OUR LATEST OPEN MEETING: Saturday 22 October 2022 at St Mary’s University, Twickenham
This Conference held at St Mary’s University at the kind invitation of the Vice-Chancellor, was our most successful event for several years. We were welcomed, in a warm and friendly atmosphere, with coffee in the University’s Dolce Vita café. Canon Peter Newby, the University’s Chaplain, had facilitated everything for us. In addition to ALL members, we also met our guests, of whom there were many, who as well as swelling our numbers, considerably lowered the average age. The Choir from the parish of St Thomas More, Bexleyheath, with its intense, vibrant singing, had a transformative effect on the music, notably their young solo cantor in the communion chant. The singing was directed with aplomb by Fr Guy Nicholls, who had also composed the chants of the proper. And on the sanctuary, two servers from Bexleyheath harmoniously joined two from the University. Mass was celebrated by Fr Lawrence Lew OP, assisted by Fr Anton Webb and by Fr Peter Newby, who also gave the sermon, on St John-Paul II, whose memoria was the feast of the day.
Fr Guy Nicholls had not only composed the Proper for the feast but also directed it, and the ordinary Cum Iubilo. In an unforeseen moment of hiatus before the Gospel, he also adroitly improvised an Alleluia Tu es Petrus which seamlessly got us over an awkward moment! The organist was Peter Adams, who skilfully made the best of an instrument which is currently in a very difficult state of disrepair. Members will be glad to hear that the ALL has sent a donation towards the fund for the complete rebuilding of the instrument.
After Mass, members moved to the Chaplaincy, where sherry was served before lunch, which was taken in the students’ refectory, amid much animated discussion.
The Association would like especially to thank Anthony McClaran, Vice-Chancellor of the University, and Canon Peter Newby, its Chaplain, without both of whom the day would not have been possible, let alone the great success it was.
After lunch we held the Annual General Meeting in the splendid surroundings of Waldegrave Drawing Room, which the Vice-Chancellor had kindly put at our disposal.
Our speakers were Professor Peter Tyler and the Revd Ian Coleman, a Deacon of the diocese of Westminster. Professor Tyler gave an illuminating history of the Carthusians in England, including the erstwhile nearby Sheen Friary, and an exposition of their spirituality. He was followed by Ian Coleman who gave a moving account of other aspects of Carthusian life, particularly their music. Many illustrations were shown, striking among them being the graphic image (1903) of the monks being expelled from the Grande Chartreuse by soldiers carrying out the dictates of the extreme anti-clerical French government.
The day concluded with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, at which Canon Newby officiated.
Later in the day, and not connected with the meeting, there was a piano recital in the Waldegrave Drawing Room given by Ian Coleman. It consisted of Janáček’s ‘Three Moravian Dances’, and then a series of ten piano pieces ‘On an overgrown path’. He had composed poems to go after each piece, which were read by his son. Altogether a remarkable experience.
The ALL at Bexleyheath: Saturday 2 July 2022 at St Thomas More’s, Long Lane, Bexleyheath, DA7 5JW.
On Saturday 2nd July some members of the Association’s Council led a Chant Workshop at the Church of St Thomas More, Bexleyheath, at the invitation of the parish priest, Fr Jonathon Routh. He is in the process of introducing Latin and chant into the regular parish liturgy, and has a small but growing and enthusiastic band of singers and servers.
The day was given over to practising the introits and communions for the following Sunday, as well as the Mass Cum Jubilo and some Marian hymns and antiphons. The singing and interpretation were directed by Fr Guy Nicholls, who had prepared the Mass settings, which are in the course of being published by the Association in our Graduale Parvum. Mgr Bruce Harbert spoke about the many reasons for having the chant and the Latin language itself, and why they have such an important place in the liturgy.
The participants (some thirty people, both young and old) joined in the singing with a will, and listened with great interest to the speakers. There was nowhere any feeling that this was ‘over their heads’ or ‘dull’ or ‘out of date’: rather, it was something new and exciting. The day ended with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, also sung in Latin.
This is a lively London parish with a fine church and a well-equipped hall. We were made very welcome and treated to an excellent lunch, all of which helped the day to run smoothly and successfully. All credit is due to Fr Routh and his parishioners, who have shown what can be done in a parish if the will is there. We hope to be able to arrange more such events in other parishes, and would welcome invitations to do so.
The ALL at Aldershot, Saturday 28 August: PRACTISE SINGING CHANTS FROM THE GRADUALE PARVUM
It is with a sense of great relief, after so many months overshadowed by Covid, that we announce our first meeting since the highly successful 50th Annual meeting in September 2019. It will take place at St Joseph’s Church, Queens Road, Aldershot GU11 3JB. Details are still being worked out, but initial plans suggest this shape to the day:
10.30 – 10.45 Arrival, welcome, coffee.
11.00 – 11.45 Rehearsal led by Fr Guy Nicholls on the GP chants for the Proper and Ordinary.
12.00 Solemn Latin Mass, with chants from the Graduale Parvum.
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch. Members can be reassured that whatever Covid precautions are in force at the time will be carefully observed when food and drinks are served.
2.15 The afternoon’s programme is still being planned, but it will conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, sung to traditional chants. There will also be a general discussion, giving an opportunity for an exchange of views on current issues in the liturgy.
4.30 approx. Tea and departure.
The ALL at Walsingham: live-streamed Mass and Vespers for the feast of Corpus Christi 6th June 2021
Mass began with the Introit Cibavit eos while the sanctuary party entered – crucifer, thurifer and celebrant – Mgr Philip Moger, Rector of the Shrine. It was heartening that in the opening rites, from In nomine Patris onwards and in many other parts of the liturgy, Mgr Moger had all the Latin from memory. The Kyrie and Gloria were sung, as was the rest of the ordinary, to the setting Lux et Origo, followed by the collect Deus qui nobis sub sacramento. The first two readings were given by a young layman, in English, but they concluded with Verbum Domini, as did the Gospel, which was also preceded by the prefatory dialogue in Latin. Interspersed were the Gradual and Alleluia created by Fr Guy Nicholls according to the Graduale Parvum model, with the sequence Lauda Sion between them.
Mgr Moger prefaced his homily on the essence and meaning of the feast of Corpus Christi, by welcoming the ALL and explaining the purpose of our mission. Credo III followed, and here almost more than anywhere the persistent ban on congregational singing was keenly felt. The bidding prayers each ended with the petition Dominum deprecemur: te rogamus audi nos.
During the Offertory the choir sang Byrd’s four-part Ave Verum Corpus, which was followed by the oratio super oblata and the Preface dialogue, all in Latin, as was Eucharistic Prayer III. Inevitably, Covid restrictions prevented the congregation from joining in the sung Pater noster, and there was of course no Offerte vobis pacem. After the Communion antiphon the choir sang César Franck’s Panis Angelicus, succeeded by the Postcommunion, blessing and dismissal.
The choir was that of Our Lady of Refuge, Cromer, directed by Paul Henriksen, and augmented by ALL members Bernard Marriott and Frank Leahy.
After a break of about 45 minutes, Vespers were sung and Benediction celebrated. As there had been at Mass, there were problems with the sound quality as heard over the live-stream, with some acoustic interruptions, fading and distortion. The singing itself, though, was excellent. The hymn Pange lingua was followed by the psalms Dixit Dominus domino meo and Credidi, propter quod locutus sum and the NT canticle Salus et glória et virtus Deo nostro. Vespers were entirely in Latin, including the reading – on the Institution of the Eucharist – and the orations.
Likewise Benediction, except that the Divine Praises were said in English. Tantum ergo, Panem de caelo and Adoremus were all sung to familiar chants which, in better times, will be ideal for participation by all. After the Blessed Sacrament had been returned to the tabernacle in the lateral wall of the sanctuary, priest and servers processed to the nearby statue of Our Lady of Walsingham, when they and the choir sang the simple Salve Regina.
The Association wishes to thank Paul Henriksen for all his work in making this event possible, and we are most grateful to Mgr Moger for his warm welcome and hospitality, fine Latin and excellent singing!
NORWICH DAY A GREAT SUCCESS
‘Sing with the Angels’ at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, Norwich 29th September 2018
The Narthex of the Cathedral proved to be a space exceptionally well suited to events of this kind, with a large room for rehearsing the chant, and plenty of space for socialising over coffee, lunch and tea, both indoors in the bar and outside at tables in the sunshine. There is also an excellent café and a shop. The Association is most grateful to Paul Henriksen, whose idea the day was and who made all the arrangements for it, to Daniel Justin, Master of Music of the Cathedral, to Canon Peter Rollings and Fr Tim Bugby. Our thanks also go to the hospitality team, ably led by Karen Neale, who looked after everyone so well and served an excellent lunch. There was a very good attendance, with numbers in the mid to high thirties.
The sales table displayed the Graduale Parvum in both its formats and as a set of CDs, as well as copies of all the Association’s other publications. In addition, the last remaining copies of our Latin-English Missal, with the old (“And also with you”) translation were given away free with each purchase.
The Chairman briefly announced the theme of the day by explaining that the Graduale Parvum is currently the Association’s major project, launched in April 2018 at Oscott College with the publication of the first book, the Introits. He then introduced Fr Guy Nicholls, architect of the Graduale Parvum and indeed the inspiration behind it, who explained the rationale of the GP, how the project began, and why there is such a great need for it. He showed how the metrical hymn fails in its liturgical function, something that only Gregorian chant can truly fulfil. He also reiterated the pre-eminence of the Latin language in the Latin Rite, despite the post-Conciliar – and indeed contra-Conciliar – use of the vernacular in the Western Church almost everywhere today.
Fr Guy then turned to the Proper chants for the Mass of the day, that of the feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels – hence the title of our event, ‘Sing with the Angels’. These were the Introit Benedicite Dominum omnes angeli eius, the Gradual with the same text, the Alleluia Sancte Michael archangele, Offertory Stetit angelus iuxta aram templi and Communion Benedicite…hymnum dicite. Starting with the Introit, he pointed out the close resemblance of the opening of this 3rd Tone chant to the opening line of Tantum ergo Sacramentum, and that the words ‘mode’ and ‘mood’ belong together etymologically. We continued with the Communion chant and then on to the remainder of the Proper. The standard of sight-singing among the participants in this unaccompanied first rehearsal was generally good.
Lunch was taken at 12.30, with many taking the opportunity to eat outside in the very pleasant garden, the weather being particularly fine and warm. Then at 1.30 we went into the Cathedral itself for the second chant session, led by Fr Guy, and accompanied by Daniel Justin. Here, the rich, warm and spacious acoustic of the Cathedral combined with Daniel’s very sympathetic organ accompaniment added a new and greatly enhanced dimension to our singing. As well as the Proper, we rehearsed the Ordinary, Cum Iubilo, and the Ave Regina Caelorum with which Mass was to conclude.
We were especially fortunate in that the Mass, sung by Canon Peter Rollings assisted as Deacon by Fr Tim Bugby, was celebrated ad orientem. That this mode of celebration is associated in the popular mind solely with the old Rite is quite wrong, as the A.L.L. frequently points out. Nowhere do the Council Fathers mandate celebration versus populum, but unfortunately, like the use of the vernacular, it has become the norm.
The Mass was an inspiring one, and Graeme Jolly, the MC, led an able team of servers in the spacious sanctuary. In his sermon, Canon Peter spoke of the angels as part of God’s creation – created, indeed before we were. They exist purely to see and praise God, and are always here; they particularly gather around the altar in attendance upon God, and as we sing the Sanctus, they join with us as they sing perpetually: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” [Isaiah VI, 3]
After Mass we returned to the Narthex, where Paul Henriksen spoke of his work with children in primary schools, telling them about the psalms, Latin and plainchant, and involving them in active and practical ways. He teaches them very simple melodies to start with, using round notes without stems on four-line staves, eventually progressing to neumes, and ending up with the children able to sing a full Kyrie or a Sanctus. And as for the question ‘why Latin?’ the children think it entirely logical that there should be a universal language! Paul’s enthusiasm was captivating, and it made for a lively, entertaining and instructive talk.
All that remained was for the A.L.L. members present to convene for the brief AGM, an account of which will appear in the next edition of Latin Liturgy. All those assembled warmly applauded a vote of thanks to Fr Guy for his inspiring leadership and musicianship. Finally, everyone had tea, and compared notes on their experiences in their own choirs and parishes, before dispersing at the end of what had been a most successful and enjoyable day.