Monday, October 20, 2014

News Catch-up

Two weekends ago, I went to Sydney for the wedding of Sidney and Tien – a beautiful occasion of course! I ended up attending three Solemn High Masses in succession: the first, in the evening of Friday 3rd October at St Benedict's, Broadway, followed by solemn Benediction (and then dinner with friends old and new);  the second, in the late morning of Saturday the 4th at Maternal Heart, Lewisham, the wedding of the happy couple followed by Mass of St Francis (using the Franciscan propers, as the celebrant was a friar minor), with the nuptial blessing and so forth, followed by a reception that lasted till late evening; and on Sunday the 5th, the usual Sunday Mass at Maternal Heart (followed by lunch with mates at the pub). It was pleasant though rather warm in Sydney – when I walked from Annandale to Circular Quay on Sunday afternoon, it hit 34 degrees, which made my subsequent return trip on the Manly ferry a great relief. Many thanks to a friend who put me up (or rather put up with me) at his place over the weekend.

Sister Mary Stephanie of Divine Providence, OCD,  died at the Launceston Carmel on Sunday morningthe 13th of October, in the 53rd year of her religious life and the 91st year of her age – to whose soul may the Lord grant eternal rest. I attended her first Requiem on Monday, and on Tuesday was privileged, after and during morning Mass at Carmel, to pay my last respects before her open casket, placed just on the other side of their choir screen, which the nuns left open for the occasion. On Friday, I attended her moving funeral Mass, which was followed by her burial in the monastic crypt, out of sight to layfolk, where her mortal remains lie alongside those of her sisters, awaiting the resurrection.

This weekend past, I went to Hobart on Saturday, since our mid-month Sunday Missa cantata was to be at the earlier than usual hour of 9:30 am. Unfortunately, Father was late starting Mass (at 9:45 am) owing to various factors, and he had to rush to get to his flight back to the mainland – which was why Mass was scheduled so early to begin with.

I forebear to comment on the recent synod debacle, or rather, utter shambles, pleasing to the Devil only and not to Christ, since I fear I would not edify my readers. Many layfolk, priests and even bishops have been through a severe trial this past week – I certainly have. I commend Rorate cæli for their fearless and honest reporting, and take the opportunity of publically retracting some of my previous criticisms of that blog, ever since the election of Papa Bergoglio – since they have been proven correct, time and again, much as I would have hoped otherwise.

Thank God for the good bishops and Cardinals who actually know what our holy Faith teaches, and have not given in to relativism. Thank God they were not called upon to do what Scripture suggests in extreme cases ("But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." – Galatians ii, 11). And thanks to St John Paul II, who worked a miracle, doubtlessly obtained from Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Grace.

Gaude, Maria Virgo: cunctas hæreses sola interemisti in universo mundo.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Congratulations, Archbishop Fisher!

I am delighted to learn that Anthony Fisher, OP, until now Bishop of Parramatta, has just been appointed Archbishop of Sydney. He is an excellent, devout and learned priest and bishop; in former days, I was lucky enough to study under him and benefit from his friendliness and support. I remember being at Sunday lunch at the Dominican Priory when his appointment as an auxiliary bishop was announced – he wept, so sad he was to leave his religious brethren and assume the heavy burden of the apostolic office. How edifying!

To think that I attended the ordination to the episcopate of both Fisher and Porteous; and to think that now the latter is my Archbishop and the former is ascending to the premier see of Australia, becoming His Grace while awaiting the customary red hat to declare him a Prince of the Church… Truly God is good and cares greatly for his little flock Down Under.

Ad multos annos!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

First Sunday in September

Attendance at our first Sunday of the month Missa cantata was rather sparse this weekend past, owing of course to it being Father's Day – and going to Mass at 11:30 am hardly fits with family celebrations, alas. To add insult to injury, the sacristy key was unfortunately misplaced, and by the time we obtained it and got everything set up for Mass, we began twenty minutes late: not good. Mass itself was reverent and moving as always, of course; I suppose these things are sent to try us.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ambrosian Agnus Dei

The Ambrosian Rite doesn't use the Agnus Dei at Mass, except at Masses for the Dead, when it appears, in slightly different form, as the Transitorium (Communion chant):

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Three Masses

Fr Christopher's flight from Melbourne was delayed by quite a long time – meaning that our scheduled 7:30 pm Mass for the Assumption began at 8:20 pm! It was very edifying to see the full congregation remain, waiting patiently, and keeping vigil in prayer: we said Our Lady's Rosary and Litany together. At length, our Missa cantata for the Holy Day was celebrated, with the first use of the Missa Regia as the Ordinary (save for Credo III), taking up a French tradition for solemnities.

On Saturday morning, a small party attended Father's private Low Mass of St Joachim, and then enjoyed a festive brunch.

To-day, Sunday, our Dominican visitor sang Mass of the 10th Sunday after Pentecost for a congregation of fifty or so, returning to our usual Sunday Ordinary – Mass XI, Orbis factor. In honour of Our Lady, feted this weekend, we sang "Hail Queen of heaven" after Mass, before repairing to the parish centre for coffee, cake and good cheer. It was a fitting end to our three days of Extraordinary Form Masses.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Assumption & 10th Sunday after Pentecost Masses

As well as a sung Latin Mass on the third Sunday of August (the 17th of the month, which will be the tenth after Pentecost) at 10:30 am at Sacred Heart, New Town, our visiting Dominican, Fr Christopher, will sing Mass for the Assumption of Our Lady at 7:30 pm on Friday the 15th of August, likewise at Sacred Heart.

I will be driving down to Hobart after work on Friday, and staying for the weekend. Of your charity, please pray for me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

First Sunday of August

After some very stormy weather the last several days, it was a joy to have only a few patches of fog amid otherwise bright sunshine on the drive down to Hobart. There was a good attendance at our Missa cantata for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, and the drive back was likewise fast and uneventful.

Being given to odd thoughts, I was reflecting on how, acting as M.C., I kneel less and stand more than anyone except the priest: I kneel for the prayers at the foot of the altar and answer his prayers; I kneel for the Et incarnatus est during the Creed; I kneel at the priest's left during the Consecration and Elevation, from Qui pridie to the in mei memoriam facietis; I kneel for the priest's own Communion and my own, and again when he returns any leftover Hosts to the tabernacle; and that's it (aside from many genuflections of course). And, like some Roman Emperor of old, everyone genuflects towards me – so to speak! – but only when I hold the altar card for the priest to read the Last Gospel.

NEWS FLASH: As well as a sung Latin Mass on the third Sunday of August (the 17th, which will be the tenth after Pentecost) at 10:30 am at Sacred Heart, New Town, our visiting celebrant, Fr Christopher, will sing Mass for the Assumption of Our Lady at 7:30 pm on Friday the 15th of August, likewise at Sacred Heart.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Month of Latin Masses

It just struck me that I've had a rare blessing: all the Sunday Masses I've attended this month have been celebrated in the Extraordinary Form (to use the expression given us by Benedict XVI of ever-blessed memory; strange to think he's still alive). On the 6th of July, I attended Mass at Lewisham (a Missa cantata), while visiting Sydney; on the 13th, I M.C.'d our first ever Latin Mass in Launceston (again, a sung Mass); on the 20th, I again M.C.'d for Fr Rowe at his Missa cantata in Hobart; and just yesterday, being in Melbourne for an important but rather sad reason, I assisted at the Solemn High Mass in Caulfield. It was a particular pleasure to hear the verse of the Offertory sung: I do like a Mass sung in plainchant throughout (Mass XI and Credo IV, plus all the propers of course, and a hymn in honour of the Sacred Heart at Communion, as its doxology revealed). Assuming I make it to Hobart this weekend (as I may decide to stay here, given that a relative will be recovering from an operation), that will make it five Sunday Latin Masses in a row – what a blessing!

The Sunday Offertory and verse (quoting Daniel iii, 40-42) was as follows, aptly paralleling the prayer In spiritu humilitatis prayed by the priest during the offertory rite:
Sicut in holocáusto aríetum et taurórum, et sicut in míllibus agnórum pínguium: sic fiat sacrifícium nostrum in conspéctu tuo hódie, ut pláceat tibi: * Quia non est confúsio confidéntibus in te, Dómine. V. Et nunc séquimur te in toto corde et timémus te et quærimus fáciem tuam, Dómine: nec confúndas nos, sed fac nobis juxta mansuetúdinem tuam et secúndum multitúdinem misericórdiæ tuæ. * Quia non est confúsio confidéntibus in te, Dómine. 
As in a holocaust of rams and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be made in thy sight this day, that it may please thee: * For there is no confusion to them that trust in thee, O Lord. V. And now we follow thee with all our heart and we fear thee, and seek thy face, O Lord: put us not to confusion, but deal with us according to thy meekness and according to the multitude of thy mercies. * For there is no confusion to them that trust in thee, O Lord.
Note that there is a divergence between the Missal and the Offertoriale here: the Missal reads holocaustis, the chant books, holocausto. There are a small number of such variants that were approved by the Holy See when Solemnes restored the plainchant repertoire.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Longest and Shortest Ordinaries

Thanks to dear friends, our first Launceston Missa cantata since Vatican II was graced with Byrd's Mass for three voices. Before their most generous offer, I had initially planned on our own humble schola singing the so-called Missa primitiva, which consists of the oldest and shortest and easiest settings of the Ordinary: Kyrie XVI, Gloria XV, Credo I (though I was planning on using III), Sanctus XVIII and Agnus Dei XVIII. They are syllabic, with only one note per syllable in the main.

According to a handy website giving the texts and sound files of all the settings of the Kyriale, these would indeed be quite short and easy to sing, and in total would take a bit over 9 minutes (nearly half of that for the Creed). One can fruitfully compare them to that mainstay of times past, Mass VIII De Angelis with Credo III, which the same site indicates would take nearly 12 minutes to sing. (The website only gives the Kyrie in the modern sixfold form; I estimated the length of the traditional ninefold form.)

But I began to wonder, what would be the longest composite Ordinarium Missæ? Having spent some time looking over the chants of the eighteen Mass Ordinaries, with their variants and extra chants ad libitum, it seems to me that the following (with performance times in brackets, supplied from the above website) would constitute the longest Ordinary, taking nearly 17 and a half minutes to sing:
  • Kyrie II (3:06)
  • Gloria III ad libitum (5:01)
  • Credo VI (5:56)
  • Sanctus VII (1:33)
  • Agnus Dei V (1:47)
All of these are neumatic chants, including long melismas on some syllables. It is interesting to compare the length of these to that of Byrd's polyphonic setting: unusually for polyphony, Byrd's setting of the Kyrie is only threefold, and very short (thus usually supplemented, as at our Mass, with six plainsong invocations); his Gloria and Credo are quite similar in length to the above lengthiest plainchant settings; but even his three-voice settings of the Sanctus and Agnus Dei are twice as long as those of the longest Gregorian ones.

All things being equal, I do prefer a Sanctus (with its Benedictus) that is long enough to occupy the time taken for the silent recitation of the Canon of the Mass – which is only possible if it is sung in polyphony. At the same time, many polyphonic Agnus Dei's are too long, being evidently intended for use at Masses where only the priest communicates, and no one else.

Speaking as an M.C., the Agnus Dei should ideally fill up the time between the priest singing Pax Domini and, after his preparatory prayers and reception of Communion, his turning to the congregation holding the Host and saying Ecce Agnus Dei. At least it should last until the bell is run thrice at his triple Domine non sum dignus, immediately prior to his Communion. Depending on the speed or otherwise of the celebrant, some plainchant settings are too short.

The longest composite Ordinary, assembled above, would also be suitable for a celebration of the Extraordinary Form in Eastern Rite lands, where the sensibility of local Uniates and Orthodox persons of good will would demand a lengthy Mass – one in which the Introit would be sung with several psalm verses if need be, the Gradual would have its response repeated after the verse, the Offertory would be sung with all its ancient verses, and the Communion chanted with selected psalm verses also…

UPDATE: The postconciliar Kyriale simplex contains an assemblage of simpler settings of the Ordinary, some from among the Masses and ad libitum chants otherwise given in the Liber, etc., plus a few simple forms of the Kyrie and Agnus Dei taken from chant settings of several litanies; the most noteworthy, however, is what is given as Credo "IV" more ambrosiano, which ought really be called Credo VIII (as the older books contain Credo's I to VI, plus Credo VII as an insert, as I have in my Liber) – it is the Ambrosian chant setting of the Creed (simply replacing the Ambrosian variant words ad cælos with the standard Roman in cælum), a simple note per syllable setting, with the only flourishes at all being at the very end: two notes on the first syllable of sæculi and nine for the Amen. I calculate that this should take about 3:20 to sing; and a recording of Ambrosian chant that I possess includes it, the elapsed time for chanting it proving to be 3:36 in fact.

So the very shortest Ordinary would be the Missa primitiva referenced above, but with Credo "VIII" more ambrosiano.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

To Hobart

I'm almost better from a nasty cold (or bronchitis almost) that's been plaguing me for eight days.

I didn't make it to Hobart last Sunday, but did manage to MC our special Launceston Mass, which was very well attended, with all present very moved and rapt in the sublime worship, God be praised. All thanks to our visiting priest, Fr Rowe, the marvellous choir – Byrd in three, plus the chant propers and several motets – and servers! I also served his private Low Mass on Monday morning, which was very special.

I head down to Hobart this afternoon, as Fr Rowe will again celebrate Mass for our community at Sacred Heart, New Town, at 10:30 am tomorrow, Sunday the 20th of July, before he concludes his visit to Tasmania and returns to the West on Monday.

As he has recently celebrated his 20th anniversary of ordination, do pray that he be ever more and more a priest after the Heart of Christ. And please offer prayers for Mother Stephanie, at our Launceston Carmel, as she is very frail and aged, and her long life appears to be drawing to that end which we all must face ere long.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Off to Sydney and Melbourne

It's been a while since I last posted, but various matters have taken up my time.

To-night, I'm off to Sydney for the weekend, then I'll fly down to Melbourne for the week, and be back here on Saturday, before driving to Hobart, where I'll stay the night, then MC morning Mass there, before driving myself and Fr Rowe (who'll be visiting Tasmania that week) back to Launceston, where I'll MC the special 6 pm Missa cantata at St Francis, Riverside, on Sunday 13th July. Please do come if you can!

Some matters are too serious to trust to the internet, but do keep me in your prayers.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Pentecost Missa Cantata

To-day, for our Latin Mass in Hobart, we were back where it all began, at Sacred Heart, New Town, where Fr (now Bp) Jarrett began the monthly Missæ cantatæ in the nineties. It was my parish at the time, and I have fond memories of my time there.

I remember "catching the bug" of the Traditional Latin Mass at Sacred Heart, when on the first Sunday of November in 1994 he celebrated the first "Extraordinary Form" Mass, with the choir singing Byrd's Mass for three voices; and when, exactly a year later, he sang High Mass (with Frs Oppenheimer and Parsons assisting), the choir rendering Victoria's Mass O quam gloriosum.

In February 1996, this time with yours truly in the choir, singing a far more modest all-Gregorian repertoire, Fr Jarrett began regular first Sunday sung Masses. He continued for five years, until he was promoted to Bishop of Lismore; I sang with the choir until I moved to Melbourne in 1999.

Fr John Wall, then based at St Canice in Lower Sandy Bay, took over the celebration of the first Sunday sung Masses until his untimely death; since then, for the last decade, the much-loved Fr Gerard Quinn, CP (easily the hardest working, humblest and holiest priest of the Archdiocese), has done so.

I returned to Tasmania five years ago, first resuming singing in the choir, and then promoting myself (completely untrained) to M.C., as it seemed to help expedite matters. And since February this year – with all thanks going to His Grace for blessing our endeavours – we have had Latin Mass at least twice a month, including the full Easter Triduum for the first time.  I have grown used to forever driving to and from Hobart!

Repairs to the roof at St Canice made us decide to move some of the June and July Masses to New Town. To-day, we had a visiting priest as celebrant: Fr Suresh from Tamworth. His visit we pray will prove fruitful; he certainly sings Mass with great care and attention (during the chanting of the Alleluia verses I suddenly realised he was singing along from memory), and is a great preacher, too.

Just as in the nineties, we had a community "pot-luck" lunch afterwards – I kept on expecting Fr Jarrett to walk into the parish centre and chat happily with us all, beneath the great painting of the Sacred Heart that hangs in pride of place. It was a marvellous occasion and made me realise how well set out Sacred Heart is for our needs: the church is a good size, very well appointed and cared for, with room outdoors for children to play afterwards and a place for all to meet and eat in the parish centre.

It was great to chat with the sacristan, too, whom I hadn't seen for years. It always was a most welcoming and Catholic parish, and evidently maintains that spirit, even if now part of the Cathedral parish; again, how kind of His Grace to allow us to use the church and facilities.

Winter remains curiously warm and sunny; it was lovely driving home this afternoon.

Next Sunday, Trinity Sunday the 15th of June, a sung Traditional Latin Mass will again be celebrated at 10:30 am at Sacred Heart, New Town. (I will be in Melbourne; I daresay all will go well.)

The next Mass after that, the "traditional" first Sunday Missa cantata, will be at St Canice at 11:30 am as usual; but on the following two Sundays, the 13th and 20th of July, Latin Mass will again be sung at Sacred Heart at 10:30 am.

With all this shuttling to and fro for Mass, I must admit to feeling relief at the prospect of the last two Sundays in June at home without having to drive three hours each way...