Thursday, August 30, 2007

'Faux bourdon' chant and Pontifical High Mass at the Oxford conference

I don't know anything about this, but I'm told the technique the Schola Sainte Cecile is using in this clip is called 'faux bourdon', singing the chant in harmony. I'd be interested to know more about it; Fr Conlon tells me he remembers it being done in Westminster Cathedral in the early 1960s.

This clip is from the Magnificat of the Solemn Vespers on Tuesday. It's a terrible video, taken with my digital camera, because it was extremely dark in Merton chapel, which was lit mainly by candles. It looked lovely, although I'd have preferred to follow Vespers with a booklet using larger type.

This schola is superb. Their singing at Pontifical High Mass today was quite wonderful. It is a great joy to hear chants which I know well, and have sung myself, sung to these standards.

Also singing today at Pontifical Mass was a polyphonic group directed by a local organist and school teacher, Andrew Knowles. They were really superb; their Kyrie (a Vittoria piece) took my breath away.

Bishop Slattery preached a sermon of great wit and profundity, noting the contrast in age between his diocese of Tulsa (forty years), first with St Rose of Lima (celebrated today), then with Merton College chapel (13th C.), but noting that the Roman Mass was famed for its antiquity centuries before Merton College was even thought of. He linked the authenticity of our celebration of Mass with the fact that the mystery we celebrate is the mystery by which we have been redeemed. Every one has been very taken by Slattery's charm; he was a splendid patriarchal presence in the sanctuary.

I note that I'm not the only one to have had trouble taking photographs of the chapel sanctuary; the light shining from the enormous window behind the altar makes things very difficult, and I hate using a flash during Mass. But here are some photos of Pontifical Vespers with Bishop Rifan; the conference banquet, with Bishop Slattery sitting between Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, and Prior Hugh Allen of the Canons of Premontre (Manchester) (Bishops Rifan was the other side of Mr
Chadwick); Bishop Slattery and Bishop Rifan processing out of Mass; and of Merton bar full of priests (on Tuesday evening), which I thought was amusing.

The Conference has been a great success. As well as the splendid public liturgies, the priests attending have been put in touch not only with their liturgical heritage but also with like-minded priests from all over the country. Everyone seems to be leaving with a great sense of conviction about the value of the Traditional Mass, and a great sense of optimism. The Latin Mass Society hopes to repeat the Conference next year, and in future years, to build on these exciting foundations.

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