Review of Mass for Philadelphia

The Luther Seal

I’m very pleased, and touched, by the care shown to my Mass for Philadelphia in the review by the Rev. Paul J. Cain in the LHP Lutheran Book Review. LHP stands for Liturgy, Hymnody & Pulpit; their mission:

Critical reviews (by Lutheran pastors and church musicians) of books and other resources for Christian worship, preaching, and church music from a perspective rooted in Holy Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions and good common sense. LHP Lutheran Book Review asks, “Is it worth the money to buy, the time to read, the shelf space to store, and the effort to teach?”

Along with the review he reposts my description of the Mass, so I won’t repeat it here. I’ll only emphasize that this began as a commission by the Association of Anglican Musicians for their 2012 National Conference in Philadelphia, and since then I’ve added sections that would more normally be sung in Lutheran churches. So as it stands, the Mass, for unison congregation, organ, and optional descants, has these sections: Kyrie, Gloria, Offertory, Sanctus, Christ Our Passover, Agnus Dei, and Nunc Dimittis.

Paul Cain is, among other things, Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Sheridan, Wyoming, and Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School. He has perceptive comments about the Mass and its use, and ends his review this way:

I am keenly interested in more liturgical music from Kile Smith. He understands the purpose and role of both text and music at worship. Smith demonstrates a theological appreciation for the gravity of the textual content (the Word of God) that his melodies and settings support. His “Nunc Dimittis” got me thinking. Kile Smith has already given us a transcendent Vespers. Why not Compline? Or Mass for Wyoming?

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