Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday in Melbourne

While I was staying in Melbourne over Easter, I only had access to the Internet via my mobile phone; and for that reason didn't update my blog.  But now, being at leisure for a while, I intend to look back over my time away, and write of it.

The Easter Vigil began at 8:00pm outside Maryvale (the former presbytery next to the church of St Aloysius, now the offices and so forth for the Latin Mass community), where a decent fire was blazing in a pit dug out of the lawn.  Fr Marshall sang the Exultet beautifully, as I recall.  I will not bother offering reflections on the lengthy service, other than to note its uniform majesty – however, for some inexplicable reason St Dominic was omitted from the Litanies of the Saints!  Again, there was a strange misprint in the otherwise excellent booklets supplied, according to which the Bishop was to breathe upon the baptismal water so as to trace "the Greek letter μ (mu)".  The Liturgy, otherwise excellent in all respects, concluded at 11:10pm, with Happy Easter our greetings to each other as we departed.  I was particularly struck by the magnificent Guerrero motet Maria Magdalene.

Next morning, I arrived at church before 9am; a nice lady brought coffee over, while we fell to practising the chants for the morning's worship.  Having togged up in soutane and surplice, and the rulers of the choir in copes (I found that a bit strange, as did some of those required to do so, but so be it), we entered the liturgical choir in the sanctuary, and there began Terce at 10:30am, while the Bishop was vested at the faldstool from the vestments laid out on the altar.  Terce sung, we processed, singing Salve festa dies, to Our Lady's grotto; Regina cæli was sung, then repeating the Salve festa dies we processed back through the main doors and down the nave to begin Easter Sunday Pontifical Mass at 11:00am.  All was chanted, excepting the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, which were from Palestrina's Missa Æterna Christi munera.  The splendour of the Roman Rite on Easter Day, with 25 in the sanctuary, cannot well be described.  Again, Mass took 90 minutes.

I went off to the Balaclava Hotel for the usual lunch after Mass; and returned to church for the Vespers that afternoon.

Vespers again were sung with cantors in copes; having heard and participated in pretty badly-sung Vespers in years past, it was a huge relief and a privilege to join with such well-done worship of the Almighty.  His Lordship did not pontificate, but sat in choir.  The Magnificat was sung in a fauxbourdon by the estimable Ronan Reilly, with organ variations during the censing of the many altars. Vespers ended, we in choir quickly made our way to the west end gallery by the organ, from where we sang during the ensuing Pontifical Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, concluding with the Laudes regiæ and a setting of the Sub tuum to a Russian melody.  The afternoon worship, this evening sacrifice of praise, took an hour and a quarter, a fitting end to Easter Sunday.

Having a cup of tea afterwards, and an impromptu sing-along of Easter hymns, helped relax into a quiet evening after the busy day at prayer.

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