Monday, July 28, 2014

A Month of Latin Masses

It just struck me that I've had a rare blessing: all the Sunday Masses I've attended this month have been celebrated in the Extraordinary Form (to use the expression given us by Benedict XVI of ever-blessed memory; strange to think he's still alive). On the 6th of July, I attended Mass at Lewisham (a Missa cantata), while visiting Sydney; on the 13th, I M.C.'d our first ever Latin Mass in Launceston (again, a sung Mass); on the 20th, I again M.C.'d for Fr Rowe at his Missa cantata in Hobart; and just yesterday, being in Melbourne for an important but rather sad reason, I assisted at the Solemn High Mass in Caulfield. It was a particular pleasure to hear the verse of the Offertory sung: I do like a Mass sung in plainchant throughout (Mass XI and Credo IV, plus all the propers of course, and a hymn in honour of the Sacred Heart at Communion, as its doxology revealed). Assuming I make it to Hobart this weekend (as I may decide to stay here, given that a relative will be recovering from an operation), that will make it five Sunday Latin Masses in a row – what a blessing!

The Sunday Offertory and verse (quoting Daniel iii, 40-42) was as follows, aptly paralleling the prayer In spiritu humilitatis prayed by the priest during the offertory rite:
Sicut in holocáusto aríetum et taurórum, et sicut in míllibus agnórum pínguium: sic fiat sacrifícium nostrum in conspéctu tuo hódie, ut pláceat tibi: * Quia non est confúsio confidéntibus in te, Dómine. V. Et nunc séquimur te in toto corde et timémus te et quærimus fáciem tuam, Dómine: nec confúndas nos, sed fac nobis juxta mansuetúdinem tuam et secúndum multitúdinem misericórdiæ tuæ. * Quia non est confúsio confidéntibus in te, Dómine. 
As in a holocaust of rams and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be made in thy sight this day, that it may please thee: * For there is no confusion to them that trust in thee, O Lord. V. And now we follow thee with all our heart and we fear thee, and seek thy face, O Lord: put us not to confusion, but deal with us according to thy meekness and according to the multitude of thy mercies. * For there is no confusion to them that trust in thee, O Lord.
Note that there is a divergence between the Missal and the Offertoriale here: the Missal reads holocaustis, the chant books, holocausto. There are a small number of such variants that were approved by the Holy See when Solemnes restored the plainchant repertoire.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Longest and Shortest Ordinaries

Thanks to dear friends, our first Launceston Missa cantata since Vatican II was graced with Byrd's Mass for three voices. Before their most generous offer, I had initially planned on our own humble schola singing the so-called Missa primitiva, which consists of the oldest and shortest and easiest settings of the Ordinary: Kyrie XVI, Gloria XV, Credo I (though I was planning on using III), Sanctus XVIII and Agnus Dei XVIII. They are syllabic, with only one note per syllable in the main.

According to a handy website giving the texts and sound files of all the settings of the Kyriale, these would indeed be quite short and easy to sing, and in total would take a bit over 9 minutes (nearly half of that for the Creed). One can fruitfully compare them to that mainstay of times past, Mass VIII De Angelis with Credo III, which the same site indicates would take nearly 12 minutes to sing. (The website only gives the Kyrie in the modern sixfold form; I estimated the length of the traditional ninefold form.)

But I began to wonder, what would be the longest composite Ordinarium Missæ? Having spent some time looking over the chants of the eighteen Mass Ordinaries, with their variants and extra chants ad libitum, it seems to me that the following (with performance times in brackets, supplied from the above website) would constitute the longest Ordinary, taking nearly 17 and a half minutes to sing:
  • Kyrie II (3:06)
  • Gloria III ad libitum (5:01)
  • Credo VI (5:56)
  • Sanctus VII (1:33)
  • Agnus Dei V (1:47)
All of these are neumatic chants, including long melismas on some syllables. It is interesting to compare the length of these to that of Byrd's polyphonic setting: unusually for polyphony, Byrd's setting of the Kyrie is only threefold, and very short (thus usually supplemented, as at our Mass, with six plainsong invocations); his Gloria and Credo are quite similar in length to the above lengthiest plainchant settings; but even his three-voice settings of the Sanctus and Agnus Dei are twice as long as those of the longest Gregorian ones.

All things being equal, I do prefer a Sanctus (with its Benedictus) that is long enough to occupy the time taken for the silent recitation of the Canon of the Mass – which is only possible if it is sung in polyphony. At the same time, many polyphonic Agnus Dei's are too long, being evidently intended for use at Masses where only the priest communicates, and no one else.

Speaking as an M.C., the Agnus Dei should ideally fill up the time between the priest singing Pax Domini and, after his preparatory prayers and reception of Communion, his turning to the congregation holding the Host and saying Ecce Agnus Dei. At least it should last until the bell is run thrice at his triple Domine non sum dignus, immediately prior to his Communion. Depending on the speed or otherwise of the celebrant, some plainchant settings are too short.

The longest composite Ordinary, assembled above, would also be suitable for a celebration of the Extraordinary Form in Eastern Rite lands, where the sensibility of local Uniates and Orthodox persons of good will would demand a lengthy Mass – one in which the Introit would be sung with several psalm verses if need be, the Gradual would have its response repeated after the verse, the Offertory would be sung with all its ancient verses, and the Communion chanted with selected psalm verses also…

UPDATE: The postconciliar Kyriale simplex contains an assemblage of simpler settings of the Ordinary, some from among the Masses and ad libitum chants otherwise given in the Liber, etc., plus a few simple forms of the Kyrie and Agnus Dei taken from chant settings of several litanies; the most noteworthy, however, is what is given as Credo "IV" more ambrosiano, which ought really be called Credo VIII (as the older books contain Credo's I to VI, plus Credo VII as an insert, as I have in my Liber) – it is the Ambrosian chant setting of the Creed (simply replacing the Ambrosian variant words ad cælos with the standard Roman in cælum), a simple note per syllable setting, with the only flourishes at all being at the very end: two notes on the first syllable of sæculi and nine for the Amen. I calculate that this should take about 3:20 to sing; and a recording of Ambrosian chant that I possess includes it, the elapsed time for chanting it proving to be 3:36 in fact.

So the very shortest Ordinary would be the Missa primitiva referenced above, but with Credo "VIII" more ambrosiano.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

To Hobart

I'm almost better from a nasty cold (or bronchitis almost) that's been plaguing me for eight days.

I didn't make it to Hobart last Sunday, but did manage to MC our special Launceston Mass, which was very well attended, with all present very moved and rapt in the sublime worship, God be praised. All thanks to our visiting priest, Fr Rowe, the marvellous choir – Byrd in three, plus the chant propers and several motets – and servers! I also served his private Low Mass on Monday morning, which was very special.

I head down to Hobart this afternoon, as Fr Rowe will again celebrate Mass for our community at Sacred Heart, New Town, at 10:30 am tomorrow, Sunday the 20th of July, before he concludes his visit to Tasmania and returns to the West on Monday.

As he has recently celebrated his 20th anniversary of ordination, do pray that he be ever more and more a priest after the Heart of Christ. And please offer prayers for Mother Stephanie, at our Launceston Carmel, as she is very frail and aged, and her long life appears to be drawing to that end which we all must face ere long.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Off to Sydney and Melbourne

It's been a while since I last posted, but various matters have taken up my time.

To-night, I'm off to Sydney for the weekend, then I'll fly down to Melbourne for the week, and be back here on Saturday, before driving to Hobart, where I'll stay the night, then MC morning Mass there, before driving myself and Fr Rowe (who'll be visiting Tasmania that week) back to Launceston, where I'll MC the special 6 pm Missa cantata at St Francis, Riverside, on Sunday 13th July. Please do come if you can!

Some matters are too serious to trust to the internet, but do keep me in your prayers.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pentecost Missa Cantata

To-day, for our Latin Mass in Hobart, we were back where it all began, at Sacred Heart, New Town, where Fr (now Bp) Jarrett began the monthly Missæ cantatæ in the nineties. It was my parish at the time, and I have fond memories of my time there.

I remember "catching the bug" of the Traditional Latin Mass at Sacred Heart, when on the first Sunday of November in 1994 he celebrated the first "Extraordinary Form" Mass, with the choir singing Byrd's Mass for three voices; and when, exactly a year later, he sang High Mass (with Frs Oppenheimer and Parsons assisting), the choir rendering Victoria's Mass O quam gloriosum.

In February 1996, this time with yours truly in the choir, singing a far more modest all-Gregorian repertoire, Fr Jarrett began regular first Sunday sung Masses. He continued for five years, until he was promoted to Bishop of Lismore; I sang with the choir until I moved to Melbourne in 1999.

Fr John Wall, then based at St Canice in Lower Sandy Bay, took over the celebration of the first Sunday sung Masses until his untimely death; since then, for the last decade, the much-loved Fr Gerard Quinn, CP (easily the hardest working, humblest and holiest priest of the Archdiocese), has done so.

I returned to Tasmania five years ago, first resuming singing in the choir, and then promoting myself (completely untrained) to M.C., as it seemed to help expedite matters. And since February this year – with all thanks going to His Grace for blessing our endeavours – we have had Latin Mass at least twice a month, including the full Easter Triduum for the first time.  I have grown used to forever driving to and from Hobart!

Repairs to the roof at St Canice made us decide to move some of the June and July Masses to New Town. To-day, we had a visiting priest as celebrant: Fr Suresh from Tamworth. His visit we pray will prove fruitful; he certainly sings Mass with great care and attention (during the chanting of the Alleluia verses I suddenly realised he was singing along from memory), and is a great preacher, too.

Just as in the nineties, we had a community "pot-luck" lunch afterwards – I kept on expecting Fr Jarrett to walk into the parish centre and chat happily with us all, beneath the great painting of the Sacred Heart that hangs in pride of place. It was a marvellous occasion and made me realise how well set out Sacred Heart is for our needs: the church is a good size, very well appointed and cared for, with room outdoors for children to play afterwards and a place for all to meet and eat in the parish centre.

It was great to chat with the sacristan, too, whom I hadn't seen for years. It always was a most welcoming and Catholic parish, and evidently maintains that spirit, even if now part of the Cathedral parish; again, how kind of His Grace to allow us to use the church and facilities.

Winter remains curiously warm and sunny; it was lovely driving home this afternoon.

Next Sunday, Trinity Sunday the 15th of June, a sung Traditional Latin Mass will again be celebrated at 10:30 am at Sacred Heart, New Town. (I will be in Melbourne; I daresay all will go well.)

The next Mass after that, the "traditional" first Sunday Missa cantata, will be at St Canice at 11:30 am as usual; but on the following two Sundays, the 13th and 20th of July, Latin Mass will again be sung at Sacred Heart at 10:30 am.

With all this shuttling to and fro for Mass, I must admit to feeling relief at the prospect of the last two Sundays in June at home without having to drive three hours each way...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Christmas in June

Driving back from our first Sunday of the month Missa cantata yester-day, the first day of winter in Australia, got me musing on the way our southern seasons clash with the liturgical calendar inherited from our forebears in the northern hemisphere.  Having examined the calendar and worked out a correction that puts all to rights, it seems Sunday the 1st of June should really have been, not the Sunday after Ascension, but Advent Sunday.

Christmas, as all men know, falls soon after the boreal winter solstice, when Christ comes to enlighten those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death - but this imagery is reversed Down Under. For too long have we Antipodeans endured heat waves and broiling weather while singing of snow and holly, fainting in summer warmth over a heavy Christmas dinner!

Hence, to fit sacred time to the southern seasons, all in Australasia, temperate South America and South Africa ought keep the Lord's Nativity on the 25th of June, shortly after the austral winter solstice.

For the same reason, Easter, that feast of our true Spring, Christ's Resurrection, should be kept on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the austral spring equinox - which, by my calculations, would fall this year on the 12th of October (basing all this on the true astronomically determined dates, not on the old-fashioned computus).

I determine that the new calendar (which good Pope Francis, a fellow hemispherean, will no doubt grant with a wave of his hand, once he's apprized of it by a known enemy of the Immaculate Franciscans) for the Southern Hemisphere would run as follows for 2014:

Christus Rex (Last Sunday in April) – 27th April 2014
Advent Sunday – 1st June 2014
Christmas Day – Wednesday 25th June 2014
St Stephen, St John, HH Innocents on 26th, 27th, 28th, then SS Peter & Paul on 29th (for a most pleasing gathering of all saints round the crib)
Epiphany – Monday 7th July 2014 (not the 6th, since it must be 12 days after Christmas)
1st Sunday after Epiphany – 13th July 2014
Candlemas – Sunday 3rd August 2014 (40 days after Christmas)
4th & Last Sunday after Epiphany – 3rd August 2014
Septuagesima Sunday – 10th August 2014
Ash Wednesday – 27th August 2014
1st Sunday of Lent – 31st August 2014
Holy Cross – Monday 15th September 2014 (transferred because of the clash with the 3rd Sunday of Lent)
Annunciation – Thursday 25th September 2014 (nine months before Christmas)
Palm Sunday – 5th October 2014
Good Friday – 10th October 2014
EASTER Sunday – 12th October 2014
Ascension Thursday – 20th November 2014
Pentecost Sunday – 30th November 2014
Visitation (based on Paul VI’s wise removal of it from 2nd July to 31st May):  Monday 1st December 2014 (transferred this year from 30th November)
Trinity Sunday – 7th December 2014
Corpus Christi – Thursday 11th December 2014
Sacred Heart – Friday 19th December 2014
Nativity of St John the Baptist – 24th December 2014 (exchanged, as it were, with Christmas)

Apart from the moveable feasts shifted by six months, and the movement of various saints' days that seem inseparable from their setting relative to these, all other saints' days would remain the same, thus producing all manner of pleasing curiosities, such as the Immaculate Conception falling the day after Trinity Sunday, the Immaculata being the greatest of all after God himself.

You know it makes sense.

Monday, May 26, 2014

St Philip's Day

While I didn't make it to early Mass to-day, I attended evening Rosary, and went to confession; which struck me as a decent and apposite manner of worshipping on St Philip's feast, being as he was a great patron of penitents of every walk of life. He is a great saint and powerful intercessor, to whom I owe much, and especially at this present time, given the signal benefits vouchsafed unworthy me. Pippo buono, prega per noi.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

4th Sunday after Easter: Missa Cantata at 10 am

Tonight I have a parish dinner to attend, which will make getting up and departing for Hobart very early tomorrow morning – at 6:30 am, since I need to get to St Canice well before 10 am – all the more tiring; ah well. Since Fr Christopher, a Dominican from Melbourne, is to celebrate the Mass, and the only return flight available was earlier than usual, so too will our Missa cantata be held at an earlier time. If the M.C. yawns at the altar, at least only the priest at whose side he stands will notice.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Our Lady of Fatima

Having heard Mass of Our Lady of Fatima at Carmel this morning, it was good to gather with our little schola twelve hours later at St Francis and first practice, then sing Compline followed by Benediction; it seemed fitting to begin the latter with Jesu dulcis memoria, then to chant the Litany of Loreto, before proceeding to the usual Tantum ergo &c. We closed with the Sub tuum, concluding this Marian feast by flying to her patronage, that the Blessed Virgin defend us by her all-powerful intercession in all dangers.

Monday, May 12, 2014

3rd and 4th Sundays after Easter

Yester-day we had our usual Latin Mass in Hobart, not on the first but on the second Sunday, as Fr Quinn was at a conference interstate at the beginning of the month. Next Sunday, the 18th of May, we will have a Missa cantata at the earlier time of 10:00 am. Maintenance work is occurring at St Canice, so it is possible that we may have to relocate at least temporarily, but the details are still frantically being finalized.

I apologise for not having blogged much, but my time has been taken up with many most welcome blessings, to say nothing of the usual demands of work and ordinary life. I have also attended some happy events – such as the solemn Mass, with the singing of Palestrina's Missa Papæ Marcelli, for the installation of Fr Tattersall as parish priest of the personal parish for the Latin Mass community in Melbourne; and the ordination of my friend Justin to the diaconate at the Ukrainian Cathedral in Melbourne. God bless the two of them in their sacred ministry, to the glory of God and the sanctification of souls.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our First Triduum and Easter

A great success – this year, the Hobart Latin Mass Community celebrated the Triduum and Easter for the first time since the liturgical changes in the nineteen-sixties.

Fr Mannes, a Dominican currently based in Sydney, very kindly came down to Hobart to officiate – he is an excellent singer, and rendered the Exultet extremely well. The choir also performed admirably (no mean effort, singing all the chant, plus motets, at the liturgies for four days in a row), as did the servers; the only real mishap resulted from yours truly, as M.C., managing to step on and break the incense boat, while manoeuvring the umbella into place at the start of the procession to the altar of repose on Holy Thursday evening (I had driven down from Launceston after work, so arguably I was a little distracted). Several appreciative comments about every other aspect of the liturgies were received: I still can't believe we did it! (The incense boat will be repaired in due course…)

In order to be ready for the special rites, we practiced from 6:30 pm onwards on Holy Thursday, and on Good Friday from after Stations till the afternoon Liturgy, with a break for a penitential lunch, while on Holy Saturday we practised from about 6 pm onwards. On Easter Monday it took us till nearly 11 am to get everything packed up. The Archdiocese very kindly lent us several old vestments and a chalice for the liturgies, as the sacristy at St Canice wasn't fully equipped for the many ceremonies carried out.

Our timetable was as follows:
  • 7:30 pm Holy Thursday: Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, sung and with incense as usual (no footwashing this year), followed by the procession to the altar of repose, then the stripping of the altars and Compline (90 minutes all told); adoration at the altar of repose continued till midnight;
  • 10:30 am Good Friday: Stations of the Cross (half an hour);
  • 3:00 pm Good Friday: Solemn Afternoon Liturgy (only 75 minutes - the Passion was read, not sung, and there were less than our usual Sunday numbers present);
  • 7:30 pm Holy Saturday: Easter Vigil (2 and a quarter hours - the church has no font so all that part of the service was omitted);
  • 10:30 am Easter Sunday: Missa cantata, with Vidi aquam beforehand (70 minutes);
  • 9:00 am Easter Monday: Low Mass, with the Ordinary sung (40 minutes).
On Good Friday evening at 8 pm, I went with a friend and Fr Mannes to attend the Greeks' service of Matins, with procession of the epitaphion; it was good to see, and I met up with several whom I know, but I found it a very long three hours, so I decided to turn down the invitation to come back the next evening after our own Vigil! Having stayed in Hobart for four nights, I've now returned home on a cold, wet autumn afternoon.

Next year, who knows? With a sufficiently augmented choir, we could even attempt Tenebræ… it would be shorter than the equivalent Byzantine Rite service that I attended.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Column of the Scourging

According to the 1925 Processional of the Franciscans for use in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on Holy Wednesday, "according to a most ancient custom, the Holy Column of the Scourging is today exposed for veneration". After singing the usual hymn, the following antiphon, versicle and collect is recited; these might with profit be appended to the psalm of the scourging (as given in the previous posting), or added after reciting a decade of the Rosary while meditating on this, the second sorrowful mystery.

Aña. Apprehendit Pilatus Jesum et flagellavit: ac tradidit Judæis ut crucifigeretur.
V/. Fui flagellatus tota die.
R/. Et castigatio mea in matutinis.
Oremus.
Deus, qui pro salute nostra in assumptæ carnis infirmitate, ad [hanc*] Columnam alligari, et flagellis cædi voluisti: concede propitius; ut qui ejusdem Columnæ gloriam celebramus, pretiosi Sanguinis tui fructum consequi mereamur. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum. R/. Amen.

Ant. Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him: and delivered him to the Jews to be crucified.
V/. I have been scourged all the day.
R/. And my chastisement hath been in the mornings.
Let us pray.
O God, who in the weakness of our flesh which thou hadst taken upon thee, wert pleased, for our salvation, to be bound to [a / this*] Pillar and scourged with thongs: grant, we beseech thee, that we who celebrate the glory of that Pillar may become worthy to obtain the fruit of thy precious blood: who livest and reignest world without end. R/. Amen.

[*The word hanc ("this") is only used at the actual Column itself.]