Albany, NY: A rare link in the musicology of the post-Vatican II Church in America was found today, languishing under a moldy refrigerator in the basement of St. Veronica's Church in Albany last week.
"Apparently this unsigned requiem Mass, or as it is titled, 'The Mass for those who kicked it,' was composed in honor of a local parishioner who died in 1969, as there is a scrawl on the upper right that says 'for Marie, 1969'. At least we hope so. It could be an informal salutation to the Blessed Mother as well...it's unclear," said Robert Scanlon, current liturgical director and scholar in contemporary musicology for the diocese.
The set of musical pieces, which seem to be based on the words (in English) of Maurice Durufle's Requiem, but the musical sensibilities of Peter, Paul, and Mary, have stunned local liturgists.
"I choose that word--stunned--carefully" said Scanlon. "One person I spoke with was stunned in outrage. Another person was clearly stunned in delight. Another person was stunned in embarrassment...I think he might have been involved in the presentation of this way back then. No one in that church or the diocese is owning up, though. It's a shame, because this will go down as a--um, watershed moment--in 20th century liturgical music."
There are two hallmarks of the composition: first, the unusual instrumentation, which include a bluesy harmonica on the Agnus Dei (or "Lamb of God"), dueling mandolins during the Kyrie Eleison ("Lord, Have Mercy"), and tamborines, finger cymbals, and a cow bell during the In Paradisum. Second, the Mass closes with a rousing a capella eight part harmony of "Blowin' in the Wind", which the composer re-titled "Blowin' in the Spirit".
Although St. Veronica's Church was trying to downplay the discovery, one older woman sidled up to this reporter after Sunday Mass. Requesting anonymity, she whispered:
"Just don't let them bury me with that music. I'd rather die. Of course, I'd be dead already, but trust me, I'll figure out something."
Coming soon: A report on a 1962 Requiem setting that was retired "for making dirges look peppy," argues local musicologist.