Yesterday, up the road to the Oxford Oratory for the Requiem and Funeral ceremonies of a Roman Catholic parishioner, Mr Paul Mellins. Paul had stipulated (liturgical orthopraxy is in the very air of West Oxford) that his exsequies should be according to the old rite; and how decently it was done. Low Mass with a cantor; the Roman liturgical tradition at its very finest - so dignified, restrained, objective; nothing but the certainty of death and judgement and the fact of Man's sin, Man's need, God's mercy.
The rite ended with a champagne reception, which I sadly had to miss to hurry back to S Thomas's for the Wednesday 12.30 Mass. Fort the first time since the 1960s I observed the Feast of the Most Precious Blood - and what a fine way that is to start July. What glories Bugnini robbed us of; this celebration of the shed blood of the suffering Redeemer which for ever speaks for us before the Father's throne. Incidentally, the Lauds Office hymn is a beautiful expression of the spirituality of the devotion to the Five Wounds, which so animated our Anglican Catholic forefathers in their rebellions against the Tudor tyrannies. Three cheers for Pio Nono, one of my favourite pontiffs.
Viva viva Gesu; S Alfonso's lovely hymn to the Precious Blood (Caswall translation) began another manifestation of West Oxford liturgical orthopraxy, the celebration by our Apostolic Administrator of the Silver Jubilee of his Sacerdotal Ordination. S Barnabas' was packed with clergy and faithful laity who were edified by a homily preached by Bishop Keith, of the Richborough Apostolic District, naturally very relevant to the Year of the Priest proclaimed by our Holy Father, and by a Solemn Pontifical Mass which represented the very best of all that is meant by the Reform of the Reform. It concluded with Procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Solemn Pontifical Benediction, and the presentation of flowers at the feet of our Lady while the choir sang Ave Maria.
Since Bishop Andrew is a distiguished musiclogist, our aural appetites were not starved. I felt the welcome presence of the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the contribution to it of early recusant England; two hymns by S Alfonso; music by Byrd and Tallis and de Victoria (long a favourite of Bishop Andrew). And the Avignon origins of so much that we love in the Counter-Reformation was represented by the Anima Christi attributed to Pope John XXII "arr. AB".
Bishop Andrew observes "A polyphonic Sanctus is designed to be sung over a silent canon and a polyphonic Benedictus is intrinsically a meditation on the eucharistic presence while the canon proceeds". And that is what we had. Memories of days as an Anglo-Catholic undergraduate were revived by hearing the propers sung according to the psalm tones.
For liturgical pundits, a rarely observed ritual was the rite described in the Appendix 77 of some editions of the Caeremoniale Episcoporum, the one headed De floribus ad uxorem Pontificis deferendis in Iubilaeo celebrando.