JenSop: The Singing Traveler!

Idealist. Dreamer. Singer. Explorer.

Attending Mass at Stephansdom

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Last night after ice skating, Debbie and I stopped into Stephansdom (St. Stephan’s cathedral, in the middle of the inner city) on our walk home. (Debbie lives just a block away from me.)   It’s a beautiful building – anytime of day.  But it has a majestic peacefulness at night.  The organist was practicing his music for upcoming services and there was just a small smattering of people milling about.

Stephansdom at night

Stephansdom at night

We happened to notice a sign announcing the music that was scheduled for the next two Sundays at the 10:15 Mass.  I was very pleased to see that the music for the next day was by Palestrina and Bach.  I freakin’ LOVE Palestrina!  I’ve sung quite a bit of his music over the years – especially when I was performing a lot of early music regularly.  And well, I just love Renaissance music in general.  I told Debbie that I’d be up for going if she was!

So we agreed to meet at 9:30am the next morning (today) outside my apartment building.

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It was rough getting up early (my regular readers know that I am NOT a morning person), but I got it done and was downstairs by 9:32 – not too shabby!  We made good time walking to the cathedral (Debbie walks really fast!) and got there before the previous mass was even over.  It was quite an experience getting seats.  You’d think, Hey, it’s a giant cathedral, there must be plenty of seating!  Not exactly.  It’s set up in an awkward way with all those pillars so that the seating area is a bit more narrow.  So if you want to be down there in front by the action, you gotta get your butt up there right as the previous mass is letting up.  I have to admit I was a bit eager to attend mass in this amazing space.  I was raised Catholic, but our family is not very strict in any way when it comes to religion.  Plus, as a liberal democrat, let’s just say that I have some fundamental differences with the church as a whole.  Big time.  BUT, it’s always been the music that has pulled me in.  It was the music that had me attending mass as a high schooler and college student.  And as a result of that earlier regular attendance, part of me did grow to take comfort in the routine of it all.  It was familiar – you always knew what was coming next.  Sort of like a comfort food for the soul – like mac & cheese.

We did get some decent seats, but I was dismayed to see that there were no hymnals behind the pews.  How would we know what to sing???   Then I saw it.  One piece of paper with words printed on it.  They were the hymn words, but no written music.  NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!  I’m going to go off on a mini rant here…  I CANNOT STAND WHEN CHURCHES DO THIS!!!   Not everyone is a complete idiot when it comes to reading music and not everyone is that little old lady who knows every hymn ever written.  Especially since we were in a foreign country.  I did not know these hymns – they were not the regular ones I grew up with.  I was quite disappointed.  Heck, if space is limited, don’t print the four part arrangement if you don’t want to  – just at least give us a melody line!  I can only speak for myself, but if I’m going to go to mass, I need to be pulled in by something, and that something is music – I need to SING.  My belief is that God can hear me from anywhere I happen to be.  There is no need for me to go to a special building for me to talk to God.  If I go to church, it’s gottta be for some musical transcendence.  If I want to pray, I’ll do it in my room at home.  (These are my own personal beliefs and views; everyone else is completely welcome to have their own beliefs and views with NO judgement from me.)

On the other hand, I will give you this – the choir performed beautifully.  The Palestrina setting of the Mass was just gorgeous.  The voices resonated through the cathedral like something truly from another world.  Not only was the blend and tone of the sound exquisite, but the complex musical phrasing and shaping helped me remember why I love music to begin with.  That in itself was worth coming for.  That was heavenly.

And it was a cool learning experience to hear the mass in German.  I even understood about two thirds of the Homily.  The priest spoke very clear hoch Deutsch (not an Austrian dialect) and he spoke slow enough for me to process the word order of the grammar.  The lesson for the day was learning where we all fit into the big picture of things.

When Mass was over, I snapped some pics on my way out….

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Afterwards, Debbie and I went out for a relaxing drink.  She got some hot chocolate, and I got some green tea and a piece of apple strudel.  We had a nice conversation and eventually were on our way.  She joined me as I walked to the TI (Tourist Info) station so I could gather some info for my next mini adventure – but THAT’S for another post!

Tea and strudel!

Tea and strudel!

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Author: JenSop

One of my favorite quotes is, "If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough." I guess I've been a dreamer all my life - I set my sights high and then I try to reach the sky. Some might call me a naive idealist, but that's just the way I am. I believe in always taking the high road, I believe in true love, and I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated. If you put good out into the world, good will come back to you! Being the dreamer that I am, I pursued singing as my primary life's calling - I've got two degrees in classical voice under my belt, and I sing just about anything under the sun. I also love a good adventure. Over the past few years, I've done quite a bit of world traveling, and have even lived abroad for stretches at a time: mostly in Vienna (Austria) and Croatia. A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and I became a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. (Seriously, I KNOW Disney - I've been going regularly since I was a little girl - and I LOVE it!) And with all my experience traveling and living in Europe, I'm becoming quite the specialist in that travel category as well. (And last year, I started working as a Tour Director in Central Europe!) As to the other juicy details of my life - I'm originally from Pennsylvania, I'm married to an awesome Croatian man named Miloš who is the BEST adventure partner a girl could ask for. (He's also an expert on knowing how to make me smile.) He's truly the love of my life! I've also had all kinds of other jobs along the way, besides singer and travel pro. (Which is pretty standard for those of us who went to school for music.) I've worked part time weekends as a Disney Princess look-alike for children's parties. I've been teaching for almost 20 years, and have lots of experience in retail and customer service. Oh, and I should also probably mention that I'm a huge Lord of the Rings/Star Trek nerd! :-) Let's all go along for an adventure, shall we?

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