>On Sunday I had the honor of singing Haydn’s Theresienmesse in the Dom (cathedral) as part of a very ceremonial mass, which afterward included speeches and swearing-in and a local rifle militia and band, in traditional costume.
The reason for all the pomp was the The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, an international group of Roman Catholic men and women who do things to actively support Christians in the Holy Land. They originated during the medieval Crusades, and continue to this day as a mixed group of clergy and laypersons. Interesting for me to learn is that the order’s current Grand Master is John Patrick Cardinal Foley, of Philadelphia. Less interesting to learn that although he’s a fellow local boy, he’s your basic anti-gay, anti-women-in-the-clergy conservative Catholic. I guess he’s perfect to lead these crusaders then.
Honestly, though, not being an observant Catholic I could not tell you where this crowd lies on the spectrum of church politics. Suffice to say they have nice capes. The women wore black capes, also with their signature red cross, and black sheer veils.While I was up there on the loft I snapped a few photos of the beautiful interior of the Dom. It’s all white, mauve and honey-comb, like a wedding cake, or the inside of some fantastic royal beehive. What is especially interesting (to me) about this cathedral is that it is the first I have ever seen with a gold clock above the altarpiece. You can see it here, through the furthest arch. I love that clock — it feels a little rude to glance up at it during the sermon, but hey, they put it there.
I sing here maybe 5 or 6 times a year, depending on the season. There is a regular choir, director and organist, but the soloists are hired in when needed.
A significant difference between the church services in the States and the ones here (at least all the ones I attended) is that big works — masses by Mozart, Haydn, Schubert — would be done in the US as concert works. Here they are also used right in the mass, and if the Gloria takes 12 minutes, well then, the clergy waits it out. Maybe the clock is really for them!
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