Monday, August 18, 2008

Feast of the Assumption in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Some readers from Northern Ireland sent in the following report and photos of their Solemn Vespers and Mass in the usus antiquior for the Feast of the Assumption.

As part of its programme of Parish Masses for the Feast of the Assumption, Saint Paul's Parish, Belfast, included the celebration of Solemn Vespers and a Missa Cantata in the Usus Antiquior. This is the first time since the 1960s that vespers according to the Liber Usualis and Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite have been included as part of a parish's provision for a feast day. Schola Gregoriana Belfast, a choir of twelve men and women, chanted vespers and included a fauxbourdon Magnificat by Viadana. Two cantors sang all the proper antiphons of the Mass and, with the rest of the Schola sang the ordinary of the Mass to Missa O Quam Gloriosum by Victoria and Mass IX. Motets were also included: Victoria's Ave Maria and Viadana's Exultate Iusti. The choir, and very youthful congregation of 200 people, answered the sung responses of the Mass and sang Credo III with conviction. The organist, Mr Nigel McClintock, along with his own improvisations (including one on the solemn Deus in Adiutorium at the entrance), played music by Dupre, Faure and Vierne. At the end of Mass, the choir and people joined in singing the Salve Regina at Our Lady's Altar and Mr McClintock played Vierne's Finale to Symphony No. 1 as a recessional voluntary.

Special mention should be made of the efforts of the MC and his team to recreate the Liturgical Movement style of Altar arrangements as designed by Mr Padraig Gregory, the architect who installed the original Sanctuary and side altars in St Paul's in 1939. Gregory's use of mosaic, marble revetments and not to mention the baldachino and 'liturgical' altar could once be seen in many of his churches in the Northern Irish Dioceses. His clean and attractive designs extended even to the altar furnishings and sanctuary appointments, and here can be seen in the very altar candlesticks and altar cards, with a complimenting 1930's cloth-of-silver set of Marian Vestments. The celebrant was Fr Martin Graham, a priest of the Diocese of Down and Connor and curate at St Malachy's Parish, Belfast.

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