Sunday, June 27, 2010

High Masses

We have a small group of priests of the diocese who are interested in the Extraordinary Form and who meet once a month for lunch. This has born fruit in that we have got to know each other better and from that we are co-ordinating our activities. So for the Year Of the Priest it was our intention to have High Mass in each of our parishes which we mostly achieved, with some Masses occurring after the close of the Year. For example, last Monday we had a High Mass at Coxhoe. Fr Swales, the parish priest, celebrated the Mass in thanksgiving for his fiftieth birthday and in thanksgiving for life. Given that the Mass was on a Monday at 12 noon it was good to see a congregation of almost 60 people. Some of these were people I`d not see for a long time. Fr Swales is a regular celebrant at the Sunday Mass at St Dominic`s, Newcastle and people from that Mass often make the journey to Co. Durham on a Thursday for his regular EF Mass at 12 noon. However that particular group seldom come to any other EF Masses in the diocese so it was a long time since I had seen many of them.
The Mass went very well and I hope Frank might send some pictures. We are becoming more familiar with High Mass. There will be another opportunity this Tuesday when Frs Swales and Phillips are joining me at Longbenton for High Mass for the feast of SS Peter and Paul. The next occasion will probably be the Mass at Brinkburn in September but I hope that after that we will continue to organise High Masses and go to new venues.
I`m a great believer in frequent High Masses. It was therefore interesting to read what actually happened before the Council in parishes in Lancaster in a post which Fr Paul Harrison made on his blog a while back. Fr Harrison is the diocesan archivist and revealed that his search of visitation reports for Lancaster diocese from 1924-1962 showed for two of the biggest parishes the following:
St Ignatius a very vibrant Jesuit parish in Preston, which usually had 6 priests. High Mass was on the principle feasts only and Missa Cantata once a month.
English Martyrs an equally vibrant secular parish which also had 6 priests. High Mass was, again, only on the principle feasts of the year. Missa Cantata was offered "only seldomly"
So it seems that liturgical life in even the best equipped parishes was very impoverished. It is consoling in a way to know that even before the Council I would have been dissatisfied with the liturgical life of the Catholic Church in England!


Giorgio Roversi said...

It would be a great thing if such meetings were organised at a national level, along with conferences and other events, as happens in Italy with the “Amicizia sacerdotale Summorum Pontificum”. I think it would help other diocesan priests to get to know and appreciate the EF.

David O'Neill said...

Looking at your blog re Solemn High Mass takes me back to my time as a chorister at St Michael's in Newcastle. We had Canon Peter Corcoran as PP plus Fr Joe Rossi, Frs Ray & Ged Crumbley & numerous other younger newly ordained priests. The choir was noted for it's excellence under the direction of Mr Joe Gribbin & I recall Fr Felix Daley (then teaching at St Cuthbert's Grammar School) coming to us to sing Mass just before being appointed as a PP. Every Sunday we had Missa Cantata with a polyphonic Ordinary & a polyphonic Proper (Tozer). Even the responses were in 4-part harmony & the choir was all male. Noreen James (my godmother) was organist & I sang in the choir from 1946 (aged 8) until the disaster of Vat II hit us
St Michael's choir sang the opening High Mass at SS Peter & Paul, Longbenton when Fr Ray Crumbley was appointed PP of the new church
David O'Neill.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Giorgio, I couldn`t agree more. The John Fisher Society for priests existed in London for quite a while but is now defunct. A national organistaion would be a very good thing. It just needs people to commit time and energy.

Fr Michael Brown said...

David, it still mystifies me why there was only a Missa Cantata each week at St Michael`s with those resources. Can`t say I would have enjoyed Tozer and at the risk of being thought a modernist I would prefer the congregation to sing the responses but compared to the Clapping Gloria it sounds very good. St Michael`s is still a beautiful church if not in a very beautiful area.

1569 Rising said...

It wasn't always so good in the "old days", especially if your parish was a single-handed lone priest affair. St Joseph's, Highfield was my parish, and I experienced my first High Mass, (or Missa Cantata for that matter), at the age of 13 when I went to Ushaw. Music in our parish consisted of the valiant efforts of an elderly lady and a harmonium, and then only on Sunday and Thursday evening Benediction.
I think we knew about 20 hymns from the Westminster Hymnal, plus "O Salutaris Hostia" and Tantum Ergo".

It was an amazing achievement for us to put on a sung Mass (semi-Novus Ordo) on the Radio in 1967. Even then, we had to borrow an organist!

Post 1970, when hymns at Mass became more or less compulsory, we formed a folk group specifically to accompany the hymns. This was all with the encouragement and support of our PP, Canon Landreth, a priest of the Old School, but as he said at the time, "Obedient to the Bishop".

So, this might not seem too acceptable to my fellow Traditionalists, but it has to be said that the music in St Joseph's improved greatly following Vatican 2.

I can see I will get into trouble over this post.

Sixupman said...

St. Ignatius, Preston, a while ago, abandoned regular TLM's, and, allowing Communion to be taken along the rail. In the latter case the original system allowed congregations to stand, kneel, tongue or hand - now al must confirm. If it wasn't for a few older priests, I am sure daily, mid-day, Confessions would also cease.

I recollect, as a youngster, every Sunday there was, at Our Lady & St. Josephs, Catlisle, an High Mass Celebrated at 11:00. Happy days.

PS Somewhat startled by new screen set-up!

Fr Michael Brown said...

Sixupman, thanks for the information: so St Ignatius had an indult Mass? Also interested to hear about High mass in Carlisle. I`d be interested to hear about Hexham and Newcastle.

Sorry about the new design: Blogger was keen for us to try it`s new design templates so I was playing around a bit.

FrankE said...

1569 - Terry, that's interesting about Highfield. As a youngster (only a little while ago!) the earliest PP I remember at St Cecilia's in Sunderland was Fr Hugh O'Connor, who I believe came from Highfield (presumably the same parish). Like you we only ever seemed to use a few regular hymns, played (sometimes by my Mum!) on a fairly basic organ-thing. I sort of remember pumping up this organ (was it a lever or a pedal?) until we got an electric blower.
I don't remember as a kid ever experiencing a High or a Cantata Mass, but I do remember Fr O'Connor foaming at the mouth as he preached his 'fire and brimstone' type sermons, warning that '...death shall come like a thief in the night' and warning the young that 'you won't be able to take your walky-talky-sleepy dolls with you.'

1569 Rising said...

Frank E

Fr O'Connor was the first PP of Highfield, but before my time. My earliest memories were of Fr Edward Hodgson who had been a Military Chaplain and a POW for 4 years in Germany. He was followed by the amazing and eccentric Fr Malachy Mulligan (and his weird housekeeper, his sister Tessie). He went in for fire and brimstone sermons delivered in a very broad Irish accent, a great one for the Gee Gees. Then Fr Hugh Lavery with his thoughtful, deep and very leftist sermons. Canon Landreth, who ushered in the "changes". I wouldn't like to go any further, since the later PP's are all alive and well (I think), but I must put in a word for Fr James Keane - not only a great priest, but also a personal friend.