Wednesday, December 24, 2008

First Evensong of Christmas

I attended the strangest service of my life this afternoon.

Five people gathered in the Lady Chapel of St Bartholomew's, Regent Park. The priest vested in surplice, stole, and cope, blessed the crèche (using the Canadian Book of Occasional Offices) as we stood by and were sprinkled along with it. Your correspondent held the aspersorium. Evening Prayer was then sung, with the psalms to idiosyncratic organ and wind instrument accompaniment, but the readings were not those in the Prayer Book. Instead they were Isaiah ("The people who sat in darkness...") and Luke's nativity narrative.

Hymns: "O little town of Bethlehem" (Forest Green)
"In the bleak midwinter" (Cranham)
"The Maker of the sun and moon" (Newbury)

A sermon was preached.

We all participated in a procession to the crèche and sang ""While shepherds watched" (Winchester Old)

The Benediction hymns were, disappointingly, not the proper plainsong, but Gonfalon royal (which I don't really know) and Grafton. The collect was omitted. The congregation stood in front of the altar rail behind the priest (I alone knelt at it). The benediction was given, rather perfunctorily, at the very end - after the (unabridged) Divine Praises and Psalm 117, with the antiphon sung strangely. (I'm used to "...most ho-o-oly sacrament," not "most holy sa-a-acrament").

All in all, I was of course glad to be there. Blessed, praised, and adored be Jesus Christ upon His throne of glory, in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar, and in the hearts of His faithful people!


Andrew said...

Oh Geoff, Gonfalon Royal is delightful; is it really completely new to you?

Geoff said...

I don't have any issue with it per se, but with the exception of St Venantius, I have no patience for alternate tunes to "Verbum supernum."

It wasn't completely knew, just not yet memorized.

Anonymous said...

Gosh. 'Gonfalon Royal' is used for all sorts of tunes over here. It seems to be the default for any translation of a little-used Proper hymn, for example, and is one of the most common settings for 'O Salutaris'.

That with Picardy for the 'Tantum' is one of my favourites orderings of Benediction, facto facto. Envy! (the positioning of the DP's also varies in the CofE, and most places won't give you Psalm at all, antiphon or totherwise!

If that's the strangest service you've ever attended then you need to get out more!


Davis said...

Still the privilege to worship Our Lord in the MBS is always something to give thanks for, Geoff.

Geoff said...

That's certainly the rationale behind the last paragraph.