Friday, November 29, 2013

Dominican Rite Requiem Mass in Edinburgh

The Dominican community of the Priory of Saint Albert the Great in Edinburgh, Scotland commemorated its founding benefactors, Canon John Gray, Marc-André Sebastien Raffalovich, and Mrs Charlotte Jefferson-Tytus with a sung Requiem in the Dominican rite on 23 October 2013.

After an absence of almost 400 years due to the Protestant Reformation, the Dominican friars had returned to Edinburgh in 1931, and at the invitation of Archbishop Andrew Thomas McDonald, O.S.B., they established a Catholic Chaplaincy for the students and staff of Edinburgh University. The establishment of the Chaplaincy and Priory at 24 George Square was made possible thanks to gifts and support from the above named benefactors.

From the beginning, the Georgian town house at 24 George Square was thought to be ideal for a new chaplaincy centre because it boasted what was reputedly "the largest drawing room in Edinburgh", and this first-floor room, with an apse-like bay window, served as the chapel of the priory and chaplaincy until 2012. Over the decades, plans for a purpose-built chapel never quite materialised, but finally in 2012 this hope was realised. On 15 August 2012, precisely 781 years after the first Dominican priory opened in Edinburgh, the new chapel of St Albert the Great, built in the garden behind the priory was dedicated by the Archbishop.

Last Saturday's Missa Cantata was celebrated in this modern chapel, which has received seven major architectural awards so far. This was the first time the ancient rite of the Order has been said in it, and it was probably also the first public Dominican rite Mass in the city for almost five decades. Mass was sung by fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., who is assistant Catholic chaplain at St Albert's, and two students of Edinburgh University served as acolytes; the students had ably mastered in just two days the intricacies of this role in the Dominican rite. The sermon was preached by the Prior, fr. Dermot Morrin, O.P., in which he reflected on Canon Gray's conversion to Catholicism having glimpsed the simple reverent beauty of the Mass, and Raffalovich's love of beauty and the Dominican charism.

A Schola Gregoriana comprised of singers from Stirling-based 'Cantors of the Holy Rude' sang the Mass propers and ordinary from the Dominican Gradual. They were led by an alumnus of St Albert's Catholic Chaplaincy, James MacMillan CBE.

The chapel was full to capacity for this Mass, with a good number of current students present as well as alumni and friends from all over Scotland and the north of England. A booklet with the text and rubrics of the Mass, annotated with thoughts concerning the Mass by St Thomas Aquinas, St Albert the Great, and fr. Gerald Vann, O.P., was provided for all present. For many this was the first time they'd attended Mass in a pre-concilar form, and students commented positively on the beauty, reverence, and contemplative stillness of the ancient Liturgy.

The photos below were taken by, and republished here courtesy of Martin Gardner

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