Saturday, April 30, 2011

To Hobart for Low Sunday

It's the first Sunday of the month again, and time to drive 200 km down to Hobart, where I'm the M.C. at our Missa cantata, this State's only permitted Latin Mass (though I hear the S.S.P.X. are active).

I am reminded of the words of Thomas à Kempis in The Imitation of Christ (Book IV, Chapter 1):
If this most holy Sacrament were celebrated in only one place and consecrated by only one priest in the whole world, with what great desire, do you think, would men be attracted to that place, to that priest of God, in order to witness the celebration of the divine Mysteries!
Of course, every Catholic Mass is valid; it is rather that, as Benedict XVI has written, in his Letter to Bishops accompanying his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum: has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.

Just this afternoon, inspiration struck, and some new words came to mind to match the tune of that ditty "Gather your people, O Lord", referring (let the reader understand) to those priests and people of a certain age and outlook on matters ecclesiastical, from whose influence Father Time will deliver us:

Crabby old people, O Lord!
Crabby old people, O Lord!
Stuck in the seventies,
They hate Latin Mass,
Crabby old people, O Lord!

The Royal Wedding - II

As noted in my last post, it transpires that the wedding of Prince William and Catherine, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, was conducted according to the rites allowed in the Church of England as an alternative to the Book of Common Prayer service in Series One (1966), and that this in turn (but for an inserted blessing of the ring, ultimately from the Latin) was the service for marriage in the Proposed B.C.P. of 1928.

I also expressed surprise at the notable omissions and alterations in the prayers for holy wedlock, changes made when revising the 1662 order of service back in the nineteen twenties.  I do not refer to minor changes (such as changing "ordinance" to "law"), but to the deletion of references to God's creation of man in the state of original justice, to His uniting Adam and Eve as man and wife, and to Old Testament persons who are models of godly living: both the three patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and two holy couples – Isaac and Rebecca, Abraham and Sarah.  Here, I give the changes made to which I refer:

in the time of man’s innocency > himself
as Isaac and Rebecca lived faithfully together, so these persons > living faithfully together, they
Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob > our fathers
Look, O Lord, mercifully upon them from heaven, and bless them. And as thou didst send thy blessing upon Abraham and Sarah, to their great comfort, so vouchsafe to send thy blessing upon these thy servants; that they > that so, … they
who by thy mighty power hast made all things of nothing; who also (after other things set in order) didst appoint, that out of man (created after thine own image and similitude) woman should take her beginning; and, knitting them together, didst teach > who hast taught us
who at the beginning did create our first parents, Adam and Eve, and did sanctify and join them together in marriage > the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

It amazes me that these abbreviations remove every one of the Old Testament references!  If I were the Chief Rabbi (who was in attendance at the wedding), and had this brought to my attention, I suppose I would be both rather annoyed at this suppression of tradition, if unsurprised at Gentiles doing this: the Anglican liturgical revisers of the twenties appear almost Marcionist in their determination to delete Jewish references.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

As a loyal subject, I (and half the world) watched the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and (as she now is) Catherine, Duchess of the same.  How handy is the Internet!  I had the Order of Service before me, thanks to the Guardian's website; and, having the 1662 Marriage Service looked up also, I realized that it was basically that, albeit somewhat edited (and filled out with sundry anthems).  Next, I realized that it was probably what a quick search of my bookshelf, and then the Internet, confirmed: it was the Alternative Form of Solemnization of Matrimony, from the 1928 Proposed B.C.P.

Most startlingly to me, the principal difference between the 1662 and the 1928 services is that the latter omits every one of the former's references to Old Testament persons whose history and example are so important: Adam and Eve; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Isaac and Rebecca; Abraham and Sarah. It also omits reference to God as Creator of all things out of nothing, as maker of man in His own image, and of woman from man, and of "the time of man's innocency".  How shocking, that as far back as 1928 all such Scriptural references were deleted.  What a dreadful commentary on liturgical reform so-called.

But stay!  There were some interesting differences and augmentations also present in to-day's royal wedding.  Some were beautiful, but not of great import: as the singing of an anthem and hymn at the entrance into the Abbey, before the service proper; and likewise the singing of the National Anthem (The Queen of course being present) and another anthem, followed by solemn musick, after the final blessing.  I believe it is a longstanding Anglican custom to interlard the service with congregational hymns – which sufficiently explains the hymn after the blessing "God the Father, God the Son..." about half-way through (which marks the break between the two halves of the service), and the hymn before the final collect and blessing.

The two notable inserts into the service were, firstly, the blessing of the ring, and, secondly, the insertion of a Lesson and Address (each accompanied by an anthem) where the 1928 form of service contemplates only a psalm (Ps 128 or 67) – which presumably the centonized anthem "This is the day", drawn from divers psalms, replaced.  It appears that, rather than read a passage of Holy Writ, or the Address as given in 1662, or a Sermon at the very end of all, as the 1928 proposes, the decision was taken to have the Word proclaimed and preached between the two halves of the service – which worked well.

(It ought of course be recognized that the Anglican marriage service descends from the Sarum forms used to marry couples and then to bless their union during the ensuing Nuptial Mass: that is why the couple approached the altar for the various prayers at the end.)

I did feel a bit annoyed, it must be said, to see the rather anti-Catholic, and very anti-Ordinariate, Bishop of London preach, though his words were quite decent.

But most interesting to this liturgically-minded person was the unexpected blessing of the ring – because neither the 1662 nor the 1928 provide any such prayer.  It appears that it instead is a conflation of the prayer provided for this in the 1929 Scottish BCP with that in the 1928 US BCP, as follows:
Scottish 1929 BCP:
BLESS this ring, O merciful Lord, that he who giveth and she who weareth it may ever be faithful one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1928 US BCP:
BLESS, O Lord, this Ring, that he who gives it and she who wears it may abide in thy peace, and continue in thy favour, unto their life's end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The prayer used at the royal wedding:
BLESS, O Lord, this ring, and grant that he who gives it and she who shall wear it may remain faithful to each other, and abide in thy peace and favour, and live together in love until their lives’ end. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Of course, these forms all stem from the Latin original: 
Benedic, Domine, annulum hunc, quem nos in tuo nomine benedicimus, ut quæ eum gestaverit, fidelitatem integram suo sponso tenens, in pace et voluntate tua permaneat, atque in mutuali caritate semper vivat.  Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Or, if there be two rings:
Benedic, Domine, annulos hos, quos nos in tuo nomine benedicimus, ut qui eos gestaverint, fidelitatem integram suis sponsis tenentes, in pace et voluntate tua permaneant, atque in mutuali caritate semper vivant.  Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
All very interesting. Some more researching has discovered to me that this prayer is found, together with the 1928 form for marriage, in the form for marriage provided by the Church of England as one of its Alternative Services, Series One, which essentially at last made fully licit the 1928 Proposed BCP.  The interpolations mentioned above, however, must be a result of flexible rubrical interpretation.

God bless the happy couple: now united in marriage at last, after quite enough practising, as the Prince of Wales slyly but all too truly remarked some time ago.  Then again, he is hardly in a position to criticise: it struck me most forcibly what a liar he is known by all men to be, given that he, too, at his wedding to the late Princess Diana, was asked somewhat as follows (if they too used the 1928 service or similar):
I REQUIRE and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgement when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in matrimony, ye do now confess it. For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God’s word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their matrimony lawful.
Charles... wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife... and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?
For it is notorious that he was even then in the midst of an ongoing adulterous affair.  Indeed, from a Catholic viewpoint the first marriages of both Charles and Camilla would be easily found invalid on such grounds – with the result that their current union probably could be validated.  How ironic.

Her Majesty is now getting on in years, but hopefully long still to reign over us; a nice short reign for Charles, with his Princess Consort, would suffice for all and sundry to bear with; and all I think even now look forward further, as William and his Catherine should serve as King and Queen consort splendidly.

Thank God that referendum for a republic failed.  The monarchy has served us well, and it is doubtful that a better arrangement could be devised in the present state of the world (much as a Catholic monarchy would be preferable).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Neale & Littledale's Commentary on the Psalms

My thanks to Lancelot Andrewes Press: thanks to the sky-high Aussie dollar (now worth more than the greenback, owing to continued U.S. economic decline), I have been able to afford to purchase their 1999 facsimile reprint in hardback of Neale and Littledale's magisterial Commentary on the Psalms (3rd edition, 1874), a set of volumes I've wanted for years, owing to their excellent focus on the spiritual interpretation of the Psalms drawn from Patristic and mediæval writers and liturgical sources.  I just picked up the parcel and unpacked them to-day.

Terra, if you read this, may I recommend these to you, if you don't already have a copy or access to them?


The Italians call Easter Monday Pasquetta, or Little Easter; and it was celebrated beautifully at St Aloysius, with the last Pontifical Mass for the visit of Bishop Meeking from Christchurch. (There was still to come a Pontifical Low Mass on Easter Tuesday, but I attended an earlier Low Mass instead.)  As seems the usual length, Mass, beginning at 10:30am, took an hour and a half, and was followed by a parish picnic in the grounds of Maryvale: a very merry affair, with good wine and good company; some of us remained till after sunset past 6 o'clock.  Being invited for dinner that evening, I went and read the Hours back in church to use the time intervening profitably.  What can I say but that it was a very pleasant meal that followed, a chance to thank and enjoy the converse of priests and laymen, some of whom I hadn't seen for years, some of whom were new acquaintances.  It was midnight before Pasquetta ended for me as I returned to my accommodation for sleep.

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.

Good Friday in Melbourne at St Aloysius

By the time I reached the apartment where I was staying, and had a very late dinner, it was almost midnight on Thursday; so I awoke fairly late on Good Friday morning.  I had intended to read Matins and Lauds, but in the event I only had time for the Little Hours – for, after attending Stations of the Cross back at St Aloysius at 10:30am, which took half an hour, and then getting coffee and a hot cross bun for breakfast, I ended up joining the ad hoc schola for Easter Sunday's coming services, and we practiced the Mass and Vesper music for a good two hours and more.  I had barely enough time to go back to my quarters and change into a suit for the afternoon's solemn service.  So much for my intention of reading over Dix's masterful sermons for the Three Hours' Devotion...

The Commemoration of the Passion lasted two and a half hours: it is always a long, sombre service; the sung Gospel (the crowd parts in polyphony), a short sermon, the solemn prayers, the Reproaches whilst we crept to the Cross, the Communion, all was rightfully lengthy and fatiguing – for there was One Who hung on the Rood three hours, long ago.

After the liturgy, hot soup and hot cross buns were available for the weary faithful; after a rest at my apartment, I returned for Tenebræ (8:00-9:50pm).  I must say, I always find Tenebræ a very difficult service to appreciate intellectually, especially as one must concentrate so hard on properly chanting the psalms, without the time to savour them, and especially as the particular choice of Lessons from Lamentations and St Augustine I find difficult to appreciate, as to the meaning of the words selected; but the emotional impact of this worship is great: the chanting of the Lamentations, Victoria's settings of the Responsories in particular, and the ever-deepening darkness, till the final candle is hidden, the strepitus terrifies, and then the light returns.

Maundy Thursday Memories

I had a rather hair-raising drive to the airport last Thursday, but a good flight.  It now strikes me as strange, when I fly Qantas, to find that the cabin crew distribute food and drink gratis; which shews how much I've become used to travel on budget airlines.  Arriving at Tullamarine, I discovered how very difficult – and expensive – it is to try and find a car to rent over the very busy Easter holiday break.  Suffice it to say I paid out a painfully large sum in order to get transport.

The benefit of arranging my own wheels, though, was great; having navigated successfully along the half-remembered route to St Aloysius from the airport (but, as I remembered too many days too late, forgetting to pay the toll – and thus I daily expect a fine to arrive in the mail), I reached church with plenty of time.  Best of all, my friend David Schütz (of Sentire cum Ecclesia) had decided to come along, having read my stated intention on an earlier post here on Psallite Sapienter (so at least this blog does fulfil some useful role).  We sat right up the front, especially because, most unexpectedly, we were asked to make up the number of twelve men to have their feet washed.

Solemn Pontifical Mass of the Lord's Supper began at eight.  As always, the liturgy was excellently celebrated, with soulful plainchant Ordinary and Proper: how could the heart not melt at the Introit Nos autem, or the Gradual Christus factus est?  Come the Maundy, I went forward somewhat embarrassed to have an elderly bishop wash my foot... it reminded me of being in Melbourne a decade or so ago, and in successive years having first Pell, and then Hart do the same to me at the Cathedral.

Greatly to my surprise, Bishop Meeking gave me a coin (20c) as a maundy after washing my foot!  I know that the royal practice is to do so; is there something in the Ceremoniale Episcoporum about this?

Having sung only Gregorian till then, the choir repeated Ubi caritas first in plainsong, then according to Durufle's masterful setting.

Meeking gave an excellent sermon, short, doctrinally rich, pointing out how the Mass was instituted by Christ as Sacrament and Sacrifice – how the Mass is not a mere Communion Service, a repetition of the Last Supper considered by itself, but rather of what the Last Supper embodies: the making present (at the Last Supper of what was about to happen on Good Friday, at every Mass since of what was offered then) of Christ's self-oblation consummated on Calvary, so that the Flesh and Blood we receive is the One Sacrifice, the One Victim Who is everlastingly our Priest.  For this reason, when we do this as His anamnesis, Christ Himself is present as the Sacrifice offered, a sweet-smelling offering acceptable unto God.  (Schütz remarked afterward that this is of course but the Catechism preached; as I responded, the sad truth is how little it is preached.)

David whispered, as we craned our necks to look at His Lordship in the high pulpit, "It's been a long time since I've had to look up for a sermon!"

Again, the choir curiously enough first sang the Offertory in chant, then repeated the same text in what I think was a setting by Palestrina: I wondered if it would have been plus simple et plus uni to sing it but once.

What more to say?  The Preface sung was proper to Maundy Thursday, being one of those pro aliquibus locis.

I have always been moved by the proper parts infra Actionis for Holy Thursday: in the Communicantes: “et diem sacratissimum celebrantes, quo DNJC pro nobis est traditus: sed”; in the Hanc igitur: “ob diem, in qua DNJC tradidit discipulis suis Corporis et Sanguinis sui mysteria celebranda”; and in the Qui pridie: “Qui pridie, quam pro nostra omniumque salute pateretur, hoc est, hodie”.

Being Holy Thursday evening, there was no dona nobis pacem in the Agnus Dei, nor prayer for peace, nor sign of peace, on this night of the Judas kiss.

Mass concluded with the usual procession to the altar of repose (the new side altar of Bl John Henry Newman, patron of the Melbourne Latin Mass community), again with both Gregorian chant for the hymn and a polyphonic encore.

After Mass and procession, which took one and a half hours (a very good length, given the special ceremonies of the evening and the fact that a bishop celebrated), there came next the Stripping of the Altars (we monotoned Psalm 21 throughout) and Compline (again monotoned): Confiteor, Misisereatur, Indulgentiam; Pss 4, 90, 133 and the Nunc dimittis (none with Gloria of course); the antiphon Christus factus est; a silent Pater noster; and the Visita qms (with conclusion silent).

The public service concluded at about 10:05pm; I spoke with David outside, then returned to read over John 13-17, Our Lord's last discourse to His disciples (in some liturgical rites, this was done on Holy Thursday, and I like to do the same – particularly as it leads into the Passion to be read on the morrow), and to go to confession.  I received good advice from Father: prayer is the sovereign remedy against temptation: pray until temptation goes away. I left Church at about 11pm.  Partly in Church, and partly afterward, I read over the penitential psalms, as also was the practice of old time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Back from Easter

A very busy five days in Melbourne: to and from St Aloysius for Masses and devotions, from Holy Thursday to Easter Tuesday.  I was quite tired when I finally arrived home last night.

P.S. A special thank you to Jennifer, who kindly shouted me lunch yester-day!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

To Melbourne for Easter

My day at work over, I'll dash off to the airport for the 4:50pm flight to Melbourne, and hopefully by 8pm I'll be at St Aloysius, North Caulfield, for the Mass of Holy Thursday.

The Triduum promises to be particularly solemn, given that the emeritus Bishop of Christchurch is pontificating at all the services: Mass to-night, the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion and Tenebræ to-morrow, the Vigil on Saturday night, then Easter Mass (with Terce and Procession) and Vespers on Sunday.

I look forward to seeing my Melbourne friends; pray that I make a good end to Lent, and see the Resurrection.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Augustine, Tersteegen, Wesley

Having been away on retreat, while there, perusing a hymnal, I came upon a splendid hymn, very Augustinian I thought, given the lines "My heart is pained, nor can it be / At rest, till it finds rest in Thee" (cf. his Confessions, 1.1.1.), written by the Pietist Gerhard Tersteegen, translated by Wesley, and set to a good German tune harmonized by Bach – how ecumenical! how evangelical! – and must therefore share this gem, which to me seems redolent of the heart's fearful fumbling quest for God while still amidst this world's allurements:

Thou hidden Love of God, whose height,
Whose depth unfathomed no one knows,
I see from far Thy beauteous light,
And inly sigh for Thy repose;
My heart is pained, nor can it be
At rest, till it finds rest in Thee.

Thy secret voice invites me still
The sweetness of Thy yoke to prove;
And fain I would; but though my will
Seems fixed, yet wide my passions rove;
Yet hindrances strew all the way;
I aim at Thee, yet from Thee stray.

’Tis mercy all that Thou has brought
My mind to seek its peace in Thee;
Yet while I seek, but find Thee not,
No peace my wandering soul shall see.
O when shall all my wanderings end,
And all my steps to Theeward tend?

Is there a thing beneath the sun
That strives with Thee my heart to share?
Ah, tear it thence and reign alone,
The Lord of every motion there;
Then shall my heart from earth be free,
When it hath found repose in Thee.

O hide this self from me, that I
No more, but Christ in me, may live!
My vile affections crucify,
Nor let one darling lust survive
In all things nothing may I see,
Nothing desire or seek, but Thee!

O Love, Thy sovereign aid impart
To save me from low thoughted care;
Chase this self will from all my heart,
From all its hidden mazes there;
Make me Thy duteous child that I
Ceaseless may Abba, Father cry.

Ah no! ne’er will I backward turn:
Thine wholly, Thine alone I am!
Thrice happy he who views with scorn
Earth’s toys, for Thee his constant flame;
O help that I may never move
From the blest footsteps of Thy love!

Each moment draw from earth away
My heart that lowly waits Thy call;
Speak to my inmost soul and say,
I am thy love, thy God, thy all!
To feel Thy power, to hear Thy voice,
To taste Thy love, be all my choice.

A suitable song with which to finish the course of Lent, and prepare for the great days of Holy Week, now opened with Palm Sunday Mass this morning.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

To Hobart and Back for Mass

I was lucky this morning, lucky not to be late for Mass, since I drove down with a fairly late start, and fortunately made excellent time (the drive, via Richmond, taking two and a half hours), so that I still had a quarter-hour before Mass to get dressed up to be M.C. for the Missa cantata – and I'm glad to do so, as it does seem to be a help to our priest.