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.
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.]

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Psalm of the Scourging

That devout man, the Servant of God Don Giulio Tomasi, Prince of Lampedusa, used the following prayer, based on Psalm 50, when commemorating the scourging of Our Lord at the pillar:

Miserere mei, Deus, secundum copiosam redemptionem tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem plagarum tuarum, sana infirmitates meas.
Amplius lava me Sanguine tuo: et cruore vulnerum tuorum munda me.
Quoniam languores meos in te cognosco; dolores tui fuerunt pro me semper.
Tibi soli non fuit peccatum; nec malum unquam fecisti: ut justificeris in operibus tuis; et vincas cum judicaris.
Ecce enim absque iniquitate conceptus es; et ex Spiritu Sancto concepit te Mater tua.
Ecce enim animam meam dilexisti; et in Cruce amorem tuum manifestasti mihi.
Asperges me Sanguine tuo, et mundabor: lavabis me; et super nivem dealbabor.
Auditui meo dedisti verba lætitiæ; quando erant in Cruce ossa exaltata.
Avertisti faciem tuam a peccatis meis: et chirographum mortis meæ delesti.
Cor tuum apertum ostendisti mihi; et spiritum misericordiæ in visceribus tuis.
Ne excludas me a fructu Sanguinis tui; et gratiam redemptionis tuæ ne auferas a me.
Redde mihi antiquas misericordias tuas: et spiritu amoris tui confirma me.
Docebo iniquos pietatem tuam; et impii percutientes pectora sua, revertentur.
Libera me, ne sim reus Sanguinis tui, Deus salutis meæ; et exaltabit lingua mea misericordiam tuam.
Domine, labia tua in Cruce aperuisti; et os tuum oravit pro salvatione mea.
Quoniam si damnare voluisses, fecisses utique; morte peccatorum non delectaberis.
Sacrificium acceptabile Deo, mors tua: cor tuum apertum, et lanceatum, Deus non despiciet.
Benigne vitam tuam pro me obtulisti; et coram omnibus gentibus extra muros Hierusalem.
Tunc acceptatum est sacrificium misericordiæ pro oblationibus, et holocaustis: et tu fuisti super altare Crucis, pro omnibus vitulus. 
(Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy copious redemption. 
And according to the multitude of thy wounds, heal my infirmities.
Wash me yet more with thy Blood, and cleanse me with the gore of thy wounds.
For I know my sufferings in thee, thy sorrows were always for me.
In thee alone was no sin, nor didst thou any evil: that thou mayst be justified in thy works and mayst overcome when thou art judged. 
For behold without iniquity thou wast conceived; and by the Holy Ghost did thy mother conceive thee.
For behold thou hast loved my soul: and on the Cross thy love thou hast made manifest to me.
Thou shalt sprinkle me with thy Blood, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.
To my hearing thou didst give words of gladness: for on the Cross thy bones were exalted.
Turn away thy face from my sins, and blot out the handwriting of my death.
Thy heart laid open thou didst shew unto me; and the spirit of mercy within thy bowels.
Exclude me not from the fruit of thy Blood; and take not the grace of thy redemption from me.
Restore unto me thy mercies of old: and strengthen me with the spirit of thy love.
I will teach the unjust thy kindness; and the wicked striking their breasts shall be converted.
Deliver me, lest I be guilty of thy Blood, O God of my salvation; and my tongue shall extol thy mercy.
O Lord, thou didst open thy lips on the Cross: and thy mouth didst pray for my salvation.
For if thou hadst desired to damn, thou would indeed have done it: with the death of sinners thou wilt not be delighted.
A sacrifice acceptable to God is thy death: thine opened and lance-pierced heart God shall not despise.
Favourably thou didst offer thy life for me; and before all the nations outside the walls of Jerusalem.
Then was accepted the sacrifice of mercy in place of oblations and whole burnt offerings: and thou wast upon the altar of the Cross, in place of all bullocks.)

Bunyip Aristocracy

Aristocracy, as the Philosopher says, is the rule of the best; to-day, we have representative democracy, whereby certain elite groups compete to receive the fabled popular mandate. Tolkien said that he would prefer unconstitutional monarchy – and rulership of the sort displayed in his fiction, which seemed to mean that day-to-day affairs were almost unaffected by any government at all, most of all in the Shire, seems an excellent suggestion in these days of creeping totalitarianism. O for the days when the tithe was all the tax we paid!

Wentworth was lampooned when, in the debates before New South Wales (and several other Australian colonies) attained responsible government in the 1850's, he proposed an hereditary Upper House, after the model of the Lords in London (not of Lord's in London). This was thought ridiculous, a bunyip aristocracy of jumped-up Rum Corps profiteers and squatters, as odd as a platypus and about as useful.

But since our Prime Minister has fittingly restored knighthoods in the Order of Australia, our own home-grown system of awarding merit in right of the Crown, it amuses me to speculate on yet further prime ministerial largesse, should a Menzies-like longevity attend his time as the Queen's First Minister Downunder. Just what would an Australian peerage look like?

Peerages these days are titles and nothing else: I seem to recall that the last time a nobleman used the privilege of trial by his peers – the House of Lords – was back in the fifties or earlier; rights such as personal access to the Sovereign have fallen into desuetude; and the right most associated with power and authority, that of sitting in the House of Lords, has been taken away – only ninety or so hereditary Lords (elected by polling the peerage) still ornament that chamber named after their number. Of course it all went downhill when the mitred abbots were removed at the Reformation…

No rival to the Senate is proposed; merely that the particularly great and good (let's be honest, those great in donating to worthy causes, such as political parties, as well as those actually or merely seemingly good according to this world's passing standards) ought get not merely a knighthood but a dukedom. After all, who doesn't like Downton Abbey?

Having inquired to a very small degree, I find the surviving aristocracy of the Old Country has a little over eight hundred members (including Irish titles). For some reason, there are almost 70% more earls than viscounts, despite viscount being a lesser title than earl (then again, the name of viscount is a Continental importation, as is marquess, a rank for those not really suitable as dukes); otherwise, there are very roughly half as many peers in each succeeding rank, from the 450 barons (or Scottish Lords of Parliament) to the 24 non-royal dukes.

Now, as Australia has about one-third the population of the British Isles, it seems fair and proportionate to imagine a future local meritocratic peerage of about 280 members, allotted in proportion to state and territory populations, allowing each state at least one (so Tasmania would one day have a duke – no, not that impostor the Duke of Avram, a former state parliamentarian – even though our population is so small). I spare gentle readers the calculations; suffice it to say that Her Majesty would be asked to ennoble sufficient persons of merit that this nation gain 10 dukes, 19 marquesses, 36 earls, 71 viscounts and 143 barons…

Succession to these peerages would, of course, be open to the oldest child or nearest relative regardless of gender (a fraught issue these days in any case), unless, say, Countess Greer would wish to place her earldom off-limits to males. And it would be a matter for ecumenical consultation to see how Catholic and Anglican bishops (and abbots) would be ranked alongside the Lords temporal. Do cardinals outrank dukes?

I predict that, whatever the whining of lefties and the cultural Irish (it pleases me to imagine the outpourings of bile at the ABC), it would be quite remarkable how many fervent republicans would snap up the titles on offer; and titles would be all they would be, in plain truth, so how cheap and cheerful a present to offer to leading persons - it could help Lord Carr get an upgrade on Emirates from business to first class, for example, lest he suffer, poor man. After all, the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition was fairly muted in his criticism of knighthoods, since his mother-in-law was the first to receive one and is now a Dame.

I would retain but one restriction corresponding to the very nature of the British nobility - as they cannot sit in the House of Commons, not being commoners, neither should any future Australian title-holders be permitted to hold elected office (needed, a declaratory Act to this effect): thus Clive, Marquess of Coolum, would have to relinquish his seat in the House of Representatives upon his accession to so titanic a dignity; but of course he could still manipulate his and another party's Senators behind the scenes, in the best tradition of the Whig and Tory aristocrats of old. Many likewise would rejoice at a peerage for Senator Abetz, not least his colleagues.

Finally and most nobly, in parallel to their British titles, the members of the Royal Family could each receive a royal dukedom here: Charles could be fittingly created Duke of New South Wales (for like a Botany Bay convict he's certainly doing his time, if not in exile, yet in waiting for the throne so many years), Philip Duke of Queensland (a nice pun, that), Anne Duchess of Victoria (fittingly for a female descendent of that monarch), Andrew Duke of Tasmania, Edward Duke of South Australia, William Duke of Western Australia (full of Poms as it is), Harry Duke of the Northern Territory (given his wild adventures), and dear little George Duke of the Australian Capital Territory – how fitting for our future King George VII, long may he one day reign.

I assume there is no need to pass legislation to enable all this fantasy, since the Sovereign is the fount of all honour and it would need but the respectful advice of the Prime Minister to move the Crown to issue the patents of nobility of some bunyip aristocracy. Unlike the American, our Constitution does not forbid such grants being one day made; and Malaysia, for example, has not merely its several state sovereigns, but an elected monarch and also titles of honour and nobility, so we would be but better inculturating ourselves into the Asian area – is not Thailand, too, a monarchy? Japan an Empire (I mean, a land with an emperor)? and Brunei the equivalent of a grand duchy? does not a Sultan still reside at Yogyakarta and hold court? – by developing our own analogues to such titles.

We nowadays solemnly recognise the fabled Dreamtime, its Rainbow Serpents and mythic creatures, in ritual moments opening civic and state occasions; likewise we love and retell tales of the bunyip and the banksia men; we mock not but value the platypus and the echidna, lament the passing of the Tasmanian tiger, and emblazon the kangaroo and emu as the supporters of our national coat of arms (as neither animal can walk backwards).

Forwards then to such a future, towards a true culture of entitlement!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Compline and Stations

Another pleasant evening: first we practised, then we sang Compline, followed by Stations of the Cross, with an English version of the Stabat Mater, and, to conclude, the Vexilla Regis and Christus factus est.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Passion Sunday Missa Cantata

A good showing for our Passion Sunday Missa cantata at St Canice – fifty or more (including the many children), with a pleasing sound from our choir and a sterling performance on the part of our servers. I've had a most pleasant weekend in every respect, though I did need to dash back from Hobart (where I dropped off a very dear friend at the airport to await her flight) in order to get back in time to attend a dinner for my parish priest's ordination anniversary in Launceston.