Worn Out by Christmas Carols? – Try Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Christmas carols and secular “holiday” songs start assaulting us the day after Thanksgiving. The constant barrage on the radio, in elevators, shopping malls, and fast food outlets is a far cry from the caroling of my childhood and the joy my neighbors gave me and my family the other night as they came singing to our door.
For refreshment take three Palestrina and call me from heaven:
Here are three selections from Palestrina’s Christmas Mass – O Magnum Mysterium – O Great Mystery
The Introit or Opening: Puer Natus Nobis – A Child is Born to Us, A Son is Given to Us
The Kyrie Eleison – Lord Have Mercy – Penitential Rite
The Communion Motet – O Magnum Mysterium – O Great Mystery
As beautiful and soaring as the polyphony of the Kyrie and Communion motet are, it is important to remember that traditionalists at the time saw it as a vulgar deviation from the purity of the plain chant of the Introit.
The coming of God in the Flesh at Christmas and in the arts is ever new and startling.