Because of the big Buffalo blizzard I have spent Christmas snowed in.
I treated myself to Christmas midnight mass from St. John Cantius in Chicago. That is it at the top of the post! Remember when I went to St. John Cantius? Yikes, that was eight years ago!
It is long, I am not suggesting anyone watch the same thing. However being snowed in, I watched pretty much all of it. I even rewound it here and there, especially near the beginning before I quite realized how long it was.
There is a lot that is interesting about this mass. It is kind of a hybrid of Latin and English. Perhaps a Novus Ordo presented in Latin? The readings were what you would have at a modern Mass. There was a kind of responsorial psalm -- it was tasteful as responsorial psalms go however I fast forwarded through that. Hence the "pretty much" when I wrote I watched pretty much all of it.
Anyway. If you do not want to watch pretty much all of it here is what to check out.
The mass begins with a candlelight procession to "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen." You would not normally think of this Christmas carol as accompanying a solemn procession at mass however it was stunning. It gave me shivers.
There is a chorus and orchestra! I could not identify the mass they were performing. I know "performing" is not the right word. It is late and I cannot think of the right word, forgive me. The music seemed a little later than the classical era however it was not quite Romantic either, at least it did not sound like any composer I could think of.
Just now I got around to looking it up. They tell you in the notes to the video. It is by Otto Nicolai. It is his Mass in D. What a curiosity! I had the era exactly right. Not quite classical, not quite romantic. Otto Nicolai lived only from 1810-1849.
The only Otto Nicolai I know off the top of my head is the overture to "The Merry Wives of Windsor" -- a piece I have always absolutely loved. I will have to listen again to his Mass in D because I really enjoyed it today.
The Midnight Mass ended with "Silent Night." They cut the lights and the ending procession is also by candlelight. The arrangement made me think of 1950s and 1960s Christmas records that I love. The mass has a full orchestra, did I mention that? The orchestra plays and the chorus sings this beautiful "Silent Night" in English, then in German, then in other languages. I think Polish is one.
Just beautiful. I was gazing at it thinking: This happened last night!!
Long story short, I do feel I made it to mass on Christmas. And at times like this I am happy that there will be other chances actually to be at Mass in person, not just in spirit.
It is only the First Day of Christmas!