Monday, February 08, 2016

“Mostly Latin” Vespers To Be Sung in Henry VIII's Chapel at Hampton Court

I was recently sent this interesting article in the Catholic Business Journal. Tomorrow evening, a Vespers will be sung by professional choir, The Sixteen. and attended by both Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, and the Anglican Bishop of London, Richard Chartres

As the CBJ article tells us, “On the evening of February 9, 2016, Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Vespers and the Bishop of London, Dean of the Chapel Royal will preach in Henry VIII’s chapel- the first Catholic service held in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace since the 1550s...” [see full article here]

It has been created as an initiative to allow “dialogue” between churches and religions. Whatever form that dialogue takes outside the praying of Vespers itself, I have always been a great fan of using the Liturgy of the Hours to unite Christian worshipers. The texts are biblical and the prayers can legitimately be presented to avoid raising anti-Catholic prejudice without compromising Catholic principles. When we sang our Vespers regularly at the VA hospital in Manchester (as I have described in the past); we had a priest presiding, but we were only allowed to do it because it could be presented as “ecumenical.” All we had to do in order to allow all present to feel comfortable was to change the wording of a few of the prayers (as the General Instruction allows) so that there were no references to the Pope. As a result, I think some who would have felt uneasy knowing they were attending a Catholic service didn’t realise that they weren’t supposed to like it.

It is a good thing to have such luminaries present at this event at Hampton Court, but in fact, the Liturgy of the Hours does not even need a priest presiding in order to be authentically liturgical, other things being equal. A baptized Christian has sufficient standing to do this. Given this fact, I wonder if some of those Vespers that took place in this chapel in the protestant era might be considered Catholic nevertheless?

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