High Mass at Anglican Use conference in Newark
  • An Anglican Use Conference was held last Friday and Saturday at Sacred Heart Cathedral/Basilica in Newark. The cathedral is--literally--down the street from my house, and one of the registrants was staying with me. So I attended the High Mass celebrated on Friday afternoon.

    "At the Name of Jesus," (tune: King's Weston) was sung during the entrance of the ministers. The choir entered with the ministers in Victorian Anglican style. Only after the celebrant had censed the altar did the choir begin singing the introit (to a psalm tone.)

    The "Summary of the Law" followed the Collect for Purity. This is an optional part of Rite I, but in the 1928 rite it was not optional. Nevertheless, Anglo-Catholics in the old days generally refused to read it. As the editor of RITUAL NOTES, (the Anglo-Catholic Fortescue) pointed out, the "Summary" is a Gospel pericope, and reading it at the beginning of the service subverts the progressive order of the LIturgy of the Word, in which the reading of the Gospel is climactic. The celebrant, facing the people with no book in front of him, "flubbed" the text.

    The Kyrie and Gloria were sung to Healey Willan's MISSA DE SANCTA MARIA MAGDALENA, a solid congregational setting well known to virtually all Episcopalians over 50. The congregation sang it well.

    The first and second lesson were read without note--the first by a lector in street clothes, the second by the subdeacon.

    After the first lesson the Coverdale translation Psalm 23 was sung by all to one of the simplified Anglican chants in THE HYMNAL 1982. The cadences of these simplified chants are of one foot only. The congregation sang the psalm reasonably well. Unfortunately, Gloria Patri was added to the psalm. I know of no precedent for adding Gloria Patri to the psalmody in the Liturgy of the Word. Furthermore, as McKinnon has clearly shown, the psalm in the Liturgy of the Word is in origin a lesson, later decorated with a congregational refrain. I don't understand why the psalm was sung in "direct" style by all rather than responsorially.

    Before the Gospel a simple sixth-mode Alleluia (assigned in the Graduale to the alternative Communion at the Easter Vigil) was sung. This Alleluia is quite familiar to most American Roman Catholics. Regrettably, the Alleluia verse was sung to the EIGHTH psalm tone rather than the sixth.

    The Gospel was sung to the Sarum festal tone, which is like tone B in the Graduale, except that the last accented syllable in the final cadence, which in tone B is sung to a clivis, is in this Sarum tone sung to a punctum on LA. The Sarum tone suits English well.

    The Credo was sung to the revised version of Winfred Douglas's adaptation of Credo I that is found in THE HYMNAL 1982. (Actually, I bear responsibility for the changes.) The congregation sang it well.

    Form I of the Prayers of the People (from the 1979 Prayer Book) was used, mutatis mutandis.

    Cranmer's lugubrious Confession of Sin followed. How greatly its emotionally-charged language differs from the objective language of the Confiteor (for example)! The "Comfortable Words" followed. These are sentences of scripture intended to comfort those who find the burden of their sins intolerable. Earlier Prayer Books required that these be read at every Mass. Anglo-Catholics almost always refused to read them. They are now optional. I don't know why they were included.

    The Peace immediately preceded the offertory.

    At the offertory the (enormous) cathedral choir sang a long metrical text to the hymn tune "Orientis partibus," the tune used in the HYMNAL 1940 for "Conquering kings their titles take." The singing was "you may say satisfactory." A soprano stuck out badly.

    The Sursum corda and preface were sung to the solemn chant. The Willan Sanctus followed.

    An Elizabethan English translation of the Canon missae was used as the Eucharistic Prayer.

    The whole congregation sang the Lord's Prayer to Winfred Douglas's adaptation of the solemn chant.

    The Willian Agnus Dei was sung.

    The communion antiphon, with additional psalm verses, was sung to a psalm tone.

    The long fixed postcommunion prayer from Rite I was recited by all, even though the rubrics in Rite (unlike those in Rite II) permit the celebrate to recite or sing it alone. Traditionalism? Hardly! (In my Episcopal parish we use Roman postcommunions sung by the celebrant.)

    The Blessing and Dismissal were recited without note.

    The final hymn was "O Love how deep, how broad, how high!" (tune: Deus tuorum militum)

    The ceremonial was idiosyncratic and, in my view, poor in conception as well as in execution.

    The celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon walked unus post alium in the entrance procession and wore birettas. There is nothing "Anglican use" about birettas. Anglo-Catholics started wearing them in the late 19th century in imitation of Rome. By and large they stopped wearing them forty years ago, when they ceased to be worn in the Roman rite. The use of birettas is purely a question of taste, however. My real concern is that the deacon wore a biretta while carrying the Book of the Gospels in the procession. The Gospel Book was historically treated with great reverence. In Ordo Romanus primus the acolyte who bore it to the altar (before Mass began) carried it in what we today would call a humeral veil. Wearing a biretta while carrying it strikes me as downright irreverent.

    The celebrant censed the altar during the opening hymn and then returned to the foot of the altar for the Collect for Purity. In the Ambrosian rite the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar did, indeed, follow the censing; but I don't know why the planners would have followed Ambrosian usage in this particular and not in any other. I suspect that they did not have it in mind.

    The ministers stood at the altar for all the prayers of the Liturgy of the Word. Their movements were loosely based on Tridentine usage, simplified ad libitum. The purpose of these movements was certainly elusive. Why didn't they go to the sedilia?

    The people were directed to kneel for the collect. This was never "correct" at High Mass except on fast days, as the planners would have discovered if they had looked at Ritual Notes or Fortescue/O'Connell. Where it used to be done in Anglo-Catholic churches, the people were importing Low Mass ceremonial into High Mass.

    The Gospel procession moved not to the ambo but to the floor of the nave. The practice of doing so was introduced in the Episcopal Church only about fifty years ago. It is virtually without precedent and is most unedifying. It is rooted in imitation of debased Byzantine usage. In the Byzantine rite as well as the Roman the Gospel was originally proclaimed from the ambo. But whereas the ambo in the Roman rite was built on the chancel walls, the ambo at Hagia Sophia stood in the middle of the nave. A walled walkway (known as the solea) extended from the chancel to the ambo. In the late middle ages the ambones disappeared. When the Gospel is proclaimed from the ambo, the reader is easily seen and heard. When it is proclaimed on the floor of the nave, the reader can almost never be seen, and often he cannot be heard well. Sacred Heart Cathedral has a beautiful high pulpit that would have been an ideal place for the procalamation of the Gospel. Also, a cross was carried in the Gospel procession. Why? (A cross was carried in the gospel procession on greater feasts at Salisbury Cathedral during the late middle ages. Is this the precedent the planners had in mind? But the Gospel at Salisbury was also proclaimed from a "pulpitum" in the rood loft!)

    The people were directed to kneel for the Prayer Over the Gifts and the entire Eucharistic Prayer, including the Sursum Corda, preface, and Sanctus. I found this posture exceedingly uncomfortable as well as inappropriate. The Tridentine rules (adopted with a few necessary changes in RITUAL NOTES), directed that the people should kneel only from the end of the Sanctus until the elevation of the chalice, except on fast days. I don't know why the planners insisted upon importing outdated Low Mass ceremonial to a High Mass.
  • BachLover2BachLover2
    Posts: 330
    actually, there are numerous rubrics for the tridentine Mass, depending on the locale and century in question. this variation exists even to this day
  • Bruce Ford's post gives an excellent account and a well-reasoned contextual gloss for last week's Solemn Mass, Anglican Use, in Newark. I was in the choir, trying not to be completely distracted by the ghastly choir robes, details such as the Gloria Patri and lack of an antiphon for the Gradual-Psalm, and the confusing and disjointed ceremonial. While well-intentioned, the music and liturgy were based on the very inadequate Book of Divine Worship (itself based on the 1979 Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer) with the admixture of oral-tradition liturgical 'folk customs' one would have found in a moderately high-church Anglican parish in the second half of the last century. This way of proceding was quite jarring for those of us coming out of one of the two principal paradigms for Catholic-minded Anglican liturgy: (1) liturgies modelled on the spare but careful ceremonial of the Novus Ordo, with chant and classical hymnody; and (2) liturgies that basically re-present the Tridentine Solemn Mass in Elizabethan English, with a few additional Prayer Book prayers. I hope that Bruce would recognize his own prefered practice in (1), while I've mostly existed in the world of (2). The mushy middle is not going to be satisfactory for either group.

    Brother Stephen, O.Cist., a former Anglican of the (2) variety, commented on his superb blog (subtuum.blogspot) that Anglicans planning to take up the Holy Father's generous ecumenical offer will need to assent to this:

    "I believe that to join an Ordinariate is to promise before God that, when I am traveling and not able to attend an Ordinariate parish, under pain of mortal sin I will assist at a folk Mass with streamers and liturgical dancers, if that is all there is to be found, in order to fulfill my Sunday obligation."
  • Reading Bruce's account results in disappointment - perhaps, even, some embarassment. It doesn't, outside of the Gospel procession (without biretta), resemble high mass at Walsingham. I always wondered why Anglo-Catholics had to ape the Romans and wear birettas. The Canterbury cap is a much finer garment. As for Brother Stephen's proposed promise? I did not, and can't say that I would, assent to it. By their liturgy shall ye know them! Besides, there may be an Eastern rite parish as an alternative. Failing that, I long ago heard that in an emergency one could recieve at an Orthodox mass. This would certainly be an emergency!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,132
    The 'profession' which Brother Stephen demands above is really not constructive.

    I came into the Church in 1980 -- at perhaps the nadir of the liturgical barbarities -- so I have probably suffered more for the faith at the doings of bad liturgists than young Brother Stephen has, especially now that he resides in a lovely Cistercian monastery. Is he really in a position to strike an inquisitorial pose and make demands of other people to accept aesthetic sufferings?

    I remember from experience that prospective converts simply do take some time to go through the intellectual and volitional steps implied by becoming a Catholic. They consider various aspects: to accept points of Catholic doctrine, and recognize the authority of the Church, and finally agree to be obedient to the Church.

    It is not up to us, their friends, to decide which issues they must deal with first, even though, in the end, a convert must accept everything that the Church authoritatively teaches (and prescribes) in order to be a good Catholic. We can trust the pastors of the Church to ensure that any new Catholics of Anglican heritage will have proper instruction on the Sunday obligation, but if we stick a finger in their eye now, as if to assert our superiority, it is not exactly a heroic act of charity.


    To respond quickly to MJO's point: the short answer is: probably not.

    There was, for a few years, a permission which waived the Sunday obligation if a Catholic attended Divine Liturgy in a non-Catholic Eastern Church, but that provision was dropped and is no longer in effect; so if you have access to a Catholic Mass (or Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgy), you must fulfill the Sunday obligation at one (with the usual exceptions about distance, danger, hardship, caring for the sick, etc.)

    The circumstances in which one may receive the sacraments from Orthodox priests are also limited (canon 844 s. 2); first, most Orthodox Churches' own discipline does not permit it. Also, it has to be a case of true "necessity" or "genuine spiritual advantage". You can check with your bishop for guidance about whether either of those conditions applies.
  • Chrism
    Posts: 867
    Orthodox priests generally need to know their communicants by name, so the chance of receiving the Sacraments at an Orthodox parish is in inverse proportion to the priest's "orthopraxis".
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,927
    The code of canons for the eastern Catholic churches allows for attending Saturday evening Vespers, instead of attending Divine Liturgy on Sunday. Ideally, we should do both, but either will do. Not that we believe in " Sunday obligations" other than obligations of love to worship God. However, I am not sure whether attending Vespers would be adequate for Roman Catholics, since their canon laws are more restrictive. You are right about receiving communion in an Orthodox Church. It wouldn't be allowed.
  • Well, that seems to clear up the recieving-at-an-Orthodox-altar question! There are, I have been told, very many people who are not Catholic who yet commonly appear at Catholic masses and recieve the sacrament because they at least believe in It. Somehow, I don't think this happens in Orthodox churches. One does not, of course, condone this; still, the primitive sort of belief in this act of union between heaven and earth and the desire to share in it is telling!
  • Flambeaux
    Posts: 45
    So did anyone have a good experience, liturgical or aesthetic, at the AU conference?
  • The talks at the conference were quite good and the chances for fellowship and networking invaluable.
    Singing great English-language hymns (even if occasionally marred by 1982 Hymnal 'inclusive' language) in a major cathedral is always a blast!
    And the Mass was a reverent and prayerful one, no matter the details, and included an excellent sermon by Father Jeffrey Steenson, the former Episcopalian bishop of Rio Grande (New Mexico).

    The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart is one of the truly great cathedral of North America. It's beautiful in more ways than could be listed here. And--God be praised--it has not been wreck-ovated in any way whatsoever. So, yes, there was an aesthetic opportunity of a high order.

    Brother Stephen's blog post plus a wide variety of interesting comments can be found here:
    [The original source blog (subtuum.blogspot) does not allow comments.]