and then tell me:

Is it not exactly like the beginning of Beethoven's Ode to Joy?

I am just saying.

That is how I learned the chant, by thinking of that. I do not think it is out of the question that Beethoven was thinking of the "Asperges Me" when he wrote his Ninth Symphony. He grew up in the Catholic church and they had a big hand in his musical education.

What about the scene from "Immortal Beloved" that had the Ode to Joy? That is the one scene I liked from that movie.

What about the "Ode to Joy" played on wine glasses? You would not believe the stuff on YouTube.

Imagine if Beethoven had grown up with "On Eagle's Wings" and "Be Not Afraid."

That Ninth Symphony might have turned out very differently.

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