Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vespers at St Mary's Cathedral

Solemn Vespers with Benediction at St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, was most grand, sung by a male choir of about fourteen singers, with several servers assisting a priest in cope - and biretta!

The Vespers were those of Sunday in the 4th week of the Psalter, being according to the modern Divine Office, but were expertly and movingly sung in Latin, but for the Short Reading, and the concluding Intercessions, Lord's Prayer and Collect, being done in English as was quite reasonable.  The choir sang all parts in plainchant, but for a glorious polyphonic Magnificat.

After Vespers, the choir sang Palestrina's exquisite O sacrum convivium; then choir – who had relocated to kneel at the altar rails – and people sang the O salutaris Hostia, the Sacrament was exposed in the monstrance, and the usual Prayer for Christian Unity, then Tantum ergo, versicle and prayer followed, all still in Latin; Benediction having been given, the choir sang the Divine Praises in English, before, at Reposition, the Adoremus in æternum with Psalm 116, Laudate Dominum.  The simple Salve concluded a devout period of prayer.

The whole service took just over 40 minutes, what with beautiful organ music before and after, ending with a Bach toccata.  As Dylan Thomas had a character say in Welsh, Ahh, Bach vach!

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