Charles Wild's Choir of Amiens Cathedral. This is a painting of Mass at Amiens Cathedral in northern France. The Mass is likely according to a neo-Gallican, local usage such as the Parisian rite we have been reviewing in the last month. The color is green, suggesting either the octave of Pentecost or the feast of a bishop. Coped cantors lead the plainsong in medio choro. The human elements of this image are also quite amusing, such as the careerists canons of the cathedral chatting amongst themselves while a few pious canons try to pray. The bishop assists from his throne. The bishop is wearing a light blue, the episcopal color of France, which went out of use before Fr. Wach and the Institute of Christ the King revived its use. The younger servers wear albs—the medieval practice—while the older ones wear sleeveless surplices, a northern European style much like something one would still see in a few Anglican settings.
A Mr. Douglas Yeo notes that one both sides of the choir a musician plays an instrument called the "serpent," a horn instrument popular in French ecclesiastical settings. Yeo comments that each choir stall had a unique Scriptural theme and those of the "serpentists" were Exodus 13:20-22 ("The Israelites leave, guided by columns of cloud and fire") and Genesis 37:25-27 ("The Ishamelite merchants arrive from Gilead").
This lovely image calls to mind the uniting and complete nature of the liturgy, in which all have their own role, even the lovely horn player. The communitarian obsession of the 20th century has, understandably, made many weary of the idea of the Mass and the liturgy as a communal action, but images such as these affirm that it is. The bishop and his brethren lead the people, as they are ordained to do, in the proper worship of God throughout the year, constantly recalling the revisiting the Divine mysteries, still accessible to those of us living in time.