Monday, 24 May 2010

Whit Monday Ruminations

Once upon a time, dear young people, not only did Pentecost have an octave, Whit Monday (today) was a Bank Holiday in this country- and I am old enough to remember both! For some unknown reason the Bank Holiday was transferred to the last Monday of the month and renamed "Spring Bank Holiday", although it is still occasionally referred to, incorrectly, by some older people as "Whit Monday".
One year in the mid-sixties the Quarant' Ore devotion came to the church in which I was a chorister during Whit week. As was customary in those days, it began and ended with a solemn high mass which involved, if I remember correctly, a procession and the singing of the litany of the saints. The Octave of Pentecost sort of trumped the usual mass for this occasion- the celebrant, deacon and subdeacon appeared in red vestments and we got to sing the Veni Sancte Spiritus for a second and third time that year. I remember being thrilled beyond words. Dear me! A splash of red and one of the best tunes ever written! How superficial I was! Well: not much has changed.