Monday, December 10, 2007

A not-so bad 8th of December

Normally, I would've avoided blogging about how I spent another weekend out of town, but the weekend I spent in Baguio is one worth blogging.

Last Saturday, Mel and I found ourselves in the Baguio Cathedral for the 6pm Mass. Though I enjoyed being enveloped in the chilly December air, the prospects of attending another Mass that lifted neither spirits nor sanity made me uneasy.

The Mass began almost at the very same moment when the preceding Mass ended. As customary in Masses in the Islands, the voice of the female "commentator" resounded throughout the Church, introducing the theme of the day's Mass and the celebrant, who was outed as a "PMA chaplain". As it was the usual custom, the priest wore a white "tunic" and a violet "outer stole" over his street clothes which, as usual, were neither alb or even white cassock. For a PMA chaplain, enjoying privileges of being a commissioned officer in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, he looked pretty sloven. In other words, it was the typical, "traditional" Filipino Mass.

But all of a sudden, booming, thundering even, were the voices of tenors singing, without musical accompaniment, the entrance hymn. I wasn't familiar with the song, but it was gloriously sung, no matter what it was. Pleasantly surprised wouldn't be enough to describe me at that moment, but it was enough to actually let a smile appear on my face whilst I contemplated the prospect of actually attending a non-traditional liturgy.

Though my hopes were partly dashed when the priest began saying his parts in the traditional manner, the choir mitigated this priest's traditionalism by singing their rendition of "Panginoon Maawa Ka" [Kyrie] in a setting that sounded more Russian or Slavonic than Jesuit.

Overall, the repertoire of hymns and ordinaries chosen by this choir and their adaptation of the same deserved a two-thumbs up from me. It was vigorous, manly, rich, inspiring, etc, etc. To put it succinctly, it wasn't lame. This, I thought, is how singing should be done in Churches: a Capella, by men (not boys or girls).

I was actually curious to see the men behind the singing so I waited until they descended from the choir loft. Initially, I inferred that these guys might be PMAers enjoying liberty from the Academy by spending time in Church since the celebrant at that time was the PMA chaplain. Weird, but it's plausible. When they all finally got down, all I saw were rugged, middle-aged, normal-looking men, the types you wouldn't associate with such splendid singing. But there they were. I salute you guys, whoever you are.

No comments: