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May 23, 2014

The Pope’s favourite Mass setting

evelyn @ 10:16 pm

The Misa Criolla, by Argentine composer Ariel Ramirez, is understood to be the favourite Mass music setting of Pope Francis. Ramirez wrote it in the 1960s for the Vatican II liturgy. It is doubtful whether it could ever be sung by a congregation, as that liturgy demanded – and still demands – but it makes good listening.

It’s important to realise that this isn’t the Argentine equivalent of ‘happy-clappy’. Ramirez was a serious composer of some note, and the styles, rhythms and instruments of his native land are used to great effect. Here are three samples from Youtube, but there are many more out there. Unfortunately, with some browsers there are irritating adverts to get through before you can start listening.

First, the version by the Argentine band Los Fronterizos, which I suspect Papa Francisco will like most of all. It’s probably the best known, and has a real ‘gaucho’ flavour. Watch and listen to the Gloria as sung by this band:


The Mass has also been recorded by classical artists. My favourite version has a young José Carreras and some fascinating South American instruments. I have an idea this was recorded in San Francisco, though I can’t remember how I knew that. The choir’s Spanish is Latin American, and Carreras’ European accent stands out. Let’s have the Gloria from this recording.

carreras instruments1 instruments2

Then there’s the polished version recorded by the UCLA choirs, conducted by Rebecca Lord. It’s beautifully done, but it hasn’t the instrumental interest of the other two recordings. Listen to the whole Mass here (the Gloria is 4 minutes in).


And, as I have said, there are lots more recordings of the Misa Criolla if you look for them.


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