Tuesday 7 June 2011

Love is come again – Some Patrimonial Reflections on the Ordination of Priests for the Ordinariate at Southwark St George’s Cathedral

(c) Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
The ordination of seven new priests for the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham at St George’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Southwark, on Saturday 4th June 2011, brings the number to twelve, including the five former bishops, among them Mgr Keith Newton the Ordinary. Each one serves a group, ready to form a “personal parish” of the Ordinariate, within the territory of the Catholic diocese of Southwark, so it was Archbishop Peter Smith who ordained the seven, ordained deacon but a month ago at The Friars, Aylesford, to the order of presbyter in the Catholic Church. These were the first priestly ordinations of over 60 pastoral clergy for the Ordinariate to take place over the coming weeks.

The Liturgy of Ordination was notable for its intense atmosphere of expectation and prayer. If it was ever in doubt before, the seven men, supported by their parish groups and a number of the deacons of the Ordinariate and led by Mgr Newton, demonstrated that the Ordinariate has now passed beyond proving itself – it is evidently an ecclesial reality, a “particular Church” in its own right,. And so the concentration was not on an event but the operation of the grace of Christ’s Spirit in the life of the People of God. Fine music from the classic Catholic liturgical tradition was provided by a choir especially convened by friends for the occasion, but equally there were riches from the Anglican tradition – including the Anglican tradition of using the Catholic patrimony.

Recently a prominent Catholic liturgical commentator observed that the music of Johann Sebastian Bach is confessionally Lutheran and intrinsically pietistic and thus has little place in Catholic worship. Thank goodness this is not actually the belief of the Catholic Church, or the opinion of Pope Benedict. We should never cease to read again and again the words of the Decree on Ecumenism 4:

 It is right and salutary to recognize the riches of Christ and virtuous works in the lives of others who are bearing witness to Christ, … Nor should we forget that anything wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can be a help to our own edification. Whatever is truly Christian is never contrary to what genuinely belongs to the faith; indeed, it can always bring a deeper realization of the mystery of Christ and the Church.  Nevertheless, the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from attaining the fullness of catholicity proper to her, in those of her sons who, though attached to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all her bearings.

So it was no mere organ piece chosen to precede the Mass. Bach is the theologian of the Lutheran Reform’s music. So much of what he wrote for use in Church was designed to serve and adorn the set liturgy Sunday by Sunday. No one thinks twice about the use of Bach’s music in any church service these days; but it is not half a century ago that either his organ or choral music and hymn tunes would hardly have been heard at all in a Catholic church, even at a separate organ concert. What is perhaps less well known is that Bach’s organ works did not start to become well known in England until the first half of the nineteenth century. This was in no small part due to the son of Charles Wesley (the great Anglican Methodist hymnwriter and brother of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism), Samuel. He was a gifted classical scholar, organist and composer whose erratic progress through life (following conversion to Roman Catholicism at the age of 18, he was admitted to Freemasonry for a time, served as organist in Anglican churches and conducted unconventional marital relationships) was the result of a tragic head injury at the age of 21. It was upon his eventual recovery some years later that he threw himself into the study of Bach’s compositions and promoting then among English musicians. His son, the more famous church music composer Samuel Sebastian (named after Bach), inherited his genius and introduced the choral music of Bach more widely in England outside London, notably the St Matthew Passion (incidentally, Bach wrote this for Palm Sunday, and there is a Bach Passion for each of the evangelists, reflecting the calendrical arrangements in Lutheran worship derived from the Roman Latin rite). This piece had been all but forgotten since Bach’s death in 1750, until Mendelssohn was given a manuscript copy in 1825 and he was able to arrange a revival four years later. This led to the revival of Bach’s music in Germany and thus animated further the interest provoked in England by Samuel Wesley, with Mendelssohn visiting Britain the same year and subsequently meeting him.

Thus the organ Music before the Mass comprised three Bach pieces – the Chorale Preludes Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, Heliger Geist (BWV 667) and Von Gott will ich nicht lassen (BWV 658), followed by the "Fantasia super Komm, Heiliger Geist" (BWV 651). It will be noticed that, far from being “confessionally Lutheran”, the first piece (from the Little Organ Book) is based on the melody for the German translation by Luther of the great Latin hymn by Hrabanus Maurus (776-836), Veni Creator Spiritus, which was sung later in the service to Bishop John Cosin of Durham’s translation for the Anglican Ordinal, Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire. Thus we heard a masterpiece that embraced the way in which Lutheranism had drawn on the patrimony of the Western Latin Catholic tradition in both text and music; that had in due course been received as a gift from Lutheran liturgical and musical patrimony in the Church of England; and that is now part of the common patrimony of all Western Christendom, finding an appropriate place in setting the scene for a Catholic ordination Liturgy, resonating with a piece of classic Anglican hymnodic patrimony.

The second Chorale Prelude sets the tune of a hymn by Ludwig Helmbold of Erfurt from 1563, translated by the great Victorian populariser of German-language Evangelical Reformed hymnography, Catherine Winkworth. She was raised a Unitarian but who gravitated to more orthodox Protestantism thanks to her love of its chorales. Her many hymn translations are standards in the  worship repertoire of all English-language Christian Churches, the Catholic Church included. Among the most famous are Now thank we all our God and Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation. The words of this particular chorale were especially appropriate for the ordination of the seven new priests and their personal journeys as disciples of Jesus Christ:

From God shall naught divide me,
For he is true for aye,
And on my path will guide me,
Who else should often stray,
His ever bounteous hand
By night and day is heedful,
And gives me what is needful,
Where'er I go or stand.

The last organ piece sets the melody of a German poem from the fifteenth century, so both are directly a piece of the medieval German Catholic devotional tradition mediated to the present day through Bach the devout Lutheran. The tune is believed to be derived from the 14th century melody for Adesto, sancta Spiritus by Marchetto da Padova. Again, a piece of Latin Catholic patrimony absorbed into the Protestant Reformed Church and now finding fresh service in the Catholic Church. The words on which the music depended were fitting for the occasion:
Come, Holy Spirit, Lord God,
fill with the goodness of your grace
the heart, spirit and mind of your believers,
kindle in them your ardent love !
O Lord, through the splendour of your light
you have gathered in faith
people from all the tongues of the world;
so that in your praise Lord, may there be sung
Alleluia! Alleluia! (translation by Francis Browne, 2006 – gratefully acknowledged)

The whole Liturgy was marked by extended periods of silence. No attempt was made to cover these with the organ, hymns or choral music. This gave the service its spirit of anticipation and prayerful expectation. Indeed the tone was set by the offering by the choir of a familiar Easter Carol, set by its director, Mark Levett. Now the green blade riseth was written by the Revd John Macleod Campbell Crum (1872-1958, who ended up as a Canon of Canterbury throughout the 1930s and into the Second World War) and included in the influential Oxford Book of Carols in 1928. It is usually thought to be much older, because its tune is from a 15th century French Christmas carol. But Crum's words were a perfect match for Martin Shaw to set the tune to for the carol book. Martin Shaw is an important figure in the story of Anglican liturgical patrimony. From 1908 to 1920 he served as organist for Percy Dearmer, vicar of St Mary’s Primrose Hill, who drew on Sarum customs (in deliberate contrast with Anglo-Catholic attraction to Tridentine and Baroque cultures) and scholarly principles behind the development of the Book of Common Prayer, to devise the so-called English Use, popularised in The Parson’s Handbook (1899) and The English Liturgy (an amplified working version of the Prayer Book rite, 1903 to promote weekly and even daily Eucharistic celebrations to a high standard), whose influences can still be traced in Anglican cathedral and parish worship to this day.  He worked with his friend Ralph Vaughan Williams (music editor) and Percy Dearmer (leading words editor) on the production of the English Hymnal (1906) and was, with them, co-editor of the hymn book Songs of Praise (1926) and the Oxford Book of Carols. He was a co-founder of the Royal School of Church Music in 1918 and did much to encourage community singing and thus choral singing in small parishes.

Crum’s words, doubtless conceived with a memory of the massive loss of life during the Great War and its devastating effect on the rural economy and old ways of life and culture, convey an image of the Church which had started to realise it had lost hold of the religious imagination of the people. In an age of rapid social change (disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Wales, the birth of the welfare state, the General Strike, decline in Church support and deference to authority,  and the collapse of centuries-old orders in Europe) people in the Church of England addressed the new realities with both appetites for change and for denial – proposal and rejection of a Revised Prayer Book (1928), the modern Protestant Ecumenical Movement (1910 onwards), the Catholic ecumenical-liturgical movement (1907 onwards), the growing theological crisis of Modernism in Catholicism and Protestantism alike, and the revival of hopes, ultimately  inconclusive, for Anglican-Catholic corporate reunion through the Malines Conversations (1921-25). The words “Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been: Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green” aptly communicate this sense of grieving loss and Christian hope in the future as, even then, the clouds were gathering. In the present day, too, the Churches sense their vulnerability in the face of the relativist secular atheism that people opt for in place of the authentic engagement between Christian faith and society that most truly answers humanity’s deepest questions, just as Pope Benedict said on his visit to Britain in 2010. The Ordinariate is part of the Holy Father’s imagination for a reinvigorated Catholic Church that can carry out its mission to the world and specifically serve the re-evangelisation of culture in the “struggle for the soul of Europe”. So Now the green blade riseth fits today too. It was also poignant to observe in this great endeavour that the seven new priests had previously exercised devoted ordained ministries in the Church of England, the Catholic Church’s “ever beloved Sister”. Truly in a new ordination for a new purpose and ministry, “Love is come again” to them.

The entrance procession made its way into the Cathedral as this was still being sung; and so immediately it was ended we joined in the Entrance Hymn, Edward Plumptre’s Thy hand, O God, has guided thy flock from age to age. Plumptre (1821-1891, Dean of Wells from 1881) was not an Anglo-Catholic, but his hymn - a stalwart for Anglican confirmations, inductions of incumbents and other great Church occasions – could be something of an Anglo-Catholic national anthem. Its tale of articulating the Gospel in adversity and the teeth of opposition – and the unity of the Church which is intrinsic to the proclamation of the one faith – has long resonated with those who have been well versed for generations in the arts of Catholic Apology and sacramental catechesis in a Church setting that has at best tolerated them and at worst failed to understand and even undermine them: “Through many a day of darkness, through many a scene of strife, the faithful few fought bravely to guard the nation's life … we will maintain, unflinching, one Church, one Faith, one Lord.” The tune, Thornbury, was written in 1898 by Basil Harwood, once organist of the Anglo-Catholic stronghold that was St Barnabas, Pimlico (where his remains are buried), scene of “ritual riots” when it opened in 1850. This hymn, full of contemporary determination and dedication was thus also redolent with rich Anglican character and a noble history that is being brought into the fullness of communion in the Universal Church.

During the rite of ordination itself (or “priesting” as long-standing usage has it), Archbishop Smith used the prayer of thanksgiving for previous Anglican ministry as intended by the Congregation for Divine Worship, immediately prior to the Litany of the Saints and the conferral of the sacrament of order, rather than as part of the rite of the candidates’ election, which has been the usage in some areas. As the use of the prayer is at the discretion of the bishop of the diocese in whose territory the Ordinary has requested a candidate to be ordained, there is no necessary significance to be inferred into the location of the prayer. Evidently some bishops consider it right to cast in terms of the manner and source from which the candidates were chosen; others regard it as part of the invocation for the ordaining grace of the Holy Spirit. But there is an ecclesiological point involved in this litrugical question. Do these ordinations take place within the particular church, the Catholic Church in its own right that is the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham – or are they achieved by “going out” of the Ordinariate to seek the assistance, fellowship and ministry of the local Catholic territorial diocese? The Order of Service, with its tell-tale cover picture by Martin Travers (designer and illustrator to the Anglo-Catholic movement approaching its height in the interwar years) asserts that the Church concerned is the Ordinariate, with the Archbishop of the diocese of Southwark ordaining on behalf of the Ordinary. But “Keith” was not mentioned in the Canon as the head of the ecclesial circumscription and indeed he was “welcomed” by the Archbishop most warmly, rather than being seen for the purpose of the occasion as in some way the host. At the Canon, the Archbishop commemorated “me your unworthy servant and my assistant bishops” – in other words, the diocese of Southwark, not the Ordinariate. No one wants to make an issue of this, not least as the overriding feeling was of generosity and mutual support and assistance. But, still, we do not belong to the Catholic Church, or exist in communion with the Successor of Peter, in general terms, but always through our communion in the particular Church or diocese to which we belong. The Ordinariate is a particular church in its own right and is not under the tutelage of a territorial diocese or dioceses. Evidently the Ordinariate, for all that it is prefigured in Ad Gentes and the Code of Canon Law, is pioneering new liturgical and ecclesiological territory, especially as the Ordinary is not a bishop himself. So it will be interesting to see how Catholic communion is signified in the “reading of the diptychs” at the Eucharistic Prayer as things develop – clearly the Roman Rite does not allow for the commemoration of “Keith our ordinary” and, as the Ordinariate depends directly on the Apostolic See of Rome, only Pope Benedict’s name is apparently mentioned at Mass in the Ordinariate itself. But perhaps the custom in monasteries with abbots nullius (e.g. Grottaferrata) will be observed – to name the Pope and then the priest who is head of the community.

After the prayer of ordination, the hymn Come Holy Ghost (already mentioned) was sung not during the vesting, as for instance at the Westminster and East Anglia ordinations, but as the new priests were anointed with Chrism. This is surely better, stressing the significance of “thy blessed unction from above”, even though it is the hands and fingers that are anointed, not “our soiled face”. The tune is the version  of music from the Mechlin Gradual declared official by Pius IX in 1848, now seen as a debased form of Gregorian chant. While it was later supplanted in Catholic circles thanks to the researches of the Solesmes monks and the ensuing Liturgical Movement, for the second half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, it will have been seen as definitive by Anglicans looking to receive and recover their historic Gregorian chant patrimony by looking to the current practice of the Roman Catholic Church. So it is different from the Sarum version commended in the English Hymnal, as much as it is different from the Solesmes monastic and Roman chant versions as restored and now familiar in the Catholic community. But learning it and fitting it to the revered words of Bishop Cosin (even with a truncated doxology that is favourite and distinguishing mark of Anglican usage) it must have been deeply aspirational.

The long and prayerful silences during the rite of ordination brought it home how very much, in the Catholic Church, this was no ordination of a grouping of priests. The procession of symbols and actions made it quite clear that each priest was being ordained to fill the sacred ministry of presbyter in and for the Body of Christ personally. Thus was laid bare the election of each individual (“upon … permission of the Holy See”, a phrase unique to the Ordinariate covering both the ordination of the married clergy and the extraordinary nature of the nonetheless ordinary Ordinariate), their kneeling individually to promise obedience to the Ordinary in whose Church they are incardinated, the laying on of hands by all 30 or so priests present on each of the candidates in turn, their vesting, the anointing, the gift of the peace by all the priests present to each of the newly ordained priests and the personal entrusting to each new priest of the gifts for the Eucharist just brought up by the people. It was a momentous period, out of time.

The candidates had to kneel several times – and at length for the laying of hands – on the bare stone, without a carpet runner or kneeler. So an important piece of Anglican patrimony that was missing was the hassock.

The Offertory Hymn was from John Mason Neale’s translation of the 7th century hymn to celebrate the Dedication of a Church, Urbs Beata, Jerusalem – Blessed City, heavenly Salem. We have commented before how Anglican patrimony in Catholic communion cannot be extricated from the work and legacy of hymn-writing and translation by Neale.  With the Second Vatican Council, it was instructed that he revised rites should restore the ancient texts of the Latin hymns that had been "improved" and in many instances utterly altered by the reworking that took place under Pope Urban VIII, a considerable scholar who preferred the purity of classical Latin verse to the vivid and rough edges of early medieval Latin as it was producing imaginative verse for the Latin liturgy. A number of the well known Catholic translations of the office hymns into English thus translate Urban’s work. Neale, however, translates the unrevised texts known to the Sarum use and other dialects of the Roman rite. Neale is unsurpassed as a translator of Latin and Greek verse into English. So using his work is not only part of the story of how Anglicanism re-received aspects of its own foundation and origins in the Ecclesia Anglicana up to the end of the Middle Ages, it is also a way of restoring to the Catholic Church, as it worships in the vernacular, a part of its own living tradition, which it has “loved long since and lost awhile”. The tune, Westminster Abbey, was by Henry Purcell, the major church and court composer (and Westminster choirboy), whose father had been Master of the Choristers at the Abbey from the restoration of King Charles II from 1661. Here again was a pointer to core Anglican patrimony and identity that has already been embraced and made part of the Catholic Church’s musical and liturgical culture in England.

There were several other gratifying features. The deacon (the Revd James Bradley, our trustee) sang the gospel to – we were told –  the simple tone commended for the new version of the missal. The Our Father was sung, not to the Rimsky Korsakov melody familiar at Westminster Cathedral, but to the adaptation of Sarum chant that has been sung for many generations by Anglicans. At Holy Communion the choir sang William Byrd’s Laudibus in sanctis. We have discussed before the relationship between this Catholic composer and his duties as a court composer for the Protestant monarchs Elizabeth I and James I. Much of his Latin sacred music was composed for clandestine celebrations of the Catholic liturgy, but this piece from the Liber Secundus Sacrarum Cantionum of 1591(dedicated to two powerful Protestant courtiers) is a setting of a paraphrase of Psalm 150 in Latin elegiac verse. A non-liturgical motet, it is not from the Catholic liturgy. Could it have been sung at court, or even in the Anglican Chapel Royal? If so, it is a nice piece of Anglican Latin patrimony, recovered to enrich Anglican choral worship thanks to the scholarly passion of E. H. Fellowes (a minor canon at St George’s Chapel, Windsor from 1900-51), happily pressed into the Catholic litrugy's service in the late twentieth century, as if it had always been part of it.
Laudibus in sanctis Dominum celebrate supremum:
Firmamenta sonent inclita facta Dei.
Inclita facta Dei cantate, sacraque potentis
Voce potestatem saepe sonate manus.
Celebrate the supreme Lord in holy praises:
Let the firmament proclaim the renowned deeds of God.
Sing the renowned deeds of God, and with a voice of holiness
Again and again proclaim the power of his mighty hand.
Magnificum Domini cantet tuba martia nomen:
Pieria Domino concelebrate lira.
Laude Dei resonent resonantia tympana summi,
Alta sacri resonent organa laude Dei.
Let the war-trumpet sing the wondrous name of the Lord:
Throng a celebration to the Lord with Pierian lyre.
Let resonant drumming resound with the praise of God most high,
Let instruments resound to the high praise of God in his holiness.
Hunc arguta canant tenui psalteria corda,
Hunc agili laudet laeta chorea pede.
Concava divinas effundant cymbala laudes,
Cymbala dulcisona laude repleta Dei.
Omne quod aethereis in mundo vescitur auris
Halleluya canat tempus in omne Deo.
Let hearts be attuned to sing of him with the slender-stringed psaltery
Let joyful  dancing praise him with agile feet.
Let rounded-out cymbals pour out divine praises,
Sweet-sounding cymbals fi lled with the praise of God.
To every age let the Alleluia sung to God from everything that is nourished in the world
Be heard in the heights of heaven.

Andrea Gabrieli’s O Sacrum Convivium  does not provide an obvious reference to the Anglican tradition, although it is a setting of an antiphon that is regularly used at the Choral Eucharist of many Anglican cathedrals and churches across the world. But it is worth remembering that the great master of Venetian renaissance polychoral style stands in, and is inseparable from, a kind of music “apostolic succession” that encompasses the Latin Catholic liturgy and the worship of the Reformation traditions from the Renaissance to the Baroque. A friend of the Franco-Fleming Lassus in Munich , to whom he sent his even more illustrious nephew Giovanni as a student, Andrea influenced the development of the Baroque style and the hallmark Venetian antiphonal choral style at Saint Mark's, of which he was organist to his death. His students were the Germans Hans Leo Hassler (a Protestant composer who also held Catholic appointments, writing for both Lutheran and Catholic worship - the famous melody of O sacred head sore wounded now belongs to all western Christian traditions)  and his nephew Giovanni. Giovanni was also influenced by the composing of Monteverdi and in turn influenced Hassler. Giovanni's students included Heinrich Schütz, whose influential musical legacy in turn culminated in the masterworks of Johann Sebastian Bach, the systematic theologian, so to speak, of Lutheran liturgical music.

Soul of my Saviour and the restored mass setting by Schubert in G firmly belong to the Roman Catholic patrimony, but Anglicans have made them their own, especially in the last three decades. So it was good to recognise a further instance of the mutual exchange of gifts that is spiritual ecumenism.

Finally, the great celebration ended with a much-loved Anglo-Catholic hymn in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham, now principal patron of the Ordinariate, Joy to thee, Queen within thine ancient Dowry. It is sung to Pilgrims, a tune written by Henry Smart (a convinced Protestant Anglican) for the inclusion of Father Faber’s Hark! Hark, my soul! Angelic songs are swelling in Hymns Ancient & Modern. Sadly, the authorship of this great stirring anthem to Our Lady as the healing, grace-bearing and protecting Mother of God, has long gone unacknowledged. Perhaps a reader can inform us on this important aspect of Anglican patrimony that has now found its way to make a home in the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate.

The League was represented at the Ordinations by three trustees – Fr Mark Woodruff, the Revd Deacon James Bradley and Miss Mary Bacon. We warmly congratulate Frs Ivan Aquilina, Stephen Bould, Simon Heans, Nicholas Levisseur, Christopher Lindlar, Christopher Pearson and Edward Tomlinson and we assure their people, the Ordinary and all the others soon to be ordained to the priesthood in the order of presbyter in the Catholic Church of our constant prayers.

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