Does Stabat Mater by Pergelosi have a place in Mass?


I’ve never heard it in Mass, does it have a place in Mass? If so what liturgical day? It’d be fair to say Easter.


I love the haunting quality of the duets in the first and last movements of this piece. If I remember it correctly its something like 40 minutes long in it’s entirety. If it were used in a liturgical setting it would be best used on Good Friday so it wouldn’t really be used in mass. Personally I like it more as a reflection piece so I don’t know if I’d like it as part of a liturgical setting, but that’s just my preference.


The “Stabat Mater” was the sequence for the Mass for the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. Most sequences were suppressed after Vatican II. We sing the English version today in the hymn “At the Cross Her Station Keeping” during Lent and especially at Stations od the Cross. The Pergolesi piece, while stunningly beautiful, with its many movements is way too long to be used at Mass. I suppose if one’s choir had exceptional soprano and mezzo soloists, one of the movements could be used as a communion meditation on Palm Sunday, However, the vocal writing is so difficult that it is unlikely that any but professional singers could manage it.


It wouldn’t be appropriate for either Mass or the principal Good Friday Liturgy, the latter rationale being that instrumental accompaniment is foregone by decree.
Perhaps it could be “concertized” within the evening stations of GF.


As both a professional musician and a practicing Catholic, I have to consider some things.

1.) Practically anyone who can perform this piece well will expect to be paid well for it.
2.) It is so long that it will definitely be the center of attention. A properly-proportioned Mass that included this in its entirety would be so long that few people would come.
3.) The Catholic culture in which this type of music flourished has never been part of the United States’ culture. I don’t think it would have fit well here in the pioneer days of the 1700’s, and I don’t think it would fit well here now.

We should appreciate the arts and the impact our Catholic heritage has had on them, but not everything Catholic that we do has to take place at Mass. Sacred music concerts are wonderful, but why compartmentalize the things of God into one hour on Sunday? If people want to celebrate God by having a sacred music concert, then they ought to have one- but why does it have to be at Mass? The apostles didn’t just talk about God in the temple.

No, it’s too long and too showy for Mass. The only time it could be appropriate in a church is if a group of musicians decided, for the Glory of God, to go into the church where there was no congregation and perform it by themselves as an offering of their very best to God.


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