Latin Liturgy Bulletin No. II: Lent 2021
Although the Association is still prevented by the pandemic from firmly planning public liturgies, talks or chant days, members of Council continue to work behind the scenes. Good progress is being made with the second volume of the Graduale Parvum – the Communions – and the next edition of our journal Latin Liturgy is well in hand, waiting for our printer to re-open when the current lockdown is eased. Council has met, and will continue to meet, on Zoom.
The meeting at Mayfield School postponed from June last year will, I’m afraid, have to be further postponed, until 2022. This is because, even after the Prime Minister’s latest announcements, it’s impossible to be certain how much freedom of movement there will be in the second half of this year, and how willing members will be to use public transport to get to East Sussex, to meet in close proximity, to eat lunch together, and so on.
The lead-in period to any of our open meetings is very long: among the things that have to be done are booking a church or chapel, rooms for rehearsals and talks, caterers, a speaker, a celebrant and assistant clergy, servers, choirmaster, singers and organist, all of which has to be done months in advance. The pandemic, by its very nature (not to mention the government’s somewhat uneven record in its forecasts) is inevitably hostile to long-term planning of this kind.
For the same reason it’s again unlikely that this year we’ll be able to stage physically the AGM and Elections to Council. So when the time comes we shall publish the annual reports and the list of candidates for election or re-election to Council, and allow a substantial period for members to send in their views. The idea of holding a live virtual AGM on Zoom has been suggested by one or two brave souls, but the potential technical hazards that an on-screen gathering of such a large number would generate are somewhat too formidable, even for your intrepid representatives!
One piece of good news is that our friends in the Benedictine community of Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland now live-stream many of their Masses and offices. We strongly recommend this service to all our members and associates. Go to: https://www.pluscardenabbey.org/live.
For the last year many, if not most, of our members will have been participating in the Church’s liturgies mainly, or even exclusively, online, and we would very much like to hear how that has been for you. There is a lot that both clergy and laity will need to learn from the whole long experience, and what has happened to the celebration of Mass, in particular, will affect us and the Church profoundly in the long term. When this is all over, it’s unlikely that things will be just as they were up to the early months of 2020.
So we would very much to hear how the partial exile from our churches and the experience of live-streamed liturgies have been for our members, and to publish their views on our website (with a selection in Latin Liturgy). I understand that you might wish to write such an account, but not be identified, so whatever you write can appear anonymously if you prefer – just let us know. Please write to me – details on the ‘Contact’ page.
With the best wishes of those on Council for a holy and profitable Lent, and in due course for a joyous Paschal season.
Christopher Francis [Chairman, Association for Latin Liturgy]
Latin Liturgy Bulletin No. I: Advent 2020
In this most unfortunate of years, the Association can consider itself fortunate in one important respect: in September last year, when the word ‘coronavirus’ was for the most part still only being uttered by medics and epidemiologists, we celebrated our splendid Golden Jubilee liturgies, enjoyed a fine, convivial lunch and listened to an outstanding address which surveyed the entire liturgical scene since the Council. What a good thing it was that we weren’t founded in 1970! If we had been, this would have been a sad year indeed for us.
As it is, we had to postpone both of our planned days of liturgy and music, at Mayfield and at Aldershot. In a spirit of hope, the day at Mayfield is now on next year’s calendar for 5 June 2021. It is hard to have absolute confidence in these matters, but it is our expectation that by then the majority of our members will have been vaccinated and that we will be singing again, so that we will be able to go ahead with the Mayfield day. Please put it in your diary now anyway, and we will keep you informed of developments.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Paul Henriksen, a member of Council, two sung Latin Requiem Masses were celebrated in November by priest members of the Association and streamed live on the internet. Both these Masses were offered for deceased members of the Association for Latin Liturgy and for all those who have died from coronavirus. The utterly minimal physical attendance at both Masses was of course due to the government’s month-long lockdown which had been imposed shortly before.
The first of the requiems was sung by Canon Peter Rollings on November 7th at the church of Our Lady of the Annunciation, King’s Lynn. The proper and ordinary were sung by Paul Henriksen. The organist, Philip Adams, played Bach’s Erbarm’ dich mein, o Herre Gott BWV 721 before the Mass, and part of Pachelbel’s Ciacona in F minor afterwards. At the Offertory the hymn ‘I heard the voice of Jesus say “Come unto Me and rest” ‘ was sung to the tune associated with the folk tune Dives and Lazarus, in the English Hymnal arrangement by Vaughan Williams. Apart from the readings and the bidding prayers (the latter in English with the response te rogamus audi nos) the Mass, ad orientem and with black vestments and six candles burning on the altar, was entirely in Latin, with the Roman Canon.
The second Requiem Mass was streamed from St Joseph’s Church, Sheringham, Norfolk. As at King’s Lynn, there were three or four cameras; in this case the first showed the altar, pulpit and reredos (altar frontal, tabernacle veil and lectern hanging were purple) the second an oblique view from above the altar, and the last a long view from the west gallery, looking towards the very fine rood and reredos. For the Eucharistic Prayer (II) there was a close-up on the altar. The celebrant, Fr James Fyfe, was joined by Fr Denys Lloyd acting as Deacon. The organist was again Philip Adams, who played Parry’s chorale prelude on Martyrdom before Mass and Bach’s Jesu Christus, unser Heiland after it. The Proper of the Requiem Mass was sung, again by Paul Henriksen. The readings were in English, interspersed with the Latin chants. Unusually for an Ordinary Form Requiem, the Dies Irae was sung.
Mass was celebrated versus populum (or whatever the Latin is for ‘facing the cameras’). The assistant priest and the server were masked, but the celebrant was not. There was a very short, but heartfelt and affecting, sermon pointing out how the Requiem Mass in England before the reformation was offered constantly, predicated on prayer for those who had died, a practice that the new protestant order completely rejected. Fr James quoted Dr Johnson to good effect in this context.
Next, I’d like to commend to you an excellent new book Ceremonies of the Sarum Missal by Richard Urquhart, a member of our Association. The Use of Sarum was based in Salisbury Cathedral and was the foremost liturgy used in England in the late Middle Ages before its destruction in the Protestant Reformation. The book is structured like Fr. Fortescue’s Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described, and provides a practical guide to the Sarum ceremonies for priests and MCs; but it also comes with carefully-directed notes which should prove useful for the serious student of medieval liturgy. It will appeal to those interested in Catholic heritage, history or liturgy generally. The book is published by T & T Clark, and a substantial discount is available if you use the order form.
Finally, in this time of apprehension and uncertainty, the members of the ALL Council wish you a holy and tranquil Christmas.
[Chairman, Association for Latin Liturgy]