2 July 2009

Dies triplex

Yesterday, up the road to the Oxford Oratory for the Requiem and Funeral ceremonies of a Roman Catholic parishioner, Mr Paul Mellins. Paul had stipulated (liturgical orthopraxy is in the very air of West Oxford) that his exsequies should be according to the old rite; and how decently it was done. Low Mass with a cantor; the Roman liturgical tradition at its very finest - so dignified, restrained, objective; nothing but the certainty of death and judgement and the fact of Man's sin, Man's need, God's mercy.

The rite ended with a champagne reception, which I sadly had to miss to hurry back to S Thomas's for the Wednesday 12.30 Mass. Fort the first time since the 1960s I observed the Feast of the Most Precious Blood - and what a fine way that is to start July. What glories Bugnini robbed us of; this celebration of the shed blood of the suffering Redeemer which for ever speaks for us before the Father's throne. Incidentally, the Lauds Office hymn is a beautiful expression of the spirituality of the devotion to the Five Wounds, which so animated our Anglican Catholic forefathers in their rebellions against the Tudor tyrannies. Three cheers for Pio Nono, one of my favourite pontiffs.

Viva viva Gesu; S Alfonso's lovely hymn to the Precious Blood (Caswall translation) began another manifestation of West Oxford liturgical orthopraxy, the celebration by our Apostolic Administrator of the Silver Jubilee of his Sacerdotal Ordination. S Barnabas' was packed with clergy and faithful laity who were edified by a homily preached by Bishop Keith, of the Richborough Apostolic District, naturally very relevant to the Year of the Priest proclaimed by our Holy Father, and by a Solemn Pontifical Mass which represented the very best of all that is meant by the Reform of the Reform. It concluded with Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Solemn Pontifical Benediction, and the presentation of flowers at the feet of our Lady while the choir sang Ave Maria.

Since Bishop Andrew is a distiguished musiclogist, our aural appetites were not starved. I felt the welcome presence of the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the contribution to it of early recusant England; two hymns by S Alfonso; music by Byrd and Tallis and de Victoria (long a favourite of Bishop Andrew). And the Avignon origins of so much that we love in the Counter-Reformation was represented by the Anima Christi attributed to Pope John XXII "arr. AB".

Bishop Andrew observes "A polyphonic Sanctus is designed to be sung over a silent canon and a polyphonic Benedictus is intrinsically a meditation on the eucharistic presence while the canon proceeds". And that is what we had. Memories of days as an Anglo-Catholic undergraduate were revived by hearing the propers sung according to the psalm tones.

For liturgical pundits, a rarely observed ritual was the rite described in the Appendix 77 of some editions of the Caeremoniale Episcoporum, the one headed De floribus ad uxorem Pontificis deferendis in Iubilaeo celebrando.


Anonymous said...

Sounds grand! Did it commence with Sacerdos et Pontifex and Ecce Sacerdos magnus? Plainchant, Elgar, Perosi, Victoria, Langlais? I hope plainchant - alas, no one seems to do the plainchant version anymore. F. Burgess made a fabulous English arrangement of the plainchant nearly a century ago.

Unknown said...

There is an article by me about Francis Burgess in the curent edition of the magazine of the Guild of Church Musicians. It is a scandal that those "Liturgical Choir Books" of his are now almost impossible to obtain (although I have virtually a complete set of single copies). In their time they were an invaluable resource for choirs of limited means and there wasn't much alternative. I suspect that such places that still do plainchant for such occasions will probably be using the more complicated, orginal chants from the Lieber &c., in Latin these days.

Chris said...

This lot, you mean? https://www.rscmshop.com/acatalog/MusicfortheLiturgy-Plainsong.html

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info Malcolm - is the article available on line?

For a small parish or the large one without lots of musical talent, simplified books like Burgess' (English) and William E. Campbell's or Rossini's (Latin) Propers are the only way to go. Rossini is recently reprinted but is deficient in many respects - Holy Week for one. Lancelot Andrews Press has prepared English Propers books for print on demand at "LuLu." Spiral bound and well worth the price with gorgeous woodcuts from the original "Anglican Missal" (1921). Still, they lack the Sacerdos et Pontifex, Ecce Sacerdos magnus, Confirma hoc and the tone for Pontifical blessings (I don't know a bishop who sings it right, they seem to think the final interval should be a perfect fifth).

Unknown said...

It is good to see that at least some of it can still be obtained but there is so very much more that is not listed.
If you e-mail the editor of Laudate (Dr Michael Walsh) at laudate@musicprint.org
he will happily send a copy of the article to you. I have spoken to him about it this morning. The article does not say a lot about the set-up that you won't already know because I was unable to find out anything very much about Burgess as a person but I do list every publication I am aware of - some of which has never been in the main catalogue on the famous old yellow covers.
A possible source of getting odd copies of items from this list may be Richard Banres who runs a firm called Cathedral Music, just outside Chichester. He is extremely helpful and can be contacted on 01243 379968. If there is anything he hasn't got he will probaly contact me!

Apologies to Fr Hunwicke for my appearing to hijack his blog in this way. I hope to be at Mass in St T's on eithe Wed or Fri next week.

Unknown said...

(I meant, of course, Richard Barnes; my typing is not so good as my organ playing!)

Unknown said...

Caeremoniale Episcoporum, the one headed De floribus ad uxorem Pontificis deferendis in Iubilaeo celebrando.

wwhats that mean, please?

Chris said...

De floribus ad uxorem Pontificis deferendis in Iubilaeo celebrando.

I make it "Of the giving of flowers to the Bishop's wife at the celebration of a Jubilee."

William said...

Though I confess I haven't checked, this particular rite is not, I think, to be found in recent editions of the Caeremoniale.