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The Rt. Rev. Paul Moore, Jr., Bishop of New York, wrote this letter to Bernstein on July 11, 1972. [Note that Helen Coates, Bernstein's secretary, wrote in the margin, "Invite to Carmen (dress reh.?)" and typed on the top of the page is the note: "I called his Sec. Sept. 7 to invite him, but he is unable to come."]
Dear Mr. Bernstein:
Thanks for your note about Buff Parry's script. I agree with you. It does seem a little metaphysical to take off in melody!
I had the privilege of seeing your MASS in Washington the evening when you brought Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy. I wanted you to know how deeply moved I was by the creativity of the piece and the deep insights which you showed about the priesthood and the theology of the Eucharist. I was discussing it with a friend the other day and said in many ways it's the story of my life. I could deeply identify with the inordinate demands people make upon the church and the priest and with the deep revulsion one sometimes feels toward the role. Using the priest's collapse, if you will, as a symbol of the sacrifice of the Mass which in a sense brought about the possibility of the resurrection scene in the end was a brilliant stroke on your part. I am not sure if this interpretation is correct but it seemed to make sense to me.
I was so moved by it that I used it in a sermon the following Sunday and enclose a copy of same if you are interested.
Perhaps sometime when you are free we could get together. I would enjoy meeting you very much.
Bishop of New York
Oliver Smith, who designed the settings for MASS, wrote this letter to Bernstein following the premiere in Washington, DC on September 8, 1971:
What can I say -- nothing but to hug and embrace you to express my feelings concerning your superb MASS. You are such a genius that with you I am speechless with admiration and humility.
To work on this project was a rare privilege. Thank you deeply for making this possible.
All my love,