Monday, November 26, 2012

Ordinariate Lessons and Carols Around the Country

Of the elements of the Anglican Patrimony the Ordinariate brings with it, one of the most enjoyable is the seasonal pleasure of a Lessons and Carols service. The first of these was held in a temporary shed serving as Truro's Anglican cathedral on Christmas Eve, 1880, by future archbishop of Canterbury Edward White Benson--purportedly to give his flock something better to do than spend the night before Christmas in local bars and pubs. It has since been a tradition adopted by Catholic as well as Anglican parishes, as well as Lutheran and even Presbyterian communities. King's College, Cambridge, has been conducting the service the longest, from 1918. The form is not fixed, and probably more strictly para-liturgical than liturgical, but usually consists of nine readings from Scripture (though I have also seen it with seven) interspersed with hymns and anthems.

Its adoption by Catholics is not in the least inappropriate as some have traced its basic structure back to Christmas Matins and also the 9 lessons read at mass during Advent Ember Saturday. Even if these origins can be disputed, the long and varied history of various para-liturgical services, such as the concert-like "spiritual recreations" of Venetian confraternities, the Renaissance Spanish Salve service and Sacrosanctum Concilium's encouragement of "Bible services" on "the vigils of the more solemn feasts, on some weekdays in Advent and Lent" (this coming, ironically, only shortly after the abolition of the Vigil of Pentecost), show there is no shortage of equivalents on our end.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that Blessed John Henry Newman Parish in Orange County will be having its Lessons and Carols at 7 PM on December 21.

There will also be many other Ordinariate parishes engaging in this tradition this year, such as St. Athanasius (Boston), on 2 December at 5 PM; Our Lady of Walsingham (Houston) on the same day, at 4 PM; St. John's (Calgary), at 7 PM on December 23, and St. Athanasius again on December 30 at 5 PM. Info on these and other similar events can be found on the sidebar at this site.

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