21 January 2013

Healey Willan's Mass Settings


The music of Healey Willan is part and parcel of the Anglican Patrimony.  His musical compositions are useful not only for Ordinariate parishes and Anglican Use congregations, but within his oeuvre there are many pieces that are useful for the entire Church.  (Be sure to read this post on the New Liturgical Movement blog.)

In the now old 'New St. Basil Hymnal' there is  a beautiful congregational Mass setting by Willan (the Mass of St. Theresa).  It is a setting in Latin and is now available through the Healey Willan Society website here.

The Mass of St. Peter by Willan is another treasure -- almost completely unknown -- and as a setting in Latin it is very effective for a congregation or a small choir.  Both of these settings -- of St. Peter and of St. Theresa -- express the reverence and dignity that should attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Almost all of Willan's settings of the Mass in English includes the Kyrie in Greek.  I note that because any choir can immediately make use of those settings of Kyrie eleison at any celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Each one is a sublime echo of the choirs of heaven.

Those familiar with Healey Willan's Mass for Saint Mary Magdalene (found in The Hymnal 1940 and The Hymnal 1982) may be surprised to learn that Willan authorised a nine-fold version of the Kyrie in Greek that was available in one of the early Hymnal Studies of the Episcopal Church.  Even without seeing that score it is very easy to simply substitute the Greek words... really it is a setting that almost sings itself.

Here is to a mighty revival of Willan's music ... especially within the Catholic Church!  Now can I interest anyone in the Canticles of Mrs. Amy Beach?

+Salve Sancta Maria Magdalena!