Monday, 30 November 2009

Back to normal? We'll see!

I've just spent the best part of the last month gradually restoring my data, music and photo files which went AWOL when my External Hard Drive crashed. [That's in excess of 40,000 files!] Unfortunately, some have been lost, including a chant responsory arranged by yours truly - the first time I'd ever arranged a piece of music for public performance, and now you'll never know how good it was. ;-) Also lost is all the work I'd done so far for Ushaw next year. :-( Very frustrating, but as most of this years files actually survived, I've got the foundations, as it were, to rebuild what I'd done, making the necessary changes to reflect the different dates in April next year, as the conference is a week earlier. It helps that the first day is going to be exactly the same!

Depending on numbers in the choir, we may even introduce some polyphony in the first 3 days. We certainly hope to have a polyphonic Requiem on the Thursday if enough Rudgates can be persuaded to take a days leave to sing the Victoria Requiem a 6 which went down so well in Scunthorpe.

The final Mass will definitely be polyphony, as we'll be booking a choir from the local area to sing. (We'll still have the Proper to to...) Palestrina's Missa Aeterna Christi Munera is the favourite at this stage. It's all looking very good planning wise. I just need to recreate the lost Orders of Service and add Thursday & Friday. Simple to write about, but I know there'll be much slaving away over a hot computer before it's finished. It took over 60 hours to do last time - and then I noticed the mistakes I'd failed to spot in the preparation... With the benefit of experience, there shouldn't be any this time! Famous last words. ;-) I'm tempted to say that't I'll buy drinks for the first person to spot one, but that might be a tad too risky. Can't wait for next April though. It'll be wonderful!

Ushaw apart, life is as hectic as ever. I've been involved with my sister's choir, taking photographs of their last concert for the choir website - yet to be launched, and have temporarily joined another choir to help them out with their major Christmas Concert, as they're short of Basses.

As if that wasn't enough, there are plans for the first sung Extraordinary Form Mass in York for a year. It will be our priests first sung Mass, so we hope it will be a success. We also have our Annual Carol Service to look forward to on 21st December.

Planning all this keeps me out of mischief I suppose!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Victoria's Requiem a 6

One of my favourite pieces ever is Victoria's Requiem for 6 voices. We were
privileged to sing this last Saturday at Holy Souls' Church, Scunthorpe.
Apart from the repeat of 'Quam Olim' in the Offertory - which very few people seem
to have been prepared for, despite the rehearsal, it went very well. It's a shame that
more people weren't there though. We now hope to repeat this for Remembrance
Sunday next year. I'm also hoping that it will be sung, either by us, or some other
group during the next LMS Priestly Training Conference at Ushaw, next April. It will
sound glorious in St Cutbert's Chapel! Here's an excerpt purloined from Youtube.

If you don't know the piece, then I recommend you check Amazon, or your favourite
supplier and get yourself a recording!
Our next fully choral service will be our Annual Carol Service @ Bishophill, always
well attended. We're looking forward to it even more this year, as it will be followed
by out first organised Christmas Party!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Music Matters.

No sooner am I back from holiday and back at work in 'the day job' then I manage to get involved in musical events of one form or another! I've already written about the EF Missa Cantata in Howden for which I'm providing the music along with one or two other 'volunteers' [I didn't even cross their palms with silver, although it may cost me a pint or two later!]

More importantly, someone's coming to York, and it's not Pope Benedict - at least not yet anyway. I am of course, referring to the visit of the

Relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux

to York Minster

Many things have been said about this, some quite controversially, as the Minster is one of two non-Catholic venues, the other being the chapel of Wormwood Scrubs Prison. There are various services and events being planned in the Minster itself, but there will be at least one musical event taking place elsewhere, as all the good time slots have been taken already. :-(

I [and a few others I hope!] will be singing 2nd Vespers for the Feast of

St Thérèse of Lisieux

at the church of St Mary, Bishophill Jnr - our regular venue for Chant Vespers & Compline.

The idea came about because a few of us want to to *something* connected to St Thérèse on her Feast Day whilst the relics are in York. We didn't think that the Ecumenical Service of thanksgiving for the Malines Conversations of 1921 to 1927 was really appropriate...

Thanks, to Fr Elias, the previous Carmelite Chaplain to the University of York, we're going to commemorate the visit with, we hope, a service that's a little bit, well, more appropriate! He very kindly copied and sent me chants from the Carmelite Office for her Feast Day, which I'm supplanting with Gregorian Chant and chant from the Use of York for the final Marian Antiphon. If you're in the York area that evening, please do come along. Our service is at 7.30pm, a little late for Vespers I know, but I've got to account for people who are at work and travelling some distance to be with us.

The following day, there is a Mass in the Zouche Chapel to which all are welcome, but I wanted to do something specifically on her Feast Day whilst the relics are in York, hence Vespers.

[I know that in the EF Calendar the Feast isn't until 3rd October, but I'm not getting into that argument here!]

Le 'Mini-Tour'

It's been almost a week now since I returned from holiday. I turned the invitation to sing for Brother Lawrence Lew's Solemn Profession into an even greater opportunity for me to get a few days away and even spend some time in France and quick visit to London before heading back to York.

I won't bore you with details, suffice to say that the week started in Oxford and ended with an Extraordinary Form Mass at the church of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen. Some of you may already know the Parish Priest. :-) If you want to experience a sung EF Mass in a normal parish setting, then I strongly recommend that you visit at least once! It was a pleasure to meet Mac again, who I hadn't seen since the Pontifical High Mass at Westminster Cathedral last year. It was also wonderful to meet so many others including Patricius, whose blog Singulare Ingenium is now well and truly bookmarked!

Between Oxford & Blackfen, I managed to spend some time in Kent, replenishing my stock of Real Cider with some excellent stuff from Badgers Hill Farm which I cannot recommend highly enough. I've been here once before and the quality is as good as ever. I also took the opportunity to do a little Channel Hopping over to France, where I visited Lille [where I sang whilst in Leeds Cathedral Choir] and brought back copious amounts of Rosé wine, which even accounting for the not so favourable exchange rate, was still a bargain due to the fact that French duty on alcohol is so much less than ours is here in the UK.... I almost ended up stranded in Belgium at one point due to misreading my French railway timetable, but that's another story!

All in all, a good trip. Photos can be seen here.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Brinkburn, 2009

I got home from Northumberland at about 5.30pm. After a 7.00am start, a round trip of 230+ miles including singing, I promptly nodded off for a few hours! The TV was on in the background, & I vaguely remember something about Slovenia scoring at Wembley..

Now awake again, but not completely refreshed [I'm going to have some more tea in a minute, which will probably keep me up half the night, but never mind!] I thought I'd post some photos taken at Brinkburn earlier today. It was, as ever, a fabulous occasion, and the music was very enthusiastically received. I'm already looking forward to next year, when we hope to sing the Tallis Mass we'd planned for this year until a shortage of Tenors this weekend made us alter our plans.

I'm having a well earned rest first thing tomorrow, & not doing anything remotely musical until Vespers @ Bishophill in the evening. I'll write more about this later, as, at the moment, it's only a trial to see how we like it.

Anyway here are some of the photos from this afternoon.

More can be found here.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Plans after Brinkburn

My apologies for not posting as often as I should. I can't believe it's over two months, since I last wrote anything here...

Anyway, first things first, the excellent Fr Brown has already written about the Brinburn Solemn High Mass here, so there's little more for me to add, other than that it should be a splendid occasion.

Afterwards, and after my holiday [which begins with a trip down to Oxford to sing for the Solemn Profession of a Dominican friend of mine whom I've known since he was a choral scholar in Leeds Cathedral Choir], there are musical plans afoot in Yorkshire. For those of you reading this whom I've already emailed, this is the same information! For everyone else here goes...

I know this will appeal to some more than others, so I crave your indulgence, if you're not too interested in Chant. I wonder how many people may be free on the 29th September [Tuesday evening]. There is to be a Mass at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Howden at 7.30pm. We need singers for the Missa de Angelis. At the moment, Seishi [one of our most enthusiastic Schola Members] & I are singing the Propers, but more voices would of course be welcome! If there's a decent quorum, we could even try & sing the Dering Panis Angelicus again which will be sung at Brinkburn + possibly Isti Sunt Sancti also. We sang both pieces in Everingham on Michaelmas Day 2000.

On Thursday the same week 1st October, many of you will know that the relics of St Therese of Lisieux will be coming to York Minster. I'm proposing that our Schola sings 2nd Vespers that day which is her Feast Day in the New Calendar. I've been given the Carmelite Chants for the Antiphons & Hymn by a Carmelite Monk & very good friend of mine who some of you know, as he was the previous Catholic Chaplain to the University of York. It would be great though if some people could come along & sing the psalms with us. They're not difficult, as they'll be straightforward Gregorian tones which I can provide but only if I know you're coming! The venue for this will most likely be St Mary's, Bishophill Jnr, as it's most unlikely we'd get into the Minster, as all the good time slots are already taken. The time for this will most likely be 7.30 as well, which is the latest time I dare contemplate starting Vespers!

Looking beyond October, the full choir are booked to sing a memorial Requiem in Scunthorpe on 7th November and the Annual Carol Service in Bishophill on 21st December. New members will of course be very welcome, so please feel free to point interested singers [especially Tenors] in our direction!

For those intrepid souls who are free on Christmas Eve, and fancy being part of what will probably be the only Midnight Solemn High Mass of Christmas in the entire North-East of England & Yorkshire, please let me know. The drawback [for some] is that it's in North Ormesby where we sang in June! Plans are currently the Missa de Angelis again, [as well as the Propers] but if enough singers are free & want to take part, there may be a possibility of some polyphony. I'm meeting the parish priest, Fr Bill Charlton again on the 8th after the Haydn Mass for Our Lady's Birthday, so may know a little more about what else is planned for Christmas then.

Looking forward to seeing some of you this Saturday at Brinkburn, & everyone else soon!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Music Workshops

After having experienced drivel masquerading as Liturgical Music in so-called 'choir festivals' back in the 1980's, this comes across as a very refreshing change!

How long will it be before our own musicians can be persuaded to do something along similar lines?

Many thanks to Joseph Shaw for spotting the link.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A Tale of two Chant Performances

Last weekend I went down to London for the Annual High Mass of the LMS. Much of what went on has already been reported here and here, so I'm not going to regale you with another version of official events, but instead offer my thoughts on the music.

The choir of Westminster Cathedral are renowned world-wide for the quality and standard of their musicianship, as can recently be evidenced by the Installation of Archbishop Nichols, so it was a shame, but not totally unexpected that we only got the Lay Clerks this year. Even though there was no Cardinal this time, surely it would have been fitting to hire the full choir for the principal Mass of the LMS's year? Money, I'm fairly certain, shouldn't have been an issue - should it? :-)

Back to the music. The Ordinary of the Mass was Duruflé's Missa 'Cum Jubilo' with the Chant Propers for the Saturday Mass of the BVM. I have to admit that I felt thoroughly deflated. My friend, roydosan who I stayed with for the weekend, offers his thoughts here. Normally I would agree, but if the Chant Mass suggested was sung as operatically as the Propers were on Saturday, I'd have been tempted to stick cotton wool in my ears and just follow the Mass visually! Honestly, it felt like listening to Pavarotti! I've sung in Westminster Cathedral myself, and whilst not a professional singer, am certainly no mug, and definitely don't think the music, particularly the Chant, came across at all well.

Now, on to Sunday. As roydosan had never been to a Byzantine Catholic Liturgy before, we decided to go to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in the morning - a much more satisfying experience! The choir sang music which I am largely familiar with, so I felt quite at home here. I particularly enjoyed listening to the old man in front of me singing from memory - and in time - the Bass line to some of the major choral parts of the Liturgy, even though the choir were in another part of the building!

After a brief visit to St Patrick's, Soho Square, a quite outstanding church, and lunch in Chinatown, we ended up at the Oratory for Sunday Vespers & Benediction. This was simply superb, marred only by the woman in the front pew who insisted on standing throughout Benediction when everyone else, including clergy of course were kneeling...

My faith in the singing of Gregorian Chant was completely restored, not only because the Oratory Choir proved that you don't have to sing like one of the Three Tenors[!], but also because of the tempi at which the psalms in particular were sung. I've often been accused of singing chant far too quickly, but after hearing this performance (also sung by professionals btw), I feel completely vindicated. :-) If anyone accuses me of singing too quickly now, I can just reply by saying "well, the London Oratory Choir chants just as quickly, if not quicker." Thanks, guys!

Sunday was super (It's a shame that Saturday's experience was so disappointing), and has inspired me to make Sunday Vespers in York actually happen instead of just thinking about it, which I've been doing for far too long now! It's my intention that this will become the main Rudgate Schola service at Bishophill from September instead of Compline. (You saw it here first!) I'll decide on a time later, when I find out what's happening with the York TLM also scheduled to restart in September, as I don't want the services to clash for the obvious reason that I'm likely to be involved in both of them! I do quite like the idea of 3.30pm though, as is the custom in London.

That's it for now - back to nursing the blisters I acquired whilst walking around London at the weekend...

Monday, 22 June 2009

Reminder. Missa Cantata *this* Saturday!

For those of you able to go, we have a Missa Cantata this Saturday at 3pm in the church of St Alphonsus, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough for the Patronal Feast of the Diocese, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. The Mass will be sung by the full choir who will sing Palestrina's Missa 'Veni Sponsa Christi' with motets by Elgar and Croce. The Gregorian Chant Propers for the feast will be sung, and the Mass will conclude with the singing of the Solemn Salve Regina.

Please do come if you can, and encourage others to do so!

A further note: we desperately need servers for this Mass! Please email me via the choir's link if you are able to serve.

Thank you.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Admin. *Sigh....*

Having a website for the choir is great, but can be rather time-consuming, especially with regard to dates and events. I know I should try and update it more regularly so when I eventually do get around to working on it, it wouldn't take me ages each time to bring it back up to date!

Anyway, the current version can be seen in the links to the right of this blog, or here if you prefer!

There are also a couple of photo sets on Flickr which may be of interest. Forthcoming Rudgate Services is a bit like the Ronseal Ad, in other words, contains photos of the next venues of our 'forthcoming services'. Rudgate Venues is quite literally, a selection of churches, cathedrals and other locations where we have appeared over the years.

After Saturday's successful Mass in Halifax, I'm quite looking forward to - in a manner of speaking - putting my feet up and listening to someone else do all the work. :-) In this case, it's the St Philip Neri Singers, based at the Holy Name in Manchester who are singing a Mozart EF Mass tomorrow evening. I'm not back at work yet, so a leisurely train ride via a liquid [and food as well!] lunch at the legendary Buffet Bar @ Stalybridge, followed by the Mass itself. A recipe for a good day out!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Some Good News! Young Catholic Adults Douai Abbey Retreat Gets Bigger and Better

These are thoroughly recommended, though I don't personally get to go as I'm not a *young* Catholic Adult anymore!

During the weekend of the 18-20 September 2009. Young Catholic Adults (YCA are part of the international Juventutem Federation) will be running a Traditional Retreat at Douai Abbey in the south of England, the weekend will be led by Juventutem Ecclesiastical Assistant Fr de Malleray. Summorum Pontificum must be working - at least in a "brick by brick" fashion, just look at the following:-

-For the first time Young Catholic Adults will be using the main Abbey Church for Mass

-For the first time YCA will be organising a Missa Cantata, sung by the Douai Singers; this will be followed by a Marian Procession

- YCA has booked out the whole of the retreat complex this year, on the advice of Douai Abbey itself, as the monks were so pleased with the YCA retreat last year

Places are limited so please book early

-YCA will have the retreat centre to itself
-There will be a social in the evening
- Fr. de Malleray FSSP head of Juventutem will preach the retreat, all Masses will be in the Extraordinary form
- There will be a Sung Mass (Missa Canta) on Saturday 19th September 09’ at 10am. The choir will be the Douai Singers, in the main Abbey Church, followed by a Marian Procession at 11am (starting from the main Abbey Church) around the extensive grounds of the Abbey (weather permitting, if the weather is poor there will be Marian devotions in the main Abbey Church )
-The weekend will be full-board (except for the Sunday lunch)

How to book

The cost of the weekend will be from as little as 25 pounds for students (or 48-88 pounds for non students) for more details, please see or email or ring 07908 105787

Events Open to the Public

The Sung Mass (Missa Canta) on Saturday 19th September 09’ at 10am followed by a Marian Procession around the extensive grounds of the Abbey at 11am (starting from the main Abbey Church) are open to the public.

There are also a few rooms allocated for all age groups (not just YCA) so please book soon.

There are limited places so please reserve your place early!

For photographs of previous Douai Retreats go HERE!

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Now. Where was I?....

Several things have happened in the month since I last managed to post anything here. Firstly, I was diagnosed with stress and am now on medication - hopefully not caused by too much preparations for the Conference at Ushaw! Holy Week and Easter has also come and gone. Two members of our intrepid Schola provided all the music for the Sacred Triduum in Leeds at Notre Dame Chapel. This all went wonderfully well, but was marred somewhat on Holy Saturday night by my car being written off in a Hit & Run Road Traffic Collision. Basically, I went through a green light - offending car went through red and then didn't stop. Fortunately the vehicle details were noted and passed on to the police and my insurers, so I may yet not have to claim on my own insurance.

And so to Ushaw. Having put in well over 60 hours work on the music and also recruiting another choir to sing the polyphony for the final High Mass, it was nice to be recognised during the formal dinner on the last night we were there. Apart from a blip during Solemn 1st Vespers of St George, the music went really well - I have the recordings to prove it! My sincere thanks to my fellow Chanters, Alan Henderson, Anthony Dickinson and Jeremy Boot, and also to Antiphon for the Byrd Mass and motets on St George's Day. The Conference has been blogged about several times already. The best accounts can be found on Fr Brown's Forest Murmers, and the Middlesbrough LMS Blog. Several photos were taken during the week, many of which can be seen here, here and here!

Having just recovered from one major event, we're now gearing up for rehearsals for our next two Services, both Sung masses in the Extraordinary Form in Halifax & North Ormesby respectively.

We also have a full programme of services for the rest of the year, up to our Annual Christmas Carol Service. More details will be announced later!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

ISP Problems

You may wonder why you've been diverted here if you clicked on At the moment, there's a problem with the server and the site bandwidth, which I won't go into here, but needless to say, I'm not to happy about! Normal service, I hope, will be resumed as soon as possible...

Friday, 20 March 2009


As those of you who know me will no doubt realise by know, I've become a big fan of Compline, which we sing regularly on Fridays. The original inspiration behind me starting up the Traditional Latin form was hearing the Anglican version in York Minster some years ago. This is sung each Thursday in Lent and occasionally at other times by the excellent Ebor Singers. The format varies from that in the Divine Office, but some of the chants are familiar, albeit in English rather that Latin! There are usually 2 or 3 polyphonic motets too. All in all, a wonderful experience! If any of you are within reach of York on Thursday evenings between now and Holy Week, Compline continues to be sung at the Minster commencing at 9pm. If you would also like to hear Compline chanted from the Traditional Office, then do please come to hear us at Bishophill every Friday at 8.30pm!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Ushaw again + other plans.

At last! I think we're in a position to finally go ahead with everything as planned with the possible exception of the motet for the final Mass on St George's Day. It's an incredible relief, but just as I was putting the finishing touches to the administration re the musical side of things, I was floored by a very nasty bug which I'm told I'd probably been incubating for some time before, and only when I started to relax a little bit, did it hit me....

Fortunately, I'd no great plans for this weekend other than to sort out an Order of Service for our next venture @ Bishophill other than Friday Compline. If all goes well there, we may chant one or two of the Passions before Compline later this Lent. An extra bit of devotional music/chant never did anyone any harm - but we'll have to learn them first. :-)

Before that we're definitely chanting Saturday Vespers before the 4th Sunday in Lent. Some people would call this 1st Vespers of Laetare Sunday. It matters not, as it's the same thing, just viewed slightly differently!

After Ushaw, we're then back on the road again with services in Halifax on 23rd May, Middlesbrough on 27th June and the 6th Annual Founders-Day Requiem at Barnard Castle in July, date yet to be announced.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Music in church

Specifically referring to the Latin rite here, as the Byzantine/Eastern Rites are completely different here in so far as they are always sung. There's an excellent article by Michael E. Lawrence over at the Recovering Choir Director. Whilst this particularly referred to the Tract for the 1st Sunday in Lent, it's true for any Graduals & Tracts which are often the longest [& most beautiful] items of chant in a given Mass.

When we provided the singing for the EF Masses in York before their temporary suspension pending a new Celebrant, I was always conscious of time, especially if the priest singing the Mass had come a long way, and regrettably, the Gradual or Tract, and occasionally even the Alleluia verses, were curtailed to psalm tones, either basic or from Rossini, to save time. Even this wasn't good enough for some people who complained that there was too much music & they would rather have Low Mass all the time, despite the norms indicating that Sung or even High Masses are the ideal.

Sometimes you just can't win, no matter what you do!

It is hoped, that when EF Masses resume, with the proposed new Celebrant, who is now here, once he has been fully trained, and is confident enough to start celebrating Sung Masses, we will sing the full Gregorian Propers from the Liber/Graduale. I for one, won't be clock watching to see how long it takes!

Meanwhile, I urge you to read Michael's post. It really deserves a wider circulation.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Carpets in church

Whilst taking a break from work for Ushaw, I'm tring to catch up some of my favourite blogs. I have to admit, that I have a great admiration for Jeffrey Tucker of the New Liturgical Movement.

He has written an excellent item on carpets in church. In case you missed it, here it is.

I am in total agreement. :-)

Ushaw Update

Just taking a brief break from music preparations for what is now going to be known as "the Conference at Ushaw". Had a look round today. The chapel is magnificent, but it's given me yet another problem to solve, as there's no way that the chant Schola and the polyphonic choir [hoping that we get one!] can realistically occupy the same space, which puts an end to my thoughts that people singing chant could also 'double up' and sing polyphony in the closing Mass.

I'm glad I know *now*!

This of course, means that we need a completely separate polyphonic choir. I'm going to start work on this tomorrow evening. The intention is still at this stage, to have music by Byrd as we're celebrating a great English Feast, so why not have music by one of the greatest English composers?

On another note, I'm a bit miffed that I hadn't discovered the online Officium Divinum before. It could have saved me a lot of work, and has, in fact given me some more to do, as I may now have to make some revision of services that i've already prepared. :-(

Still, better to find out at this stage, rather than at the event itself!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Prayers and Practical Help needed!

The cat is well and truly out of the bag!

As has already been reported by Fr Ray Blake, the legendary Fr Z, Fr Michael Brown and also advertised in this week's Catholic Herald, the Latin Mass Society of England & Wales have made public their plans for a Residential Training Conference for Priests Wishing to Learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) at Ushaw College, Durham.

Quoting from the press release...

"The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales (LMS) is organising a residential training conference for priests wishing to learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) at Ushaw College, Durham, one of England’s most prestigious seminaries.

The conference will run from Monday 20 April to Thursday 23 April 2009 (i.e. Low Week) and will feature Traditional liturgies in Ushaw’s magnificent neo-Gothic St Cuthbert’s Chapel together with a Gregorian Chant schola and polyphonic choir.

Expert tuition in the celebration of Mass in the Usus Antiquior will be provided on a small group basis. There will be guest lecturers and all participants will receive 1962 Missals and altar cards.

Daily devotions will include Lauds, Vespers, Benediction and Rosary.

Further details and registration forms can be obtained from the LMS office (Tel: 020 7404 7284) or downloaded from the LMS website,"

What's this got to do with me?

Well, I've been asked by the organiser to provide the Gregorian Chant schola and the polyphonic choir!

This is a HUGE task for one person (particularly as I'm not a professional musician) and it therefore should go without saying, that I'll need considerable help to get enough singers + organist on board to do ourselves justice.

I don't wish to compete with the excellent Schola Sainte Cecile who provided the chant at the Merton Conferences, or the polyphonic choir which, I believe, was provided by one of the Oxford Colleges, BUT I do need reasonably confident chanters for the Schola, who will need to cope with the demands of Mass & the Divine Office for the duration, and a balanced polyphonic choir to sing Byrd's Mass for 4 voices, and motets, O Quam Gloriosum, Ave Verum and Regina Caeli for the Solemn High Mass on St George's Day which will conclude the conference.

There are 12 weeks to go between now and the Opening Day. I have, at the moment, 2 singers for the Schola, and the Director of music for the polyphony. Much work needs to be done! I'm also very much aware, that this is a working week and several people who form the backbone of the current Rudgate Singers & Schola won't be able to take annual leave at that time. It is, fortunately, before the start of the University Summer Term, so I'm praying like mad that we get some musically gifted students involved!

There are two things that I'd like readers to do. Firstly, pray for it's success, as this is the most important event that we have ever been asked to be involved in, and also let me know of singers who wish to take part. We need men for the Schola for all 4 days, and at least 8 people for the polyphony on St George's Day (Thursday).

As and when I get more information, I will post it here!

Another First

Over the last few months at Leeds Trinity & All Saints College there has been a series of public lectures and special talks as part of the inaugural Eastern Christian Studies Seminar series. It began last October with His Eminence, Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, and most recently continued with the Rev. Professor Andrew Louth from the University of Durham. A feature of these seminars is that they are preceded with Vespers in the college chapel. Last Wednesday, for the first time, we had Orthodox Vespers [slightly edited for time!]. This was the first time that they had ever been celebrated here. Another first last summer was Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at which I provided the Schola!

Celebrating Vespers was my good friend Fr David Carnelly. The Deacon was Rev. Professor Matthew Steenberg, who besides being Professor of Theology and Head of Theology & Religious Studies at the college, is also a Deacon in the Russian Orthodox Church.

What made this event extra special was the fact it was the day after the election of the new Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill, formerly Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.

Here are some photos.

Another Ordination

Back in December, at the Priestly Ordination of my good friend, Fr David, I was invited along with others, by the Romanian priest who had come, to their own Patronal Feast day of St Macarios the Great, which is always celebrated on the weekend in January closest to his actual Feast day in the Eastern Church, which is January 19th. (In the Latin Church it's the 16th).

So, on Saturday, 17th January, a few of us set off for the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield, where the Romanian Community in Yorkshire has the use of the Lower Chapel for it's Liturgies. What we didn't expect was another Ordination, this time to the Diaconate. Present were His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Romanian Orthodox Metropolis for Western and Southern Europe and His Grace Macarios, Bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Northern Europe and former Parish Priest. Indeed Fr Macarios, as he then was, was the founder of the parish.

There was also an excellent Romanian Choir, the Grupul Psaltic Nectarie Protopsaltul from Bucharest, who sang the Liturgy to traditonal Byzantine Tones, but in Romanian of course, not Greek! After the Liturgy, which lasted for over 3 hours, we were treated to a traditional Romanian meal organised by the Parish Council.

Photographs of the Service can be found here

And a video here

Thanks are due to Fr Constantin, the Parish Priest and the Community for their splendid hospitality, and congratulations to the new Deacon! [Unfortunately I never did find out his name! If anyone reading this does know, please tell me, and I'll update this entry.]

Sad News

I only seem to be updating this blog at the moment when I'm either not busy or unwell. I hope this isn't going to be the case all the time, & I'll try and keep up to posting a bit more regularly....

Unfortunately my first entry in ages relates to sad news. A friend of mine died last Monday. She had been suffering from cancer for some time, and, whilst it wasn't totally unexpected, it's still rather unsettling as Ruth was only 45. I'd known her since the early 80's when we were both students. She was the girlfriend - and later wife - of another friend who I was at school with. The funeral is on Wednesday in York. Please remember Ruth in your prayers, and also Stephen her husband and their daughter Sarah.

I've also just found out about the death of I priest last November who I knew back in the early 1990's. Hegumen Gregory [Woolfenden], an Orthodox monk who was parish priest of St Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, New Britain, Connecticut (USA). I first met him when he was still Fr Graham, a catholic priest of the Diocese of Liverpool, who had bi-ritual faculties, and was therefore able to serve Byzantine Catholic Liturgies as well as Latin Rite Mass. We met several times in Liverpool, usually at the Metropolitan Cathedral, which was host to a number of Byzantine Liturgies at that time. After he left the area and moved to Oxford, we gradually lost touch until only fairly recently when we were able to communicate with each other again, thanks to Facebook.

May his memory be Eternal!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Much Ado about 'Something' [I hope!]

The first part of 2009 finds us at a relatively quiet time. We've nothing major planned for the first quarter of the year yet, though I've tentatively bookmarked 21st February as a date when 'something' may happen. This 'something' could either turn out to be an Orthodox Divine Liturgy or a Trad Latin Mass depending on who 'books' us first! It's a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle at this stage though & a bit frustrating, but we can't make any progress until the relevant pieces are in place regarding venue and nature of Service.

There's something of interest in both options as that date in the Eastern Calendar is All Souls' Saturday - the equivalent in the West of 2nd November. The Mass on the other hand would be a Vigil Mass of Quinquagesima, as it's the weekend before Lent.

I don't really mind which one we end up singing for, the important thing, in my opinion at least, is to keep up the interest & momentum built by the excellent Carol Service in York just before Christmas. We do have a very important date already in April and the gap between the Carol Service and St George's Day is, I think, too long.

As for St George's Day itself, there's not a lot I can say about it right now (due to not being allowed to!) except that it will be at Ushaw College in County Durham and will be potentially the biggest and most important service we've ever been involved in. It's a working day for most people, so I've already sent out an email whilst acknowledging this, urging and imploring singers to try and book a days leave that day. Time will tell, but the more people declaring their availability between NOW and the end of February will ease my stress levels considerably!

I live in hope! Meanwhile, Compline by candlelight continues every Friday, but the monthly Chant Masses in the Extraordinary Form have come to a temporary halt. This is because we've lost the priest who was offering these Masses to a Parish in Middlesbrough (more on that in a later post as we intend to visit!) and his replacement is still learning the EF. I don't yet know when 'Normal Service' will be resumed, but am looking forward to Masses with Fr Stephen when he's given the Green Light after his training as he is an excellent singer.

As this is my first post since the end of December, I'll close by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!