Attending a Classical Mass Setting

Do any Catholic parishes (I am in the USA, Northeast) celebrate the mass set to classical mass settings, such as Mozart’s mass in C minor, anymore? If so is there any easy way to find a parish that does this? Understandably Google is not really able to discern the difference in meaning between “Mozart’s mass in C minor” and “mass set to Mozart’s mass in c minor” =) I just get search results for concert performances of the mass setting and not actual masses.

This kind of music is not appropriate to liturgical worship, as outlined by Pius X in Tra le sollecitudine, who made a valiant effort to suppress it in favor of chant, polyphony, and the pipe organ. Moreover, this kind of music is extremely difficult to perform, and hence not even an option for the vast majority of parishes that ignore the norms which he established.

Mozart’s Mass in C Minor is a concert Mass, and is much too long for a liturgical celebration of the Holy Mass. Mozart wrote many other Masses which can be used for Sunday Mass though. The choir of our parish in Virginia often sings them. I had the privilege of singing in this choir years ago, and I enjoyed the chance to sing these lovely Masses of Mozart as well as those of other famous composers. The C Minor Mass is my favorite of all Mozart’s works, so I can understand why you would like to hear it. It is too bad that it is not performed more often.

Those regulations were relaxed under Pius XII, don’t ask me where the quotes are but look in more recent documents regarding Sacred Music, but you’ll find them. So Orchestral polyphonic settings are quite allowable, and more than appropriate, in the OF and EF, considering the groups have the resources, especially for Solemn occasions

Here’s Mozart’s Coronation Mass being performed at the Vatican, during a Papal Mass:

Here’s the First Solemn Mass of a FSSP who was ordained, the Mass settign was by Haydn:

And yet another FSSP Mass, a requiem Mass, with Mozart’s setting done for the repose of the very composer:

In addition I sang the Propers for a first Mass at Mission San Juan Capistrano in which the ordinary was a Baroque setting composed by a native Californian specifically for the California missions.

As for the inquirer, I don’t know of any place that regularly holds Orchestral Masses, but I know places like St. Mary’s in Norwalk, St. Agnes in St. Paul. Minnesota, St. John Cantius outside Chicago among others, all have excellent music program that do regular Chant and Renaissance Polyphony, and on occasion have Orchestral Masses, also check out any FSSP or ICKSP parish they might also be doing the same. :smiley:

I know at my Church, they mix in some classical pieces and occasionally add in a cello in addition to the piano/organ, and we did have a Corpus Christi holy hour which had all classical pieces with our choir. It was absolutely beautiful. Our Mass settings, however, are usually the commonly used ones. Used to be Heritage Mass, but as of this past weekend have switched to Proulx’s Missa Simplex.

I would be surprised if there’s a single parish in the world that does regular classical Mass settings. In NYC, St. Agnes and St. Ignatius Loyola may be the only ones even capable of it and even then it would be rare. I know St. Agnes has done Mozart’s Requiem for an EF Mass.

The musicians performing these works have to be paid. I think that alone would discourage most parishes, other those that are “tourist attractions” in the Big Cities, from doing these works on a regular basis.

I don’t think so, don’t underestimate the talents of your fellow parishioners, the musical ensembles of St. Agnes( St. Paul MN) and St. Mary’s(Norwalk, CT) are all "home"grown if I am not mistaken, for the most part all are volunteer, save for the music director, organist, and the occasional specialized musician, and I wouldn’t say, outside of the Catholic blogosphere, that these parishes are “Big City tourist attractions”(definitely not Norwalk:cool:) The state of musical education in the US isn’t the best, but I wouldn’t doubt that a sizable parish might a quite a few parishioners who played violin, or cello, or flute etc. all through out high school and college, stopped after school, but would be more than willing to pick it up again given an outlet like this.

I have a feeling when people of certain talents at certain parishes hear the potential for their talents to be showcased within the Mass, whether it is a violin, cello, etc., they will step up and showcase the talents. Many Catholic churches in our area, including ours, have K3-8th grade schools attached to them, with a large student population (I guess we are lucky over here). I know many of those children willingly volunteer their talent to our Church. You wouldn’t be able to tell that our Children’s choir was a Children’s choir. I know some know how to play instruments and do volunteer time to that as well, especially during our Lenten/Advent Masses. I think it is helping that our school is also integrating choir/Mass music into it’s teaching with our Church music director teaching it.

I pray that more Churches will see this type of dedication come from future generations. It really is cool to see this happen… we are so blessed… and hope that others will be able to see this happen near them as well!

Most likely you’d hear it done by a Cathedral choir, which has the resources.

You’re blessed.

My husband and I are members of a sizeable parish (several thousand) in a wealthy section of our city.

Four of us play piano/organ. There are a few people who play who aren’t willing to play in front of people.

I am involved with the very active and vibrant music club in our city. I know of no one from our parish who plays any instrument other than a few high schoolers who are doing strings. A deseg lawsuit in our city decimated the public schools and we have not had orchestras in the schools for over a decade. As you can imagine, this really hurts church music.

In our city, the good musicians generally blacklist the Catholic parishes because of the Catholic Church’s unwavering stand on gay marriage, and the doctrine that homosexuality is a “disorder.” The musicians seem to have a very strong union mentality (some of them are actually part of a union or guild).

Also, the musicians in our city expect to be paid for their work.


Hmmm. That’s very interesting. I am a professional musician, and I would certainly agree that probably the majority are in the musician’s union, and many have a more “progressive” mindset. I really don’t know anyone, though, that would blacklist a Catholic church for these reasons. They would have to blacklist a few different churches, universities, etc. in this region. I guess your city is different though!

Actually, the only churches I know of who are holding on to the truth that gay marriage is wrong and practicing homosexual sex acts is wrong are the Catholic churches and the Evangelical Protestant churches. I know of no other churches that have held onto this truth. All of the Lutheran churches that I know of not only validate gay marriage, but make it clear that they are a “welcoming church.” Same for all the mainlines (Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, United Church of Christ, etc.).

In recent years (since I was a child), I have never seen “classical” musicians play in Evangelical Protestant churches. Never. I don’t even hear an organ anymore, although I know it’s done in the “traditional” worship services, but generally, it’s “gospel” organ, not classical. It’s all praise and worship in Evangelical Protestant churches. When I was growing up, it was gospel, rock, traditional praise, contemporary praise, and this all morphed into the simplistic praise and worship choruses that are done nowadays. No room for a violinist or any other classical musician. That’s probably for the best, since they wouldn’t play in these churches anyway because of the musicians stand with the homosexuals and their quest for “rights.”

I’ve heard classical musicians in the Catholic churches in our cities twice; once for a production of Mozart’s Requiem (beautiful) and once for a Faure work (can’t remember which, but it’s gorgeous). In both cases, the orchestra (chamber) was hired and paid well. They were professional musicians, not volunteers, and they are darned good and deserve to be paid.

We do a big production of Handel’s Messiah in our city; it involves over 30 different churches of all denominations, as well as several schools and organizations, and individuals from all faiths, including Jews and atheists. (I have yet to see a Muslim in the large chorus.) The chorus is all volunteer, but the musicians are paid union rates. No volunteers, even for the practices (a rehearsal accompanist is paid $50/hour).

I haven’t seen volunteer musicians in churches since I was a child, and certainly not in big classical works.

BTW, I don’t accept payment for my playing at my Catholic parish. I do accept payment (and expect payment) for playing at other parishes. I would (and do) play for free if there is true need.

I don’t understand one of your statements. Why would musicians boycott universities? They’re all completely liberal when it comes to gay rights. Many of the professional musicians in our city teach at one of the colleges or universities.

Ah. We have a large number of Missouri-synod Lutheran churches that also hold traditional marriage values, in addition to Catholic and evangelical Protestant churches. I believe that our local Catholic university is actually somewhat orthodox ,although there is a fat chance that they hire musicians: ).
I agree that professional musicians wouldn’t play something like this without pay.

Sorry we don’t have any better news for the original poster! I believe there is a church in Boston that plays through the cycle of Bach cantatas every 3 years or so, but that’s Episcopalian, I think.

I’m in San Francisco, California for the next two weeks and have just been told that a popular Dominican parish here will be celebrating their All Souls Day Solemn Mass this Sunday using the very concert Mass by Mozart you cited as an example. It even made the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of events:

The church itself looks quite astounding. Haven’t seen this kind of Catholic architecture in the United States (let alone California) in a long time!

Beautiful picture! Thanks for the link & information.:thumbsup:

I wanted to mention that Saint Agnes in NYC as well as the parish in Saint Paul would have what the OP is looking for.

Like I said earlier–Big Cities.

Most parishes don’t have the musicians, and they don’t care to spend the money to hire the musicians who are capable of performing classical Mass settings.

Parents, get your children involved in music lessons! Maybe the future of music in the Catholic Churches will be different.

How can this be cost-justified in an era where things are going digital, including pipe organs that can run on midi-compatibility? A smart musician can now avoid playing an instrument altogether, can even write mathematically-based improvisations into it. I know of two churches that have introduced these types of organs, albeit electronic.

I wish things were different.

I pray for the same thing as you, Cat. Really hope the future is better. Though over the weekend, our grade school Children’s Choir sang Panis Angelicus (Latin) and another Latin hymn during communion at the Mass I was at, which really was special for me to hear. Their pronunciation of the words were really good as well.

Now, in regards to the instruments, I am praying that more take string lessons (cello, violin, etc) as well as piano (and hopefully organ). I used to play piano myself years ago, so when my time permits, I want to relearn the piano and learn the organ. Our DM’s children play the strings and will occasionally be heard at Mass playing a cello and the like alongside the piano and organ. Nothing more heavenly and “deep” than that!

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