From Takuan Seiyo, a musical interlude:
TS asks us to note the diversity in this occasion –
Venue: German Lutheran church Dresden
Composer: Belgian Catholic (Cesar Franck)
Lyrics: Italian Catholic (Thomas Aquinas)
Mezzo-soprano: Latvian Protestant
Orchestra: German, mostly ethnic, some naturalized Europeans, one or two Orientals, male and female
This is probably one of the most-recorded and performed of Thomas Aquinas’ many musical works. It is part of the Sacris Solemniis, written by Aquinas in the mid-13th century for the feast of Corpus Christi. Just as these hymns are still chanted in Rome Italy, they are sung with equal enthusiasm and familiarity in Rome, Georgia — if you can still find a Latin liturgy, that is.
They are often referred to as “those Benediction hymns”. If you learn them young enough, as I did, and sing them daily, as I did, they become part of your deep brain structure; one’s “automatic music”. I feel sympathy for anyone whose automatic music is themes from old sit-coms. On the other hand, anyone who imprinted Bach is fortunate indeed. He or she is destined to die in a benign mood.
This is the good ol’ music from the old country. Its millenia-old traditions came together in the High Middle Ages to produce enough material for future generations to “steal a cxhange and cop a rhyme” for another thousand years or so. In this case, five hundred years later Franck decided to do a riff off of this piece from Aquinas. He did it well, though one wonders what Saint Thomas would’ve thought of this angelic mezzo-soprano.