“Who’s there? – A poor Sinner”: Habsburger Funeral Ritual

(Note: thanks to Cecilia for the suggestion and the video link)

Meménto, homo, quia pulvis es, et in púlverem revertéris” (Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return).

This verse used on Ash Wednesday while ashes are imposed on the forehead of the faithful is again most vividly illustrated by the funeral of Otto von Habsburg, Sohn of the Blessed Karl, Last Emperor of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary: Titles, Wealth, Social Status are just nothing before God, only with a humble and contrite heart shall we stand before the judgement of the Lord, trembling in fear and awe, as the Sequence Dies Irae in the Requiem Mass describes: “Ingemisco, tamquam reus: Culpa rubet vultus meus:Supplicanti parce, Deus. [...] Oro supplex et acclinis, Cor contritum quasi cinis: Gere curam mei finis.” (I sigh, like the guilty one:my face reddens in guilt: Spare the supplicating one, God.[...] I meekly and humbly pray, [my] heart is as crushed as the ashes: perform the healing of mine end.). (Fulltext available at Wikiepedia)

In the Requiem Mass in the St. Stephan’s Cathedral, 16 th. July, the aristocracy and politicians were assembled, to take leave from their Archduke, and the Introitus of Cardinal Schönborn, Bishops, Abbots and Clergy was extremely impressive:

Capuchin Church, Vienna

But after this, Otto von Harburg’s coffin was carried to the Capuchin Cloister, where the Imperial Crypt is sited, there, under this modest yellow church building, Otto von Habsburg’s mighty ancestors are buried. Here is the translation of the traditional dialogue at the burial of every member of the Imperial Family before the entrance of the Capuchin Cloister, which reminds us that we human beings are equal before God, and only through his grace and our repentance we can be saved:
It is called the “Knocking Ceremony” (Anklopfzeremonie), translation from Sacrucensis:

(the Master of Ceremony knocked the door thrice)

Prior: Who desires entry?

MC: Otto of Austria; once Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary; Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and the Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, of Oświęcim and Zator, Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg etc.; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March, Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia etc. etc.

Prior: We do not know him.

(The MC knocks thrice)

Prior: Who desires entry?

MC: Dr. Otto von Habsburg, President and Honorary President of the Paneuropean Union, Member and quondam President of the European Parliament, honorary doctor of many universities, honorary citizen of many cities in Central Europe, member of numerous venerable academies and institutes, recipient of high civil and ecclesiastical honours, awards, and medals, which were given him in recognition of his decades-long struggle for the freedom of peoples for justice and right.

Prior: We do not know him.

(The MC knocks thrice)

Prior: Who desires entry?

MC: Otto, a mortal and sinful man.

Prior: Then let him come in.

Here is the video showing this moving ceremony:


——–
Appendix:
Requiem sung at the the Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna for Otto von Habsburg:

The Gregorian Chant of the Sequentia “Dies Irae” can be heard here, performed by the monks of Notre Dame:

Here are some more videos which might be interesting for you:
The Kaiserhymne was sung during the Requiem:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blUMJ-5siNc&feature=related
Jewish Rabbi prayed for Otto von Habsburg:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqcfbYsyXII

Update 25th. July:

Dear Family, mourning and hoping with confidence in faith!
Dear all who are mourning, celebrating and praying with us! Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord — here in the Cathedral of St. Stephen, outside at the square of St. Stephen und to all who are joining us through the media!
Within the last days many honourable words have been spoken about the life of the deceased. Today, at the end of his pilgrimage, the last questions are raised, which are valid for all of us in view of the death. Today I forward the question to him and to us, as we are commemorating him: How can we bid farewell to Otto von Habsburg in gratitude and respect and to interpret his life and death to inspire many (people) to reflect also about their own life and also about their inevitable death, and to understand and to form life in the light of the faith of the Church.
It is our principle conviction as Christians that every person is intended by God, uniquely created with an own, distinctive vocation. To find it and to reply to it, is finally decisive for a successful life — in front of God, not always in front of the people.
People are often called to remain faithful toward their vocation, although the environment has changed completely, everything became different. The life of the deceased is an example hereto. The readings of the Holy Bible, which we heard, are indicating in this direction.
1. Abraham — fidelity in alteration
“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country … to the land that I will show you … you will be a blessing … in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'”
Abraham, whom we venerate as Father of the Faithful, will be on a pilgrimage during his whole life, on ways which were totally unexpected for him, (on ways) that he accepted in trust and faith towards God. He findshisvocation in the new situations into which God is leading him and which rooted him out of his familiar world.
In his life Otto von Habsburg was confronted with a new situation due to the tremendous political turmoil, which was certainly not predestined for him as crown prince and successor to the throne.
The tangent picture of the four-year-old child in white dress between his parents at the funeral of Emperor Franz Joseph passed all media during these days. When he was six years old, the Monarchy expired, and therewith the world, in which he should have had such a big task.
There are two attitudes which I admire and which he set — since the breakdown of the old imperial world — an example of it in his long lasting life: On the one hand the ability to let oneself in for completely new situations with alertness and without dread, on the other hand the courage and the decisiveness to adhere to that what he considered as his heritage and mission according to his birth. This explains partly the discrepancy of the judgements about him: too modern for the one side, too unconventional, too conservative for the other side, yes reactionary. According to my point of view, in reality he is a brilliant example of an unwavering fidelity, for the whole life, of his own unique vocation.
Otto von Habsburg has accepted his vocation in Christian faith, which he found exemplary in the life of his parents. He understood the heritage of his family as mission and vocation. He did not regret bygone times and he was not uninhibited by people who wanted to disgrace him or to see only the negative side effects. With his life he showed us, how we can take heart from “yesterday” for “tomorrow.” We may also learn from him in matters related to the proper handling with the history in Austria. Learning has never been a shame.
It belongs to political correctness to categorise the idea of the Divine right of Kings as an old-fashioned one. Otto von Habsburg understood it primarily as responsibility according to the original sense. We cannot resign or delegate the responsibility in front of God how we treat that what is entrusted to us.
In 1971, Otto von Habsburg wrote about that what now, 40 years later, became reality for him: “When you are standing in front of your Creator, face-to-face, only the performance of obligation and good will is valid. God does not command from the person to present to Him a report of victories. He gives the success. He expects from us only that we do our best.”
2. The Beatitudes — Charta of a valuable life
The Gospel from the eight Beatitudes is containing the heart of the annunciation of Jesus. It may be right, whatever is told repeatedly, that with the Beatitudes one cannot build a state. They are not applicable to the law of a state, however, applicable as charter for a successful life, which was worth while, and God grants His reward. I mention three of if:
“Blessed are the poor in the spirit.”
First and foremost the great virtue of humility belongs to a successful life, the talent of the real great personalities who do not look down on somebody, but knowing themselves as little in front of God. Innumerable people noticed this attitude of Otto von Habsburg: No pride of place and a “frugal self-consciousness” (Pope Benedict XVI), to be the heir of House of Habsburg.
How important would it be for us, without being a natural-born Habsburg, to be aware of the fact of the royal dignity of every Christian, of every human being, from which the Jewish-Christian tradition gives a powerful testimony. Based on this conviction and in connection with his deep and dynamic belief Otto von Habsburg had encounters with persons of various origins and philosophies of life “at eye level.” He says: “The religious person sees in him-/herself and in his neighbour an image of God, whom the Creator gave rights, which cannot be withdrawn from him/her neither by a single person nor by a state, neither by a tyrant nor by a fluctuating will of a majority.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”
To aspire to the justice was another basic attitude in his life. In the external Castle Gate, through which the conduct will lead, the motto of Emperor Franz I. (his grandfather in 3rdgeneration) is written: “Justitia regnorum fundamentum.” — justice is the basic of all sovereignty. Otto von Habsburg saw in his long life how states degenerated to robber bands, if justice is no longer its basic, if single or national interests suppress the common good, if brutal power suppresses the justice.
“Blessed are the peacemakers”
This particular one of the Beatitudes had its central place in the life of the deceased. “One day of war costs much more than one year of keeping peace”, he said. Finally, you may allow me to talk — in view of this Beatitude — about the following thought, which I am carrying in my heart:
I remember the disaster of the World War I . In the long, formative and blessed reign of the Emperor Franz Joseph there was no most serious error than to agree to this war und to declare it. This war led to the most senseless bloodshedding. All efforts the father of our deceased, blessed Emperor Karl I, tried to undertake in order to avoid this remained without success. Both most terrible mass murdering ideologies, which were known, were the toxic fruits also of this war.
Are we not allowed to understand this lifework of this great deceased as an unrestless approach to repair again the disaster from the World War I, which came across Europe? With all his passion in his heart, with his enormous intelligence und his courage he served the peace-project for Europe.
Of course, even a well-done European integration cannot create a paradise on earth. This is not the task of politics! However, a well-going and peaceful coexistence between the nations and cultures, to promote the languages and religions, was the issue to which Otto von Habsburg felt to be obliged to, his mission, his vocation, in fidelity to his heritage of his House, in the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, beatifying the peacemakers.
On May 22, 2004 in Mariazell the “Mitteleuropäische Katholikentag” took place. More than 100,000 pilgrims from eight countries came, Polish and Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians, Croatians and Slovenes, Bosnians and Austrians. It was freezing and rainy. Otto von Habsburg und his dear wife Regina — she remained steadfastly at his side, inseparable and helpful — were present. After the Holy Mass I asked Otto von Habsburg, he was 92 years old, if he did not terrible freeze. He replied with an unforgettable sentence and his face shined full of joy: “No, for that we lived.”
To have lived for that, I thank today:
May God bless you, highly honoured Lord!
May God bless you, you big repatriate!
May God bless you, you faithful servant!
Enter into the joy of your Lord. — Amen.

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26 Responses to “Who’s there? – A poor Sinner”: Habsburger Funeral Ritual

  1. golden chersonnese says:

    Thank you, Teresa. I watched a lot of the Archduke Otto’s requiem on YouTube. It was truly impressive in Vienna’s Stephansdom and the music of Michael Haydn’s Requiem surprised me, as it really suited the occasion even though it was orchestral and from the classical period . I usually won’t like anything but the organ at Mass and certainly nothing from the classical and romantic composers. But this was different.

    What was really the finest moment, as you say, was when the Capuchin friars wouldn’t give entry to the casket of the Archduke until it was acknowledged by all that in death he was just equal with the meanest of us – just a mortal and a sinner.

    I remember watching the same thing in the 1990’s when they did the same for the Archduke’s mother and wife of the Blessed, the Empress Zita. No YouTube then, but a video cassette that I and a group of friends hoodwinked the owner of a Vietnamese restaurant here (a Catholic too) into playing for us on his video-player while we kept ordering.

    The other thing I sensed was how Catholicism feels when it is a state religion – well sort of in Austria, yes? That’s not something we’re used to in the Anglosphere, except perhaps in Ireland. It did feel a bit like being an Anglican rather!

    Thanks again, Teresa. Brilliant post. You showed so well the beauty of traditional Catholic culture and the basic recognition that Catholics have, nevertheless, that they are all mortal and hoping for salvation, even the near descendants of Holy Roman Emperors and Apostolic Kings.

    You know the whole of the funeral is here, Teresa?

    http://www.youtube.com/user/cruxfidelisblog

  2. teresa says:

    Dear Golden, what a nice story with the Vietnamese restaurant and your friends. It shows our Church is really universal, and we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, doesn’t it. It demonstrates so well the Universal Love as described by John Donne in his famous Meditation XVII.

    As for Orchestra in Mass I think it is a typical continental development. As Mass as a musical genre with orchestra setting and choir came up very late, about the 18th. century I think, and perhaps the Catholics in England, being suppressed, lacked the resources to develop this kind of very sumptuous form of celebration. Here in Wiki-pedia there is a short description of this development:

    “A further disparity arose between the missa solemnis and the missa brevis, a more compact setting. Composers like Fux in the 18th century continued to cultivate the stile antico mass, which was suitable for use on weekdays and at times when orchestral masses were not practical or appropriate, and in 19th century Germany the Cecilian movement kept the tradition alive. The Italian style cultivated orchestral masses including soloists, chorus and obbligato instruments, spread to the German-speaking Catholic countries north of the Alps, and used instruments for color and created dialogues between solo voices and chorus that was to become characteristic of the 18th century Viennese style. The so called “Neapolitan” or “cantata” mass style also had much influence on 18th century mass composition with its short sections set as self-contained solo arias and choruses in a variety of styles.[5]

    The 18th century Viennese mass combines operatic elements from the cantata mass with a trend in the symphony and concerto to organize choral movements. The large scale masses of the first half of the century still have Glorias and Credos divided into many movements, unlike smaller masses for ordinary churches. Many of Mozart’s masses are in missa brevis form, as are some of Haydn’s early ones. Later masses, especially of Haydn, are of symphonic structure, with long sections divided into fewer movements, organized like a symphony, with soloists used as an ensemble rather than as individuals. The distinction between concert masses and those intended for liturgical use also comes into play as the 19th century progressed”.

    In Italy this kind Mass with instrumental accompany is also quite common, if we think of Verdi’s Requiem.
    J.S. Bach wrote also the h-moll Mass for a Catholic celebration, very profound music, I like it very much.
    The Anglicans also have such music, if we think of Händel’s Coronation Anthem, it is heaven for me:

    It seems Mass with orchestra is a further development of the Cantata.

  3. Mr Badger says:

    It is worth noting that (deep breath) Otto of Austria; once Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary; Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and the Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, of Oświęcim and Zator, Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg etc.; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March, Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia etc. etc…. still gets to have all his titles listed before he makes his gesture of humility…. a cynic might say that the entire exercise is simply to reinforce his elevated status in the minds of those present. When I say “a cynic”, I mean myself.

  4. golden chersonnese says:

    Oh well, Badger, at least we can say he made a bit of an effort. Can we take it you’re not exactly impressed with the whole sic transit gloria mundi thing (said to come from Thomas a Kempis’ Imitation of Christ)?.

    How did you feel about a septuagenarian Otto helping to eject an obstreporous Ian Paisley from the European Parliament when JPII visited it in 1988?

    (I think we can see an immistakeable back view of Otto there.)

    A feast of funebreal photos here, Badger and Teresa:

    http://www.daylife.com/search/photos/1/grid?q=otto+habsburg

  5. golden chersonnese says:

    Thanks Teresa for the extra info on the Mass. I see here you can enjoy a daylong funeralfest:

    http://www.ottovonhabsburg.org/mm_video.asp?lang=en

    Further on Michael Haydn’s requiem, I’ve discovered it was for his employer, Prince Archbishop Sigismund of Salzburg. It is said, however, that (Michael) Haydn really wrote it for his daughter and only child, Aloisia Josefa, who died in the same year as a very young infant. Oh, how everything becomes more poignant the more you know!

    But they say the Mass is a treasure, which even influenced Mozart in his later requiem opus.

    Some notes from the BBC on Michael Haydn’s work:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/2006/aboutmusic/mhaydn_requiem.shtml

  6. Mr Badger says:

    Can we take it you’re not exactly impressed with the whole sic transit gloria mundi thing (said to come from Thomas a Kempis’ Imitation of Christ)?.

    I’m certainly not questioning that at all. I’m simply noting (cheekily) that Otto has the good fortune to have all his titles solemnly proclaimed as an integral part of his humble gesture. Lucky fellow. :-) If you see what I mean. Cake had, and eaten.

  7. golden chersonnese says:

    Yes, Badger, I’m only trying a little banter with you, please forgive me.

    I suspect the cake was made off with long before Otto could tuck in. The whole family was given a Madeira cake instead, which they were said to find not to their taste, as would I.

  8. Mr Badger says:

    Perhaps it is just my imagination but JPII seems somewhat amused by the unfolding fracas.

    Always nice to see Ian Paisley in action. He really has turned being prat into an art form.

    Remember Sinead O’Connor tearing up the photo? Now she had an understanding of good theatre.

  9. manus says:

    Still stuck in my sci-fi mode of thinking: when it comes to being the Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia, don’t you feel the ‘Serbia’ at the end is just a little bit disappointing? It could be anywhere in the cosmos!

    The organ/orchestra business is interesting. With my own group I am transcribing keyboard parts for the string quartet plus flutes that I can rely on to turn up regularly. A good trombonist has just arrived; this will add to the challenge! I think it was Teresa a while back who was quoting from the Spirit of the Liturgy, and notwithstanding our partial disagreement, I found some liturgical Bach which we did as an instrumental at an opportune point at Mass last time, partly in tribute to your inspiration to keep us moving in the right direction.

    The great advantage of using multiple instruments is that more people actively participate in the music, and this is particularly good when they are talented teenagers. It can also shake the congregation out of its complacency, I suppose. We don’t play every week, and yesterday morning a Mum was saying how her daughter asked ‘where is the orchestra?’ The daughter is an up and coming flautist, and I hope she will come and sing with us with a view to playing in a few years when she’s reached the standard required.

    So much music is now available in machine-readable form – I use the Capella program, for example, and the entire work of Bach is available free in that format for easy adaptation – that the possibilities are endless.

  10. teresa says:

    Badger, it is exactly the point why all the titles were mentioned: the Capuchin Father answered to this long title with a laconic: “We don’t know him”.

    Had this long title not been read in full, the effort would have failed.
    The same with the doctor titles.
    The coffin was only let in, when the Ceremony Master said “a poor sinner”.
    And that is what everyone is before God, and the door was opened to the Archduke.

  11. teresa says:

    Thanks Golden, yes, Michael Haydn, brother of Joseph Haydn, plays a great role in the liturgy of Austria.
    There is a corpus called “German High Masses” which was composed by Michael Haydn. It was designed for lay people so that they could sing in vernacular, while the priest celebrated the Mass in Latin.

    Even today Catholics in Austria are still singing the “Haydn-Mass” (and Schubert Mass as well, of course).
    Mozart worked once under his supervision, as a 15 years old.

  12. Mr Badger says:

    Badger, it is exactly the point why all the titles were mentioned: the Capuchin Father answered to this long title with a laconic: “We don’t know him”.

    Had this long title not been read in full, the effort would have failed.
    The same with the doctor titles.
    The coffin was only let in, when the Ceremony Master said “a poor sinner”.
    And that is what everyone is before God, and the door was opened to the Archduke.

    Teresa, I know, I swear I do actually understand the point of the ceremony. I was making a slightly different point, (badly it appears) but it wasn’t of any importance.

  13. teresa says:

    Manus, it is very interesting to hear about your experience as a professional. I don’t play a music instrument but I admire people who can play so well.

    Music in context of the Liturgy should certainly be conform to the purpose of Divine Service. But on the other hand, one should not be too narrow-minded in regard of the form of the music. As Pope Benedict said in his book Spirit of Liturgy, a good musician for liturgy should also gain expert knowledge in Liturgy, perhaps that is why the choir masters of Cathedrals are normally priests. In a parish church lay people play a much greater role but perhaps the parish priest should give also some guidance, IMHO.

    I read yesterday an article of E.T.A. Hoffman, you know the novelist of Romanticism, who was a professional musician (choir master) on Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Catholic Liturgical Music, he shows a lot of enlightening insights, though he himself was a Protestant.
    Perhaps I would share his thoughts with you one day, when I get more time to translate it (this thought shudders me as well, you know to translate such a text is not so easy…, but perhaps I shall try).

  14. teresa says:

    Mr. Badger, sorry for having misunderstood you. Yes, he was still a member of the Aristocracy, so they couldn’t help it…

    The most moving account of this kind of ceremony can be found in a work of Joseph Roth, a Jew of the Austria-Hungary Monarchy, who committed suicide after the Fall of the Habsburger. I don’t know whether there is an English translation for it.

  15. teresa says:

    Correction, just checked, Joseph Roth didn’t committed suicide, he drank himself to death (don’t know whether it can be counted as a kind of “suicide”.
    Just read something which might be interesting to all:
    Otto von Habsburg tried to help him and forbade him the drinking but it didn’t work too well.

  16. manus says:

    Hi Teresa,

    I certainly couldn’t get away with being called a ‘professional’ – but thank-you for the high compliment. In the UK there are very few professional liturgists, certainly in parishes.

    Here in the UK the so-called German Mass (Deutsche Messe, 1826) by Schubert is commonly used – it is in several of the popular hymnals – and in our Parish we have used a version of Haydn’s Little Organ Mass at Christmas and at Easter, with a drastically reduced Benedictus.

  17. golden chersonnese says:

    Teresa, I see in the excellent notes provided by the BBC on M. Haydn’s requiem in C minor (and linked to above) that it is characterised by an ‘elegant sombreness’. I have now decided that I am also going to affect this obviously appealing quality in all my subsequent posts. Granted, you should be told.

    Now again about orchestral Masses.

    In the post after this, entitled ‘the Consecrated touch what is Consecrated’, we note that 2 Samuel 6:6-7 is referenced, showing us how Uzzah was fatally smitten (smited?) by the Lord because Uzzah grabbed the Ark of the Covenant to try and save it from falling off a bullock cart. This seems to show that the Lord was already very testy for some reason as we could all agree that it was a rather harsh act on the Lord’s part since Uzzah was obviously only trying to help.

    As they say, ‘context is everything’, so we really need to investigate 2 Samuel further to see what, if anything, had already made the Lord grumpy before this rather life-changing (for Uzzah) Ark-rescuing event.

    Et voilà. We see right in the verse before this that:

    David was celebrating with all his might in the sight of the Lord. So was the whole community of Israel. All of them were singing songs. They were also playing harps, lyres, tambourines, rattles and cymbals.

    Teresa, surely this is the bronze-age goat-herders’ equivalent of an orchestral Mass? And it makes the Lord pretty hard to get on with, no?

  18. manus says:

    Hey GC,

    Do you suppose all virtuous liturgical musicans who lived before the invention of the organ are confined to Limbo? No excuses for ignorance now, of course. I’m wondering which circle of Hell I’ll be consigned to as a guitarist …

  19. manus says:

    BTW, there’s a vitual smiley thing that the end of the above post. I’m technically inept.

  20. manus says:

    … and grammatically inept with it (sigh!). But there we are.

  21. golden chersonnese says:

    Hi Manus, for convenience I’ll put guitar under the ‘zither’ heading.

    Thus we find you are in particular danger of losing your immortal soul and making the Lord of Hosts extremely tetchy, Manus.

    Daniel 3:5
    As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.

  22. manus says:

    I think he’ll have plenty of other reasons for getting tetchy in my case, GC. Still, thanks for the heads up!

  23. golden chersonnese says:

    Fair enough, Manus.

    But seriously, Manus, I wouldn’t have thought guitars evolved for the purpose of accompanying and supporting a choir or congregation. They are either a solo instrument or for accompanying solo singers mainly.

  24. manus says:

    An interesting point for discussion. It depends when you consider its ‘evolution’ to have been completed, if indeed it has.

    In practice, I have found it perfectly possible to use a single electric-acoustic instrument, with suitable amplification and with particular care on the filtering (to provide a good tone and to eliminate the dreaded fret noise), to accompany a congregation of 200 or more and/or a choir of 20 singing in parts. Of course this situation limits the repertoire to the modern. I’ve had a really good keyboard player from time to time, but now with the string quartet (+flutes etc) I can use a far wider range of music, and I’m less reliant on the guitar.

    So yes, it is possible to have a single guitar picking (or strumming!) and have the entire congregation singing along (even with some enthusiasm). But you need really good kit and you need to know what you are doing.

  25. teresa says:

    Manus, how nice to see that Schubert and Haydn have become a part of liturgical life of the Universal Church. Beauty is also universal, and the Good.

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