Saturday, July 02, 2011

Random thoughts on Bishop Ambrose`s Requiem

Yesterday I went to the cathedral to take part in a Requiem Mass for Bishop Ambrose Griffiths. This was the third such Mass as there had been one in Leyland in the parish where he lived, one the night before at the cathedral here in Newcastle, yesterday's and then he was off to Ampleforth for the final one with burial. This may have accounted for the somewhat low turnout of bishops as they had so much choice. However we still managed to have the Apostolic Nuncio and Archbishop Nichols present and about eight or nine others. Canon Barrass preached and neatly caught the enthusiasm and unpredictability of bishop Ambrose. However the microphone for our bishop needs some attention. I remember when the portable microphone worn by bishop Ambrose was had major problems at a catherdal function. Yesterday whatever was wrong with it, the bishop`s voice was unfortunately very distorted by it. However I learnt this morning that at least two other Catholic cathedrals seem to have microphone problems too! How on earth did the Church manage before the invention of the microphone? When I vest for the OF Mass I sometimes wear the maniple and sometimes don`t. According to the Vatican website the maniple has never been abolished, so is optional and when I wear it I say the vesting prayer. The portable microphone appears to be compulsory however but there is nothing in the vesting prayers for putting it on! After yesterday`s Mass maybe there should be a prayer that it will work.

There were two pieces of Latin chant in the Mass. The Introit was sung before the clergy entered the cathedral so I missed that but the In Paradisum was sung but sadly to a tune that was not well known. One priest told me it was the solemn tone, someone else told me it was the Ushaw tone. No-one seemed very certain about it including the schola. The rest of the music was fairly dignified. The Kyrie interested me: it was an English setting of the Orbis Factor Mass which was rather nice (although I would have preferred the Requiem Kyrie) and thought it could be used in the parish. I was surprised that the cantor sang the prayer `May almighty God have mercy on us and forgive us our sins` etc as that part is reserved to the priest but apart from that I thought it was rather good.

A final thought. I imagine they have been at other functions and I`ve not noticed, but this time I was aware of a group of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre maybe because our LMS rep. David O`Neill, was making his first appearance in knightly garb. In turn I saw there was a Dame of the Holy Sepulchre present too. She was sporting a mantilla the like of which I`ve not seen outside of Spain: one of those that trails down the back. The knights wear a beret that looks rather like a biretta but the use of which does not follow the rules for the biretta it seems.

That was our third episcopal funeral in four years. May they rest in peace.

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