Canadian composer arranges hymn for papal Mass

  • April 11, 2008

{mosimage}On April 20, New York’s famed Yankee Stadium will echo with a Canadian-arranged hymn quite unlike any baseball tunes.

“The Feast of Victory,” arranged by a composer from New Brunswick, will resonate during Communion for the concluding Mass of Pope Benedict XVI’s first papal visit to the United States.

Richard Kidd, from Darling’s Island, N.B., started working on the arrangement of his five-verse hymn in March. That’s less than two months to prepare a piece that will be performed by a 58-member orchestra and choir of 200 for an audience of nearly 60,000 people.

“I’m pretty much done and right now I’m editing,” Kidd said modestly at the beginning of April. “That gives me lots of time.”

Kidd began making his changes to the hymn, which can be found in the Catholic Book of Worship, during the March break — a convenient pocket of spare time for an otherwise busy individual. Besides working as a full-time music teacher at Rothesay Netherwood School, Kidd also plays the organ at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Saint John and has played trombone and written music for the Symphony Saint John for years.

Kidd has been writing and arranging music “since university” and is a member of the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians (CRCCM).

While at a CRCCM gathering in New York this year, Kidd bumped into Dr. Jennifer Pascual, music director at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. She asked him if he knew of anyone who could arrange vocal and instrumental music. Seeing as he can do so himself, Pascual’s search ended and she later contacted him to talk about when he could start to arrange a piece for the papal Mass. 

After his upcoming role was confirmed, via phone a few weeks later, he started by arranging the verses so they would build in musical intensity to the end.

“It’s very joyful,” he said, describing the piece. “It’s march-like at the beginning and the verses are a bit more subdued.”

Using his creative flair, Kidd added some new flavours to the tune. He added a a descant for the high voices in the refrain and created a different harmony on the third verse.

This isn’t the only big event Kidd has ever prepared music for. He did some work for the Canadian Country Music Association a few years ago. But this is the biggest Catholic event.

“This is also the first time I’ve arranged music for a symphony that is of a religious piece,” he said. “I usually do it for choir.”

Kidd won’t be attending the Mass himself, as he has another concert to attend during that weekend, but if his concert is over and the Mass is still playing, he said he will try to catch it on television.

Kidd said he thinks the Pope is an “intelligent and educated man” and being a part of his visit is definitely an honour.

“It’s pretty great that he’s coming, but it’s too bad he’s not coming to Canada this time,” he added.

Kidd recently found out that one of his compositions will also be used during the Pope’s visit. He wrote “Ubi Caritas” which has been sung at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the past few years. It was chosen as a communion song for the Papal Mass at Washington Nationals stadium

The Pope’s visit to the United States was to begin April 15 in Washington, D.C., where the pontiff was to meet with President George W. Bush at the White House. He was also to attend a gathering with the U.S. bishops at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Events in New York were to include a visit to Ground Zero and an address to the United Nations.

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