Last night the annual requiem mass sponsored by the Catholic Artists Society, the New York Purgatorial Society, the Society of St Hugh of Cluny and the Roman Forum was celebrated in the impressive surroundings of the Dominican Church of St Catherine of Siena. This year the solemn requiem mass was celebrated in the Dominican rite. Alas, St Catherine’s – architecturally one of the most extraordinary churches on the island of Manhattan – is from this year onward no longer an independent parish.
This Requiem mass, celebrated in the middle of November – a more sombre time of the year conducive to reflection and recollection – was an extraordinary spiritual and musical experience. The solemn ceremony perfectly expressed our awareness of our own mortality while interceding for the souls of those departed before us.
The Durufle requiem of 1947, performed so wonderfully last night, is one of the most marvelous settings of the requiem mass. Its character is uniquely elegiac, coming as it did just after the last World War and the “suicide of the West.” This mass is one last great summary of the entire history of Western music: based on chant but reflecting influences of Faure and Wagner. But, even in 1947, who could have imagined that within 25 years one of the greatest artifacts – viewed purely aesthetically – of that Western culture, this very requiem mass and its music, would be repudiated by the Church. Or so it seemed – but as the congregation was able to experience last night, in the wake of Summorum Pontificum, the Traditional Requiem is very much still with us.
It was heartening to see such a large congregation fill the vast space of this church.
The Dominican Rite: Procession with the chalice to the celebrant employing the humeral veil – before the Gospel.
(Above) Mr James Wetzel, Choirmaster
(Above) The Schola Dominicana of St. Catherine
(Above) Mr Michael Hey, organist.
The Very Reverend Walter C. Wagner, OP, Pastor of the Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena
The Reverend Innocent Smith OP, Celebrant and Homilist
The Reverend Sean Connolly, Deacon
The Reverend Sebastian White, OP, Subdeacon
Mr. Steven Pack, Head of altar Servers
The Schola Dominicana of St. Catherine
Miss Elisa Sutherland and Mr. Dominic Inferrera, soloists
Mr. Michael Hey, Organist
Mr. James D. Wetzel, Choirmaster
Mr. Donald Cherry, Vestments and poster.