Catholic Mass and Spontaneous Singing

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December 26th 2010
Published: January 24th 2011
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We Just Walked In

We wanted to see the inside of the cathedral one last time as well as the nativity scene. When we walked into the cathedral a mass was in progress. The cathedral was completely filled with people. All the seats were filled and there were people standing in the aisle-ways. It was Sunday, the day after Christmas and then we saw that Carlos Osoro Sierra the Archbishop of Valencia was leading the mass. We decided to stay until the mass ended.

When the mass came to an end the Archbishop made his way down the center aisle to the main entrance where he stood giving each person leaving the cathedral a blessing and allowing any who wished to kiss his ring. I noticed he wiped his ring after each kiss with one of the little sanitary wipes.

Spanish guitars and singing.

Suddenly we heard guitars playing and people singing. The cathedral is built in the shape of a cross. This group had gathered in what would be the left arm of the cross and they were having a wonderful time. Nancy and I turned around and saw a large group of people singing and clapping their hands with huge smiles on their faces. The music had a very Jewish rhythm and that surprised me. We made our way to them and stood on the alter platform watching. A young girl, about ten years old, was at the front leading the singing. She had a beautiful voice. Three or four men were playing guitars and one man was playing a fife. The music and countenance of the faces of the group lifted our spirits

After about ten minutes of this spontaneous joyful singing and praising God, a priest came to the group. He listened for a moment and catching the eye of one of the guitar players he motioned to him and said, "Can you get them to be quiet. We are about to begin another mass."

Sadly, at least to us, the group stopped singing and we made our way out of the cathedral.

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24th January 2011

Great description! Of course, the ethnomusicologist in me wonders many things about this (what the text meant, why they started singing exactly at that point and place, why you thought the music was reminiscent of Jewish music), but it's gratifying nonetheless that there are places and people that will just start singing! Perhaps it takes someone (say, a little girl) less inhibited by fears of "proper" behavior to lead us in this type of thing, eh? I must also say that I'm disappointed that the singing was stopped by the Mass, and there is probably something to be said there about power and politics...but I'll leave it be.

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