Friday, September 14, 2007

Holy Cross Day

Procession and Solemn Mass of Holy Cross Day at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Toronto. It was the first of three Masses I will be attending for the feast (that one, tomorrow afternoon at Holy Cross Priory, and Sunday morning at the Church of the Nearest Sunday).

The vestments were a smart red set with black orphreys; ditto the full-length frontal (unusual for St. Mary mag; the altar normally wears a miniskirt). It was a modern set: no horizontal bars on either the dalmatic or tunicle, and no maniples in evidence.

The Mass was a homegrown Healey Willan Mass for the feast. The subdeacon's, shall we say, untrained voice made the Epistle rather painful. In lieu of a gradual, the psalm was said with a refrain accompanied by children on glockenspiels and sundry other percussion instruments, which was rather experimental for a Solemn Mass at SMM, but they pulled it off, in my opinion. The children later returned for the response to the Prayers of the People.

A new motet composed for the occasion by SMM's music director on the text of John 3.16 was quite haunting and lovely. The hymns were "The royal banners forward go" (Vexilla Regis), "When I survey the wondrous cross" (Rockingham), "All praise to thee, for thou O king divine" (Engelberg), and "Lift high the cross" (Crucifer). I fell in love with Engelberg the first time I heard it, so I was quite pleased.

Did anything distract me? Apart from the seemingly obligatory pierced-eyebrowed blond in low-rise jeans sitting ahead of me, there was a point during the offertory when someone in the chancel party began to brush up against his/her microphone for a painfully prolonged period of time, causing much mirth.

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