Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Falls and "O Canada!"

Wednesday greetings from Chicago. My apologies for not blogging the last few days; had a relaxing weekend in New York State and Ontario over the long weekend.

Wanted to share a few photos with you.

I had never been to Niagara Falls before. It was breathtaking and the "Maid of the Mist" was an experience I will not soon forget. Made me appreciate the grandeur of God's creation.

On Sunday, I attended Mass at Saint Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, the interior of which is pictured here:

The cathedral is currently undergoing restoration and, frankly, it could use it. My experience at the liturgy was a bit underwhelming. The celebrant preached a really wonderful homily and the readings were proclaimed with great care. What was most disappointing was the music. I walked in during the opening hymn, which people were singing with vigor from the Catholic Book of Worship III, the Canadian national hymnal. In the pews were the new "Celebrate in Song" supplements that the Canadian bishops released at the time of the new translation. It contains three new Mass settings, written by Canadian composers, as well as other music for Mass written since the national hymnal was last published. I was looking forward to singing one of these new Canadian settings.

The Gloria was chanted in Latin. In a fairly packed church, I heard the cantor's voice over the sound system and maybe five to ten additional voices chanting. I was frantically thumbing through the hymnal and the supplement for this traditional setting, hoping to add at least another voice, but never found it. It was kind of frustrating. The Gloria ended up being more like a dirge that we simply listened to; very disappointing. When the psalm was intoned, I didn't understand the words. Again, I thumbed through the hymnal, but never found it.

When the time came for the Sanctus, I immediately recognized the organ's introduction. Instead of one of the new Canadian settings, it was Community Mass. Again, very little singing; I didn't know the revised setting so I was lost from the beginning. The memorial acclamation evoked little to no response from the assembly; neither did the "great" Amen. The only time the assembly sang again with vigor was for the closing hymn. I was at a loss to figure out why the assembly sang so little during the Mass. I do need to say that the organist was quite fine; I enjoyed his playing very much.

Here is a photo I took of the cathedral's font, which is located in front of a side altar half way down the church.

Here is a wider shot of the area:

When leaving, I walked through a side vestibule, only to find a more recent stained glass window installation. It was pretty stunning, depicting Miriam with her tambourine, leading the singing after the Israelites passed through the Red Sea.

Here's a close-up of Miriam:

My time in Toronto included a visit to another important shrine:

As a kid I grew up watching and listening to Boston Bruins hockey games, with my heroes like Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. And now I am a dedicated Chicago Blackhawks fan. It was absolutely thrilling to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. I love its name in French: Temple de la renommée du hockey. Ah, my French-Canadian roots were fed here as well.

So, it was a great weekend with friends and family; even though a little disappointing on the Catholic liturgical front. Toronto is simply an amazing and diverse city. Each time I visit Canada, I think of how blessed its people are to live in such a welcoming and celebratory country. "O Canada!"

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Steve Raml said...

Jerry - you mentioned the "Celebrate in Song" booklet with three mass settings.

When looking for one for my parish, I was very impressed with the setting by Fr. Geoffrey Angeles. But as these masses were not published separately (as far as I could find out from the Canadian Bishop's Office of Worship) and only available in that supplement, we went with the Gokelman/Kauffman setting "Mass of Renewal".

Would WLP be interested in publishing the Angeles setting (and the others) for the US?