Church of St. Francis Xavier: Easter Services

Event Information

Church of St. Francis Xavier

Event Type:

Record Information


Last Updated:
13 February 2022

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

17 Apr 1870, Morning
17 Apr 1870, Evening

Program Details

No times given, but it is clear from the New York Herald review that Berge’s Mass was most likely performed in the morning and Lambillotte’s oratorio at evening vespers.

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Easter Mass; Resurrection Mass
Composer(s): Berge
Composer(s): Lambillotte
Composer(s): Berge
Composer(s): Lambillotte


Review: New York Herald, 18 April 1870, 4.

“It would be difficult to match the musical services at this church [St. Francis Xavier’s Church] yesterday. Dr. William Berge, the organist, has no superior and very few equals in directing, arranging and composing music for the Catholic service. He infuses life and vigor into the choir by his wonderful command over the organ, and in his accompaniments he is not only sure and self-reliant, but he throws in unexpectedly dashes of color and expression, which set off the voices to the greatest advantage. The choir consisted of a large and efficient chorus from the Berge Choral Union, with Miss Teresa and Mary Werneke and Messrs. Samaro [sic] and Bacelli as soloists.

“The mass is a work of rare dramatic effect and power, and it was sung in the most admirable style. The effects introduced are startling, but all characterized by the utmost taste and art. The Kyrie alone is a complete novelty, in every sense of the word. There are two distinct melodies in it, and it commences with tympani, a chime of bells and the voices in the key of D minor. One of these melodies is given by the bells and the other by the voices, both moving together in harmony, yet entirely distinct in character. Two very large bells strike the keynote and dominant alternately during the piece, while the smaller bells shower scale passages, like rays of light on the solemn measures of the voices. The Christe Eleison [sic] is a soprano solo of rare expression, anon passionate and tender. The Kyrie is then repeated in this extraordinary manner. The voices sing a six-eight movement, the bells chime in two-four time, and the tympani count four in a bar. The organ is only used towards the end, and then as a foil to the large bells. It would be impossible to conceive, without hearing it, the wondrous effect of this Kyrie. There is nothing like it in any sacred music we are acquainted with. After it came the,

“Gloria in excelsis, ushered in with a trumpet fanfare, tympani and eight-part chorus. The Et in Terra Pax is for ladies’ voices alone. The soprano and alto then broke out from the other voices in a lovely duet, Laudamus, and were followed by the tenor in a solo, Gratias Ajimus, which for melodious beauty can scarcely be excelled. Bacelli had another stirring bass solo in this part of the mass. The Quoniam tu Solus Sanctus is a long, elaborately written and effective duet and the finale [sic] is worked up in the most brilliant and dashing style.

“Credo in unum deum opens strangely, with a bass solo, followed by each of the other solo parts in canon form, constituting the most emphatic declaration of the faith that music can express. Two soprano solos—Et in Anum Domenum and Qui Propter Nos—are melodic features in this number. Another striking novelty is the Genilum Non Factum, a chorus of male voices, without accompaniment, extremely difficult and abounding in enharmonic changes.

“The tenor announces the Crucifixion, and then follows a musical photograph of the convulsion of nature and the rending asunder of the tombs. The silent tenants of the grave seem to arise in their cerements as the voices surge in their stormy measures. After another quarter for mixed voices and a grand Et in Unam Sanctum Ecclesiam the Credo came to an end in a flood of harmony. The Hosanna in Excelsis is the most noticeable of the rest of the mass.

“At vespers Lambillotte’s grand oratorio of the Resurrection, one of the most dramatic descriptions of that sublime mystery which could be given in music, was sung. The introduction for the organ alone is very brilliant. The voices come in in a march movement, stately and triumphant, which is suddenly broken off by the entrance of the Redeemer (tenor) announcing his resurrection. A duet for soprano and alto, with tremulo [sic] accompaniment inquires, ‘Who has rolled back the stone from the entrance to the tomb?’ and Mary Magdalen (alto) wails in touching strains over the disappearance of the body of the Saviour [sic]. After a few questioning measures by the angel (bass) the Saviour pronounces her name in the same sweet, plaintive tones that Jeremias calls on Jerusalem in his lamentations. A cry of joy escapes her lips, and then Christ bids her go and tell His disciples what she has seen. The melody in which this mandate is embodied is inexpressibly tender and beautiful. A narrator (basso) in recitative tells how Mary went to seek the disciples, and she delivers her message in accents of love and devotion. The discples listen with delight, and break forth into a joyful pæn, which is rudely broken in upon by St. Thomas (basso), who energetically exclaims Non Credam! This ejaculation bursts forth at intervals in the chorus, and when all the voices of the disciples come to a sudden close a final Non! is heard from the unbelieving Thomas. The Saviour then appears, and the disciple exclaims, in a sudden outburst of joy, Deus meus! Deus meus! The finale [sic] is worked up in the grandest and most brilliant manner imaginable. After the oratorio came Berge’s Regina cœli, a soul-inspiring work, every measure of which glows with sacred fire. An elaborate soprano solo, Tantum ergo, with chorus as accompaniment, concluded the musical services at this church. They will be long remembered by those who heard them.”

Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 18 April 1870, 8.

Brief; notes program and performers (with numerous misspellings).