Dear Fellow Parishioners,
At the risk of leaving someone out, I would like to thank the many members of our parish community who each played their part in making our first celebration of Easter in two years a memorable and beautiful one. Our Flower Committee plans Easter, weeks in advance and swings into action on Holy Saturday morning to make certain that the Easter decorations are set out in a matter of hours for the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. I would also like to thank the many volunteers of the Anglo and Hispanic communities who worked together to clean and disinfect the church between Masses, and the ushers and counters who help make the Masses run smoothly. I also thank our many parish musicians and singers who expressed for us all the joy of Easter with their music. A special thanks to Deacon Jim Carr who spent more time in the church and ministered at more Easter Masses than anyone. His help, as always, was invaluable. Finally, I’d like to thank all of you who took part in our Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter celebrations – whether in person or via the internet. Your participation, prayers and support are the heart of our parish community. I was grateful that most everybody who wanted extra palms to take home to loved ones were able to once we “cannibalized” the decorations. Before it was over, the yard was strewn with palms and looked like a hurricane hit a palm grove next to the rectory.
St. Augustine famously said, “He who sings, prays twice.” Since only cantors and/or small choirs are allowed to sing at Mass due to COVID-19, we rely all the more on our musicians to give depth to our liturgies and prayers. Though I cannot be at all Masses all the time, I would like to offer a brief commentary on the hymns and music played by Marilyn Thompson at the 10:30 am Easter Mass. Most, if not all, of these hymns will probably be familiar to you.
The opening hymn was “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”, based on Matthew 28:6, Acts 2:32, 1 Peter 3:18 and Revelation 1:17-18
et al. It was written in the 1300’s in Latin, by an unknown author in Bohemia. Since it was well-established in the church before the Reformation, it is sung today in most, if not all, church communities in addition to the Catholic Church.
During the Sprinkling Rite (after renewal of baptismal promises), we heard “O Sons and Daughters” (O Filii et Filiae), an Easter hymn written in the 1400’s by Fr. Jean Tisserand, O.F.M. Its popularity spread from France to other countries, and then to the world.
At the Offertory, we heard the Adagio (2nd movement) of Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony) by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921). It was written in 1886. At a mere 135 years old, this music was by far the newest of the music heard at this Mass. During Holy Communion, we heard a version of “Adoro te devote,” written as a Eucharistic hymn by St. Thomas Aquinas and set to music before 1264. It was included in the Roman Missal of 1570, and is still sung and performed today. The variations played at Communion were written by Richard Purvis, late organist at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
One of the unfortunate results of having Holy Communion after the final blessing is that it leaves no time for a recessional hymn. At the same time, it provides an extra opportunity to offer instrumental music, often settings of familiar hymns. By including music that dates back nearly a millennium, we show that in this world of one-hit wonders and disposable culture, there are things that are permanent, that endure. That was what we intended in choosing the music for the Easter Masses.
With Easter blessings,
Fr. Bill Donahue