Fanon of Christmas Past

Exactly two years ago, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the First Holy Mass of Christmas and he wore the fanon, hated by liberals and the ungodly HERE.




I turned on the Mass from St. Peter’s Basilica for a little bit.  It was an object lesson in how not to sing Gregorian chant.  Excruciating.  The pace of this would put a funeral face one just about anyone.  It’s great that they have some Gregorian chant, it being the sacred music that Second Vatican Council elevated above all others, but… at least sing it right.  How hard is this?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Robbie says:

    I watched Christmas Eve Mass from St Peter’s as well. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who found the singing to be off key. Regardless, merry Christmas.

  2. James says:

    “Memories light the corners of my mind /
    Misty water-colored memories of the way we were…”

  3. Mike says:

    Attended a Dominican Rite Requiem Mass not too long ago at which I learned that (at least in the opinion of the homilist) not even the Dies Irae is meant to be sung at dirgelike pace!

    Chant is still climbing out of the ditch into which it was run by the twentieth-century iconoclasts — and I from that of the world, the flesh, and the devil, so my opinion shouldn’t count for much. Those of an evidently faithful Dominican and of Fr. Z will probably do just fine.

  4. zama202 says:

    What was the solo during the Creed?


  5. oldcanon2257 says:

    Besides the fanon, that was one GLORIOUS mitra pretiosa worn by Papa Benedicto back then!!!

    I miss those dignified vestments.

    Looking at these images is like traveling back in time with Dickens’ “Ghost of Christmas Past” character.

  6. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    Merry Christmas, Father! Thank you for helping us continue to learn from Papa Ratzinger. I followed the link you provided on the fanon to your post in October, 2012. You predicted there that Pope Benedict would do something huge during the Year of Faith that had just begun. Well, he sure did. I don’t think it was what you expected.

  7. Polycarpio says:

    God bless everyone. Have a blessed Christmas and may the Christ child impart His joy and bounteous blessings.

  8. Eugene says:

    God how I miss this great man and every time you post a picture of him, the feelings missing him only increase.
    God please help me in the darkness I am in regarding YOUR Church.

  9. amont says:

    I do indeed miss the Liturgical precision of Pope Benedict- it was always refreshing to watch Mass from Rome -solemn and dignified and to see his revival of the traditions of the papal office.

  10. rdschreiner says:

    I think I watched a little bit of the Midnight Mass from St. Peter’s last year, but it was nothing I was remotely interested in doing this year. It was always a part of my Christmas tradition with St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict, but no more. I’ll never forget the year when the woman leaped over the barricade and brought Pope Benedict to the floor.

  11. Kathleen10 says:

    We only saw a few minutes of the Mass from St. Peter’s. We didn’t hear the choir. What has grown tiresome is the relentless ode to multiculturalism at these Masses. Who cares where the laity are from at the Holy Mass! Oh well, Merry Christmas Fr. Z. and all!

  12. jhayes says:

    zama202 asked What was the solo during the Creed?

    “Et Incarnatus Est” by Mozart from his unfinished Grand Mass in C minor. Included by request of Francis and sung by soprano Chen Reiss

    Sistine Chapel Choir sang the chant before and after.

  13. amsjj1002 says:

    I turned on the television to see the soloist singing and figured it was a pre-Mass concert, though I didn’t know why the Pope was kneeling. But then I realised it was part of the Mass and got irked; we shouldn’t have to wait for a singer to finish. Why couldn’t they just chant the Creed straight through? I mean, it was a nice piece and she sang nicely but it felt out of place to me. And the Holy Father looked like he was offering it up, but maybe that was just me projecting!

    But these pics of Grandpapa Benedict — has it just been two years? How I miss the dear man and his quietly elegant style.

  14. moconnor says:

    Chant singing practice changed constantly over the centuries. We have no idea how it was sung in the Middle Ages, since there are no recordings nor many informative descriptions (regarding tempo, rhythmic flexibility and all that). Our modern practice is particularly French as it was conceived by the monks at Solesmes. It suits our modern sense of how chant should be, but it’s still a guess, based on the impression given by the older neumes (not the square notes, but the squiggles over the text in the older books). Scholarship in chant performance practice shows the slower, ponderous style to be very old, indeed. It makes a bit of sense when considering the spaces where it was sung, often with long reverberations, and the men who sang them (most not highly skilled singers). That said, history has shown that chant singing changes for many reasons and so the more fluid and faster style of the French works well for us now. My point is that we shouldn’t really put down the Roman tradition that has been like this at least since Mozart’s time. Not our preference, but it’s not just “bad” in its approach. Now the Sistine Choir’s polyphonic singing is another matter and don’t get me started! Merry Christmas!

  15. Lin says:

    I so miss Pope Benedict that it is at times painful!

  16. John Nolan says:

    Pope Francis has a higher regard for the ‘Et incarnatus’ from Mozart’s unfinished C Minor Mass than the composer himself had; he left the movement incomplete, evidently considering it too long and too operatic. Taking over eight minutes to set thirteen words of text, it is the sort of thing that St Pius X detested and condemned in 1903. In view of his pre-Christmas address, Francis might have had an ulterior motive, since the concelebrating cardinals in the front row of the ‘stalls’ (to use a theatrical term analogous to the music being performed) had perforce to kneel on the marble pavement for this considerable time. At least one of them couldn’t manage it and had to stagger to his feet before the soloist had finished her extended display of coloratura.

    As for the chant, at least we had Mass IX (not long ago it was assumed that the congregation could only manage ‘de Angelis’) although I found the conductor’s gestures bizarrely overdone. The singing is not nearly as bad as it was 20 years ago.

  17. jhayes says:

    Francis said “Among musicians I love Mozart, of course. The ‘Et incarnatus est’ from his Mass in C minor is matchless; it lifts you to God!”

    John Nolan wrote he left the movement incomplete, evidently considering it too long and too operatic.

    I don’t think Mozart had any doubts about the aesthetics of the work but as I understand it the whole Mass, if completed, would have been much longer than permitted for church use in Salzburg at the time.

  18. HighMass says:

    How hard it is to keep quiet…..Oh Pope Benedict where have those beautiful Holy Sacrifices of the Masses gone???? You dressing as the Holy Father should, the use of the wonderful music, even though the Mass in the N.O.

    I believe one of the first comments on this particular subject says it all and if I can quote: says:

    James says “Memories light the corners of my mind
    Misty water-colored memories of the way we were…”but it is more than that it is Celebrating the Holy Sacrifice as it should be!.

    What happened at the Credo………My Good Lord how terrible…………Enculturation of the Liturgy….has Piero Marini returned???? How awful…….

  19. HighMass says:

    P.S. another reason the Holy Father (Pope Benedict) wore the Fanon in 2012 is he knew Feb. 2013 was just around the corner….and wouldn’t have to listen to all the Criticism much longer.(:(:(

  20. John Nolan says:

    Regarding the Mozart ‘Et Incarnatus’ from K427 the Mozart scholar Karl Geiringer wrote:

    ‘… the composer clearly indicated that he was not satisfied with his draft for this movement, and actually the bravura aria of this section is a strangely incongruous piece which Mozart may have sketched to please Constanze; later he abandoned it, probably because he felt that it did not fit into the total conception of his exquisite work.’

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