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Missa Luba?

September 22, 2011

I am taking a required course in Ethnic Music, for which I will have to write a paper at some point, and I asked my professor what might some topic options having to do with Catholic liturgical music.  One of the things he mentioned was an African Mass setting from ~1958 called Missa Luba.  Here is the gloria:

What do you think?

Just flipping around online, I haven’t figured out if this based on sacred or secular styles, but regardless, here are a few positives:

1. This is completely intelligible, due to the use of Latin!

2. The forms are right (no refrains in the gloria, starts with “et in terra,” etc.)

3. The emphasis is on the voices, I think.

I really don’t know what to think of this, because I don’t know what it signifies; in our culture I can tell sacred from secular, but this?

 

 

 

 

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2 Comments
  1. I have heard the Missa Luba before, the Gloria is the title music for the (not so great) 1964 Italian movie, “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”.

    I like it and it certainly seems like inculturation-done-right, but as you point out it is difficult for us as Westerners to understand how this music would be perceived in the Congo.

  2. Chris McAvoy permalink

    Hey, Jonathan, it’s been a long time. I am the one who stopped by the Mater Dei Mass a few times 1 to 2 years ago with all the english/anglican plainchant.

    The iroquis (or was it some other tribe) language gregorian chant done around minnesota or canada by latin missionaries in the late 1800’s is really worth hearing. Musicasacra had some of there books scanned and posted online I believe.

    I am one of those few people who believes that the Missa Luba is an example cultural imperialism and “orientalism” not legitimate liturgical music made from pure inculturation. The west hearing what it wants to hear and imposing it’s secular taste upon it’s subjects.. You have to remember ANYTHING made in the 50’s and 60’s is subject of suspicion because humanism and modernism had deeply invaded the latin catholic liturgical ethos by that time, even though they had yet to fully reveal themselves for several more years.

    If you want to here the authentic inculturation you’re better off listening to the eastern orthodox music in the native languages of Uganda and Congo, and possibly Kenya.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.gocamerica.org/photos-congo-2006-10.shtml
    http://www.gocamerica.org/photos-congo-uganda-2007-06_09_Music.shtml

    (this church is schismatic, but the music, liturgy and probably even sacraments are totally legitimate)

    Than of course there is also Ethiopia/Eritrea which is much more long standing i it’s tradition of liturgical music, though because it is often accused of being too close to arabic music, it is often deemed rrelevant to most of africa on the inculturation issue. (I reject that assertation, but do not deny some similarity as they are both semitic cultures).

    Christopher McAvoy, Emmitsburg, MD.

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