Thursday, October 16, 2008

Music for the Selective

They say that for every book, somewhere out there is someone who will be thrilled by it.  That must apply to music as well, because someone, somewhere MUST be interested in these records. That's right -- records!  Vinyl.  Long-playing.  You'd think the music is obsolete along with the technology.  But don't give up yet!

These are absolutely fascinating, because both are records of a time and setting long-gone.  Both originate in the missionary movement to Africa of the 1950-1970 time period.  Both of the arrangers delighted in the way African musical rhythms and traditions complimented western holy music and liturgies.  If you know anyone interested in areas even remotely connected with these concepts, these albums might be the perfect gift that no one would have thought of giving to them!

The first is African Sanctus, a record of African music set to the Latin Mass.  This is still shrink-wrapped.  From the composer/compiler's website: 

African Sanctus is an unorthodox setting of the Latin Mass harmonised with traditional African music recorded by the composer on his now legendary journeys up the River Nile (1969-73).  The taped music from Egypt, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya is heard in counterpoint with the live chorus, soprano soloist and instrumental ensemble.  The work is composed in 13 movements and reflects geographically the composer’s cross-shaped pilgrimage, from the Mediterranean to Lake Victoria, whereby Kyrie represents Cairo and Sanctus Northern Uganda.

The second record is Missa Luba.  Wikipedia offers this information about this fascinating album.  Missa Luba is a version of the Latin Mass based on traditional Congolese songs.  It was arranged by Father Guido Haazen, a Franciscan Friar from Belgium, and originally peformed and recorded in 1958 by "Les Troubadours du Roi Baudouin", a choir of Congolese children from Kamina. 

It is interesting to speculate on what has happened to the Africans whose voices rose in praise all those years ago.  With the independence of the Belgian Congo, succeeding wars and cultural changes in Africa, one wonders if a young singer of that day is a powerful figure today!

You'd think the recordings are obsolete.  But a quick look at YouTube shows otherwise.  People still listen to these, are still inspired by them, and are still interested in the cross-cultural music melange.  How cool.

African Sanctus is $14 on our Amazon site and Missa Luba is $17, or current Friends can save the shipping by e-mailing us at

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