Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tu Es Petrus on September 18, 2010

Martin Baker, the Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, is featured in the monthly Rewind column in the Christmas issue of BBC Music Magazine, in which "Artists talk about their past recordings". He highlights "My finest moment": the recently released recording of William Byrd's Masses for three, four, and five voices; "I'd like another go at . . .": Victoria's Missa Ave Regina caelorum and other choral works, and "My fondest memory":

James Macmillan's Tenebrae Responsories & other choral works, in which he discusses the great liturgical event of Pope Benedict's visit to Westminster Cathedral for Mass on September 18, 2010. Macmillan's setting of the Introit, Tu es Petrus, was arranged to have maximum impact: the Choir singing from the East, the Organ from the West, "a wall of brass to the North and battery of percussion to the South", so that the "effect in the building was cataclysmic"! Indeed, the Gramaphone review of the subsequent recording highlighted Macmillan's Tu es Petrus: "The combination of Westminster Cathedral Choir and MacMillan is irresistible. We are drawn immediately into their complicity by the jaw-dropping Tu es Petrus … its simultaneous celebratory character and clear rootedness in liturgical tradition make it far more than a one-off firework."

You can hear the original performance at the beginning of Mass during the procession:

Pope Benedict also prepared a homily that reflected on the great occasion while reminding the congregation of eternal verities:

Dear Friends in Christ,

I greet all of you with joy in the Lord and I thank you for your warm reception. I am grateful to Archbishop Nichols for his words of welcome on your behalf. Truly, in this meeting of the Successor of Peter and the faithful of Britain, "heart speaks unto heart" as we rejoice in the love of Christ and in our common profession of the Catholic faith which comes to us from the Apostles. I am especially happy that our meeting takes place in this Cathedral dedicated to the Most Precious Blood, which is the sign of God’s redemptive mercy poured out upon the world through the passion, death and resurrection of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In a particular way I greet the Archbishop of Canterbury, who honours us by his presence.

The visitor to this Cathedral cannot fail to be struck by the great crucifix dominating the nave, which portrays Christ’s body, crushed by suffering, overwhelmed by sorrow, the innocent victim whose death has reconciled us with the Father and given us a share in the very life of God. The Lord’s outstretched arms seem to embrace this entire church, lifting up to the Father all the ranks of the faithful who gather around the altar of the Eucharistic sacrifice and share in its fruits. The crucified Lord stands above and before us as the source of our life and salvation, "the high priest of the good things to come", as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews calls him in today’s first reading (Heb 9:11).

It is in the shadow, so to speak, of this striking image, that I would like to consider the word of God which has been proclaimed in our midst and reflect on the mystery of the Precious Blood. For that mystery leads us to see the unity between Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the Eucharistic sacrifice which he has given to his Church, and his eternal priesthood, whereby, seated at the right hand of the Father, he makes unceasing intercession for us, the members of his mystical body.

Read the rest here.

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