22 October 2018

The Beevy Emm, alive and well at Queens

Well, I went to the Queen's College Conference and was rather underwhelmed!

There was one outstanding lecture: a real tour de force by John Caldwell on the Psalter. He made clear that the Masoretic traditions are entitled to no assumed priority over those of Greek or Latin Christianity, particularly with regard to the numeration of the Psalms. (There sometimes appears to be a rather shamefaced attitude to the Vulgate (and Septuagint) numeration; this is completely unnecessary. 'Christianity' and 'Jamnian' Judaism are both descended from a first-century rupture; the unconscious assumption that the Masoretic texts are 'authentic' in a way that Christian texts are not fails to remember the Dead Sea scrolls, not to mention Margaret Barker. This is not a pedantic detail; it goes right to the essential point of difference between Synagogue Judaism and Sacrificial Christianity.)

During the next papers, the person sitting to my left felt it quite possible to do her emails' while still, I am sure, paying full attention to the lecturers. Contrary to my every normal instinct, I sympathised.

One paper which looked as though it might contribute to study of the fascinating interface between Orality and Literacy did a little (but not much) more than demonstrating how many of the misprints in printed liturgical books are those arising from that most boringly mechanical cause of error in textual transmission: parablepsis arising from homoeoteleuton ... what a distinguished Professorial Fellow of Queen's in the 1960s, who was never boring, economically called Hom.

Most irritating of all: one lecturer told us that he would not use terms like 'Ladymass' for that period in which the use of that term is not evidenced. So he referred to it as 'The Commemorative Mass of the Beevy Emm'. And he kept on doing so all through his lecture!!! Did the junior clergy of the forteenth century really saunter out of their Vicars' Halls each morning cheefully discussing "Who's going to celebrate the Commemorative Mass of the Beevy Emm this morning?" The crass old English phobia about calling the Theotokos 'our Lady' still seems alive and well. The Beevy Emm, pray for us! Does that speaker imagine the Incarnate Word emerging from His Mother's womb, looking up, and politely saying "Buona Sera: the Beevy Emm I presume"?

In the afternoon, a celebration of the Sarum Ladymass in Queens' Chapel. Or was it a celebration? The celebrant and deacon, so they coyly told us, could not have been ordained in the Church of England before 1992. But their 'celebration' although 'inauthentic' in many details, drew its authenticity - they explained - from the fact that it was 'the Mass'.

Well, invisibly, such a 'celebration' is inauthentic if the 'celebrant' does not have the character of priesthood marked on her soul; visibly, it is inauthentic if there is no glistening bald pate to assure us that she has been tonsured (I fear none of the participants had been). Above all, to have female voices chanting fifteenth century presbyteral and diaconal texts is historically and, surely, musically inauthentic. How many more inauthenticities qualiacunque could anybody possibly want? But the schola undoubtedly did very nicely.

The young woan looked to me as if she might have been wearing the ('Roman') chasuble back-to-front. But the cataracts in my eyes grow larger each day. Perhaps I do her catwalk instincts an injustice.

I sat for the Gospel and left well before the 'consecration', since it was made clear that we were expected to show formal ecclesial communio with these jolly japes by joining in the Pax.


Joshua said...

Do none of these CoE types recall that the 1662 BCP Calendar contains, in its table of Lessons proper for Holy-days (both that of the New Lectionary of 1871 and that of the Old Lectionary before it), the words "Annunciation of our Lady", as did its forerunner the 1559 BCP? By virtue of this, the title "our Lady" accorded to the Blessed Virgin Mary is "strictly BCP" and ought be mandatory for all true Church of England men.

Mark said...

Ah! I was there and didn't spot you!

Other than what you've already mentioned and the pax board being an icon, did you notice anything else grossly inauthentic?

I found the service interesting and different, but just don't know how authentic it was even though I have studied liturgics.

prince Matecki said...

I thought it should be Bee Emm Vee, as it is missa in commemoratione beatae Mariae viriginis, is´nt it? At least, I usually find the abbreviation BMV.
I understand if you pronounce that it sounds suspiciously like a german car brand.

Pete said...

A 'lady' saying a ladymass; how delightful!?!?!?!?!

John Nolan said...

Abbreviations such as BVM (BMV) and OLJC (DNJC) are acceptable in informal writing, but should not be used in speech.