24 October 2010


Old Rite High Mass (but Westward-facing) at Blackfriars this morning, in honour of the Oxford Martyrs; and, in particular, of Bl George Napier, martyred 400 years ago next month.

The three sacred ministers were apparently all Preachers, but the Mass was not in the old Dominican rite, which I recall going to as an undergraduate in the early 1960s. What a pity; through its relationship with the rite of Paris, it had similarities with the Sarum rite. Seeing it, one realised what a revolution it must have been when the Seminary priests first brought the Mass of S Pius V across. Don't bother to remind me that, textually, the Sarum rite was merely a dialect of the Roman rite; the point is that it must, at first, have looked very strange ... all those genuflexions, for example. A real dash of discontinuity.

Another discontinuity is the style of some of these post-Summorum pontificum masses. Those with memories of the pre-Conciliar culture will recall the brisk naturalness with which liturgy was done in the fifties and sixties. Nowadays, the revived pre-Conciliar rite is often done in a very different manner. The Consecrations are sometimes terribly long; and not only the Consecrations. I do hope that, in getting rid of the ethos of "Look what a jolly compere I am as I leer at you across the Altar", we shan't be lumbered too permanently with an ethos of "Look how immensely slow and recollected I am as I take three minutes to get through the Qui pridie".

I certainly recall, from the 'fifties, clergy who said Mass with an almost sacrilegious rapidity; as if they felt that this would increase their popularity among the Sons of Erin gathered around their Patron Saint at the back of the church, all itching to hurry to the bookie's runner as soon as the last Gospel started. But that was an abusus qui non debet tollere usum; one of the characteristics of the Roman rite in all ages has been its unshowy matter-of-factness, and it would be a shame to lose this.

Do they use E Bishop in seminary teaching of Liturgy nowadays? Dix, no mean mystagogue himself, thought of Bishop as the Prince of all liturgists.


Anonymous said...

Oxford - and Paris too. A full Dominican Rite high mass, F.Extraord. of course, has just been celebrated this morning at the incomparable parish church of Saint Eugène-Sainte Cècile in the 9th Arr, complete with authentic Dominican plainchant propers and ordinary. And the usual sprinkling of C18th (French) motets. Celebrant a priest of the Fraternité Saint-Vincent-Ferrier.

The "XXth Sunday after the Octave of Trinity" of course.

Very grand.

Fr Daniel Lloyd said...

A cheering excerpt on Roger of Salisbury (d. 1139) from the old DNB:

"The future king, Henry I, chanced, while riding out from Caen, to turn aside to this chapel to hear mass. Roger, guessing the temper of his audience, went through the service with such speed that they declared him the very man for a soldier's chaplain, and Henry took him into his service".

pipesmoker said...

I thought for a fleeting moment that E Bishop was an online liturgy course; thank God he's a scolar!

Joshua said...

I know several Friars Preachers in Australia who celebrate their Rite; as their Provincial said, if they are to use the EF, it ought be the Dominican, not the Roman.

Yes, Dominican High Mass is rather fun, with the Mass of the Catechumens enlivened by lots of processions up to the altar to discover if there really is a chalice there under the veil, and, if so, what's in it...


Oh, and doesn't St Alphonsus recommend saying Low Mass in half an hour?

As for High Mass, there is the lamentable tendency to take too long over it much in evidence in Australia too: High Mass doesn't really need to take more than an hour, after all.

But do recall that unfamiliarity with the Byzantine complexity of the ceremonial, after the severe simplicity of the Novus Ordo, really does slow down priests unless they say the Trad. Mass daily...

Unknown said...

Amen to the speed issue. I love assisting at a Mass (Low or High or whatever) in which the celebrant knows how to actually say the Mass. There is something truly beautiful about a well said Mass that clips right along.

When I first attended the TLM, I thought it was "rushed" at first but then when my ear became more accustomed to Latin, I found that it was not rushed at all but that it should be at a faster cadence. I also love that more than one thing can be done at a time, the silence then comes naturally. At a NO, it seems so contrived.

Sir Watkin said...

the silence then comes naturally. At a NO, it seems so contrived

A most acute observation.

Richard Hawker said...

I am happen to know that particular celebrant very well indeed- I am his community's sacristan , and he also recieved me into the Church. I answer his Mass most days, which is in the Dominican Rite, and I can inform you, he does everything slowly and with great care, whether it is liturgical or not! Also it was my rather Pugin-esque Alb he was wearing for the Mass.

I think the reason that particular Mass is in the Roman and not Dominican Form, is that, at it's inception, not all of the Sacred Ministers were actually Dominicans. However, since that now seems to be the standard thing, I wonder if the organisers can be leaned on to allowing abit of Dominican Patrimony... I was disappointed that we didn't sing the Dominican Salve even once, even though we sang the Salve several times.

The other thing to bear in mind of course, is that the Order is still somewhat ambiguous about it's heritage, and the celebration of the Rite is a somewhat delicate situation- safer rather to use the EF, I think.

Cecilia said...

When our usual priest is away, we occasionally have a Dominican Low Mass in Cambridge at 9.15 on a Sunday morning at St Laurence's.

Joshua said...

I do wish one of the more traditional Dominicans were closer by - I do prefer the Dominican Low Mass to the Roman, actually.

Rather than spend ages over the Judica me, it's just a quick Confiteor &c. after mixing the chalice, then the Introit... the Offertory is similarly brief... the essential structure of the Roman Mass stands out more clearly.

The Raven (C. Corax) said...

I understand that the Dominicans in Leicester were asked by the Bishop (also a Dominican) to start saying the old Mass to fill a pastoral need (nothing at all to do with the SSPX setting up shop down the road, honest guv).

The Leicester Dominicans originally started by saying Mass in the Dominican Rite, but I understand that Fr Radcliffe instructed them to use the Roman Rite instead.

That said, when I was last there, the Mass was in the gloriously unreformed Dominican Rite: I assume that Fr Radcliffe's successor as Master of the Order in England has relaxed his predecessor's ban on the use of the rite here.

davidforster said...

I don't think you can blame the organizers for this mass not being Dominican rite - each year, in the sacristy, we say that perhaps next year it can be Dominican ... I'm getting the impression that it would be impolitic, within the Order, for it to be so at the moment. But the younger Dominicans seem to know clearly what the differences would be, so I suspect it's only a matter of time.

Slow as Fr Crean was in his celebration, we were still waiting for the choir to finish at several points - the polyphony seemed rather slow to those of us at the sanctuary end.

Sadie Vacantist said...

One and half hours is not unusual for NO vernacular Mass. Institution of the Eucharist is now dominated by an interminable baby blessing ceremony.

Anonymous said...

Here in America, friars in the Western Province are free to celebrate the Dominican rite Mass when they wish. There are a handful of churches where it is celebrated publicly on Sundays.

General permission for friars in the Eastern Province is supposed to be coming soon. They already have a nice tutorial for it on their website:


Richard Hawker said...

To the Raven:
Yes that was the case, in the Summorum Pontificum days- they started with the Dominican Rite, then switched to the Roman- my understanding was that it was due to the absence of permission of the Provincial; so they switched to the Roman. However, subsequently, individual Friars have been granted permission to say it, and do. I know of others that prefer, for now, to say the Roman form.

However, it wouldn't have been fra' Timothy that instructed them: he was not Master at the time (his term finished in 2001) and hadn't been provincial since the 80s. it would have been his sucessor. But you will be pleased to know that it is said almost daily there now, and one of the older forms is certainly said daily. Also, the SSPX chapel had been going for ages before they started the Old Rite at Holy Cross.

David: Yes the polophony could drag,a nd I could see tapping of feet in the Sanctuary, but it was spectaculr music nonethless! And yes, I think for next year a definate push to have Dominican High Mass. It doesn't need an MC, you'll be glad to know!

The Raven (C. Corax) said...


Thank you for the clarification: I now live in a state of permanent envy of the lucky burghers of Leicester, who have access to the Mass every day at a reasonable time (08h00) and the provision of Vespers every day too.

My recollection of the train of events is a little ramshackle, but I had thought that I remembered that the Leicester Priory started by saying the old Mass on Wednesday afternoons in/about 2000 (I stand ready to be corrected!).

My dig about the SSPX is that Leicester is the only place in te Nottingham diocese that has an SSPX chapel, and is also the only place that I know of in the Diocese that benefits from an old rite Mass every Sunday (although Lutterworth may have a more regular old rite Mass, it's difficult to find put when and where these things take place).

Richard Hawker said...


It was 2001 or 2002, I think when the Mass started there, on a Wednesday evening; which, given that I was in full time education, was quite handy for me.

Yes, we are very fortunate here. We also have Lauds at 7.30 to add to your envy!

There are acctually a couple of places in the diocese- Scunthorpe has a Sunday Mass at Holy Souls at 3. I know the PP there very well, and he is a god and holy priest. I think there are a couple of others dotted around the diocese, which if not every Sunday, are certainly monthly; possibly more frequently. I know there are a goodly number that can say the EF (off the top of my head I can think of 9 who are known to me persoanlly. There are possibly one or two more as well, so we are certainly well supplied.

Have you heard about the little shindig we are putting on for the Immaculate Conception?

The Raven (C. Corax) said...


Thank you for this: can I add East Leake to your list; I understand that there is an old rite Mass said there every Saturday at 10h00.

I haven't heard about the celebration of the Immaculate Conception, please do tell me more!

Richard Hawker said...

Then I shall! And you must tell all your friends.

Immaculate Conception, 7.30pm at Holy Cross Leicester.

Pontifical High Mass at the Throne in the Extraordinary Form. Celebrant: + Malcolm McMahon, OP, Bishop of Nottingham.

Followed by the blessing of a shrine to the English martyrs (in which relics abound)

I'm trying to do as much advertising for it as possible, but it's proving difficult. Though it did get a mention in the Tablet! Might have to resort to advertising it in the Herald.

The Raven (C. Corax) said...


Thank you for passing this on. If you are happy for me to do so I shall advertise the Mass on the blog "Catholicism Pure & Simple".

Sir Watkin said...