Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Beginning of Advent

A beautiful day, materially and spiritually: for this evening marks the beginning of Advent. At the parish OF Vigil Mass, it was good to sing "Wake, awake, for night is flying", one of those hymns without which Advent Sunday seems incomplete; and I listened a little time ago to another one, "Lo! he comes with clouds descending", which I have enjoyed singing at this time of year in the past. After Mass, I went to another Advent necessity, a performance of The Messiah

(Unfortunately the choir, harpsichordist, trumpeter and bass soloist were not of the highest standard: the last-named lost his place most embarrassingly in "The people that walked in darkness", the second-last named did not do much of a job of his part in "The trumpet shall [or rather, should] sound", the harpsichordist was inaccurate, and the choir didn't keep in time with each other in "His yoke is easy". I would have to say, it was the worst performance of Handel's masterpiece I've attended; even the booklet hadn't been proofread, both omitting parts sung, and including parts not sung. I hope they improve for next year, otherwise I will offer them 80% of the ticket price, and not waste 20% of my money as I did this year.)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Cistercian Elevation Chants

UPDATE: I have made a more accurate transcription of all three elevation chants.

The Cistercian Rite retained down to the liturgical changes of the 1960's the mediæval practice of singing an elevation motet after the elevation of the Host; and presumably all EF Masses in the Cistercian Rite still retain this laudable and pious custom. At Mass, after the chanted Sanctus, but before the Benedictus, the O salutaris Hostia is sung after the elevation; however, if it be Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin, the Sanctus and Benedictus are sung first, and then the Ave verum after the elevation. The Cistercian version of the Ave verum includes a slight change in wording (fudit aquam cum, not fluxit aquam et), an additional last phrase (Tu nobis miserere, set to the same notes as fili Mariæ) and a few minor variants in the assignment of notes to syllables (for in exa- and …li Mari…).

At Requiem Masses, the Sanctus and Benedictus are sung first, then the Pie Jesu after the elevation. This last chant is particularly interesting, as it is clearly based on a variant tune for the last lines of the Sequence Dies iræ, which is not sung in the Cistercian liturgy. The invocation Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem is sung thrice, then sempiternam (from the Agnus Dei melody) is appended, with a final Amen. 

Herewith, the Cistercian O salutaris Hostia (whose melody is a slightly more elaborate variant of the Roman), Ave verum, and Pie Jesu:

At present, I like to silently pray these three in succession after the Elevation, during the silent Canon of the Mass.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Christus Rex Pilgrimage Diary

This year, I kept note of my experiences on the Christus Rex Pilgrimage… on which the following are based.

I flew out of Tasmania to Victoria just after 2 pm on Thursday 22nd October, and dallied at the airport till Simon collected me at five o'clock in his already pilgrim-filled minivan. I was dropped off at my hotel in Ballarat a little after 6:15 pm, and then attended the sung Requiem (advertised for 7 pm, but beginning at 7:17 pm) at the Cathedral, just around the corner. The full Gregorian propers were chanted, along with extra verses for the Introit, and the whole De profundis, interspersed with the repetend of the Lux æterna, at Communion time, after which the choir sang Anerio's polyphonic version of the Requiem Introit. About the only slight suggestion I would venture is that an extra verse or two of the Offertory could with advantage be chanted, in order to fill up the time. The Missa cantata concluded with the recessional hymn "The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended".

A little later, having registered, I had dinner and a pint or two with Hugh at a local Irish pub, before walking to a nearby supermarket for breakfast supplies.

Friday morning began very early for me, at 5 am, as I wanted to be properly organised for the pilgrimage. I headed to the Cathedral at 6:10 am, and after the usual announcements and greetings from 6:30 am onwards, Solemn High Mass (Votive of the Holy Cross) began at 6:45 am. In addition to Mass IV and the Gregorian Propers, the choir sang Guerrero's Per signum crucis and Byrd's Ave verum. Mass concluded just after eight o'clock, followed at once by the blessing of pilgrims, so we all left the Cathedral and began walking after eight thirty.

I believe there were a little under 400 pilgrims this year.

The walk out from central Ballarat, via the cemetery, was pleasant, as was the climb up through the hills to the north. We stopped in the forest for morning tea at 11:15 am, and reached Creswick for lunch at 2 pm. A few of us, unwilling to face the unappetising Subway vegetarian rolls provided, had a fasting lunch with beer at an establishment on the main street, before rejoining the pilgrims at 3:15 pm.

The afternoon route was a change to that taken on previous years, and was most attractive, taking us across gently rising country through to Kingston (where we stopped for afternoon tea at 5 pm). At 6:45 pm, just a quarter hour from Smeaton, I was collected by car and taken to the mobile chapel, since Fr Rowe required a server for his Low Mass, but apart from that I walked the whole day quite comfortably.

After Mass, we spent from 7:15 to 8:30 in putting up the tent and so forth, before joining the rest for the pilgrim meal, then a drink at the pub and so to bed at 10:30 pm.

Saturday morning I arose at 5:30 am, and after the usual pilgrim breakfast we all resumed walking just before 7:15 am. Morning tea break was at 8:40 am (a little ahead of schedule), and then we walked on to Campbelltown, reaching it at 11:15 am. High Mass coram episcopo (Votive of Our Lady Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia) lasted from 11:48 am to 1:18 pm. The music was sublime: as always, the full chanted Propers, with Mass IX, enhanced by the Slavonic Sub tuum during the Offertory, the polyphonic Czech Sanctus, Josquin dez Prez's magnificent motet Ave Maria… Virgo serena at Communion, and O sanctissima to conclude; the choir then sang the Romantic Panis angelicus as a fitting meditation after Communion.

Lunch followed, then some of us caught a lift a bit less than a kilometre up the road and quenched our thirst at the Black Duck Tavern from 2 to 2:30 pm.

The walk across three hills to Sandon was tiring as always, but we reached the Catholic cemetery there at 4:30 pm, and conducted the usual devotions in supplication for the faithful departed, before the afternoon tea break there. At 5:22, we pushed on to Newstead, arriving fairly exhausted (if I do say so myself) at 7:05 pm. Again, putting up the tent and then lining up for a shower took a long time, and we didn't get dinner till nearly nine o'clock; I had planned to go for a beer at the pub but was completely done in and went to bed by a quarter to ten.

On Sunday, my alarm rang at 5:30 am, and strangely I didn't have to wait so long to access the shower! By six I was back at the tent, which had to be taken down of course, before heading to breakfast at 6:45 am. We were on the buses by 7:20 and headed off via Maldon at 7:34, beginning our last day's walk at Mulberry Lane at 8:13 am. Our morning tea stop was reached at 9:40 am, and after crossing the last hills we lunched at Kangaroo Flat at 12:40 am. An hour later we headed off to Sacred Heart Cathedral, reaching it at 2:55 pm.

The Bishop of Sandhurst welcomed us to his cathedral with the usual blessing, and after prayers Pontifical High Mass was sung by the retired Bishop of Christchurch. A glorious Mass indeed, with Missa Papæ Marcelli and many beautiful motets, such as Palestrina's Sicut cervus, concluded at 5 pm. The organist played Widor's Toccata as the recessional. After Mass, again the thirty-strong choir couldn't resist singing a few more motets…

As David remarked, no cathedral in Australia would have such splendid liturgy ordinarily.

Having prayed, and then collected my bags, I checked into the adjoining motel and freshened up, before walking over to the Queen's Arms for the après-pèlerinage dinner. The establishment was absolutely packed, with two bishops and priests galore alongside the many laity, and a good time (and many a refreshing beverage) was had by all.

On Monday morning, a final High Mass (of the feria) was sung at 9:10 am, followed by, not the expected buffet brunch, but lunch at the nearby National Hotel from about eleven o'clock onwards. My ride to the airport departed a little after 1 pm. I arrived there at 2:45, and tried to change to an earlier flight, but given bad weather I had no change but to keep to my earlier booking. Instead, I wandered the airport (how boring that place can be!), and my flight was delayed till 8:30, and I didn't get home from the airport until a few minutes past ten at night.

Another wonderful Christus Rex Pilgrimage: I look forward to next year!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Off on Pilgrimage

Tomorrow I head off to Ballarat, there to embark on the annual Christus Rex Pilgrimage to Bendigo. It is the 25th Pilgrimage, and will be my seventh. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Nativitas tua Dei Genitrix Virgo

The Magnificat antiphon for the Feast of Our Lady's Nativity, Nativitas tua Dei Genitrix Virgo, is a translation of the Apolytikion of the Feast in the Byzantine Liturgy (Ἡ γέννησίς σου Θεοτόκε, χαρὰν ἐμήνυσε πάσῃ τῇ οικουμένῃ, ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ ἀνέτειλεν ὁ Ἥλιος τῆς δικαιοσύνης, Χριστὸς ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν, καὶ λύσας τὴν κατάραν, ἔδωκε τὴν εὐλογίαν, καὶ καταργήσας τὸν θάνατον, ἐδωρήσατο ἡμῖν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον.).

Its Gregorian chant melody is interesting to me because it resembles a very ornate psalm-tone (rather in the style of that of the Ambrosian Transitorium Te laudamus Domine omnipotens), which I transcribe as follows, breaking the chant into sense-lines to reveal the repeated motifs:

Note that the first and fourth lines are all but identical as regards the chant, while the second, third and fifth lines are the same from the climacus (five descending notes) onwards, and after the quarter bar are all but the same as the first and fourth lines, just as the beginnings of the first and fourth (but for the climacus) resemble that of the second and to a lesser extent the fifth, while at the same time the beginnings of the third line is quite different in melody.

In the Dominican Rite, this antiphon is (or was) used also for Our Lady's Visitation and Presentation, as well as for other Marian feasts, in each case changing the word Nativitas into, respectively, Visitatio,  Præsentatio, and Solemnitas. Likewise, in the Monastic Breviary, the same is done for the feast of Our Lady's Maternity, changing Nativitas into Maternitas (and ending the chant at Christus Deus noster).

We had a lovely OF parish Mass in the evening of the Feast yesterday; perhaps next year our schola can learn this chant and sing it either at Mass or Benediction.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Divine Praises – II

Following some thought, it strikes me that the late lamented Fr Bouyer was correct in suggesting that further additions to the Divine Praises would be fitting. I make bold to suggest – for private devotion only – that the following four additions are desirable:

After mention of the Blessed Sacrament:
  • Blessed be Jesus Christ the King.
After mention of the Holy Ghost:
  • Blessed be the Most Holy Trinity.
After mention of St Joseph:
  • Blessed be the Holy Family.
  • Blessed be the Holy Catholic Church.
All these four are tied together: Christ ought reign as King, not merely over hearts but over societies, so every state acknowledge his social reign, as Pius XI taught; and the pre-existent community in unity that is the Trinity has, as reflections and images on earth, both the Holy Family, itself the model of all true families – including a father, a mother and a child – and also the Holy Catholic Church, that marvellous divine gathering back into one of all the scattered sheep.

In this age, when the Church in her immaculate holiness is mocked and despised for the sins, real and imagined, of her members, when the family is attacked under the guise of promoting a so-called love that is but a cloak for sinful lusts opposed alike to the natural order and to divine justice, when the Trinity is unacknowledged and unworshipped, and Christ, Second Person thereof, Redeemer and Lawgiver and Judge, is more and more flagrantly rejected, disobeyed and mocked, so much the more ought the faithful remnant praise, bless and honour these sacred mysteries of our holy religion.

The Divine Praises were originally composed in Italian, and are often recited in Latin, so here are the four proposed extra blessings in those tongues:

Benedetto Gesù Cristo Re.
Benedetta la santissima Trinità.
Benedetta la santa Famiglia.
Benedetta la santa Chiesa cattolica.

Benedictus Jesus Christus Rex.
Benedicta sanctissima Trinitas.
Benedicta sancta Familia.
Benedicta sancta Ecclesia Catholica.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Divine Praises

A quick internet search turns up the well-known text of the Divine Praises, along with a note attributing its origins to Fr Luigi (Louis? or Aloysius?) Felici, S.J. in 1797, as a form of reparation for blasphemy. (I found a copy on Google Books of the oration preached at his funeral, which indicates he died in 1818; and another search turned up the fact that he was born in 1736.) It was written in Italian, and the Latin is a later translation (as is the form in English, of course). The original form had but eight lines, to which successive additions have been made. Pius VII granted an indulgence for its recitation on 23 July 1801; I haven't found a copy of Felici's original, so I do not know if Pius VII changed or enlarged it, as some sources seem to suggest.

Succeeding Popes have added ever more indulgences and blessings to it (though those indulgences have since been watered down); but it turned out to be quite hard to discover exactly when. Recourse had to be had to the Acta Apostolicæ Sedis, and other sources, to find the official decrees adding each blessing, and I have found a puzzling reference to the date when Bl Pius IX made the first addition in honour of the Immaculate Conception, suggesting that it was added, not in the year 1856 as other sources claim, but on 27 April 1851, some years prior to the dogmatic definition of 1854. Herewith, the Divine Praises, with the dates of each addition noted:

Blessed be God.
Blessed be his Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be his Most Sacred Heart. (Leo XIII, 2 February 1897)
Blessed be his Most Precious Blood. (St John XXIII, 12 October 1960)
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit the Paraclete. (Bl Paul VI, 27 April 1964)
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary Most Holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception. (Bl Pius IX, 25 April 1851)
Blessed be her glorious Assumption. (Pius XII, 23 December 1952, 8 April 1953)
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St Joseph, her most chaste spouse. (Benedict XV, 23 February 1921)
Blessed be God in his Angels and in his Saints.

There are two dates given for the insertion of blessing of the Assumption, since by an embarrassing error it was first commanded to be illogically inserted before that of the Immaculate Conception, so a correction had to be published a few months later.

I recall reading somewhere, in a book on the Eucharist by Louis Bouyer I think, that two desirable additions to these praises would be "Blessed be the holy Apostles" (those pillars of the Church founded by their Master) and "Blessed be the holy Catholic Church" - the latter, being the Bride of Christ, oft reviled by the world's attacks (all too often deservedly attracted, sad to say, by the outrageous crimes of her sinful members), yet remaining holy and spotless in her essential nature despite every attempted besmirching: she is, after all, casta meretrix.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Prayer before Mass

Since this evening I will be assisting at the monthly Missa cantata in Launceston, here is a short prayer (dating from at least 1745), which I found in an eighteenth century book available online, and which I have rendered into English with the aid of online resources:

Prosterné au pied de votre saint Autel, je vous adore, Dieu tout-puissant: je crois fermement que la Messe à laquelle je vais assister, est le sacrifice du Corps et du Sang de Jésus-Christ votre Fils: faites que j’y assiste avec l’attention, le respect et la frayeur que demandent de si redoutables Mystères; et que par les mérites de la Victime qui s’immole pour moi, immolé moi-même avec elle, je ne vive plus que pour vous, qui vivez et régnez dans la suite de tous les siècles. Ainsi soit-il.


Prostrate at the foot of thy holy Altar, I adore thee, O God almighty: I firmly believe that the Mass, at which I am going to assist, is the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ thy Son: cause that I may assist thereat with the attention, the respect and the fear that such formidable Mysteries demand; and that by the merits of the Victim who sacrifices himself for me, I may sacrifice myself with him, and live no longer for myself but for thee, who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Launceston Latin Mass Update

Tonight, Fr Rowe – my former parish priest in Perth, W.A., who is visiting again, having been in Hobart for a conference – offered our monthly Missa cantata. The attendance was good, with several new faces present who promised to return, and afterward we shared a cuppa and a chinwag.

I have just learnt from Fr Suresh, who is chaplain to the Latin Mass community in this Archdiocese, that from our next Mass in August onwards, our monthly Latin Mass in Launceston will be held on the second Sunday, which will be more convenient for many.

Our next Missa cantata, therefore, will be held at 6 pm on Sunday the 9th of August, at St Francis Church, Riverside.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

June and July EF Masses in Launceston

On Sunday evening the 7th of June, we had our latest Missa cantata in Launceston: it was a beautiful Mass. Fr Suresh preached powerfully on the Real Presence as the touchstone of Catholic faith and devotion; the choir acquitted themselves well, of course; and at least the server (yours truly) noticed during the Epistle that he had put the side altar cards on the wrong sides, and switched them over while moving the missal to the Gospel corner.

Our next EF Mass will be held at 6 pm on Sunday 5th July: Fr Michael Rowe, my former parish priest in Perth, W.A., will offer it, since he is coming to the ACCC Conference in Hobart that finishes on the Friday beforehand. Last night, our choir began learning the new music: we will sing the solemn Salve as the Offertory Motet, and Adoro te after Communion. While we will continue to use psalm-tone  settings of the propers otherwise, we will sing the Gregorian melody of the Communion antiphon.

Many thanks to all who support this new venture!

Saturday, May 9, 2015


Owing to the unavailability of choir members, etc., it has been decided to cancel the May Latin Mass in Launceston. The next Mass will be celebrated at 6 pm on the first Sunday of June, at St Francis' Church, thanks to the ongoing kindness of the parish and parish priest, who allow the use of the church by the Archdiocese of Hobart Latin Mass Community.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Launceston Easter Sunday EF Mass

Fr Suresh again came North to celebrate our second monthly Missa cantata. While some were absent (it being Easter, and holiday time; and also I forgot to advertise it in the parish bulletin, though it was mentioned in the diocesan paper), we still had an attendance of about twenty, which bodes well for the future once it becomes better known.

(Next month, by the way, the Mass will be held at 5 pm on the second Sunday, that is, on the 10th of May, owing to various reasons.)

Having rehearsed with the choir, I then got ready to serve Mass (and to sing along, when not otherwise occupied). Mass began at 6:05 pm and concluded at 7:05 pm. As always, Fr Suresh preached a stirring sermon. After the Mass, we all went through to the adjoining parish centre for a light supper, preceded by the blessing of eggs and bread (the texts of which luckily were appended to the main contents of the missal).

As before, we sang the Messe Royale, accompanied on the organ. Since the propers of Easter Sunday are beyond my competence (apart from the Sequence), I set their texts to psalm-tone 1, with alleluias set to the music of the Messe Royale Kyrie. At Offertory, a few verses of O filii et filiæ were sung, and after Mass, the simple Regina cæli, before concluding with the rousing hymn "By your kingly power, O risen Lord," by James McAuley.

Here are the simplified propers as sung; I seem to have left out the second-last letter in alleluja for some reason…