Anton Bruckner’s Locus Iste

    As we close the Octave of All Saints’, and with the feast of the dedication of the basilica of Saint John Lateran tomorrow (the 9th) – the primary church in Christendom – it is fitting to -revisit the great motet of Anton Bruckner (+1896) Locus iste. Bruckner composed the transcendent piece in 1869, for the consecration of the Votivkapelle, or the ‘votive chapel’ for the New Cathedral in Linz, Austria, as this first major section of the church, under construction at that point for seven years, to have been completed. For thirteen years, from 1855 to 1868, Bruckner had been the organist at the Old Cathedral.

    New Cathedral, Linz, Austria.

    The text is part of the proper for the Mass for the dedication of a church: Locus iste, a Deo factus est – ‘This (holy) place was made by God’. I’m not sure that fully applies to all modern sacred structures, where it seems God’s permissive will is more in effect. But the New Cathedral, finally completed in 1925, seems to fit the bill for a truly holy place, its soaring Gothic architecture and glorious stained glass quite apt for the sacred worship of Ever-Holy Triune God; as, of course, is Bruckner’s simple, yet transcendent, composition: