Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day"

This is labeled "Lessons and Carols from St George's Cathedral, Perth Western Australia 2009."   I've really fallen in love with this song and its earthy mysticism;  it seems often to be sung at the Christmas Eve service, which emphasizes the "tomorrow" aspect.  Thought I'd post it now, before the Christmas/Epiphany season officially ends on Saturday with Candelmas.

Wikipedia provides a full set of words here; there's one rather typical-for-the-time, scolding anti-Judaic (if not anti-Semitic) verse among them.  The first four verses - below - are the ones used here, in John Gardner's arrangement of this folk tune.
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance;

Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love.

Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man's nature
To call my true love to my dance.


In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance.


Then afterwards baptized I was;
The Holy Ghost on me did glance,
My Father’s voice heard I from above,
To call my true love to my dance.

Here's more from the Wikipedia entry:
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day is an English carol usually attributed as 'traditional'; its first written appearance is in William B. Sandys' Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern of 1833. It is most well known in John Gardner's adaptation, but numerous other composers have made original settings of it or arranged the traditional tune, including Gustav Holst, Igor Stravinsky, David Willcocks, John Rutter, Ronald Corp, Philip Stopford, and Andrew Carter.

The verses of the hymn progress through the story of Jesus told in his own voice. An innovative feature of the telling is that Jesus' life is repeatedly characterized as a dance. This device was later used in the modern hymn "Lord of the Dance".


Thomas Cahill in his book Mysteries of the Middle Ages (Doubleday, 2006) presents this song as an English carol in which Christ speaks of his incarnation, his "dancing day." Cahill writes that the carol can be found on extant broadsides, which makes it certainly as old as early printing, still impossible to date. He goes on to suggest that the phrase "the legend of my play" appears to be an allusion to a mystery play, and that the song might well have been sung at the beginning of one of those dramas. That, he writes, would place it in the later Middle Ages, perhaps the fourteenth century.

The King's College Choir sings it, too.

I really do love this tune and this arrangement! 

This seems to be the original melody;  Hymns and Carols of Christmas says this is sheet music from an 1833 book.

So it seems this Willcocks arrangement of the carol - not nearly as wonderful, to me - is based on the original tune:

The Office of the Dead (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913)

Here's the full entry.  It's a full description of the Office as it existed, and was understood, in 1913 in the Roman Catholic Church.    I'll be interested to learn if anything further has been discovered since then; I'd guess not much, but you never know.  I'm also interested in finding out more about it from an Anglican perspective, and will post what I find.

This office, as it now exists in the Roman Liturgy, is composed of First Vespers, Mass, Matins, and Lauds. The Vespers comprise psalms, cxiv, cxix, cxx, cxxix, cxxxvii, with the Magnificat and the preces. The Matins, composed like those of feast days, have three nocturns, each consisting of three psalms and three lessons; the Lauds, as usual, have three psalms (Ps. lxii and lxvi united are counted as one) and a canticle (that of Ezechias), the three psalms Laudate, and the Benedictus. We shall speak presently of the Mass. The office differs in important points from the other offices of the Roman Liturgy. It has not the Little Hours, the Second Vespers, or the Complin. In this respect it resembles the ancient vigils, which began at eventide (First Vespers), continued during the night (Matins), and ended at the dawn (Lauds); Mass followed and terminated the vigil of the feast. The absence of the introduction, "Deus in adjutorium", of the hymns, absolution, blessings, and of the doxology in the psalms also recall ancient times, when these additions had not yet been made. The psalms are chosen not in their serial order, as in the Sunday Office or the Roman ferial Office, but because certain verses, which serve as antiphons, seem to allude to the state of the dead. The use of some of these psalms in the funeral service is of high antiquity, as appears from passages in St. Augustine and other writers of the fourth and fifth centuries. The lessons from Job, so suitable for the Office of the Dead, were also read in very early days at funeral services. The responses, too, deserve notice, especially the response "Libera me, Domine, de viis inferni qui portas æreas confregisti et visitasti inferum et dedisti eis lumen . . . qui erant in poenis . . . advenisti redemptor noster" etc. This is one of the few texts in the Roman Liturgy alluding to Christ's descent into hell. It is also a very ancient composition (see Cabrol, "La descente du Christ aux enfers" in "Rassegna Gregor.", May and June, 1909).

The "Libera me de morte æterna", which is found more complete in the ancient manuscripts, dates also from an early period (see Cabrol in "Dict. d'archéol. et de liturgie", s. v. Absoute). Mgr Batiffol remarks that it is not of Roman origin, but it is very ancient (Hist. du brév., 148). The distinctive character of the Mass, its various epistles, its tract, its offertory in the form of a prayer, the communion (like the offertory) with versicles, according to the ancient custom, and the sequence "Dies Iræ" (q.v.; concerning its author see also BURIAL), it is impossible to dwell upon here. The omission of the Alleluia, and the kiss of peace is also characteristic of this mass. There was a time when the Alleluia was one of the chants customary at funeral services (see Dict. d'archéol. et de liturgie, s. v. Alleluia, I, 1235). Later it was looked upon exclusively as a song of joy, and was omitted on days of penance (e.g. Lent and ember week), sometimes in Advent, and at all funeral ceremonies. It is replaced to-day by a tract. A treatise of the eighth-ninth century published by Muratori (Liturg. Rom. vet., II, 391) shows that the Alleluia was then suppressed. The omission of the kiss of peace at the Mass is probably due to the fact that that ceremony preceded the distribution of the Eucharist to the faithful and was a preparation for it, so, as communion is not given at the Mass for the Dead, the kiss of peace was suppressed.
Not to speak of the variety of ceremonies of the Mozarabic, Ambrosian, or Oriental liturgies, even in countries where the Roman liturgy prevailed, there were many variations. The lessons, the responses, and other formulæ were borrowed from various sources; certain Churches included in this office the Second Vespers and Complin; in other places, instead of the lessons of our Roman Ritual, they read St. Augustine, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiasticus, Osee, Isaiah, Daniel, etc. The responses varied likewise; many examples may be found in Martène and the writers cited below in the bibliography. It is fortunate that the Roman Church preserved carefully and without notable change this office, which, like that of Holy Week, has retained for us in its archaic forms the memory and the atmosphere of a very ancient liturgy. The Mozarabic Liturgy possesses a very rich funeral ritual. Dom Férotin in his "Liber Ordinum" (pp. 107 sqq.) has published a ritual (probably the oldest extant), dating back possibly to the seventh century. He has also published a large number of votive masses of the dead. For the Ambrosian Liturgy, see Magistretti, "Manuale Ambrosianum", I (Milan, 1905), 67; for the Greek Ritual, see Burial, pp. 77-8.


The Office of the Dead has been attributed at times to St. Isidore, to St. Augustine, to St. Ambrose, and even to Origen. There is no foundation for these assertions. In its present form, while it has some very ancient characteristics, it cannot be older than the seventh or even eighth century. Its authorship is discussed at length in the dissertation of Horatius de Turre, mentioned in the bibliography. Some writers attribute it to Amalarius, others to Alcuin (see Batiffol, "Hist. du Brév.", 181-92; and for the opposing view, Bäumer-Biron, "Hist. du Brév.", II, 37). These opinions are more probable, but are not as yet very solidly established. Amalarius speaks of the Office of the Dead, but seems to imply that it existed before his time ("De Eccles. officiis", IV, xlii, in P. L., CV, 1238). He alludes to the "Agenda Mortuorum" contained in a sacramentary, but nothing leads us to believe that he was its author. Alcuin is also known for his activity in liturgical matters, and we owe certain liturgical compositions to him; but there is no reason for considering him the author of this office (see Cabrol in "Dict. d'archéol. et de liturgie", s. v. Alcuin). In the Gregorian Antiphonary we do find a mass and an office in agenda mortuorum, but it is admitted that this part is an addition; a fortiori this applies to the Gelasian. The Maurist editors of St. Gregory are inclined to attribute their composition to Albinus and Etienne of Liège (Microl., lx). But if it is impossible to trace the office and the mass in their actual form beyond the ninth or eighth century, it is notwithstanding certain that the prayers and a service for the dead existed long before that time. We find them in the fifth, fourth, and even in the third and second century. Pseudo-Dionysius, Sts. Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome, and Augustine, Tertullian, and the inscriptions in the catacombs afford a proof of this (see Burial, III, 76; PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD; Cabrol, "La prière pour les morts" in "Rev. d'apologétique", 15 Sept., 1909, pp. 881-93).


The Office of the Dead was composed originally to satisfy private devotion to the dead, and at first had no official character. Even in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, it was recited chiefly by the religious orders (the Cluniacs, Cistercians, Carthusians), like the Office of Our Lady (see Guyet, loc. cit., 465). Later it was prescribed for all clerics and became obligatory whenever a ferial office was celebrated. It has even been said that it was to remove the obligation of reciting it that the feasts of double and semi-double rite were multiplied, for it could be omitted on such days (Bäumer-Biron, op. cit., II, 198). The reformed Breviary of St. Pius V assigned the recitation of the Office of the Dead to the first free day in the month, the Mondays of Advent and Lent, to some vigils, and ember days. Even then it was not obligatory, for the Bull "Quod a nobis" of the same pope merely recommends it earnestly, like the Office of Our Lady and the Penitential Psalms, without imposing it as a duty (Van der Stappen, "Sacra Liturgia", I, Malines, 1898, p. 115). At the present time, it is obligatory on the clergy only on the feast of All Souls and in certain mortuary services. Some religious orders (Carthusians, Cistercians etc.) have preserved the custom of reciting it in choir on the days assigned by the Bull "Quod a nobis".


Apostolic Constitutions, VI, xxx; VIII, xl; PS.-DIONYS., De hierarch. eccl., vii, n. 2; AMALARIUS in P. L., CV, 1239 (De eccles. officiis, III, xlix; IV, xlii); DURANDUS, Rationale, VII, xxxv; BELETH, Rationale in P. L., CII, 156, 161; RAOUL DE TONGRES, De observantia canonum, prop. xx; PITTONUS, Tractatus de octavis festorum (1739), I (towards end), Brevis tract. de commem. omnium fidel. defunct.; HORATIUS A TURRE, De mortuorum officio dissertatio postuma in Collectio Calogiera, Raccolta d'opuscoli, XXVII (Venice, 1742), 409-429; GAVANTI, Thesaur. rituum, II, 175 sqq.; MARTÈNE, De antiq. ecclesioeritibus, II (1788), 366-411; THOMASSIN, De disciplina eccles., I-II, lxxxvi, 9; ZACCARIA, Bibl. ritualis, II, 417-8; IDEM, Onomasticon, I, 110, s. v. Defuncti; BONA, Rerum liturg., I, xvii, §§ 6-7; HITTORP, De div. cathol. eccles. officiis, 1329; GUYET, Heortologia, 462-73 (on the rubrics to be observed in the office of the dead); CATALANUS, Rituale Romanum, I (1757), 408, 416 etc.; CERIANAI, Circa obligationem officii defunctorum; BÄUMER-BIRON,Hist. du Brév., II, 30, 37, 131 etc.; BATIFFOL, Hist. du Brév., 181-92; PLAINE, La piété envers les morts in Rev. du clergé français, IV (1895), 365 sqq.; La fête des mortsibid., VIII (1896), 432 sqq.; La messe des mortsibid., XVI (1898), 196; EBNER, Quellen u. Forschungen zur Gesch. des Missale Romanum, 44, 53 etc.; THALHOFER, Handbuch der kathol. Liturgik, II (Freiburg, 1893), 502-08; KEFERLOHER, Das Todtenofficium der röm. Kirche (Munich, 1873); HOEYNEK, Officium defunctorum (Kempten, 1892); IDEM, Zur Gesch. des Officium defunctorum in Katholik., II (1893), 329. See also the literature of the article BURIAL and other articles cited above, CEMETERY, CREMATION etc.

Here's a copy in Latin - the book was published in 1722 - of the Office of the Dead (Officium Defunctorum: Sancta & Salubris est cogitatio, pro Defunctis exorare, ut a peccatis solvantur ("The Office of the Dead: Holy and wholesome to think and pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.")).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Missa pro Defunctis: Libera Me

This is the Gregorian Responsory Libera Me, here sung by the Schola Bellarmina:

Libera me is sung at both the Office of the Dead and at the absolution of the dead after the Requiem mass, before the burial.  Here's the text:
Líbera me, Dómine, de morte ætérna, in die illa treménda:
Quando cœli movéndi sunt et terra.
Dum véneris iudicáre sæculum per ignem.
Tremens factus sum ego, et tímeo, dum discússio vénerit, atque ventúra ira.
Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.
Dies illa, dies iræ, calamitátis et misériæ, dies magna et amára valde.
Dum véneris iudicáre sæculum per ignem.
Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine: et lux perpétua lúceat eis.

Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal on that fearful day,
When the heavens and the earth shall be moved,
When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
I am made to tremble, and I fear, till the judgment be upon us, and the coming wrath,
When the heavens and the earth shall be moved.
That day, day of wrath, calamity, and misery, day of great and exceeding bitterness,
When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them.

Here's the chant score, courtesy of MusicaSacra:

Here's more about Libera Me:
Libera Me is begun by a cantor, who sings the versicles alone, and the responses are sung by the choir. The text is written in the first person singular, "Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death on that fearful day," a dramatic substitution in which the choir speaks for the dead person.
In the traditional Office, Libera Me is also said on All Souls' Day (2 November) and whenever all three nocturns of Matins of the Dead are recited. On other occasions, the ninth responsory of Matins for the Dead begins with "Libera me", but continues with a different text (Domine, de viis inferni, etc.).

Here's the Libera Me from Gabriel Fauré's Requiem, sung on All Souls' Day 2011 at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Times Sq. NY:

Missa pro defunctis: In Paradisum

In Paradisum is the final chant of the Requiem mass, an antiphon sung as the body is being carried out of the church to be buried.  Here it's sung by the Alfred Deller Consort.

Here's the text:
In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.
May angels lead you into paradise; upon your arrival, may the martyrs receive you and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem. May the ranks of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, once a poor man, may you have eternal rest.

Here's the full chant score:

More about In Paradisum:
The Gregorian melody for In paradisum is in the Mixolydian mode. The special nature of this mode — with its lowered seventh degree, which makes it different from the modern major mode — is heard twice in this melody at cadences on the words Chorus Angelorum and quondam paupere. The melodic highpoint of In paradisum comes on the name of Lazarus, the poor beggar in the Bible who went to heaven while a rich man went to hell.

Here's the In Paradisum from Gabriel Fauré's Requiem, sung on All Souls' Day 2011 at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Times Sq. NY:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Laetabundus: The Sequence Hymn for Christmas and Candlemas

Here sung very well by "I Cantori Gregoriani - dirige il Maestro Fulvio Rampi - Cremona Chiesa di Sant'Abbondio."

This Sequence is also used at Second Vespers in the Sarum Office for Candlemas (although not in Septuagesima, which is in fact where we are this year!). This page says that "The Sequence Laetabundus, for the mass of Christmas, is not found in the Tridentine Roman Missal. It was found in all the Gallican Missals, including those of France, and the English Sarum Usage; and is also in the Dominican and Carmelite Missals."

Here's the score, from Hymn Melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service-books:

seem to be the Latin words; the source quotes Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year:   "... a sequence, which is to be found in all the Roman-French missals.  For a long time, it was thought to have been written by St. Bernard: but, we have seen it in a Manuscript of the 11th century, and, consequently, it must have been written earlier than the date usually assigned to it."
exsultet fidelis chorus.

Regem regum
intactae profudit thorus:
res mirranda.

Angelus consilii
natus est de virgine:
sol de stella.

Sol occasum nesciens,

stella semper rutilans,
semper clara.

Sicut sidus radium,
profert Virgo Filium,
pari forma.

Neque sidus radio,
neque mater filio,
fit corrupta.

Cedrus alta Libani
conformatur hyssopo,
valle nostra;

Verbum ens Altissimi
corporari passum est,
carne sumpta.

Isaias cecinit,
Synagoga meminit,
numquam tamen desinit
esse caeca.

Si non suis vatibus,
credat vel gentilibus;
Sibyllinis versibus
haec praedicta.

Infelix, propera,
crede vel vetera:
cur damnaberis,
gens misera?

Quem docet littera,
natum considera:
ipsum genuit puerpera.

This Sequence contains some language that's a bit discomforting:  "Though Esais had forshown, though the synagogue had known; yet the truth she will not own; blind remaining.  If her prophets speak in vain, let her heed a Gentile strain; and from mystic Sybil gain; light in darkness."  This doesn't seem angry or accusing, merely hopeful that things will change - in the way Paul writes about the same topic in Romans.  In fact, the text seems to refer directly to Romans 9-11, and to Paul's references to Isaiah - and his stated desire to "make my fellow Jews jealous," per this section of Romans 11:
11 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham,[h] a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4 But what is God's reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that would not see
    and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”
9 And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
    and bend their backs forever.”
11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion[i] mean!

13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Still, it's a bit disconcerting, given what's happened in history, to see this in the middle of a beautiful Sequence hymn!  Perhaps it's good to have it there, though - as a stark reminder of how damaging misinterpretations of the Bible - and bad religion -can be and have been.  "Penitence" applies to the church, too.

You can listen to the mass chants for Candlemas - including what looks like four antiphons used in the opening procession - at the Brazilian Benedictines' site.  I will certainly work on some posts about these in the future.

Candlemas/Presentation is a celebration of the events recounted in Luke 2:22-40; as you can see in the citation below, the Nunc Dimittis, the famous Evensong/Compline canticle (the first line of which in English is "Lord, now lettest thou Thy servant depart in peace"), comes from this story.
22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant[d] depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

Simeon and Anna are often said to represent "the Law and the Prophets" (as, later at Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah would) - and Jesus as the fulfillment of them.

Rembrandt did at least three paintings of Simeon - and sometimes Anna - in the Temple.   This one is from 1627 or 1628:

This one - called "Simeon's song of praise" -  was painted in 1631:

And this - my favorite - was done in 1669:

Meanwhile, here's a bit about the Cremona Church of Sant'Abbondio, from Visual Italy, the place where the video above was recorded:
The Church of Sant’Abbondio in Cremona was built with the purpose of reconstructing a previous chapel by the religious order of the Humiliated, which came after the Benedictines in 1288. In the 15th and 16th centuries the ceiling wooden framework was replaced by a masonry vault and the single nave was restricted, so as to leave space to a series of side chapels embellished by beautiful stucco statues. Worth mentioning is the remarkable cycle of frescoes by Giulio Campi, Orazio Sammachini and the Malosso, with the Glories of the Virgin Mary. The Romanesque bell tower with terracotta conic covering stands out magnificently outside. The bell tower has pairs of walled ogival windows on each side and a triple-lanced window for the belfry. In 1624, following the will of Count Conte Giovanni Pietro Ala, a perfect copy of the Holy House of Loreto, containing a worshipped statue of the Black Madonna inside, was built inside the Church. The Lauretano Museum on the upper floor of the old apartment of the prior of the Humiliated displays memories and evidence of the devotion of Loreto, which is related to the Holy House, as well as of the events of the history of the Church of St. Abbondio. Worth mentioning is the annexed cloister in Bramante style, with terracotta decorations and elegant duotone effects.

Here's an image of the cloisters at the church, from; beautiful:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sarum Compline for Ordinary Time has posted English Compline for several seasons:
We are pleased to host on this site beautifully prepared editions of the Sarum Office of Compline in contemporary English.  Thanks go to Emil Salim for assembling these booklets, which cover the following seasons:
   Compline 1: Advent.
   Compline 5: The Octave of Epiphany.
   Compline 6: Ordinary Time.
   Compline 7: The Third Sunday of Lent.
   Compline 9: Ferias in Passion Week.
   Compline 14: From Low Sunday to the Vigil of the Ascension.
Here's a PDF file of "Compline for Ordinary Time."   (Linked from the "Annex" page.)   The image on the cover is Rembrandt's "Simeon and Anna in the Temple," celebrating the February 2 Feast of the Presentation (AKA "Candlemas" and "Purification").

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Adorate Deum: The Introit for the Third Sunday after Epiphany

Wow, this is a beautiful introit, and here's a great rendering of it:

Here's a translation of the text, which comes from Psalm (96/)97, verses 7-8 and then verse 1; the chant score is below:
Worship God, all you angels: Sion has heard and is glad.  The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice: let the many coastlands be glad.

Easter is very early this year - it's on March 31 - and this Sunday is already Septuagesima (the third Sunday before Ash Wednesday).   The Extraordinary Form uses a completely different set of propers for these last weeks before Lent begins; you can listen to the Introit for Septuagesima Sunday at that last link.

But I'm happy to highlight the modern Introit here - it's beautiful!  This is the Introit only for Year C, according to the Brazilian Benedictines. The Year C Gospel is Luke's story of Jesus' announcement in the synagogue that he himself is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy:
Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
This story comes immediately after Luke's version of Jesus' temptation in the wildnerness.

Years A and B actually have their own Introit: Dominus secus mare ("The Lord by the sea"), the text of which comes from Matthew. Here's that one, sung by the "Schola Antiqua (Juan Carlos Asensio Palacios)":

Dominus secus mare Galilææ vidit duos fratres,
Petrum et Andream, et vocavit eos:
Venite post me: faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum.

Coeli enarrant gloriam Dei:
et opera manuum ejus annuntiat firmamentum.

The Lord saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, by the seaside of Galilee, and He called them; Come ye after Me, I will make you to be fishers of men.

The Heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the works of His hands .

Also very pretty.   The Gospel reading for Year A does contain the story from Matthew that makes up the first part of the Introit; the Year B Gospel is the same story from Mark.  I'm not sure, though, why some Sundays have alternating propers like this; something else to find out about, then.

The Collect for this week is this new one:
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Hatchett's Commentary notes that the Collect  contains references to all three different Gospel readings for today:
The Rev. Dr. Massey H. Shepherd, Jr. drafted this collect which recalls phrases from the collect for the feast day of Saint Andrew, the story of whose calling by Christ is the Gospel of Years A and B.  The Gospel for Year C is the story of our Lord's sermon at Nazareth which is also echoed by the collect.  We pray that we may not only answer His call but also proclaim the Good News, and that "we and all the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works."
Which does again echo Epiphany's "universal" theme.  Interestingly,  Hatchett notes on that same page that "many of the post-Epiphany collects ... [relate] to the Gospel of the day."  And that, too, is a way to drive home the "universal" theme - that the Gospel - the "manifestation" of Christ in his Incarnation - is for all the world.

As, of course, is the "many coastlines" of the Adorate Deum Introit itself.  I suppose, in fact, that the great theme in all three Gospels is that these are some of the opening notes of Christ's ministry.

Interestingly, the Gospel in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (and also in the original 1662 BCP) told the stories of the healing of the leper, and the healing of the Centurion's servant, from Matthew 8.  (It was the same reading in the pre-1970 Roman Catholic Lectionary, too, according to this site - although the Septuagesima reading is Matthew 20:1-16, the parable of the workers in the vineyard.  One of these days I'm really going to try to compare and contrast some of the various lectionary systems to see what's been going on for the past 2,000 years!)

Here's a wonderful tempera with gold leaf of the calling of Peter and Andrew, from Duccio di Buoninsegna, from about 1310:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Steps and Traditions

In A.A., as I'm sure everybody knows by now, there are 12 of each.

What's interesting is that they pull in opposite directions.  The Steps look forward from the present into the future (but taking an individual's past into full account); they are primarily about change.  

The Traditions - as the name itself implies! - are a look into the past; they are based on empirical discoveries that A.A. as a whole made in its first 20 years or so, and codify these discoveries.  They are primarily about preservation.

They are, in other words, "like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."

The Traditions, it's sometimes said, are "Steps for the Groups."  They are foundational principles - and in fact they are the "cornerstone" that allow the Steps to be in the business of redesigning human beings from the ground up.  They are the things that make real revolution - great, sweeping change - possible.  They are the house built upon the rock so that the wind - the Spirit, that is - can blow where and as it will.

The church knows what its "Traditions" are.  What's that old Lancelot Andrewes formula?  "One Canon, two Testaments, three Creeds, four General Councils, five centuries and the series of Fathers in that period determine the boundaries of our faith.”

The church doesn't quite know what its Steps are, though; it sometimes doesn't even seem to know it's in the business of  helping people get rebuilt from the ground up.  It needs to be much more clear and specific about this; it needs to get clear about it, itself, in fact.

Pay attention to what the monastics have said; they're the adepts of our faith - our Gurus.  If you can't be a mendicant friar - and most can't - then be a Benedictine, and pray seven times a day.   Follow a Rule.   The church could offer its own modified Rule, in fact; why not?    Such a rule (or set of Steps) would be completely optional; nobody forces anybody to do the Steps in A.A. - but if everybody around you is working through them, and talking about the huge difference they are making in their lives - well, perhaps you will get jealous and maybe give them a try, too.

Pay attention to what works.  Pay attention, too, to the fact that the Steps are reports; the formula is to use the past tense and the first person plural.  "We admitted...."  "[We] made a searching and fearless moral inventory...."  "[We] humbly asked [God] to remove our shortcomings."

Monday, January 21, 2013

The "A.A. Promises"

Here's another section from the book Alcoholics Anonymous that often gets read at the start of meetings - although it really probably shouldn't be read outside its context.

Chapter 6, "Into Action," describes in some detail the process of working through each Step.  The following  "Promises" come at the end of the description of the 9th Step, the final "clearing away the wreckage of the past" Step:
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them. (Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 83-84)

You can understand why this does get read, though; it's to give people who've totally messed up their lives some reasons for hope that it can and will at some point get better.

My point in posting this here is simple:  the church should really think through and write out something like this, since at this point people are mostly completely unaware of the benefits of Christianity, and think it's only about "rules" and "morality."

Well, "morality" is and always has been only a means to an end:  human flourishing.   This is why, in Psalm 119, the psalmist can say:  "Lord, how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day."   When what might seem to be a mere duty is instead a joy, it's because it means freedom and a better way of life.

Would anybody really want to join up with a group just to follow what may seem to be an arbitrary set of "rules"?  I can't imagine anybody would.  But to learn a new a way of life that has results like those described above?   That might indeed interest people.  I actually agree with Derek when he describes "the complacent conscience" - although I would put it differently, I think.  Perhaps I'd just use the same words Derek himself uses later on in that same post:  "a yet more excellent way awaits."  The problem, I think, is that people just don't know about this.

I don't disagree with him, either, that "effort and action" are important in that process; in fact, that's exactly what the Steps are about - and that's exactly what it says up there in that second paragraph.  The Steps are indirect methods of addressing the things that block and stunt us and keep us from becoming free.  Nobody can "be more compassionate" on command or just because they want to - but we can get there by stripping away our delusions about ourselves, and thus recognizing how subject we all are to delusion and self-deceit.  We can learn to forgive others by recognizing where we've been  wrong - that we need forgiveness ourselves. 

As they say in A.A.:  it's an inside job.   Luckily, they say this in the monasteries, too; remember when we were talking about "Christian adepts"?  Here's what Sr. Heléna Marie, CHS, has to say about that in "What the Religious Life Is and Is Not" (my bolding below, in the parts I want to pick out especially):
Coming to a religious life may seem like the ultimate escape: a serene, untroubled life of continuous prayer and withdrawal from the stresses and distractions of the fast-paced worldly life. On some level, conscious or not, it may also seem like a place where one can hide out, not only from the world and its difficult people, but also from one's self and one's problems. It may seem like an ideal retirement community, or like a kind of sorority of sisters (or fraternity of brothers) who all get along and have a good time together. One may think it will be a place of solitude where the nitty-gritty of daily relationships will have been left behind, or a place of last resort: "Nothing else in my life has really worked out; maybe this will." Even in our more enlightened times, one may have the classic notion that it is the place to which you go after a failed romance: "I guess I'll just have to take myself to a monastery."

The religious life is none of these.

It is not an escape. It is a terribly realistic life in which you find yourself unable to escape from others, from the problems of the world, and from yourself. The outlets normal to life in the world are largely unavailable here, so you are up against the difficulties which surface without the ability to distract yourself in extraneous pursuits that may previously have helped you avoid them.

It is not a place to hide from others nor from yourself. Whatever you have found difficult in others in the past, you will find difficult here. Every character flaw that drove you crazy in others before you entered will drive you crazy here, too, except that here you are living twenty-four hours a day with those who have them! Nor will you be able to hide from whatever in yourself you would rather not face. The formation process in community will naturally bring out those aspects of yourself which might prefer to remain hidden. Your shadow will become apparent to you (as it has probably always been apparent to others), and you will have to face it, accept it, and eventually own it as a creative part of yourself. As Brother Clark Berge, SSF, says: "The religious life is no way to hide from problems. If you try to hide, they will find you out."

It is not a serene, untroubled lifestyle. A monastery schedule is demanding, and the day-to-day life is characterized by many of the same troubles and obligations one finds in the world: leaky plumbing, daily meals to be cooked, difficult people, short nights, the demands of ministry and daily work, and so on. It is not a place to retire. Religious basically do not retire. If comfortable retirement is what you seek, you would be better off not to enter the religious life. Members of religious communities contribute in whatever ways they can as long as they live.

It is also not a place to come for physical care as the body begins to wear out. Of course we care for our older members, and for those who have physical ailments, but most orders are careful not to admit members who either seek this kind of care from the outset or show signs of needing physical care soon.

It is not a college club. We do try to get along, but it would be a mistake to join a religious community for the purpose of finding acceptance within a community of men and/or women.

It may not be a life with long, uninterrupted periods of prayer. In fact, you may be surprised to find that you seen to have less time for individual prayer and meditation than before you entered. The demands of community and ministry make a constant schedule of long periods of prayer in solitude impossible. We do have much prayer in our lives (several periods of corporate prayer a day, an hour or two for individual meditation, and silent prayer undergird our actions throughout the day). However, if you are looking for hours on end of private time for prayer, you will not find it in most religious communities.

It is not a place of last resort. It is a common notion that women (in particular) join a religious order because there are no other options available; that they cannot find a life partner, cannot succeed in a career, do not have the intelligence and competence to do anything other than come to the monastery. On the contrary, the religious life is full of women and men who are highly competent and intelligent, and who bring extraordinary gifts to community and to the service of God. Similarly, it is not a good idea to join a religious community because you feel that nothing else in your life has worked and that the religious life is your last viable option. One joins to give all that one is and has, from fullness rather than from lack of other choices.

It is not a place to come on the rebound from a failed romance or marriage. It is necessary to work through the emotions generated from a failed relationship before entering the community. The religious life is not a salve for a broken heart (nor a punishment for having failed). The religious life is the ultimate form of surrender. One brings all that one is and all that one has to God in a gesture of complete giving. It is a way of "coming to the desert". Like the desert mothers and fathers of the early Christian era, joining a religious community is a countercultural move away from mainstream culture and mores, to a radical lifestyle that flies in the face of societal values.

It is a way of saying that your life is now devoted to the One Thing (however you would define this; Jesus called it "the pearl of great price"). It is a life centered in prayer; this basic orientation is one of the ways in which we are countercultural.

It is community with all that means: difficult people, the "sandpaper effect" of challenging relationships, having to change when the impulse is not to change, and the joys of relationships and corporate life. It is a way of life designed to help one transcend the ego, which does not willingly go. This path involved intense struggle. The religious life is itself a vehicle of radical transformation.

It is a form of service to God and the world. Through worship and our different forms of ministry, we seek to serve. It is a combination of the ancient and the modern. It is an evolving organism. Most communities are in a state of constant evolution; one is best served knowing this before entering.

It is a place wherein one grows in the ability to love—the heart of the religious life. Brothers and sisters are a prophetic voice within the church, calling the church out of complacency and adherence to conventional wisdom and practice, and into a more challenging and radical living out of the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

This section is the one that's key, to me:  "It is a way of life designed to help one transcend the ego, which does not willingly go. This path involved intense struggle. The religious life is itself a vehicle of radical transformation."

And so:  "the complacent conscience" has plenty of work to do.  A hankering after "The Promises" - whatever they happen to be for the church - combined with a path that "involves intense struggle"-  are quite enough to occupy a person for a lifetime.

But I do think that "the Promises" need to be fleshed out and enumerated, because it seems to me that people are unaware of all of this now.  Most people aren't seeking "mystical experience" for its own sake anymore - because, I would imagine, the church doesn't let people know it's available or possible.   They're not seeking "enlightenment" for much the same reason; nobody's aware anymore that it's an option - and rules for rules' sake seems just plain nuts.  Which of course it is.

The spiritual life and mystical experience are, though - as Evelyn Underhill wrote - available to anybody.  Whatever the church works out may not be quite the same as what you find in the monastery - but it does exist.

And it's all about the inner person.  The church needs to make people aware that this is its remit;  that "the Promises" exist, and that everybody can seek after them.

"How it Works"

A group of recovering alcoholics published the book Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939 as an announcement to the world that they had discovered something new:  a means of achieving sobriety by meeting together, talking about their experiences when drinking (and their lives as they learned to stay sober), and "carrying the message to the alcoholic who still suffers."   They created, in other words, a tract - and they did it the old-fashioned way, via the printed word.  It had to be more, though, than just a pamphlet; it needed to have a clear description and explanation of what had happened to them and to their lives - and it needed to have some of the flavor of an A.A. meeting, since after all that was where recovery actually took place.  As a nod to the latter, it included personal histories of the kind you still hear today at meetings.  And people actually got sober through reading the book, months and years before meetings could be started up in their local area.  That was part of the idea, too (and actually A.A. still has

A.A. members, in other words, believed their program to be of such "great weight and import" that they wrote a detailed book about it so others who were the same kind of trouble they'd been in could find help.   I suggest the Episcopal Church in particular could take a lesson here.

Here's the first part of Chapter 5, titled "How It Works";  this is still very often one of the first things read at A.A. meetings, since new people continue to make their way into A.A. rooms. 
How It Works

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it--then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked; we thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with alcohol--cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power--that One is God. May you find Him now!

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. we asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-- that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

As you can see, this section includes a listing of the 12 Steps; these came of out the practices of the Oxford Group (not the Oxford Movement!),  a religious organization started in England in 1921 (and originally called "A First Century Christian Fellowship" - and doesn't that sound like still another ad fontes movement?) by a kooky American Lutheran pastor who'd had a conversion experience in Keswick, England in 1908.

Lutherans, of course, are still quite aware that people as people need help - and that "probably no human power" can provide it.   Most Evangelicals are very aware of human failings, also; they're quite wrong about certain things, of course, and can be terrifically obnoxious about them - but they do believe they're in the business of helping people to live, because we're faced with lots of difficulties merely because we're  human beings (i.e. "fallen").   Catholics believe this also, and have developed many ways to deal with human problems (Confession being one of the most obvious); so do the Orthodox.

You don't hear much about this in the Episcopal Church, though - and maybe particularly not the current iteration.  Mostly what you hear, in fact, is that the problems are all out there; "Occupying Wall Street" is the focus these days.  This is a general weakness in Anglicanism, I do believe - Confession, for instance, exists, but "All may, none must, and some should" (and so almost none do) - and as long as the focus remains on external issues the Episcopal Church will never attract people who need help themselves - or who will admit they do.  It all creates a closed, self-perpetuating loop - so people will continue to argue, in saecula saeculorum, that "the problems are all out there."  (This isn't true, of course - but it is convenient.)

This, I think, is a legacy issue, too - and perhaps it only happens in the U.S., where the Episcopal Church has been, for generations, the church of the elites.  Notice that when "Occupy Wall Street" arguments are made, it's simply assumed that everybody in the Episcopal Church - except the "1%" -  is perfectly OK as is.   Notice that so many arguments center in the parable of the Rich Young Man - and always come from the point of view of the Rich Young Man!  Notice that it's assumed that everybody in the Episcopal Church has plenty of disposable time and income to "get out in the streets." to .... well, whatever.   (Notice, too, while we're at it, that this approach allows people to avoid ever having to confront any of their own sins!)   The upshot is that nobody seems ever to think that it's crucial to direct energy to helping people in the church - but that's what religion is actually for, at base.  (The outward focus seems, to this outsider, to have come at least in part out of the trauma around the move to the new Prayer Book.   People still seem to be living that out still, 35 years later, and I get the impression that the focus was turned outward in part to head a "rebellion in the pews" off at the pass.  I could be wrong about this, though.)

"Good works" are great, of course, and a natural outgrowth of the Judeo-Christian system and experience.  But if you can't offer hurting people any reason to come to the church to get help for themselves because the basic assumption is that "we're OK - it's everybody else who needs help" - well, why should anybody come?  Who will these hurting people have to talk to?  How will the people who think they're OK ever get anywhere interesting, spiritually?  What will anybody have to offer to people, except money?  How will the focus ever get put on anything other than material things?  It's a big problem, I think, with a serious (perhaps fatal) contradiction built right in.

I posted the section above because I think the Episcopal Church could maybe think about How It Works, and what it offers people that they can't get anywhere else - and what it should do to turn the focus back inward so it can actually offer that help....

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Why do people belong to the church?  That is the question.

I'm here because of what seems in retrospect to be a really strange series of events.   In approximately chronological order:
  • My years of membership in A.A., which encourages members to return to - or, as in my case, begin - religious practice;
  • 9-11.  I was one of the thousands of people who returned to church, and one of the dozens (maybe?) who stayed there;
  • A feeling of "being called" because of a conversion experience;
  • Experiencing some of the really beautiful things worship has to offer:  music, rites, ceremonies, readings.  Sung Rite I Morning Prayer; monotone chanting of the Creed; the Lumen Christi at the Easter Vigil; All Saints' Day, and its beautiful readings and themes; Anglo-Catholic ceremonial (at which, the first time I saw it, I was rendered literally speechless); etc.
  • The pure enjoyment of learning more about the church and the faith, and their history;
  • Realizing that religion was far more interesting than I ever thought - and also more beneficial in a variety of ways;
  • Learning still more through writing about church music and liturgy; 
  • Coming to realize that there's nothing more beautiful or true than the Christian story, and more or less "falling in love," permanently.  (Also called "being hooked.")
So, at this point I feel like I won't ever leave - even if I stop attending.  I did stop, for about a year - although while not going I did break down and attend now and then so I could celebrate some of my favorite days:  Ash Wednesday,  Palm Sunday, All Saints, Advent.  I never stopped reading and studying and writing, though - and those things carried me through that time.

I remembered how to pray again - and have not yet forgotten again.  (It's much easier to remember when you get into serious trouble, or have difficult or unfamiliar things to face!)  So actually I really am still here for the original reason I came - the simplest reason of all:  to keep myself together and spiritually balanced.  It's much easier to live that way, and less painful.

All that has taught me that I really do need the church to be about faith - and rather deeply so.  I'm definitely not here for political reasons; I had no trouble at all doing politics in all those 35+ years I spent outside  the church.  I'm not here for friendship, although spiritual friends can be a wonderful benefit.  (I have run into trouble with churchpeople from the beginning, actually - on many occasions about the gay thing but also in other ways - and am frankly a little leery of getting involved with anybody in the church at the moment, at least in my area.  Maybe that will go away at some point.).  I'm not here for "good works"; I've done volunteer work all my life, participating as part of the very wide variety of nonprofits that exist out there - although I do admit the urge to do this came out of the Methodist tradition my parents grew up in.  I like the music - but I could live without it if I had to.   I like the pretty buildings, but again:  could live without.

I'm really here strictly for the spiritual benefits - and the deep beauty - of the faith itself.  I've found the Great Church Year to be a treasure; as the seasons pass I learn more and more and feel more and more at home in their rhythms and moods.  I don't find most of what happens in the world of much interest by itself - but in the light of the faith I find the world itself fascinating.  I've become familiar - in a really lovely way - with the liturgy itself, and look forward to finding more substance in it every year.

I don't know why anybody else belongs - but most people don't get a chance to experience the glories of the Great Church Year.  I only do, really, because I write about it and because I make an effort to attend the feasts in person when I can; you have to make such an effort, because they are simply not celebrated in most parishes.

I also don't know anybody else personally who's an A.A. member trying to "stay in conscious contact with God as we understand Him."  I do know some people from online who are in this situation, though.  And I do know people who've returned to church after a personal crisis or who live lives of regular spiritual crisis, and I assume this is the same sort of situation.

I don't know how many people experience the real enjoyment I have in learning about the church and about Anglicanism; I've learned a lot of this stuff online and from outside reading.

I don't know anybody else who had the kind of conversion experience I did, either.

I had an idea of what I wanted to say when I started this, but at this point it looks like I'm just thinking out loud here.  I'm finding it very helpful lately to try to get to the source of causes and original motives for actions and ways of thinking that seem very complicated; I'm trying to break these things down to the very most basic facts.

Maybe I'll come back to my original idea in another post, but at the moment it escapes me....

"New and beautiful liturgies...."

Derek's just posted a PDF of the minutes from the November 2012 meeting of the Episcopal Church's Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music.  Here's a quote from the section titled "Discussion on the Nature of Common Prayer":
Ana raised the issue of how we issue permission and encourage people to create liturgies without making them jump through hoops. How do we encourage beautiful new liturgies? Steven replied that it happens in conversation with the bishop. The prayer book is like jazz—you have to know the scales first before you can improvise. More people want to shape the church than to be shaped by Jesus and the church. There will always be local experimentation, but we’ve not always accomplished the necessary prior work of formation. Ana noted that wasn’t always the case though. Louis offered an experience where an agenda-driven experimental service after a pastoral crisis made things even worse. Ana concluded by reminding us of the need to remain open to the movement of the Spirit.
I have heard about "the wonderful liturgies of the future" numerous times now; this is another item that seems to be just out there, somewhere, for the moment beyond our grasp but nonetheless very close - tantalizingly close.  I've heard that there are "new liturgies waiting to be born" - that's a direct quote - but once again, nobody seems to have any idea about what these liturgies actually consist of.

This suggestion's a bit different, in that it also implies that we are all somehow suppressing these unborn liturgies; that if people didn't feel they had to "jump through hoops," they would without a doubt write up these beautiful new liturgies tonight and be ready to hand them off to the printer tomorrow.  (I do like the responses here, I have to add; it's all too true that "More people want to shape the church than to be shaped by Jesus and the church."  And I like the "agenda-driven experimental" service anecdote, too; I'm not too surprised at the outcome there.  I belonged to a parish that did home-made liturgies, too;  I can't even remember a single line at this point - and in fact, I left that parish for a Prayer-Book parish (Rite 1!) where the worship was much, much better.  Some people at the homestyle-worship parish did write some very nice music, though.)

The thing is:  TEC already has "Rite 3" - AKA "An Order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist" (it starts on page 400) - that's a basic outline of the service.  It includes rubrics like "The proclamation and response may include readings, song, talk, dance, instrumental music, other art forms, silence." And "The Celebrant gives thanks to God the Father for his work in creation and his revelation of himself to his people; Recalls before God, when appropriate, the particular occasion being celebrated; Incorporates or adapts the Proper Preface of the Day, if desired."

Sounds like a perfect chance to create "beautiful new liturgies," to me - or, at least, "new liturgies."   It does note that the service requires "careful preparation by the Priest and other participants" - but that sure doesn't sound like "hoops," to me.  In fact, it's really very generous - and if people want these things, I don't see how it's up to anybody else to provide them.  This is a DIY era, after all - so do it!   Get people together, study, work out some stuff, and do these liturgies weekly in public for a couple of years - at, literally, anytime other than at "the Principal Sunday service."  Go for it.  Get back to us with the results.

This is what's known as "Open Source."  If people who are part of a project see a need, they just go ahead and create something that fills that need.  This doesn't mean they get to put their own stuff out there under the project's imprimatur without any development or testing, though; testing is one of the most important phases of the project, in fact.  It's key.  Not least because many other people are involved in the project, and also have a stake in the thing. 

Here's the really odd thing:  we have a liturgy that's already been use-tested - for two thousand years.  The Prayer Book is full of stuff that people in far harder times than ours have used for strength, support, inspiration, day-to-day spiritual health, delight, enjoyment, and even to as a way to find enlightenment.  Monastics (and others) throughout the centuries have, in their hankering after mystical experience, given us, free of charge, a wealth of prayer and worship practices; these are in that Prayer Book in the pew racks.   (And if you're not a monastic, there's wonderful music from all over the world you can use to enhance it; you can sing the service, chant it, say it, use multi-media, country-rock it, or Mozart-mass it; nobody's stopping anybody from doing any of these things, if they want them.  If you want props, use candles, use incense, use soap bubbles, use feathers, or use Super Soakers for the Asperges, if you want; it's your call entirely.)

Individual groups of religious folks may have added some little thing to the collection of stuff they inherited - but I doubt they ever proposed that the church adopt a set of "beautiful new liturgies," sight unseen.  That's because people found that most of what they'd inherited worked; it had the desired effect, if people actually practiced it.  (And is the "Holy Spirit" only working now, BTW, and in the future?)

Is anybody hankering after enlightenment, or after mystical experience, these days?   If not, I really don't see what the church is actually for.  And if so:  I'd really suggest going the usual route - the one people have taken for centuries.  Go see an adept, ask them what they did, and follow that procedure;  in the Christian Church the adepts are called monastics.  

I think maybe this is what's different these days, actually; people aren't really looking for mystical experience or enlightenment - or even for beauty, or to learn or be formed for a better way of life.  But from my point of view:  why belong to the church at all, if not for those things....? 

An English Martyrology

From the Annex, (which they call an "Overflow site for"); the link below opens a 1.25MB PDF file.
There appears to be no extant Sarum Martirology stemming directly from Salisbury. However several MS Latin Martirologies, such as that in British Museum Harl. MS 2785. appears to be of Sarum Use.

The English Martirology available here is an edition of that prepared by Richard Whytford and printed by Wynken de Worde in 1526. Contractions have been spelled out and punctuation modernized, but the orthography follows the original.

Readers may also wish to refer to the edition of the same Martirology issued by the Henry Bradshaw Society in 1893, which contains an informative introduction as well as comparative notes.

We hope to make a Latin Sarum Martirology available in due course.

The Martirology is read daily after the Office of Prime.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Introit for the Second Sunday after Epiphany: Omnis terra

This is a video labeled "Dominica II post Epiphaniam 3," from the Institute St. Philipp Neri in Berlin, and includes the singing of this introit.  (They are singing the beautiful Missa de Angelis at this mass, and the Kyrie is also included here.)

Here's a translation of this Introit, with the chant score below.
Let all the earth adore Thee, O God, and sing to Thee: let it sing a psalm to Thy name, O most High. * Shout with joy to God, all the earth, sing ye a psalm to His name: give glory to His praise.

The text comes from Psalm (65/)66, verse 4 and then verses 1-2.

(I'm not sure exactly what's going on here, I confess - why the Introit doesn't show up until the 3rd video!  It appears as if they may do the sprinkling rite, Asperges Me, before singing the introit - or else the videos are out of order - but I'll have to go through the clips to see.

Interestingly, in this video of the Asperges Me, it sounds like the whole congregation is singing; I hope that's true!

I'd like to learn more about the Philip Neri Institute, and will post what I find.)

Over the years, I've realized with more and more clarity that a central theme - if not the central theme - of Epiphany and its season is exactly summed up by the incipit of this Introit: Omnis terra adóret te - "let the whole earth adore you."  

This "universal" theme runs through everything during Epiphany season, from the themes of the Epiphany itself (especially that of the Magi, who come from afar - far outside Israel - to worship the new King); to the Epiphany propers (i.e., Reges Tharsis - "Kings of Tarshish and Saba" come to worship from the ends of the earth); to the Epiphany Collect (which begins "O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the peoples of the earth...."); and in propers throughout the season (i.e., the Offertory for today is Iubilate Deo, universa terra).

The New Testament reading on Epiphany is from Ephesians 3, and starts out "This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles...."   The Old Testament is this supremely beautiful passage from Isaiah 60:
1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
3 And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.

4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,[a]
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
And now each week we sing Canticle 11, Surge, illuminare ("The Third Song of Isaiah") - taken from the first few verses in the passage above, along with these:
11 Your gates shall be open continually;
day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
with their kings led in procession.

18 Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.

19 The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;[b]
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.[c]

And there you have the other Epiphany theme:  light.   What a beautiful, mystical season this is!

Here's Palestrina's Surge, illuminare, sung by the Tallis Singers:

A proposal: build "cultural Anglicanism"

Well, we had still more discussion about "Episcopal Church decline" on yet another blog post by a liberal Episcopal priest.  Here's somebody else who apparently believes the reason for  the Episcopal Church's collapse is that there's something wrong with basic Christian theology.   His recommendation:  apparently some of the really old stuff - "the pre-Jesus theological forms" - has got to go,  in order to attract people who are "hungry for spirituality."

This is now about the six hundredth time I've heard some theological-liberal dude say this, though.  The old theology is dead; long live the new theology!  It's now a firmly-established pattern, in fact, from which nothing at all ever comes;  we still have no clue what the New Theology actually is.  (Think Spong for the preeminent instance of this phenomenon.)

The flaw here is that in systems like theology, each assumption depends upon a prior one.  You can't just "drop stuff out" without making a hash of the whole thing; you have to work through the process, step by (perhaps difficult) step.  It requires some serious theological chops to go through that process - and these are not theological arguments at all.   It's delusional to believe that religions are do-it-yourself, ad hoc affairs - and that anybody  could somehow "attract people who are hungry for spirituality" on the fly, if they really tried hard enough.   If there's one thing that's absolutely clear at this point it's that the Episcopal Church has a serious - well, fatal - deficit of good theologians.

Am I wrong about this?   If so, who is there?  This is a real question; please tell me in the comments.  Rowan Williams, of course, is one of the best ever; is there anybody even a tenth as good in TEC?  I mean, even I, a completely non-theologically-trained layperson can clearly see the difference between what he's got going on and what others do.   It's clear, too, that the Episcopal seminaries have failed in spectacular fashion; how could they not have produced even one notable theologian over the past 40 years?

I mean, while the U.S. Catholic Church is contracting, too, it still has 80 million members - and uses the very same rite Episcopalians do, and of course has an extensive Catechism and teaching office that's been in development for a couple thousand years.   It seems to work well enough for all those Catholics (who, BTW, don't actually agree with their priests and bishops on any number of hot-button current issues).

It's struck me since then that the current "leadership" (I really didn't want to use those scare quotes - but is there any other way of putting it?) in the Episcopal Church seems perfectly, calmly willing to send the vehicle hurtling off the cliff, as long as they can continue to hold to this idea they've been floating for the past - what? - 40 years?:   "The theology is the problem - let's fix it!"   (AKA:  "Theology?  Who needs it?")   And here's something else that struck me:  that even if not that, it seems perfectly willing - in tremendously unimaginative and defeatist fashion - to contract forever.

TEC seems bound and determined to remain a tiny sect made up of people who are just too smart to believe any of that "traditional Christianity" nonsense.   The saddest thing is that as far as I can tell much of the current membership is not like this; they do hold - again, as far as I can tell, and maybe qualified by "more or less" - to the traditional faith.   So do at least some of the new crop of clergy.  If only the current Powers-That-Be would release their deathgrip the church could at last maybe go someplace positive.

In fact, I think TEC could actually aim a lot higher than simply "managing decline";  it could shoot not only for growth, but it could actually become a force in the American religious landscape.   Cultural Anglicanism is, I think, a real  possibility as a rival to "cultural Catholicism."  I mean: it's the same faith, so there's absolutely no reason why not; in fact,  I have an ex-Catholic friend who calls Anglicanism "Catholicism done right."  They have "cultural Anglicanism," or something like it, in England; why not here? 

Here's what I think the church should do:  focus on building a "cultural Anglicanism" - the "plain and simple," no frills Christian faith.  Start a campaign to promote Anglicanism in the U.S..  Many people don't actually know what "The Episcopal Church" is; and in the case of those who do:  maybe it's time to abandon the name itself, with its associations of wealth and privilege.  But let people know what's going on - i.e., "advertise" - especially if you do nice, lively liturgy at your place.   Along with that: simply teach the basic Christian faith; stop forever trying to "re-invent" it.   Take time, instead, to learn more about it yourself.  Read Rowan Williams; read James Alison.  [EDIT:  Listen to J.S. Bach - who signed every composition with Soli Dei Gloria - "to God Alone be Glory!"] Be able to explain why Christian faith is both gentle and  revolutionary; be able to point out exactly how it can help people.  Talk about these things, in depth, instead of going on and on about "Occupying" everything.   Anybody can "Occupy," after all - but nobody else can do faith.  Promote Anglicanism's healthful dual emphasis on mass and office; Anglicanism offers the Sacraments - and daily prayer as a quotidian way to stay balanced and in touch with what really matters, too.  (In fact, it's often the Daily Office that attracts and helps people - even atheists! - outside the church.)  Don't think of it as specifically "Catholic" in opposition to "Protestant."  It's just Christian, without any special pleading.   Aim high; don't sit back and accept decline as inevitable.

The only way to do that is to learn and teach the faith; give it away to other people so they can have the benefit of it too.