Saturday, February 28, 2009

Requiem æternam redux

Scott Symons, whose novel Place d'Armes dealt frankly with gay subject matter before the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada, died early this week. Born to a wealthy Rosedale family, he scandalized the Canadian literary scene by leaving his wife and child for Mexico with his underage boyfriend in the pre-Omnibus bill era. A Requiem High Mass was offered at St Thomas's, Huron Street, yesterday for the repose of his soul.

Although a Solemn High Mass, the requiem was a said service. There was no choir, no requiem minor propers, and the prayers were not chanted. The psalm was read by a lector. There were, however, hymns. John Tuttle played the service. The lovely old black High Mass set from the First World War was in use.

The funeral sentences were followed by "O God our help in ages past" (St Anne). The rector quoted extensively in his homily from Mr Symons' accounts of Mass at St Thomas's in his diaries. The offertory hymn was "Immortal, invisible" (to St Basil, which always seems odd to me). The Agnus Dei (in the traditional requiem form) was said as versicles and responses. The Communion hymn was "King of glory, king of peace" (Gwalchmai)

My sister objects to my habit of showing up whenever a requiem is offered at any of the parishes I regularly attend, apparently fearing that I'll end up like Janet Leigh on The Twilight Zone. But "It is ... a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins," as the Apocrypha tells us, and no one seems to mind a friend of the parish coming to join in this prayer. I'd actually like to join the Guild of All Souls, but they're not active in Canada.


Felicity Pickup said...

Thnx for this report.

Elisabeth said...

I don't think I'm familiar with St. Basil as a hymn tune, and Google availeth me not. I am, of course, used to the St. Denio tune with "Immortal, Invisible," and I imagine something else would be off-putting. Can you link me to St. Basil anywhere?

Geoff said...

I think it may be one of those Willan tunes that only Canadians ever sing. I remember being shocked to learn that my friends in England sing "Lord enthroned in heavenly splendour" to tunes other than St Osmund.