Mass from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham

Mass was offered this morning for the Fifth Sunday of Lent at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, the seat of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction for Catholics in North America of Anglican heritage:

PS: While we’re mentioning one church named in honor of Our Lady of Walsingham, her National Shrine in England has started 24/7 live streaming of its events, including today’s Mass rededicating England to our Lady as her “dowry”:
https://www.walsingham.org.uk/live-stream/

Prayers for the event are on-line at https://www.behold2020.com/

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Closing time at St. James

The “Classic FM” radio station in Britain shared this on Facebook the other day:

Last Sunday, hours before lockdown in the United Kingdom, some singers continued the tradition of singing church services, but singing to empty buildings and spaced two meters apart.

This is Mozart’s ‘Ave verum corpus’, sung at St James’, Spanish Place in London.

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Liturgy on the internet

In addition to the Masses that can be viewed on-line (live or recorded) through television networks such as CatholicTV, EWTN, Salt+Light, KTO (France), ZDF (Germany), and TV2000 (Italy), and Vatican Radio and Television, here are some additional sources:

The Fraternity of St Peter offers the traditional Latin Mass from various locations at http://www.livemass.net/.

A list of churches streaming Eastern Catholic and Orthodox liturgies on-line is at http://liveliturgy.com/.

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Ordinary Form Ordo 2020

The USCCB Committee on Divine Worship has helpfully published the 2020 Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America (PDF, free download) on their web site.
The Calendar contains Scripture readings for each observance, details about regional variations in holy days of obligation, and an appendix listing patronal days for Latin American countries and the corresponding celebrations that may be observed when they fall on ferial days.
Also mentioned is the new memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, which falls on Pentecost Monday; this year that will be June 1, temporarily displacing St. Justin Martyr.

The water organ

W.H. Auden’s Hymn to Saint Cecilia, memorably set to voices by Benjamin Britten, sketches the patroness of music thus:

In a garden shady this holy lady
With reverent cadence and subtle psalm,
Like a black swan as death came on,
Poured out her song in perfect calm:
And by ocean’s margin this innocent virgin
Constructed an organ to enlarge her prayer,
And notes tremendous from her great engine
Thundered out on the Roman air.

Why would St. Cecilia construct an organ by the shore? We don’t think of that as a hospitable place for delicate instruments. But the earliest known pipe organ, the hydraulis, invented in the third century BC, ingeniously used water to maintain the pressure in its wind chest. This animation illustrates the mechanism:

and this reproduction instrument at Bath illustrates some of its potential for sound:

No wonder the Byzantine emperors used it in their court ceremonies. This German reconstruction sounds more refined:

A February conference with Peter Latona

Musicians looking for an educational event next February may like to consider a conference NPM is putting on February 10-12 in Washington, with Dr. Peter Latona, the director of music at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. The program includes four talks by Dr. Latona, two of them at the Basilica, and features the opportunity to observe a choir rehearsal on site. More information on the program, costs, and accommodations are in the event brochure.

New Office hymn texts in English

For several years work has been underway to develop a new edition of the Liturgy of the Hours (LOTH) in English for use in the United States. The version currently in use dates from the mid-1970s and is overdue for revision, since the second post-conciliar Latin edition was issued 34 years ago. So the new edition is coming with numerous positive changes, many of them based on the 2001 document Liturgiam authenticam.

One part of the work has reached a milestone: the task of translating the office’s Latin hymns into English has been completed by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) and the results will be up for approval by the US bishops this month at their meeting.

These are great hymns, nearly 300 of them, full of theological significance and suited to the various feasts and daily observances, so they will be a true enrichment for the Liturgy of the Hours. They will replace the English-language hymns, songs, and poems that were used in the current edition, nearly all of them unrelated to the corresponding Latin texts.

As with most things in the world of church music, there is debate. Happily, the hymns are being put into English with an eye to preserving the original meter of the Latin hymns. This will make it so that the original melodies, simple Gregorian tunes, can be used with them. But in a move that inspires misgivings, the hymns are being rendered as unrhymed text.

Here’s an example:

Iesu, redémptor sæculi,
Verbum Patris altíssimi,
Lux lucis invisíbilis,
Custos tuórum pérvigil :

Tu fabricátor ómnium
Discrétor atque témporum,
Fessa labore córpora
Noctis quiéte récrea.

Qui frangis ima tártara,
Tu nos ab hoste líbera,
Ne váleat sedúcere
Tuo redémptos sánguine,

Ut, dum graváti córpore
Brevi manémus témpore,
Sic caro nostra dórmiat
Ut mens sopórem nésciat.

Iesu, tibi sit glória,
Qui morte victa prænites,
Cum Patre et almo Spíritu,
In sempitérna sæcula.

Demo videos from ICEL for nine of the new hymn texts are available on the net.

Of course, the decision to avoid rhyme in the English translations of these hymns was not made without reason. In some cases, obtaining a rhyme can force the translator to change conventional English word order. This is commonplace in hymnody and poetry, but, it is said, it could arguably make the text seem artificial for the many clergy who observe the daily office alone, who read it rather then singing it.

One must concede that that is a reason, but it reflects a sad state of affairs: that now, as in the liturgical reform of the 1960s, the celebration of the liturgy with music is treated as something good but secondary, as somewhat less important than the desire to celebrate the liturgy in merely spoken form.

As a consolation, I am told that the new unrhymed English hymns will not be mandatory: that it will be permitted to use other translations, including the classic rhyming translations by greats such as Neale and Winkworth, or more recently those from the nuns of St. Cecilia’s Abbey in Ryde or Stanbrook Abbey.

More information on the status of the LOTH is available at the site of the USCCB.

Franciscus, vir catholicus


Before October is out, here’s an office antiphon in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, sung in a church in northern Italy:

Franciscus, vir catholicus
et totus apostolicus,
Ecclesiae teneri
fidem Romanae docuit,
Presbyterosque monuit
prae cunctis revereri.

Francis, a man Catholic and entirely apostolic,
taught that the faith of the Roman Church be upheld,
and admonished that priests be revered before all.

It’s unusual in that it’s rhymed (aabccb, 887777): for more information about the source in a Franciscan antiphonary, see this page at Boston College Libraries.