Sunday, 21 December 2008

Czech Christmas Mass

We've just returned from a lovely concert at the Zlata Koruna monastery church - respecting the tradition so beloved of such a vast number of Czechs that it is almost unthinkable for them not to attend this yearly church event - even if they never otherwise go to church, and irrespectful of denomination, or even whether they are believers - every Christmas time. What is it they so need to be part of year after year? Their 'own' Christmas Mass, sung and played by professionals and amateurs from the smallest village churches to impressive cathedrals all over the country: it's a mass by Jan Jakub Ryba, composed in 1786 on folk motifs, and with words so delightfully pastoral and naive that the sheer simplicity and joy of it takes you along.
I searched for a suitable clip and found the best and the most 'authentic' performance on this Youtube series - though the camera work leaves a lot to be desired :-) it has the right tempo and spirit. But to see quite how popular the Mass is, do take a look at this street singalong in Prague : it nicely illustrates how most people here know their Mass off by heart and how beloved it is by all generations.

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