[Vatican Today] Westminster Abbey choir sings in St Peter's Basilica

A return visit
…the world famous Westminster Abbey choir is here in the Vatican this week to sing alongside the Sistine Chapel choir at the Papal Mass for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on Friday morning. In issuing the invitation, Pope Benedict stressed that such an event may serve to encourage the enriching mutual exchange of gifts between the two liturgical and cultural traditions.

To find out more about the choir’s history and about the programme of events for this visit, Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen spoke to the Dean of Westminster Abbey, Rev Dr John Hall”¦..

Read and listen to it all

Update: Westminster Abbey Choir in St Peter’s this morning with the Sistine Chapel Choir

from here where there are more videos


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19 comments on “[Vatican Today] Westminster Abbey choir sings in St Peter's Basilica

  1. Jackson says:

    Meanwhile the Westminster Choir was offered and granted asylum in the Vatican under the ordinariate and lived the rest of their lives in Rome.

  2. Terry Tee says:

    I note that the abbey choir is singing alongside the Sistine chapel choir. I wonder if they are compatible. Since I am a Catholic I am allowed to say that it is the abbey choir that has usually had the highest standards, and that the Vatican choir …. tries hard.

  3. Dan Crawford says:

    Having suffered through the Sistine Choir’s “music” during various televised papal liturgies, I am not surprised they sound considerably better when joined by the Westminster Choir.

  4. David Keller says:

    Question–Where did all those bishops come from and who was the metropolitan? Even my Baptist assistant was impressed. They sing great–the younger boys need wiggle lessons, though.

  5. In Texas says:

    My wife, being the music person she is (master’s degree music education), explained to me why the Sistine Choir didn’t sound very good. It has to do with the music and style of singing, and not the choir itself. Sadly, they sing that way on purpose. I liken it to listening to cats fight 🙂 :).

    We were very fortunate to have gone a music study tour of England at Christmas several years ago as part of her master degree work – Westminster Abby, St. Paul’s, and Festival of Lessons and Carols and Kings College! Westminser Abby was wonderful, we attended a second Evensong close to Christmas, and since government offices were closed, the high born that would have normally sat in the quire were not there. We were able to sit in the quire, right next to the Choir, and about 10 feet away from the queen’s seat. Just a few months later, we joined TEC, and being exposed to the wonderful litergy and music in England helped in that decision.

  6. Ralph says:

    A very nice, and appropriate, opportunity for collaboration and sharing in the Body of Christ.

    My own TEC parish choir sang for Mass at a Roman Catholic parish some years ago. We were explicitly denied communion. We haven’t been invited back.

    Did the Bishop of Rome make an exception to allow the Anglicans and other non-Roman-Catholic Christians in the Abbey choir to come to the Lord’s Table?

  7. Catholic Mom says:

    Pope Benedict looked unusually frail. Hope that was just an artifact of the video.

    Ralph — have you 1) made an explicit public statement of faith that you “believe all that the Catholic Church teaches and believes?” Have you 2) been to private confession within the last year? These are two minimum requirements for receiving communion and they apply to everybody, Catholics included. Nobody is checking you at the altar rail (if there were an altar rail anymore) but there is an automatic assumption that if you belong to a non-Catholic church you have not met either requirement.

  8. Charles52 says:

    If Catholicism is essentially Petrine and Protestantism (especially evangelicalism) is essentially Pauline, then this Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is particularly apt for a bit of ecumenical friendliness, especially if us Catholics get a whiff of real music. It’s been a while for us.

  9. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Taking singing to the Italians? It’s a funny old world. Also singing in the massive St Peter’s doesn’t seem to have fazed the choristers at all.

    I suspect this sort of thing, like Alpha for Catholics does more for relationships between our churches than all the ARCIC stuff.

  10. Todd Granger says:

    Agreed, PM, about the ecumenical relationships. As a matter of fact, it fits nicely with a collection of essays that I’m just reading (having been given the book just last week by a friend while we were in Durham during a trip to the UK). The book, and the position that the essays explore, is entitled _Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning_.

  11. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #10 That sounds interesting Todd. Perhaps ecumenicism is something that we should do rather than talk about.

    I have no wish to become a Catholic, but I am all for working together where we can, and learning from one another, and perhaps more than either of those, just be together, which is where Christians should be.

    Hope you had a good visit to the UK.

  12. Terry Tee says:

    # 4, David, the bishops were all archbishops and receiving the pallium (the white stole around the neck) as a sign of their metropolitical authority. The group included several Americans. I took the following from the UK Catholic Herald online:
    [blockquote]Before celebrating Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Benedict gave the archbishops from 23 countries the woollen pallium as a sign of their sharing with him authority over the faithful in their archdioceses.

    The pallium is presented every year to new archbishops or those who have been assigned to a new archdiocese.

    The archbishops included Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver and Archbishop William Skurla, who leads the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.

    Among the others were four prelates from Canada, including Archbishop Christian Lepine of Montreal, and two from Australia, including Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane. [/blockquote]

  13. midwestnorwegian says:

    My father’s playing dominoes in the balcony….

  14. MichaelA says:

    Charles52 at #8, the post at #7 explains why there is no hope for ecumenism between Rome and Anglicanism. They aren’t interested in compromise, and we don’t need what they are selling.

    But the music was wonderful!

  15. Charles52 says:

    MichaelA –

    Of course there is no possibility of corporate reunion between Canterbury and Rome. #7 responded to #6, which seemed to suggest that Catholics practice inter-church Communion, in other words, act like Anglicans.

    True ecumenism doesn’t compromise, but seeks understanding to maximize that Charity to which the Lord Jesus calls all of us. I don’t hear “compromise” in your #13 and I respect that. Why should you compromise your 39 Articles and foundational theology?

    All of that said, there are provisions in the RC Canon Law for communicating non-Catholics, and folks still occasionally mention Blessed John Paul II’s funeral, at which Cardinal Ratzinger gave Communion to Brother Roger of Taize, a Protestant.

    Nevertheless, what I whimsically called “ecumenical friendliness”, and more seriously, ecumenical cooperation (as Americans are currently doing with the threat to our religious freedom) are not only possible, but (in my opinion) our duty. Not to mention the good music.

  16. Catholic Mom says:

    MichaelA — I don’t think you understand that generally the Catholic Church doesn’t “compromise” with *Catholics* much less non-Catholics.

    I have been to funerals where the priest stood up and gave the requirements for receiving communion such that the dead woman’s daughter did not go up to receive. They don’t care if you’re the Pope — they don’t just wave you up to the altar. They have very strict requriements that they apply to everybody. By definition, non-Catholics cannot meet these and plenty of Catholics don’t either. Of course any individual can come up and receive and they are very unlikely to be turned away, but they don’t announce that whole *classes* of ineligible persons (including classes of ineligible Catholics) may now come up and receive.

    There’s a Graham Greene story where the character isn’t going to communion because he’s committing adultery but he tells his wife he accidentally ate a piece of toast before mass so he can’t go. That used to be a requirement too!

  17. MichaelA says:

    Charles52, that’s fair!

    Catholic Mom, let’s not get into a discussion about the extent to which all RCs (even all priests) maintain the standards you speak of. We could be here a long time… ;o)

  18. Catholic Mom says:

    MichaelA — I think you’re not getting the point. I’ts not a question of “maintaining standards” in terms of pro-actively being sure that no one receives communion who shouldn’t. It’s a matter of not announcing from the altar that no standards at all will be maintained. In other words, no priest, no matter how liberal, gets up and says “this mass is for divorced and remarried Catholics — everybody who finds themselves in that position is most welcome to come up and receive today.” Likewise they don’t say “today we have a special mass for people living in unmarried non-celibate relationships (straight OR same sex!) so come on up while you can.” Likewise they don’t say “today we’d like to welcome to communion all of those who theologically and organizationally reject the claims of the Roman Catholic Church.” They might DO it, but they’re not going to stand up there and SAY it. (For starters, because they’d be getting a call from their bishop before the day’s end.)

  19. MichaelA says:

    Catholic Mom,

    I get the point very well. You, however, are avoiding it.