Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Solemn High Mass in the Dominican Rite available on VHS

By now most readers familiar with the liturgical tradition of the Western Church are familiar with the fact that, not unlike the Christian East, there have been a variety of liturgical rites and uses in the West. Of those, the Dominican rite seems to be one of the most well known. By that, I simply mean that it is often one of the most mentioned. However, it is not as well known in practice.

Well, all that has changed now. The traditional Dominican liturgy has now been made available to anyone with a VCR by means of a simply wonderful recording made of it.

We have the benefit of seeing this rite done by Dominicans, in Dominican habit no less! The Mass was celebrated in a beautifully restored church in the United States, and is another good example of a renovation that has gone right. The presence of the "altar of reservation" in the traditional setting for a high altar, the solid stone altar in front (set up ad orientem of course) and the altar rail all make for a dignified setting for this solemn liturgy.

The Mass includes the celebrant, deacon and subdeacon in traditional liturgical vesture, but also unique features: the wearing of ornamented and hooded albs -- which hoods are worn instead of the biretta. Those who watch this particular video and whom are already familiar with the classical Roman liturgy will walk away with two thoughts. On the one hand, how closely related are the Roman and Dominican rites, and on the other, what distinctive features do set the Dominican rite apart.

The Dominican rite comes across as a slightly simplified version of the classical Roman liturgy that we are so accustomed to, but one also have the feel of it having been bred in a monastic or religious setting. The sense of beauty and proportion in the rite is something that immediately struck me. It was enchanting. In fact, in some ways, given the simplications present in the rite, one could almost have a sense of looking at the Roman liturgy with the simplications of Vatican II in mind -- and yet still extremely traditional. Other distinctive features of the rite are to be found in the manner in which the chalice is prepared with the water and wine before the Gospel, rather than at the altar at the time of the offertory.

The music for the liturgy is a mixture of Gregorian propers and a professional-sounding choir singing the Ordinary in polyphony.

All around a very well done VHS video of the Dominican liturgy.

It is a rare treat and a great service to those interested in the liturgical rites of the West to be so treated to such a presentation.

If you're interested in Western liturgy, and liturgical history, I would consider this a must-have and you won't regret purchasing it.

The video may be purchased from the Rosary Center for only $17.95 USD. Run and get it before it's gone and once again one of those treasures of the Church you wish you could see once in your lifetime. You won't regret buying this. I guarantee it.

(On a related note, but nothing to do directly with these Dominicans or the video, feel free to take a look at this section of the Tridentine dominicans, the Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrer where you can see some images of their life. If you want to see some liturgical snippets, take a look at the "Liturgie au couvent" section.)

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