With a complete change of weather from yesterday’s mugginess and rain, we woke up to clear blue skies and a huge drop in the humidity. Our hotel room overlooks the treetops of the Montmartre Cemetery and it was absolutely gorgeous this morning. What a relief, since we had a very full day of activities planned.
The highlight of the day was definitely the service at Saint Sulpice, where forty years ago, I attended three services every Sunday to listen to my teacher, Marcel Dupré, improvise. I’m always so amazed that the liturgy is the same all over the world, whether you’re in Paris or Tokyo: the greeting (“The Lord be with you; and with thy spirit”), the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Creed, the Peace, the Sanctus, the Lord’s Prayer, the Agnus Dei, the communion. It was all in French, of course, but we could follow it with ease. The sound of the organ was truly magnificent.
What was new in the service from the ones I attended 40 years ago was that the congregation sang hymns in addition to responses. Unfortunately the music was not provided, only the words, and the tunes they used today were unfamiliar to us. The organist played standard organ repertory rather than improvising the prelude, offertory, communion and postlude as Dupré did.
After the service, we heard an American, Leo Abbott from Boston, play a short organ recital, then we climbed the 90+ steps up the winding staircase to the organ loft where we met Daniel Roth, who is St Sulpice’s organist. They only allow 12 people at a time to go up to the loft, and we were fortunate to be in the first group where we met other people from the U.S. Some of them I suspect are organists. We had brought a box of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts which we gave to Daniel Roth after introducing ourselves.
The afternoon was spent at Notre Dame Cathedral, an enormous building which was taken over this day by several thousand people from Vietnam, who were waiting for a celebratory Mass after the weekly organ recital. In spite of the well-played organ recital by Jean-Philippe Mesnier, it was difficult to hear for all the noise in the audience!
We went out for ice cream then came back to Vespers which was mostly sung in the style of Gelineau psalmody. Carl had really wanted to hear a choral vespers, but apparently all they do are ones with cantors.
Our jet lag caught up with us a little tonight when we found ourselves nodding off in a concert at the Sainte Chapelle. It was a sextet of strings and harpsichord performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The audience was uninformed as to when to applaud, because they did so between movements, so I would have to guess they were mostly tourists.
Good thing we had eaten our Wheaties this morning because it was a super long day, but one, I might add, that is typical of Crosier “vacation” days.