Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The exotic liturgical life of Bensham


On the fourth Sunday of Advent the Society of St Pius X, who have celebrated the traditional Mass on a Sunday in the Station Hotel in Newcastle for the last 34 years (with a short inter-regnum when they had an independent, ex-SSPX priest, Fr Glover), moved into their new home the former Anglican church of Christ Church in Bensham, in Gateshead. I include a picture here of this fine church and a link to more. I went to this church in 2005 for a Christian Unity service for Gateshead led by the bishop of Durham, Tom Wright who spoke a lot of sense about ecumenism on that occasion. I was invited back for a sneak preview of the church a couple of weeks ago. The Society had originally planned to take over another ex-Anglican church in the Bensham area of Gateshead, the lovely church of St Cuthbert on Bensham Bank, but found the costs prohibitive. That church has now been acquired by an Orthodox group so Bensham will be able to provide quite a wide variety of liturgical experience!


The new SSPX church has had it`s name changed to the church of the Holy Name. When I was parish priest of St Wilfrid`s and St Joseph`s in Gateshead ( with a weekly Sunday indult Mass) I heard that the SSPX were planning to move into the town. They often complain that bishops set up officially sanctioned celebrations of the Tridentine Mass only where their own churches exist. Having a Tridentine Mass with an attendance of 80 or so I felt that they were setting up near to me. However there is no sign of the SSPX opening up in Forest Hall as yet! Meanwhile the Sunday 12 noon EF Mass continues at the nearby St Joseph`s, Gateshead.


There is talk of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops being lifted soon. If this happens then we will have another church on Tyneside where Catholics may freely worship according to the EF. A field trip to St Cuthbert`s to study the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom should also be a possibility it seems!
I should also mention that Bensham is the home to a large Orthodox Jewish community with one of the most important yeshivas (Talmudic school) in Europe and that the SSPX is right in the centre of it.

22 comments:

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Interesting developments..

Glenn said...

Thank you for the news re. Holy Name of Jesus church and link. This is the sort of ¨ecumenism¨ we need! Are you free on the 19th for more of the same?! Thanks again.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Glenn from Spain! Glad to hear from you. I`m not sure what the 19th would be the same as but I believe bishop Fellay will be there.

Anonymous said...

The report is inaccurate. Dr. Glover did not use the 1962 missal and was one of a handful of priests who remained loyal to the old liturgy in the face of compromise.

Indeed Dr. Glover was responsible for the celebration of the entire liturgy of the ancient Sacred Triduum (including all the 'Little Hours' at the University of Durham which waa joy to behold. The abolition of the Holy Week liturgy in the mid-1950s was disgraceful liturgical vandalism of the worst kind.

The 1962 missal was used at the Station Hotel from 1995 following Dr. Glover's retirement and the takeover of his former Mass centres by the SSPX. So not 34 years of the 1962 missal but 12.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Sorry, anonymous, you are right. I used 1962 as a form of short-hand. I`ll change it to the traditional Mass. I am not a fan of 1962 myself. I noticed yesterday that pre-1962 the Holy Innocents Mass required purple vestments and no Gloria and Creed, except on Sundays. Seems to make more sense to me. I would much prefer pre-1962 but that is not a priority at the moment as we struggle to keep the tLm going.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Brown, Thank you for the posting the correction.

In pre-1962 days although you are correct in stating the feast of the Holy Innocents was celebrated in violet without Gloria it did have the Creed. Following the old rules it also had Benedicamus Domino with a sublime chant too that was only heard on that feast, the Vigil of Christmas and Solemn Votive Masses pro re gravi.

As to the colour change the old rite blended the ancient Roman (red) and Gallican (violet) uses in a happy arrangement - the kind of idiosyncratic practice that clearly didn't appeal to the reformers' taste.

If you are interested in such practices perhaps you should take the Saint Lawrence Press Ordo as Dr. Glover used to.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Thanks for the information anonymous. I would have liked to see the pre-Bugnini reform Holy Week out of interest. While I do use a couple of pre-1962 things which seem to be quite general in the EF world such as the confiteor before communion and the bows to the cross at the Holy Name( which maybe the new Ecclesia Dei document will talk about, especially the confiteor) it might cause too much confusion at present to take on more pre-1962 things. Maybe when things are on a stronger footing there may be interest in the traditional world in exploring the 1960 changes. I`ll have a look at the Ordo you mention, out of academic interest.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the Institute of Christ the King have permission to use the old holy week ceremonies though they celebrate the Easter Vigil in the evening not on the morning of Holy Saturday. Maybe now that there is a ICR priest operating in the North of England, we'll be able to see the older ceremonies.

Anonymous 1 said...

Anoymous2: My understanding is that the ICKSP had a verbal permission from Cardinal Mayer when he was at PCED. I rather doubt your synopsis will prove correct but I hope I am wrong.

Fr. Brown: one could add to the minor changes you mention such as the delimiting of the postion of the celebrants hands in 1962 (c.f. R.S. V,1) and the suppression of the 'mid' voice etc. I presume many of the old rite practices get used at the EF as most celebrants don't know the 1962 rubrics that well.

Several series of photographs of Dr. Glover's Triduum are available (in practice a tad difficult as my scanner is currently out of action) if you are interested.

I understand a complimentary copy of Ordo Recitandi 2008 is on its way to you for your, academic, perusal.

Anonymous the First

Fr Michael Brown said...

I didn`t realise we had two anonymouses (sp?)but thanks for differentiating yourselves. I too had heard about the ICR and the old Holy Week liturgy but wasn`t sure how widespread it is in the Institute and on what authority they use it.

Once in Gateshead we celebrated the Bugnini Good Friday and afterwards I wondered whether it was worth the effort of celebrating it after having done the Novus Ordo one since they were essentially the same apart from language. The result was that in subsequent years we had the Schola Gregoriana sing at the Novus Ordo Good Friday.

I would be interested in the photos of Fr Glover`s Holy Week but there is no hurry.

Many thanks for the ordo: I look forward to seeing it. I`ve looked at the website and find the comparative tables very interesting.

Anonymous 1 aka Saint Lawrence Press said...

I'm sure after a 'Bugnini Good Friday' a stiff drink would have been needed! A touch unfair to AB I would suggest but, in truth, I have to admit to coming round to being rather fond of him in a rather peculiar way.

Of course the 'Restored' Holy Week was but a trial run for some of the more unpleasant later reforms. Bravo Fr. Brown for your highly pertinent comments on your experience of the Good Friday 'restoration' - that would make you very unpopular in some 'traditional' circles! The 1956-62 Good Friday service is indeed horrible: the ministers come in just stoles unlike the Paul VI rite where the use of full vestments is restored (the choice of red being rather a moot point, red having been used in many of our own English rite as well as the pope having worn red to preside at the Mass of the Pre-Sanctifie - but give me black please!); the full Passion of St. John is restored in Paul VI rather than the truncted version in 1956-1962 (indeed no less an establishment than the Brompton Oratory has restored the pre-Pius XII chant for the 'Gospel' which, according to the late Henry Washington (c.f. London Oratory Centenary (1984)book), went back to the chant of the synagogue. Of course the Paul VI rite does have a rather inadequate oration pro Judaeis but at least one can have Vexilla regis, again a sad casulty in 1956. The SRC exhibited its superstious fear of black by having a change to violet for the distribution of Communion.

The sad reality is that the Paul VI Holy Week, when celebrated well (with none of the 1950's inspired nonsense of versus populum etc) is far superior to that found in the EF.

BTW looking at the thread about Christmas Trees mine goes up on December 24th and stays up, along with other decorations, until Candlemas.

Alnwickian said...

For some years I sang at Dr Glover's Holy Week ceremonies along with Richard Hoban and (occasionally) Jerome Roche, both, alas, now dead.

Although performed in 'simple' form and in the debating chamber of the Durham Union rather than a church, the ceremonies were quite magnificent. I have never had any Holy Week experiences to better them.

Fr Michael Brown said...

I`m intrigued by Dr Glover`s choice of title. Was his doctorate from a Roman University? I have a Phd but only go by the title Dr when I am teaching at the university. Am I doing the wrong thing?

michaelj said...

Anon1 thanks for the tip about the St Lawrence Press.

The chap who writes in the Sarabite blog(who for a time attended the SSPX seminary in Argertina for a time) said that the ICR celebrated the pre-51/55 holy week ceremonies in California. We can wait and see what they do at their big new church in Chicago.

Last time I attended a SSPX Good Friday they prayed for the "perfidious" jews though they celebrate the PiusXII holy week.

(Sorry I was Anon 2. I couldn't remember my google password. )

Alnwickian said...

Fr mb
You are observing correct etiquette regarding the use of the title "Dr". Dr Glover held a doctorate in canon law from a Roman University (I can't remember now which one). It would seem rather artificial to refer to him as "Fr" Glover as he has left the priesthood and the Church.

Fr Michael Brown said...

If I am then observing correct etiquette then shouldn`t references to his time when he was `in active ministry` as they say be to Fr Glover and any reference to him in the present be to Mr Glover? I always enjoyed his newsletters when I saw them and was very sad to hear that he became so disillusioned. I had hoped he might have found a home in the Church as a priest after leaving Newcastle.

Saint Lawrence Press said...

Dr. Glover indeed gained his 'JCD' in Rome his thesis being on the Constitutions of the Congregation of the Oratory. Whilst in 'active ministry' he certainly should have been referred to as 'Dr.' but he still should be so titled as his doctorate hasn't simply vanished into thin air.

Technically, at least, he still is a priest too as he hasn't sought laicisation and remains incardinated into an Englsh diocese.

More importantly, to me at least, he is a very good friend.

I too remember both Jerome Roche and Richard Hoban at Durham. At least Alnwickian you are alive and well!

Oh happy days from the past. There was something so atmospheric about the Union Chamber. I can still smell the wax polish on the floorboards...

Fr Michael Brown said...

Saint Lawrence Press I`m glad to hear that Dr Glover is alive and well as the fatality rate from that group appears to be rather high. Alnwickian has always told me that I cannot style myself Dr in ecclesiastical life on the basis of a Phd but maybe he will respond to this.
When I take holy Communion to old housebound parishioners they sometimes start to tell me about their ills and refer to me as Dr but apart from that I keep it for the university!

Saint Lawrence Press said...

I am no expert on the subject but I don't quite see why you cannot be 'Dr. Brown'. After all the practice of addressing secular clergy as 'Fr' is relatively modern. What about your wonderful eighteenth century bishop 'Dr' Briggs?

I know the Daily Torygraph has a fixation about reserving the use of 'Dr.' to physicians which is rather odd considering many medical practitioners are not educated to doctoral level. My favourite liturgist, Dr. John Wickham-Legg had the good fortune to be both a Physician in Ordinary to one of Queen Victoria's children and hold a doctorate (of the old fashioned variety) too.

I think the key to not adding to the fatality rate of that particular Durham cohort is the excercise and fresh air hunting provides.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Saint Lawrence Press, Alnwickian would not allow that. I think he only allows it as a general title for those who have an honorary doctorate granted for outstanding achievement like Sting or Bob Dylan.

roydosan said...

It seems to make sense to use 'Dr' in academia and 'Fr' in other settings. When I was at university all the clergy used the title dr/professor in academic circles but not outside. On a related note, I've always been puzzled why Lawrence Hemming & Alcuin Reid always use 'Dr' instead of Deacon. It seems that there is a real paucity of traditionalist deacons so any visibility would be welcome.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Roydosan, I agree with you. There do appear to be quite a number of mainly non-Catholic clergy who use the title Dr. and have it on their church notice-boards. I`m always uncertain about addressing letters to their home addresses to academics who I only come across in the university. Do their titles go home with them? It seems a bit mean to address a professor on an envelope as Mr.