Friday, December 30, 2016

A Very Ordinari[ate] Christmas


For the second year in a row I spent Christmas at Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, once a church and now the small cathedral of the Ordinariate for those of Anglican patrimony in the United States. Msgr. Steven Lopes, formerly a priest who worked to establish the Ordinariate structure and now its bishop, pontificated solemn Mass and preached the sermon.

Like last year a prelude of traditional Christmas carols preceded the Mass with such hymns as O Holy Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and Once in Royal David's City. Before the procession the deacon sang the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ, which is still retained in some churches after the disgraceful abolition of Prime in 1964. O Come All Ye Faithful was the processional hymn. Despite the prominence of hymns the propers were sung in English to their corresponding Latin Gregorian melodies. In a change from prior Masses at Walsingham, the lessons themselves were sung according to the old chanted melodies, with the prophecy tone for the Isaiah reading and the epistle tone for St. Paul to Titus. The psalm was sung straight through without the mundane responsorial melodies that plague the Pauline Mass. Angels We Have Heard on High was sung as a sequence after the Alleluia, not exactly the Sarum tradition, but a beautiful hymn none the less. The bishop pontificated from his throne, but despite the presence of Fr. Hough, the rector and MC, the Tridentine ritual normally imitated in Ordinariate communities was not followed.


Bishop Lopes began his edifying sermon with the Saint Andrew's prayer from an old holy card and noted how very Catholic, how gritty and real the language used in it was. For Christians the temptation is not losing Christmas in commercialism, he said, but in losing it in the many "real meaning of Christmas" bromides of the secular world: Christmas is hope (for what?), it is peace (which is what?), and so on. The birth of Christ was not a glamorous event; it transpired in a farm barn in the cold of night and the only witnesses were oxen and people who follow sheep around for a living (the Wisemen came at some point in the next two years). The fact is that there is one way to immortality, that is through the Incarnate God, Jesus Christ. It was a real event with real consequences. And it happened in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold, at midnight.

video

As usual, the standard of music is excellent for a parish choir, as exemplified by this rendition of Wilcox's setting of the Sussex Carol at the offertory.

At Communion Victoria's setting of O Magnum Mysterium and Silent Night were sung by candlelight. The bishop recited the Last Gospel aloud after the pontifical blessing and Mass concluded with Joy to the World.

As usual Mass at Our Lady of Walsingham is both beautiful and visionary, reflecting both a mind for what inspires and for what elements of the Latin tradition that elevate the mind to God can be revived.

14 comments:

  1. "The bishop pontificated from his throne, but despite the presence of Fr. Hough, the rector and MC, the Tridentine ritual normally imitated in Ordinariate communities was not followed."

    Please elaborate!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Ordinariate communities, like Oratorians, have a way of "Tridentizing" their newer rite liturgies by adding an acolyte vested as a subdeacon, following the movements of the ministers (corners at the Introit and Kyrie, the manner of censing the altar, the offertory, the way of intoning the Gloria and Credo, the movements praying the post-Communion and giving the blessing, the prayers at the foot of the altar). The Oratorians in England (specifically Oxford and Brompton) even add a coped priest and a faldstool for pontifical Mass with a visiting bishop and two deacons of honor for pontifical Mass from the throne. The Ordinariate community in Fort Worth used the Tridentine Missa coram pontifice with the bishop coped, kneeling at the altar for the Canon, giving the blessing and the rest.

      Our Lady of Walsingham generally follows these customs but did not for pontifical Mass from the throne Christmas night, despite having the personnel to do so.

      Delete
  2. I just can't get enough of that brand new rood screen! I love the Ordinariate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really does transform the sanctuary. A very nice addition to what was already a pleasing church interior.

      Delete
  3. "The psalm was sung straight through without the mundane responsorial melodies that plague the Pauline Mass." Wut?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I cannot speak for Croatian, but the English language settings for the responsorial psalm are utterly terrible, as though they were written by a talentless hack too artistically restricted to get a job writing Broadway show tunes. I don't agree with Anthony Cekada on much, but he once said the "responsorial psalm is a dog, one that needs to be put to sleep;" I agree with him.

      Delete
    2. I don't agree with him nor with you. There are fine melodies and settings that can be used or even made.
      Heck, why don't you hate the Invitatory so much? It's the same thing. The introit and communion once had the same form too...

      Delete
    3. I do not dislike the responsorial psalm because it is sung antiphonally, I hate it because the melodies we are given for it are, without exception, crap in English and usually led by some lady awkwardly raising her arm to draw 4 people into singing along with her. I simply have never seen or heard it done well and would prefer either the old Gradual or the psalm sung straight through to a Gregorian tone.

      Delete
    4. I simply have never seen or heard it done well and would prefer either the old Gradual or the psalm sung straight through to a Gregorian tone.

      Agreed in full.

      Delete
    5. Whenever i sing it, i sing it to a Gregorian tone.
      American ladies in blue gowns with their opera voices annoy the living hell out of me.

      Delete
    6. Is this representative of a Croatian Mass? If so, the music isn't bad at all.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqLuICefEDo

      This is more what we deal with in the US

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8y7v3G6LcF0

      Delete
    7. Although that's the Creed sung in a Croatian parish in Slovakia, i would say yes, that's sort of the thing you would hear in most of Croatia.
      There's a tradition of employing traditional instruments in Christmastide. Here's last year's Christmas midnight Mass. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7KHM303AgA

      I recognize the alleluia from the Mass in Texas. Sometimes choirs do sing that "celtic" alleluia here too :D

      Delete
  4. Rad Trad , J, and, I wish you a very blessed new year!
    Could you post some Roman Catholic new year mass? Like before V II and all.thank you in advance and may your prayers be answered by God.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Tridentine ceremonial...is complicated. Losing the pre–full communion and pre–Divine Worship rituals, what we saw pro tempore after 2011, is a shame.

    There is a pattern for chanting the lessons. I would add that even at the places which do things such as a celebrant intoning the Gradual due to the small numbers of the schola they will still send the tunicled acolyte or second deacon (I cannot tell sans maniple) and the deacon to read the lessons. Why?! Sing them, and to traditional tones, Liber Usualis and otherwise, not to the modified versions in the new English missal.

    ReplyDelete