William Byrd’s “Mass for Three Voices”, I have read, was probably composed for the environment of a small Catholic church or perhaps even for a chapel in a large household. Such an intimate feeling came to mind January 19 when the Fellowship of Saint Alban celebrated Sunday Mass with Byrd’s music.
The congregation of the Fellowship is small and the church they worship in –the original Church of the Good Shepherd in Henrietta– is also fairly small. As the church is only on loan to the Fellowship each week, these former Episcopalians and Anglicans who are now Roman Catholics, have to set-up the chancel each Sunday according to the Anglican tradition, most especially putting together the riddle curtain that surrounds the altar on three sides. I am always reminded when I participate at Mass there of an an old and intimate English country church. It’s a bit of a stretch as the interior of the church is, otherwise, extremely plain. The Mass in the Anglican tradition is very similar to the traditional Latin Mass (the Extraordinary Form) except it is celebrated in English. Latin, however, often makes an appearance as you will hear if you watch the video clip. The vestments are also in the traditional older Roman vestments (think “fiddle back” that most folks over 60 will recall. “Thee” and “thou” all around, too, when it comes to language).
Anyway, the setting was perfect for “three voices”. Sarah McConnell, David Klosterman, Aaron James (director, and organist) were the voices for the January Ordinariate Mass and they sang beautifully.
William Byrd, was an English Catholic at the time of the Reformation and wrote both Catholic and Anglican church music. The “Mass for Three Voices” was composed by him in 1593 with a second edition in 1598.
The Fellowship of Saint Alban is a Roman Catholic community. Attending Mass with the Fellowship fulfills your Sunday obligation. Mass is each Sunday at 3 p.m. at Good Shepherd Church in the old, original church building that fronts on East Henrietta Road (3302 E Henrietta Rd). Coffee and pastries always follow Mass.
Website for The Fellowship of Saint Alban here.
There are links to the entire Mass of the Fellowship’s website.