Saturday, November 1, 2008

Requiem aeternam (part I)

This morning I attended the annual All Souls Requiem at the Chapel of St James the Less, at the cathedral's cemetery. It was a moving service in its way, though not quite how I would have done things. The Missa Cantata was set to Byrd's Mass for Four Voices. Vestments and paraments were, sadly, violet, but the priest (a brother of the Oratory of the Good Shepherd) celebrated ad orientem. (When I approached the altar rail for communion I saw that in fact the altar has never been moved forward). The Very Rev. the Dean of Toronto assisted and the cathedral's transitional deacon, a former Presbyterian minister who now occasionally sports a biretta I understand, read the Gospel. He was in surplice and deaconwise stole. (Are deacons meant to wear their stoles diagonally with a surplice?)

Burial sentences from the Prayer Book (setting by Croft) were sung by a quartet from the cathedral choir. (The abolition of the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys is a rant for another post). The greeting was said rather than sung. The crucifer read the lesson ("But the souls of the righteous...") rather like a weather report. He concluded "The Word of the Lord." I couldn't help recalling the story of a layman of my acquaintance who is said to have stood up in the cathedral and shouted "No it's not; it's the Apocrypha!"

The psalm was sung to plainsong. The leaflet indicated that the choir would sing the psalm, but since it was a basic plainsong setting, I defiantly joined in. (I would do this again during the Gospel Acclamation [with Alleluias by Ager] and the Kontakion of the Dead [with antiphon by an unindicated composer]).

The intercessions named seemingly every Anglican in the diocese ever to have died. The offertory hymn was "O what their joy and their glory must be" (Regnator orbis). The crucifer-cum-thurifer committed the cardinal sin of censing the congregation at a requiem. I was so astonished that I omitted to sing the last verse of the hymn.

At Communion, the motet was Tomkins: "I Heard a Voice from Heaven." The prayer after communion (from the BAS) was followed by the Kontakion of the Dead. The beginning and ending ("Give everlasting") were sung to a choral setting, with the middle to plainsong. Then the celebrant said the prayer of commendation. The concluding hymn was "Jerusalem the Golden" (Ewing).

I was rather chagrined when I saw that the leaflet indicated to kneel at certain points (Kyrie, Eucharistic Prayer) since I did not in fact have a kneeler. I assumed that this was a typo and that this would be a standing Mass. I looked around, however, and saw that others did have kneelers. And those who didn't tended to solve the problem by sitting, which I refused to do on principle. So I was the lone congregant standing at those times, which was a tad awkward.

I will report back on Monday's Requiem High Mass at St Thomas's, Huron Street (which will be in black).


John the organist said...

What's wrong with kneeling on the floor?

Geoff said...

Even I'm not that ascetic.

Patrick Cook said...

My school chaplain encouraged the practice, if only during Holy Week. We may have been broad Church, but we still had the traditional ethos of prep school asceticism.