Monday, 2 December 2013

Happy New Year!

Albeit a day late. I had intended to write this yesterday on returning from church but instead, almost immediately retired to bed and have spent most of today there also having picked up a bug from somewhere which has consequently kept me off work today & possibly tomorrow.

That's enough whingeing! November has come and gone and ended in a flurry of activity, the last weekend seeing me being involved in 3 different events in 3 different locations in 3 days... (None of them being Rudgate services)

On the 22nd (Feast of St. Cecilia) I along with a few other Rudgates joined forces with the Middlesbrough Diocesan Choir to sing Solemn Vespers at St. Wilfrid's church in York (home to the new Oratorian community of which more later!) directed by the wonderful Tim Harrison - Tim, if you read this, we still have to have that post-service pint. ;-) The following day, I went up to Edinburgh to join forces with singers from a local Schola, the Cantors of the Holy Rude in order to sing the first Dominican Rite Mass celebrated there for decades. The Schola was directed by James MacMillan CBE. No doubt some of you will have heard of him! It was nice to be able to have a chat as the last time we met was in London nearly 2 years ago. The Mass itself was celebrated by fr. Lawrence Lew, another friend. We've known each other since fr. Lawrence (aka Paul) was one of the first choral scholars in Leeds Cathedral Choir during my time there. You can read fr. Lawrence's account of the day here.

Finally on the Sunday of that weekend, the solemnity of Christ the King in the OF, I went up to Teesside to sing with the Darlington Ordinariate Choir. If you're ever in the Teesside area on a Sunday, do consider going to St. Osmund's church in Gainford where they are based. The community will offer you a very warm welcome and you can be assured of some splendid music sung in the contect of the OF Liturgy. Evensong is still sung from time to time, reflecting the Anglican patrimony which is a charism of the Ordinariate and it was this that I went for. In fact this was Solemn Evensong & Benediction and it was all rather splendid - not just the music. If you have a Facebook account, you may be able to access the photographs taken by Deacon Andrew Bunce here.

We now move on a week to the beginning of the new Church Year and back to the York Oratorian Community. Several of you reading this will no doubt know by now that the Oratorians of Oxford were invited to send priests to St. Wilfrid's church in York upon the retirement of the previous parish priest, Canon Michael Ryan with a view to establishing an independent Oratory in York eventually.

I (along with others) had already been asked about the feasibility of establishing a choir there along the lines of the existing Oratory choirs elsewhere in the country. Yesterday, the 1st Sunday of Advent, saw a scratch choir, almost half of whom have sung with the Rudgates, sing at St. Wilfrid's for the first time in decades directed by the organist at St. Wilf's, Iain Robertson. I stand to be corrected, but if memory serves, the last  choir that sang for a Catholic Mass on a Sunday in York was also directed by Iain, some 30+ years ago! This is no quick fix though, and to get a choir of the calibre of the existing Oratories will take more than just a few York-based Rudgates and other volunteers turning up on a Sunday morning. We're talking time, probably a year or two before we can realistically achieve this. If you're in the Greater York area and want to be part of what is a very exciting & (hopefully) rewarding venture, then please do contact the new Parish priest, Fr. Richard Duffield who will be delighted to hear from you! For contact details and more about the St. Cecilia Vespers click on this link. If you're not sure yet, you can always have a quiet word with me first via the Rudgate link on this page.

In addition to the new choir which will sing for the main OF Mass at 11am each Sunday, I've also been asked to form a Gregorian Chant Schola for the EF Mass which has now moved there from English Martyrs church and is offered at 5pm each Sunday, followed by Rosary & Benediction. Hopefully this won't be as big a task as the choir as many of the current Rudgate Schola already live in the York area and I hope they will relish the opportunity to sing Masses more often! It is anticipated that Missa Cantatas will start next month with a view to extending this to a weekly sung Mass eventually.

Compline continues as before at our York base, St. Mary Bishophill Junior. We once jokingly referred to this as the Little Oratory! Little did we know what was in store for the future... Times of Compline this month are :

9pm 6th December
9pm 13th December
9pm 21st December

Our Annual Carol Service at St. Mary's is on December 20th at 7.30pm. This sadly clashes with Fr. Richard's induction Mass at St. Wilfrid's, but the date had been fixed months ago, so we can't change it now. Music Plans are also in place for the 4th annual York Pilgrimage in honour of St. Margaret Clitherow. More of that nearer the time, but for now all I'll say is expect some Mozart..!

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