Saturday, April 30, 2011
Latin at the Abbey!!!1
While the media made much ado about Catherine's wedding dress, Princess Beatrice strange head-gear (for lack of a better word) and the double kiss that the bride and groom shared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, a more important detail caught my attention. At the 8:15 mark of this video exerpt from the Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, we note a very interesting musical selection. While the official wedding program calls it The Motet, it is, in fact, Ubi Caritas.
For me, there is great significance in this particular hymn. Ubi Caritas is one of the Church's ancient hymns and is commonly chanted during the Mandatum (Washing of the Feet) during the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. The Last Supper seems to me to have wedding banquet connatation to it since it entails an act of love in the deepest sense. Jesus enjoins the remaining 11 Apostles to love one another as He has loved them. Later that night, He shows the depths of His love for not just the Apostolic band, but for all of humanity as He willingly submits Himself to immense suffering, pain and eventually, crucifixion. On the cross, Jesus utters "It is consummated". Thus, the union between God and Man has been completed, much as in the wedding night, the union between husband and wife reaches its ultimate fulfillment.
What strikes me about the particular choice of hymn that William and Catherine made is the fact that it is in Latin. I admit that I do not know much about the Anglican Communion and was rather interested to observe their particular form of liturgy. It was quite interesting to hear Latin at the Abbey. The last time I heard Latin in a televised liturgy from Westminster was when Pope Benedict XVI was there for an ecumenical service. A different setting of Ubi Caritas was used. It was beautiful, nonetheless.
On facebook, I wrote that it was rather ironic to listen to Ubi Caritas in Latin at an Anglican liturgy when in our own Cathedral, we don't even listen to, much less, use, the Church's official languge. When I went to the Anglican-use Mass in Houston, the choir sang in Latin. It was both magnificent and refreshing. It made me think about how we can restore Latin to its rightful place down here in the South Texas hinterland. Perhaps, it would be useful to chant the parts of the Mass in Latin when we have bilingual (English and Spanish) liturgies. After all, Pope Benedict XVI, in Sacramentum Caritatis, strongly recommends this. Rather than sing a mish-mash OCP production-type hybrid of English and Spanish settings of the Mass, we could very well sing the simple chants commissioned by the late Pope Paul VI, Jubilate Deo.
It is certainly worth a try. If Latin in the liturgy is good enough for William and Catherine, certainly, it should be moreso for us, as this venerable language is our birthright and our heritage as Catholics.