New Music Review: Mass in Honor of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Stylistically sound and musically satisfying, Joncas’s latest setting of the 2010 Revised Order of the Mass offers dignified music for liturgical prayer. Reminiscent of some of his previous service music, including Sing Praise and Thanksgiving (WLP) and No Greater Love Mass (GIA), Mass in Honor of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne is lyrical and versatile.

While some contemporary musical settings of the “Glory to God” seem burdensome and even awkward, Joncas’s melody is absolutely delightful. The singable through-composed Gloria boasts a magnificent and manageable modulation that contributes to the triumphant nature of the piece. The hidden gem of this setting, however, is Joncas’s treatment of the Universal Prayer. Written in a “mantra-style,” the congregational response to the intercessions can be sung in one, two, or three different languages with chanted or spoken invocations. Congregations who do not adapt Mass in Honor of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in its entirety will surely find ways to incorporate this setting of the Universal Prayer. 

Even so, parts of this setting cannot be proclaimed effectively without an investment of time by both choir and congregation. Changing keys and meters, while adding significant depth, may scare off the faint of heart. With perseverance, however, this work is sure to find a home in a variety of settings. Although my own choir struggled with the initial read of the “Holy, Holy, Holy,” after singing it several times and isolating a few key parts we began to understand and own the the richness of the choral and instrumental writing.

Scored for SATB voices, assembly, cantor, priest, and organ, Mass in Honor of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne contains a separate solo C-instrument part in addition to the optional string, brass, wind, and percussion orchestration. This instrumental versatility easily adapts to your available resources.

Mass of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (G-9573) by Michael Joncas is published by GIA Publications, Inc. A full recording of the setting is scheduled for release in the coming weeks.

2 comments

  1. The recording is available – as a download only. I was looking forward to hearing it with the full instrumentation, but unfortunately, it was recorded with organ and flute only.

    1. One of the many characteristics of Michael’s music that I appreciate greatly is that his melodies stand beautifully alone, even without all the marvelous instrumentation that he writes. Some of us (I am willing to bet many of us) do not have all these resources at our fingertips or in our budgets! I suppose that is why we do so many of his pieces!

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