S_L Posted January 13, 2020 Share Posted January 13, 2020 I drove from my home to the UK and decided to do the long journey through France in two stages stopping at Chartres on the way. After a cheap hotel and an excellent meal we found ourselves in the Cathedral for the 'Grand Messe' at 11h00. Years ago I was there and attended both the Mass sung to Gregorian chant at 09h00 and the 11h00. It had been a pretty torrid experience and, in truth, I wasn't expecting that a lot had changed. Prior to the 11h00 Mass I had coffee with the titulaire opposite the cathedral and, just prior to 11h00, found myself in my usual place in church - on the left hand side about 6 rows from the front. There seemed to be hardly anyone there but it soon filled up. A procession of robed young people and adults made their way into the choir whilst Patrick Delabre improvised on the Grande orgue on the hymn 'Il est ne le Divin enfant' which began the celebration. The Bishop of Chartres celebrated. He is a very tall man and, complete with mitre must have been over eight feet tall!!! Clouds of smoke bellowed from the thurible and even the altar boys seemed to know what they were doing (all rather different from the last visit when my second son remarked that, had he been the celebrant, he would have "stuck his boot around that altar boys ****"!!!). The Bishop sang, slightly hesitantly and the choir of young people and adults, singing in four real parts, made a splendid sound - helped, of course, by an amazingly generous acoustic! The organ improvisations at the gospel procession (with alleluias fitting to the first line of the tune Forest Green!) and at the offertory, and during communion, were understated and totally amazing! I am used to wonderful improvisations from my time in Birmingham and these were equally as good. The Grande orgue sounded magnificent and accompanied the whole Mass. Seemingly the orgue de choeur, that I remember our member pcnd hated so much, has been removed during the renovations of the choir. And, at the end of Mass we had a French hymn to the tune Adeste fideles - complete with Willcocks descant that was thundered out by the top line of the choir! - followed by an improvisation on the tune! If you're passing I would recommend it! It's not an English cathedral - it's very French - but I came out of church feeling a lot better than when I went in!! What will I remember in six months time - the power of the descants and the organ improvisations - oh, and the eight foot tall Bishop!!!! http://orguesfrance.com/ChartresCathedrale.html Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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