Saturday 31 December 2011

Thursday 29 December 2011

St Thomas Becket

(Click to enlarge) Chasuble of St Thomas Becket preserved in the treasury of the Cathedral of Sens, France.
Today being the feast of St Thomas Becket it seemed appropriate to post this photograph of the chasuble which I took on my visit on 13th July this year. In spite of the reflections from the surface of the glass case in which the vestment is displayed its main features- most notably the distinctive orphrey- are fairly clear.

The murder of St Thomas in his cathedral church by agents of King Henry II on this day in the year 1170 shocked Christendom. It happened during the period which is often referred to as "the age of faith" when throughout western Europe the great gothic churches were being built and may perhaps serve as a reminder that there has hardly ever been a time when the Church has been entirely free of persecution.

There is an interesting post regarding the depiction of St Thomas at Chartres on "Once I was a Clever Boy".

Update: I made the mistake of going to mass in Wales today - St Thomas Becket was ignored.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Saturday 24 December 2011

A Christmas Poem


As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow ;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear ;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I !
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns ;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defilëd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callëd unto mind that it was Christmas day.

St Robert Southwell S.J. (c1561-95)

Thursday 22 December 2011

An Early Christmas Present

Yesterday there arrived to my door all the way from Solesmes in French France the copy of "Singing the Mass" I ordered three weeks ago. It has the order of Mass in English (new translation) and Latin with all the chants in proper plainsong notation. Fuller details are available at the link above but one or two things are worth a mention.
The English and Latin texts and music are printed on facing pages which enable one to switch from one to another with ease and to make comparisons regarding the setting of theEnglish texts with the Latin originals.
The work appears to have originated in Australia and carries the imprimatur of Cardinal Pell. Two interesting British inclusions appear to be an alternative setting of the Lord's Prayer courtesy of Westminster Cathedral and an Alleluia by Dom Gregory MurrayO.S.B.. This last piece I have used for many years having first heard it sung in Clifton Cathedral about thirty years ago. It also features on a disc of chant I got last year but this is the first time I have seen its source acknowledged. I have particularly favoured it as a means of giving the well-known Easter triple alleluia a break.