ROME—Sweeping through the Holy Roman Empire from Saxony to Sardinia, the new Pope Innocent III–penned Gregorian chant “Veni Sancte Spiritus” was causing church masses to go wild Sunday with its catchy liturgical hooks and strict adherence to monastic traditions of composition. “The monks start intoning this soft, syllabic chant, everyone was tilting their heads slightly forward, and by the time it kicks in with the line ‘Lord, wash our sinful stains away,’ the whole congregation’s going nuts,” said local textile merchant Pietro de Volterra, who, after hearing the new chant at the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, described it as the wildest craze to hit his parish since the chaplain Wipo of Burgundy’s “Victimae Paschali Laudes” was released back in the 11th century. “The melody never repeats, but somehow by the time they reached the ‘To Thy sweet yoke our stiff necks bow’ part, we were all singing along. We were so worked up that a few of the women appeared to faint from excitement, though of course that may simply have been the result of another typhoid outbreak.” At press time, reports confirmed de Volterra and his fellow congregants were punishing themselves for the pleasure they took in the music with a vigorous round of self-flagellation.


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