Friday, 24 June 2011

Birmingham Ordinations to the Presbyterate: Strengthening of the Brethren and Some Patrimonial Reflections

At Pentecost on behalf of the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Archbishop Bernard Longley ordained eight new priests, many of whom were serving embryonic parish groups represented in St Chad's Cathedral in strength. As we have observed before, this congregation was not, as the stereotype of some commentators has it, ageing traditionalists obsessed with the minutiae of fussy liturgy, but honest to goodness ordinary church going people, such as you find in every parish in the land, the integrity of whose faith and discipleship had posed before them a vocation to enter into the fulness of Catholic communion, a call to which they had gladly responded. Here were people of different races and backgrounds, different ages and professions. These are the committed believers whose testimony before the world and in the Church is vital to the re-evangelisation of our society and its culture, and the wider struggle for the soul of Europe upon which Pope Benedict has focussed the mind of the Church so strongly, notably through the creation of a Catholic ordinariate for Christians of the invaluable Anglican tradition in all its variety and richness.

Mgr Newton and Archbishop Longley were joined by Bishop Mark Jabalé OSB, retired bishop of Menevia and sometime Abbot of Belmot, along with 30 other priests, many of whom were supporters from the clergy of the archdiocese of Birmingham. These included Mgr Canon John Moran, Vicar General of the Birmingham archdiocese, Mgr Andrew Burnham of the Ordinariate, and Canon Gerry Breen, Dean of the Cathedral. The League was represented by Fr Mark Woodruff (Director). Serving alongside Birmingham deacons during the Liturgy was one of the Ordinariate's two "transitional" deacons, the Revd Daniel Lloyd. The first two new Catholic priests to be ordained were old friends of the League through Fr Mark. Fr Richard Smith and Fr Mark have made a retreat or pilgrimage to Belgium almost every year in the last 20 in the hope of Catholic Christian Unity, at first to the Abbey of St Andrew at Zevenkerken near Bruges, and more recently to the Beguinage in Bruges on the Catholic League's annual pilgrimage for Christian Unity. In 2010 Fr Richard celebrated his Golden Jubilee in the priesthood of the Church of England, throughout which he has lived, served and witnessed to the Catholic Faith. This included several years as a missionary in Guyana and long service as a representative of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, founded in 1701 and Anglicanism's longest established overseas mission agency. As vicar of Eye, Suffolk, he succeeded Canon Donald Rea, who had been chairman of the Anglican Confraternity of Unity, founded in 1926 "to restore union with the Holy See (like the League), and who had been befriended by Pope John XXIII. The remarkable story is that in June 1959 the Pope noticed that the Anglican Canon, in a private audience, was carrying a Latin Roman Breviary. He told the priest who was interpreting for them, "That book of his looks a bit old. Mine is not so new. but it's newer than his. I will give it to him." Next day the four volumes of the Pope's breviary arrived, with the markers where the Pope had finished his office on the feast of the Sacred Heart, and containing his family memorial cards, including one for his father. On the cover of the black volumes were the arms of the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice.

Writing in Reunion, the Confraternity's journal, Canon Rea quoted Pope John on the delicate subject of church unity (thanks to this report in Time Magazine online). "In working for reunion," Pope John had said, "it is necessary (1) to be very meek and humble, (2) to be patient and know how to wait God's hour, and (3) to insist on positive arguments, leaving aside for the moment those elements on which we differ, and to avoid discussions that may offend against the virtue of charity."

Father Richard ensured that the volumes were safely deposited at the Lambeth Palace Library as a testimony of the work of Anglo-Papalists to bring about Catholic-Anglican unity from the beginning of the modern ecumenical age, and also of the desire in the Pope for reconciliation between Christians.

It was a special joy for Fr Mark, too, to be present at the ordination of Fr John Pitchford, who until 1991 was his predecessor as vicar of St Peter's, Grange Park, Winchmore Hill in north London. St Peter's has the distinction of being the only Church whose construction was authorised and completed during the Second World War. It was made out of materials from bombed out churches and was intended as a morale-booster, set as the church at the heart of a new garden-suburban development on the outskirts of the metropolis. Many of the furnishings came from bombed, demolished or disused churches too - the font from St Catherine Coleman in the city, a lectern from St Peter's Eaton Square's vicarage chapel, pews from St Stephen's Bow. During Fr Mark's tenure, the ornate tabernacle depicting the pelican in her piety from St Ethelburga's Bishopsgate, bombed by the IRA, was installed in a fitting new home in the centre of the sanctuary at St Peter's, for ever after to point to the Church's faith in the eucharist. Fr Pitchford is an author in the service of the Church. To navigate the labyrinth of regulations and to promote good practice in parish administration, he wrote for Anglican lay people An ABC for the PCC. In 1991 he brought out Daily with God, a personal prayer book for Anglicans and Roman Catholics, to enhance with additional resources for personal and corporate devotion the provisions of both churches' Litrugy of the Hours.

We also wish the other priests who were ordained every good wish and offer our prayers for this new chapter in their ministry: Fr John Lungley, Fr Paul Burch, Fr Christopher Marshall, Fr Matthew Pittam, Fr David Mawson, and Fr Paul Berrett.

The Entrance Hymn was Love of the Father, Love of God the Son, a hymn to the Holy Spirit from the 12th century (Amor Patris et Filii), mediated to the Church of this age and the hymnody of the vernacular liturgy by the poet Robert Bridges OM, Poet Laureate from 1913, the only physician to hold this distinction. His poems are noted for the power that comes from their economy of expression. At Oxford he was a friend of Gerard Manley Hopkins and it is thanks to Bridges, who saw to the posthumous publication of the Jesuit's work, that Hopkins' fame as a poet grew in public and critical estimation. Bridges' own verse was admired by composers, especialy Gustav Holst, Sir Hubert Parry, and Gerard Finzi. His numerous hymns and translations were issued in the Yattendon Hymnal of 1899, named after his retreat in retirement to Berkshire. Among his verses are many still in use today: the German Passiontide chorale (now through the Bach harmonisation of its tune), Ah, holy Jesu, how hast thou offended?, All my hope on God is founded (a translation of Luther's great Reformation hymn, Ein' Feste Burg), O gladsome light (Phos Hilaron from Byzantine vespers), and O sacred Head, sore wounded (another German hymn, famed for its tune, the so-called Passion Chorale). He also translated Latin Catholic hymns, such Office hymns and those of Charles Coffin. His work comes at a period when a number of scholarly English Christians had been raiding the treasuries of all the Christian traditions to re-create them for the adornment of English worship, not least the Church of England's Prayer Book Liturgy. Bridges thus stands among John Mason Neale, George Ratcliffe Woodward (father of the modern Christmas carol), Sir Henry Baker, John Brownlie (a Free Church of Scotland translator of Greek hymns), the Revd John Chandler (Anglican translator of Latin hymns, such as On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry), Percy Dearmer (Anglican priest-liturgist and main editor of the English Hymnal), Thomas Alexander Lacey (a hard-working Anglo-Catholic vicar-cum-journalist-cum-open-air-preacher, who translated office and Eastern hymns for the English Hymnal), Athelstan Riley (more office hymns, although he is better known for his own Ye watchers and ye holy ones) and Catherine Winkworth (the translator of hundreds of German chorales, the most famous being Now thank we all our God and Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation). Some of these hymns will be known to Catholics in different translations, but it is all the more important that the Ordinariate maintains the versions it has received from the Anglican tradition, partly for their own sake and partly because this rich store of hymns from all parts of Christendom and the history of worship is itself testament to an otherwise hidden facet to Anglican patrimony, the creativity of its acquisitiveness as it worked to enhance worship with "the beauty of holiness".

The tune of Love of the Father is Song 22 by Orlando Gibbons, gentleman and then organist of the Chapel Royal (also a secular court musician) under James I in the early 17th century. He is thus a successor of Tallis and Byrd, but at some distance, and an Anglican Protestant. But he does develop the form and tradition of the English anthem set on its way by Tallis, especially its development into the verse anthem form. Song 22 comes from the Hymnes and Songs of the Church of 1623 and is the tune for the metrical version of the Prayer of Hezekiah (Isaiah 38). This pure piece of Anglican patrimony has already been absorbed in the English worship of the Catholic Church (see The Catholic Hymnbook of 1998).

By the same token, Victoria's Missa O Quam Gloriosam has been a regular feature in Anglican cathedrals, other large churches with choirs and college choir repertoires for several generations. Tomas Luis da Victoria was born in the province of Avila, Castile in 1548 and sent by Philip II to be cantor of the Collegium Germanicum founded by St Ignatius of Loyola in Rome. It may well be that he studied under Palestrina and he counts as one of the three great Catholic composers of the Counter-Reformation, alongside Palestrina and the Franco-Fleming from Mons, Orlande de Lassus. Not only was his music thus forged in the context of the Catholic Church reforming itself partly in response to the challenges of the Reformation, it also stands in a musical process of development that would later come to influence, through Andrea and Giovanni Gabrielli, the Protestant composers Hans Leo Hassler, Heinrich Schütz and thus the great musical theologian of Lutheranism, John Sebastian Bach. Again, we see how entwined the Anglican and Catholic liturgical and musical patrimonies truly are; as Pope Paul VI remarked of Anglicans and Catholics, they share a "communion of origins".

The Golden Sequence for Pentecost, Veni Sancte Spiritus, was sung in Latin to its beautiful Gregorian melody. Sadly we did not have the words, although it would have been well within the capability of many present to render it faithfully.

After the Ordinary presented his candidates to the Archbishop for Election, it fell to Mgr Newton to preach. The text is available on the Ordinariate Portal. Towards the end, he paid tribute to the support of the Archbishop, the clergy and people of the archdiocese and pledged the support of the Ordinariate clergy to the diocese in return. After all, the Ordinariate is not supposed to be a separate church in its own right, but a church in its own right that works with and lends strength to the other churches. As very much a papal initiative for responding to a special phenomenon in Britain, it especially realises the successor of Peter's duty to "strengthen the brethren", not least because as it has received so much strength and support already from the existing Catholic community in the country.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving for previous Anglican ministry was not offered, having already been made at the diaconal ordinations at Oscott College the previous Monday. During the Laying on of Hands by all the priests present and the Ordination Prayer itself, the deep sense of silence and expectancy among the faithful made a great impression. For the Promise of Obedience, the Anointing and the Presentation of the Eucharistic Gifts and Vessels, each candidate had to ascend the seven fairly steep steps to the archbishop's stool. This challenge was firmly overcome by even the more elderly priests, although it was clear the Cathedral had been reordered without thought to the details of the rite of ordination, or kneeling for confirmation or Holy Communion. For the laying on of hands and the Ordination prayer, as we have observed before, the candidates were missing an essential element of Anglican patrimony: the hassock.

The hymn Veni Creator Spiritus was sung in its entirety in Latin during the investiture with the chasuble, thus immediaely and aptly prior to the anointing. Again, no text was furnished, so those who had not mastered the memory of the classical text were unable to join in.

At the Offertory, the excellent choir sang Confirma hoc, Deus, Byrd's setting of the Offertory chant of the day from Book II of the Gradualia of 1607:
God, strengthen what you have wrought in us. For the sake of your Temple that is in Jerusalem, kings shall offer gifts to you, alleluia.
It was gratifying to see a part of England's native Catholic patrimony, created for singing at clandestine Masses in penal times in England at some risk, sung at exactly its own place in the Liturgy. Now these pieces by Byrd and Tallis are shared by English Catholics and Anglicans, especially through the magnificent Anglican choral tradition in its cathedrals.

During the Eucharistic Prayer, Victoria was retired in order for all to sing Sanctus viii De Angelis. This was once thought to be a relatively modern composition, owing to its tuneful appeal in what sounds like a modern major key and some dissimilarities from other Gregorian masses. Some of the features of the De Angelis mass indicate a close resemblance to Jewish liturgical music, notably a Shema Yisrael from a Jewish community in South Arabia - Hear, O Israel: the Lord your God is one God. Blessed be the Name of the glory of his kingdom for ever. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might, etc., from Deuteronomy 6, that forms the centrepiece of the daily morning and evening services in teh Synagogue. The eminent lay Catholic liturgist and musicologist, Professor Laszlo Dobszay, has written compellingly of the sharing of musical cultures in the Mediterranean and near East, so it is not impossible that elements of the Missa de Angelis represent a long and healthy tradition of borrowing of musical forms and patrimony across the known world, possibly indicating too a time of closer encounter and exchange between Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Most significantly, in the Canon the Archbishop commemorated "Keith our Ordinary" as well as "me your unworthy servant", thereby recognising that while the ordinations were taking place in the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Birmingham at the hands of its Archbishop, nonetheless they were actually taking place in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a particular church in its own right, albeit without physical churches of its own for the moment.

At Holy Communion, the choir sang Factus est repente, part of the Communion antiphon for the Feast of Pentecost and part of the Offertory, set to music by Gregor Aichinger (1564-1628), a priest from the Bavarian city of Regensburg who went to study music in Rome for two years from 1599, possibly under those who had themselves been students of Paletrina. Among them could have numbers Francesco Soriano (master of the Capella Giuliana at St Peter's) or Giorgino Bernardino Narnini (master of the choir of San Luigi dei Francesi). As such, he just about stands in that tradition of the Roman School, its influence in Venice and also into Germany that actually pervaded that musical assumptions in the litrugical culture of both Catholics and Protestants (see above):
Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind. God, confirm what you have wrought in us, from your holy Temple that is in Jerusalem.
This was followed by Come down, O love divine by Bianco da Siena (who died in 1434), translated by Richard Frederick Littledale. Littledale was a fellow priest and collaborator with John Mason Neale in the translation of Greek and Latin hymns and liturgical prayers, and a four-volume commentary on the psalms. He had been a scholar (i.e. fellow) of Trinity College, Dublin, and in 1888 brought out A Short History of the Council of Trent, which is complimentary of the role of the Jesuits in the implementation of many of the positive reforms it ordained. Thus Littledale represents that strong and long-standing element within Anglo-Catholic scholarly circles of past ages that oriented itself not so much Romewards as placed the Church of England within the swim of the wider Church and its life and history. These are important foundations for Anglo-Catholicism, but also for Anglican-Catholic efforts during the last two centuries towards the recovery of unity through an awareness of the communio of the whole Body of Christ, the Church. What they created and left behind is thus a determining factor in the nature and ongoing relevance of an Anglican patrimony, both within Anglicanism and in the communion of the Catholic Church. Bianco da Siena was a poet and mystic, a disciple of Blessed Giovanni Colombini, founder of the Gesuati, a Sienese order said to resemble the Franciscans in their original days, having an intense devotion to the Name of Jesus (it decayed and was evntually suppressed by Pope Clement IX in 1668). The tune is the perfectly crafted Down Ampney, specially written by Ralph Vaughan Williams, musical editor of the English Hymnal in 1906, to fit the deeply moving words, which are in such an uncommon metre for hymns that few tunes existed to match it and none available really worked. Down Ampney, however, has formed an indissoluble marriage with the words in almost all English-speaking worship traditions. It is named after a village in the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire that was Vaughan Williams' birthplace. The son of its vicar, Vaughan Williams was immersed in the musical and religious language of his origins; but despite his masterwork of the English Hymnal's music (and many other pieces of sacred and religious music), perhaps shaped by his enduringly dark experience from the Great War (there is often an air of menace or darkness behind the music of this supposedly "quintessentially English", pastoral composer) his attitude to religion was as "an atheist ... who drifted into a cheerful agnosticism", according to his second wife, Ursula. This is a difficult part of the English hymn tradition to form part of the Ordinariate's patrimony (besides, it is already a part of the musical culture of the Catholic Church), because it matters that sacred music expressed the faith of the composer. Of course, anything can be sanctified and drawn into God's service - after all, the music of this tune has affected and moved generations of  Christians at their confirmation, at Pentecost, at ordinations. But perhaps it is not so far from what the Ordinariate is supposed to be about when we recall that Vaughan Williams and his beautiful and outstanding body of music came to see the Christian religion not as a set of propositions but as some kind of reliable journey. Indeed in his The Pilgrim's Progress he renamed John Bunyan's hero from Christian to Pilgrim. This is a perspective that it is well to bear in mind if we are about the re-evangelisation of culture and the struggle for the soul of Europe.

The end of Mass was characterised by three glorious elements. First, the Archbishop invited us not to leave the Cathedral before we had venerated the relics of Blessed John Henry Newman in the Old Baptistery and returned thanks for the Ordinations, which he saw very much as part of the witness to the Catholic faith he had given bearing fruit in the present age. Secondary relics, including a zucchetto and a book, admittedly; but close proximity to heaven, if one truly believes in what the Incarnation and the Resurrection truly mean. Secondly, we left the altar to the stirring hymn, We have a gospel to proclaim, by Edward Joseph Burns, born in 1938 and a Anglican priest serving in the diocese of Blackburn, written in response to its bishop's call to mission after the fourfold pattern of Christ's incarnation, passion, resurrection and ascension. The tune, Fulda, is by William Gardiner (1770-1853), a composer who has the distinction of being the first person to introduce the performance of music by Beethoven to England in his native city of Leicester in 1793. A copy of Beethoven's Violin Trio in E flat (Opus 3) was among the possessions of the refugee Abbé Döbler, chaplain of the Elector of Cologne (the archbishop, whose see was really linked to membership of the Bavarian Wittlesbach royal family), who had been taken under the wing of Mrs Frances Bowater, the daughter of the Earl of Faversham, and who befriended Gardiner. Döbler and Gardiner joined together in the first English performance of the piece that year at Bowater House. In 1808 Gardiner published Sacred Melodies, a collection of tunes drawn from the music of German composers (Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn) that he set to hymns and metrical psalms as sung in chapel choirs. He thought Fulda was by Beethoven, but the tune has not been discovered in his oeuvre and is probably by Gardiner himself. The story of this tune makes it probably one of the more eccentric pieces of English worship patrimony, but it is very fine nonetheless. Third, as the procession drew near to the opened West Door, we heard the fine peal of eight bells from the Cathedral bell tower. Some cleric once wrote, in the newsletter of the Association for Latin Liturgy, that change-ringing was intrinsically Protestant because prior to this uniquely English tradition emerging after the breach with Rome, Catholic bells had been hung in a different way, swung in a different method and thus struck at a different angle. The resulting kind of sound was held thus to be "more Catholic". This kind of rot has no place in Catholic apology, but is surprisingly prevalent in different ways among all traditionalists who have no understanding that tradition of its nature develops. It is not beyond the bounds of possiblity that, had England remained in communion with the See of Rome, change-ringing would have grown up in the towers of churches across the land anyway. All the same, it is nothing other than a sheer delight that this characteristically English and joyous custom took hold in the Catholic Church long ago - there is a fair number of towers in Catholic Churches in England that boast a peal of bells for ringing the changes. The full eight bells have been at St Chad's since Easter 1877 and the only sadness in hearing them ring this Pentecost was that, because of a whole day of driving rain, it was impossible for the congregation to spill out onto the large pavement to glory in the praise they were offering.

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