Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Real Bell

Today I was in a new space, brick and stone-walled, a small yet huge liturgical space.  I had never been there before except for a concert.  All I knew was that I was attending a Solemn Mass, yet I did not know what to expect.

Then a bell rang: a large, close-up bell.  Instantly I was transported outside of and deep into a space I cannot describe.  The ringing was a command, altered with each repetition, as I was altered.

The bell prepared me for what followed.   From the expert vocal sextet singing a Morales mass setting I learned something I had never before observed about the a cappella mass:  I had always known that the Sanctus, when well set, is an ecstatic piece of vocal writing.  By their warm intonation this group made palpable the build-up to the ecstasy.