Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday Mass

I love music, both listening to it and performing it. Some years I sing in the church choir at St. Marks, although I haven't this year. Tonight we went to Ash Wednesday mass, the first night of Lent. Lent is a time of repentance and preparation, 40 days to get ready for Easter, the most holy mass of the Catholic year.

The music during Lent is all done a capella, which is Italian for "in the manner of the Church/chapel" and means sung without instruments, just voices. The choir sings mostly in 4 part harmonies, and mostly in Latin, which I enjoy.

The Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) is always one of my favorites. There's a bit where the sopranos go up to this incredibly high note that always moves me. We also go forward and get a cross formed of ashes on our forheads while the priest or one of the assitants intones "remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return." Very humbling stuff, combined with the centuries old vocal music and solemn process it helps get you into a repentant and contrite state of mind.

I also saw several of the kids that I taught in religious education classes - some of them are growing pretty tall! I like having connections to the kids, and I enjoyed hearing babies laughing, babbling and crying during mass. A healthy church should include lots of babies so that it can continue on into the future.

I miss singing in the choir, and more so at Lent than most of the year. Advent is also fun, and of course Christmas and Easter are the best: we do those masses with full accompanyment, strings for Christmas and brass for Easter, and I love the songs. It's hard to explain the appeal of songs that I don't even understand, but the harmonies are just so beautiful and the performance so passionate that the meaning gets through even without the language.

Tomorrow it's back to the "mundane" music, which I love in a different way, volunteering at the Vera Project. I find really good musical performances of secular music can reach a spiritual level for me, raising goosebumps and affecting me in a way and on a level that I can only describe using religious terms: spiritual, grace, communion and salvation all come to mind.

1 comment:

  1. "A healthy church should include lots of babies so that it can continue on into the future."

    I love that thought ...