CARING FOR OUR COMMON HOME
Not many priests can say they’ve concelebrated Mass at a Cathedral while a Mass setting they have composed is debuting. This, however, is the lived experience of Jesuit Fr Christopher Willcock SJ when his composition ‘Mass: Our Common Home’ was recently sung publicly for the first time at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bendigo.
The new Mass setting was led by Sarah Gould (Cantor), Thomas Heywood (Organist) and members of the Cathedral Choir (directed by Paul Taylor) at the 11.00 a.m. Mass on Sunday 19 February 2023.
Fr Willcock was commissioned to compose a Mass setting for the the Diocese of Sandhurst and Sacred Heart Cathedral parish by an anonymous supporter. Heeding Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ call to find ways to creatively give praise and thanks for God’s Creation during the celebration of the Eucharist, Fr Willcock titled the Mass Setting, ‘Mass: Our Common Home’.
Fr Willcock wanted to foster congregational participation in the Mass, so he underpinned most of the composition with the melody of a pre-existing composition, HYFRYDOL, which is used for texts such as Love divine, All Loves Excelling and Lord, You Give the Great Commission. Using a melody that already sits in the collective memory of many Church-goers is a clever approach that will hopefully foster more participation in the music of the Mass and more uptake of the Mass setting locally and more broadly around Australia and beyond. (A traditional approach in the history of Church music and western music composition in general).
Fr Willcock was commissioned by an anonymous supporter to compose the Mass setting for the Diocese of Sandhurst and Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish. He has generously agreed for the ‘Mass: Our Common Home’ settings to be uploaded to the Diocesan website so that parishes, schools and other communities can freely download and use the score.
About Fr Chris Willcock SJ
Fr Willcock has an international reputation as an outstanding composer of liturgical music during the post-conciliar era. Born in 1947, he has written several hundred compositions, both for the Church and the concert platform. Several of his Masses, and collections of psalmody have been published by Oregon Catholic Press.
Fr Willcock was commissioned to write music for the papal visit of Pope John Paul II (1986), World Youth Day (2008), and has undertaken commissions from local Cathedrals, orchestras, and choral ensembles such as the Tallis Scholars. He has always been particularly generous in responding to commissions from Dioceses and religious congregations for compositions and arrangements for special occasions.
In 2022, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate from Australian Catholic University for his services to liturgical music within the Catholic Church.
This article was originally published on the Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst website.