Spanish Mass…

Mural detail at San Blás Chapel

As with the previous post, these are the texts of the Old Spanish (or “Mozarabic”) Mass, as found in Bishop & Feltoe’s “The Mozarabic and Ambrosian Rites.” This is the text for the Mass of the Second Sunday after Epiphany, except for the Praefatio and Postcommunion Prayer, which are taken from Missa Dominicalis II of the Missale Gothicum; apparently to shew the original character of these prayers. My own comments are in parenthesis.


Officium [Introit]: The LORD is King and hath put on glorious apparel. Alleluia. V. The LORD hath put on his apparel and girded himself with strength. P. Alleluia. V. Glory and honour be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost for ever and ever. Amen. P. Alleluia.

The Priest: For ever and ever. R. Amen. [This is apparently the response to a prayer said privately by the priest].
The Choir: Glory be to God on high, &c.

Oratio: This is our righteous one in whom we hoped and to whom in grace appearing we are come : wherefore let us beseech his clemency who vouchsafed for us to die upon the cross that he would forgive the sins of his people and deliver us from them. R. Amen. Through thy mercy O our God who art blessed and dost live and govern all things for ever and ever. R. Amen.


V. The LORD be always with you. R. And with thy spirit.
The Deacon: Keep silence.
The Reader: The Lesson of the Book of Isaiah the Prophet. R. Thanks be to God.
The Reader: Thus saith the LORD : Behold, I create, &c. (Is. 65:17-25). R. Amen. V. The LORD be always with you. R. And with thy spirit.
Tract: The song of the three children. The angel of the LORD came down into the furnace together with Azarias and his fellows and smote the flame of the fire out of the furnace and made the midst of the furnace as it had been a moist whistling wind so that the fire touched them not at all, neither hurt nor troubled them. Then the three as out of one mouth praised, glorified, and blessed God in the furnace, saying : ‘Blessed art thou, O LORD God of our fathers and to be praised and magnified for ever.’ Amen. Hymnus. Blessed art thou, &c. [a short form of the hymn].
The Priest: O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good : for his mercy endureth for ever. R. Amen. [This is probably taken from the last verse of the Song of the Three Children, not the Psalter].
V. The LORD be always with you. R. And with thy spirit.

Psallendum: My heart is ready O God, my heart is ready : I will sing and give praise with the best member that I have. V. Unto thee, O God, will I pay my vows, unto thee will I give thanks. And why, thou hast delivered my soul from death ; mine eyes from tears and my feet from falling. P. I will give praise, &c.
The Deacon: Keep silence.
The Reader: Continuation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans. R. Thanks be to God.
The Reader: Brethren, let not sin reign, &c. (Romans 6:12-18). R. Amen.
The Deacon: Keep silence. The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke. R. Glory be to thee, O LORD.
The Deacon: At that time our LORD Jesus Christ returned in the power of the spirit, &c. (Luke 4:14-22).
V. The LORD be always with you. R. And with thy spirit.
Laudes: Alleluia. V. Praise the LORD in cymbals and dances : praise him upon the strings and pipe. P. Alleluia.


The Deacon: Pray, ye Catechumens : bow your knees unto God. Let us beseech the LORD that he would vouchsafe to grant you the remission of your sins and enlightenment. [A pause for prayer in which all join.] Arise. Having finished your prayer, in the name of Christ say all together Amen. R. Amen.
The Deacon: Depart, ye Catechumens.
The Deacon [after the Catechumens have gone out]: Pray, ye penitents : bow your knees unto God. Let us beseech the LORD that he would vouchsafe to grant you remission of your sins and peace. [A pause for prayer in which all join]. Arise. Having finished your prayer, in the name of Christ say all together Amen. R. Amen.
The Deacon: Depart, ye penitents.
The Deacon [after the penitents have gone out]: Stand in your place for Mass.


Sacrificium: And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl and offered burnt offerings on the altar : and the LORD smelled a sweet savour. Alleluia. V. And the LORD spake unto Noah, saying : Go forth of the ark, thou and all thy kindred and every living thing that is with thee of all flesh, both of fowl and of cattle and of everything that creepeth upon the earth : be fruitful and multiply upon the earth. And Noah went forth. P. And he offered, &c. Alleluia.

[Collection. The oblations are brought in in solemn procession, placed on the altar and censed. The priest washes his hands.]


Missa: Beloved brethren, since we believe that we are drawing nigh to God let us put away all thought of pleasing men. Though we cannot offer to God any sacrifice worthy of his acceptance, let us bring to him at least the sobs and tears of penitence. We ought not to stand here without shame as if innocent of all offences. But at least on the LORD’s Day we ought to assemble ourselves together with fear as in the presence of the dread Judge of all. Let us not think that our deeds are unknown to God, because we are not punished, since it may be that we are reserved for punishment hereafter as being unworthy of a fatherly chastisement in this present time. Therefore if we are sorry, let the Father’s chastisement be sweeter than honey : if watchful servants, let us not eat the bread of the LORD for naught. And thinking of these things as they befit the case of each and all, let us either bewail our own unprofitableness or take anxious warning from the unprofitableness of others, through the grace of God in which we live. R. Amen. Through the mercy of the same God who is blessed and doth live and govern all things for ever and ever. R. Amen.
The Deacon: Bow your knees unto God.
The Choir: Agios, Agios, Agios LORD God eternal king : to thee be thanks and praise.
The Deacon: In our prayers let us keep in mind the Holy Catholic Church : that the LORD would mercifully vouchsafe to increase its gifts of faith, hope, and love. R. Grant this, Almighty everlasting God.
The Deacon: Let us keep in mind all the lapsed, the captives, the sick, and the pilgrims [peregrinos] : that the LORD would mercifully vouchsafe to regard, redeem, heal, and strengthen them. R. Grant this Almighty everlasting God. [Incidentally, I substituted “strangers” for “pilgrims.” It’s more in keeping with the sequence of the prayer].
The Deacon: Arise.
Alia Oratio: O God without beginning, who in the beginning didst make the visible world and being thyself unconditioned and everlasting didst lay it on perpetual foundations : with prayers outpoured from our hearts and minds we implore thee to grant us pardon in this present life, and to make us worthy of thy eternal mercies. Mayest thou always find in us something to pity, so that where thou dost pity thou mayest pardon. R. Amen.


The Deacon: Our Bishops N. and M [M=the Roman Pope] and all other bishops offer the oblation, for themselves and for all the people enrolled in their communion. R. They offer for themselves and for the universal brotherhood. [A note on the commemoration of the pope of Rome: This is not authentically Spanish, since Spain was anciently outside the Roman Patriarchate. The commemoration of the pope of Rome was ordered by the second Synod of Vaison in 529, a Romanising synod].
The Deacon: Also all the priests, deacons, clerks and people standing around offer for themselves and for those belonging to them. R. They offer for themselves and for the universal brotherhood [probably lay people who actually offered were originally mentioned here, with an allusion to the Liber Viventium and the response: Et omnium offerentium].
The Deacon: They offer for the saintly order of the venerable Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs, Abel, Seth, Enoch, &c [here follow the names of the Patriarchs and Prophets], the Maccabean youths, John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary, Peter, Paul [here follow the names of the Apostles], Mark, Luke, Stephen, Cornelius, Cyprian.
R. And all the Martyrs.
The Deacon: Also for the spirits of the waiting ones [ie: the departed of the parish and diocese; many of them named], Hilary, Athanasius, Martin, Ambrose, Augustine, Fulgentius, Leander, Isadore [names of the Archbishops of Toledo and other bishops], Felix.
R: And all the waiting ones.

Praefatio post Nomina: Having heard the names recited, beloved brethren, let us beseech the God of mercy and loving-kindness to receive graciously our offered gifts ; to suffer no one of those for whom the sacrifice is broken to be exiled from the privilege of this sacrifice ; but to remember both the living and the dead, looking upon both their evil and good deeds, and granting to the one grace and to the other pardon. R. Amen. For thou art the life of the living and the rest of all the faithful departed. R. Amen.

[A pause for silent prayer].

Oratio ad Pacem. O God the abounding source of all good things and the unfailing concord of the saints : grant such peace on earth that we as peacemakers may always follow and fulfill thy commandments. R. Amen. For thou art our true peace and unbroken charity and with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest one God for ever and ever. R. Amen.


The Priest: The grace of God the Father Almighty, the peace and love of our LORD Jesus Christ, and the communication of the Holy Spirit be ever with us all. R. And with men of goodwill.
The Deacon: Give the peace to one another as ye stand [the kiss of peace is given].
The Choir: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you : not as the world giveth, give I unto you. V. A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another. P. Peace I leave with you, &c. V. Glory and honour, &c. P. Peace I leave, &c.


The Priest [returning to the altar]: I will go unto the altar of God. R. Even unto the God of my joy and gladness.
The Deacon: Lend your ears to the LORD. R. We lend them to the LORD.
The Priest: Lift up your hearts. R. We lift them up unto the LORD.
The Priest: Let us give meet thanks and praise to our God and LORD, Jesus Christ the Son of God in Heaven. R. It is meet and right so to do.

The Priest: It is meet and right, our very blessed and bounden duty that we should at all times render thanks to thee, O God Almighty ; in thy name both celebrating the mysteries of our solemnities and offering to thee this sacrifice (simple to offer, rich to partake) which the highest praises cannot worthily proclaim. Here is neither the bleating of sheep nor the bellowing of cattle nor the death-cry of fluttering fowl to grieve the ear. Here the eye is not shocked with blood nor the appetite with surfeit : yet so wonderful and astounding is the victim that though without blood it is eaten alive. For although the true body is eaten and the blood most manifestly drunk yet nevertheless without aught distasteful is the salvation of our souls ministered in the spiritual food and cup. For blessed is thy Son our LORD Jesus Christ who coming in thy name commanded that these sacrifices should be presented before thee. Mindful of his precepts we both keep his commandments and commemorate his mighty deeds, whom with thee and the Holy Ghost the hosts of earth and heaven duly unite to praise, with cherubim and seraphim evermore praising thee, and saying:
The Choir: Holy, holy, holy, LORD God of Hosts, heaven and earth are full of the glory of thy Majesty. Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the LORD. Hosanna in the highest. Agios, agios, agios, Kyrie O Theos.

The Priest: Truly holy, truly blessed is thy Son Jesus Christ our LORD : himself the faith of the patriarchs, the fulfillment of the Law, the burden of the prophets’ message, the master of the apostles, the Father of all the faithful : himself the bulwark of the weak, the strength of the infirm, the redemption of captives, the inheritance of them that are redeemed, the health of the living, and the life of the dying. Who being himself the true High Priest of God instituted a new law of sacrifice, and commanded us to continue the same offering of himself as a victim well-pleasing unto thee : even Christ our LORD the eternal redeemer ; for the LORD Jesus in the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, giving thanks, brake, and gave it to them saying, Take and eat, this is my body which is given for you ; do this in commemoration of me. Likewise also after supper he took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood which is poured out for you and for many for the remission of sins : do this as oft as ye drink it in commemoration of me. R. Amen. As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do shew the LORD’s death till he come from Heaven in glory. R. So we believe, LORD Jesus.

Post Pridie: We plead, O LORD with humble prayers the death of thy only-begotten Son which is our life, with undoubting faith confessing his resurrection and ascension into heaven ; and we await his coming to judge each one according to his deserts, trembling for our guilt yet relying on thy mercy. We therefore thy servants beseech thee that thou wouldest sanctify this oblation by the infusion of thy Spirit and fully transform it into the body and blood of our LORD Jesus Christ : that we may be made meet to be cleansed from the stain of our offences by that victim whose redemption of us we commemorate ; and may not when wounded be denied thy healing power. We are sick, thou art the physician : we are pitiable, thou art pitiful ; therefore by this atoning sacrifice do thou heal us who do not hide from thee our wounds. R. Amen.

Grant this, O Father unbegotten, through thine only-begotten Son our LORD Jesus Christ through whom for us thy unworthy servants thou dost create, hallow, quicken, bless and bestow upon us all these good things that they may be blessed by thee our God for ever and ever. R. Amen.


V. The LORD be always with you. R. And with thy spirit.
The Priest: The faith which we believe in our hearts, let us confess with our mouths.
The Choir: I believe in one God, &c.
[During the Creed the host is broken]


The Priest: Beloved brethren, mindful of the commandments of the LORD, let us repeat the words of the LORD’s Prayer suppliantly beseeching his Majesty that he would mercifully forget our offences and sanctify our hearts and bodies with the gift of his grace : so that purged from every spot of sin, with free voices we may cry from earth: Our Father which art in Heaven. R. Amen.
Hallowed be thy name. R. Amen.
Thy Kingdom come. R. Amen.
Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. R. Amen.
Give us this day our daily bread. R. For thou art God.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. R. Amen.
And lead us not into temptation. R. But deliver us from evil.

Embolismus: Delivered from evil and strengthened always in good, may we be made meet to serve the LORD our God. Bring to an end O LORD the tale of our sins ; grant joy to the troubled in heart, bestow redemption on the captives, give health to the sick, rest to the dead. Grant us peace and safety all our days, break in pieces the insolence of our foes and hear O LORD the prayers of all faithful Christians thy servants this day and throughout all time. R. Amen.
Through Jesus Christ thy Son our LORD who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. R. Amen.
[A particle of the host is placed in the chalice, the priest saying privately: Sancta sanctis et coniunctio corporis et sanguinis Domini nostri Iesu Christi sit sumentibus et potantibus nobis ad veniam, et defunctis fidelibus praestetur ad requiem].


The Deacon: Bow down yourselves for the blessing. R. Thanks be to God. V. The LORD be always with you. R. And with thy spirit.
The Priest: May ye be filled with the blessing of our Almighty God by whose ineffable power ye were created. R. Amen. May ye be filled with his unfailing grace by whose precious blood ye have been redeemed. R. Amen. And may he grant you a mansion to live in for ever in his eternal kingdom to whom in this world he has afforded the covenant of a new birth. R. Amen.
Through the mercy of the same our LORD who doth live and govern all things for ever and ever. R. Amen.


V. The LORD be always with you. R. And with thy spirit.

[During the priest’s communion]

Ad accedentes: O taste and see how gracious the LORD is. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. V. I will always give thanks unto the LORD ; his praise shall ever be in my mouth. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. V. The LORD delivereth the souls of his servants : and all they that put their trust in him shall not be destitute. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. V. Glory and honour, &c. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. [A different version of this anthem is used during Lent and Eastertide].
The Deacon: Approach according to your places. R. Thanks be to God.
[The Communion is administered in both kinds with the following words:]

The body of our LORD Jesus Christ be thy salvation. R. Amen.
The blood of Christ, which is thy redemption, remain with thee. R. Amen.


[After the communion of the people]
The Choir: Refreshed with the body and blood of Christ, we praise thee O LORD. Alleluia. [The Spanish Liturgy only possesses two version of this anthem; the one given is used at all times except Lent, when it is replaced by: Repletum est gaudio os nostrum : et lingua nostra in exultatione].
Praefatio: Having received the heavenly sacrament of the body and blood of Christ and being refreshed with the cup of everlasting salvation, let us give thanks and praise to God the Father Almighty. R. Amen.
Through the mercy of God, who is blessed and doth live and govern all things for ever and ever. R. Amen.
The Deacon: Bow your knees to God.
[Pause for private prayer]
The Deacon: Arise.
Collectio: We give thanks unto thee, O God, through whom we have celebrated these holy mysteries; entreating from thee the gifts of mercy and sanctification. R. Amen.
Through thy mercy, O our God, who art blessed and dost live and govern all things for ever and ever. R. Amen.
V. The LORD be always with you. R. And with thy spirit.
The Deacon: Our solemnities are completed in the name of our LORD Jesus Christ. May our devotion be accepted in peace. R. Thanks be to God.

I shall venture to make a commentary on this within the next few days.

Spanish Vespers…

Lumen Christi

This is the form of Spanish Vespers for the Sunday before Epiphany, as given in Bishop & Feltoe’s “The Mozarabic and Ambrosian Rites.” My own annotations are given with parenthesis.

Introductory: + In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, light with peace. R. Thanks be to God. V. The LORD be always with you. R. And with thy spirit.

Lucernarium: All the angels praised and hymned thee, LORD, when thou didst finish the firmament of heaven : the day is thine, and the night also is thine. P. [ie: pressa, or repetitio] Thou hast prepared the light and the sun. V. Thou didst divide the sea through thy power, thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters. Thou hast prepared the light and the sun.

[A Collect follows the Lucernarium. The text is not clear whether this is seasonal or votive, so I have substituted a Collect against nightly perils.]

Collect: O LORD, who hast preserved us during the labours of the day: guard us, we pray thee, through the dangers of the night, let thine Holy Spirit watch over us, and be now, and evermore, our defence. Through our LORD Jesus Christ thy Son, who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sonus: Ride on, O LORD. P. Because of the word of truth, of meekness and righteousness. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. V. My heart is inditing of a good matter : I speak of the things which I have made unto the King. P. Because of the word of truth, of meekness and righteousness.

Antiphon: Rejoice ye with Jerusalem ; and be glad with her, all ye that love her. P. Rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her. V. Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem ; praise thy God, O Sion. P. Rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her. Glory and honour be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, forever and ever. Amen. P. Rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her.

Laudes: Alleluia. The Day-spring from on high hath visited us. P. To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death : and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. V. Like as we have heard, so have we seen ; in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God : God upholdeth the same for ever. P. To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death : and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. V. Glory and honour be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost for ever and ever. Amen. P. To give light, &c. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Hymn: [I pasted the Latin text from here. The translation given in Bishop & Feltoe, by someone called G.R. Woodward, is awful. I got as far as “pilot of our barque,” Woodward’s rendering of gubernator, and thought it too affected and artificial. The Latin is simple enough for readers accustomed to the traditional hymns of the Roman Breviary.]

Agni genitor Domine:
Verbum natum de Virgine,
Conceptum sine semine,
Dux luminis, et fons vitæ:

Esto nobis in salutem
Filius Dei unice:
Gubernator Jesu Christe
Ad precem nostram aspice.

In mundum nobis missus es
Captivos repræsentare,
Lumen cæcis reformare,
Mutorum linguas solvere.

Ne nos relinquas, Domine
Omnium conditor pie,
Propitius miserore,
Qui nullum cupis perdere:

Rectorque mundi Domine
Salvator Unigenite,
Tu nos a morte protege,
Ut capti dulci opere.

Christus Dominus vigilet,
Fidesque nostra germinet,
Zabuli discedat munimen,
Non valeat subrepere.

Per Jesum Christum Dominum,
Qui regnat cum Deo Patre,
Et nos dignavit docere,
Credamus in Trinitate.

Trino Deo, ac Domino
Omnes dicamus gloriam:
Quia Pater in principio
Semper fuit cum Filio.

Supplicatio: Let us pray our LORD Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, and with supplication beseech Him that He would grant to His Holy Catholic Church an increase of faith, peace and a firm defence. R. Grant this, Almighty and everlasting God. Kyrie eleison. R. Christe eleison. R. Kyrie eleison.

Oratio completoria. O God, without beginning and without end, the Author of the earthly universe : grant to us that we, who have dedicated to thee the beginning of this year, may pass through it unto the end in such prosperity as is pleasing unto thyself, and let our light shine in works of holiness. R. Amen.

The LORD’s Prayer.

Embolismus. Delivered from evil, and strengthened always in good, may we be made to serve thee our LORD and God. Put an end, O LORD, to our sins ; give joy to the sorrowing : grant release to the captives, health to the sick, rest to the dead. Give peace and safety in all our days ; break the insolence of our foes ; hear, O LORD, the prayer of thy servants and of all faithful Christians, this day and every day. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our LORD, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God for ever and ever. R. Amen.

Benediction: (the Deacon): Bow down yourselves for a blessing. (Priest): The LORD be always with you. R. And with thy spirit. O LORD Jesus Christ, who is the Crown of all the Church, which was formed out of himself, grant us to pass this year in peace. R. Amen. May he gladden us with the fruits of the earth, and grant us strength to gather them. R. Amen. That we may without harm pass through the circle of the year rejoicing in such prosperity as is pleasing unto him. R. Amen. Through his mercy, who liveth and governeth all things, and is blessed for evermore. R. Amen.

Laudes. Alleluia. The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them. P. And the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. Alleluia. Alleluia. V. O be joyful in the LORD, all ye lands ; serve the LORD with gladness and come before his presence with song. P. And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. V. Glory and honour be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost for ever and ever. Amen. P. And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.

Collect: Only begotten Son of the unbegotten Father, dispel from us the sleep of the body and mercifully spare our offences ; that that which is now sown in the weakness of our vile body, by the gift of thy divinity may rise in glory : do thou, therefore, O LORD, bestow an abundant assistance on all that trust in thee, and by the overshadowing of thy wings draw us to our fatherland on high. R. Amen. Through our LORD, &c.

[The following is said daily.]

Laudes: In the evening, and in the morning, and at noonday. P. We praise thee, O LORD.

Collect: O LORD, Almighty, who hast commanded us to call the evening, the morning, and the noonday one day ; and hast made the sun to know his going down : dispel, we beseech thee, the darkness from our hearts, that by thy light we may know thee to be the true God and eternal light. R. Amen. Through thy mercy, O our God, who livest and reignest and governest all things, and art blessed for evermore. R. Amen.

Conclusion: +In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, let us go forth in peace. R. Thanks be to God.

It would appear on first reading that this was a service of evening prayer without any psalms at all! But this is by no means the case. Notice that all the versicles begin with a verse of a Psalm, e.g: “Like as we have heard,” which is from Psalm 48. This demonstrates that the custom was to sing the whole psalm intercalating the refrain after every verse, as opposed to the Roman tradition of antiphons before and after each psalm. The Trinitarian doxology takes a unique form too, with the addition of “honour.” This was apparently enjoined by the fourth Synod of Toledo (633), but is also found in the Ambrosian Rite, and doubtless elsewhere too. Given that this Sunday precedes Epiphany, it’s interesting that the rite makes reference to the new year. Clearly the custom of marking new year’s day on 1st January was in use. Notice also the conspicuous absence of the Magnificat, which hitherto I had thought of as the evening hymn par excellence. Given what I had said in the previous post about secular vs monastic praxis, it’s interesting that Spanish Vespers usually only required one or two complete psalms (usually chosen to compliment the theme of the service rather than a monastic “course”). Compare Anglican Evensong.

My impression of this particular service is that it is very cyclical. There are constant repetitions of the themes of light and darkness, beginning and end, vis-à-vis the Lucernarium and the Oratio Completoria. The Collect given before the conclusion encapsulates these themes, and indeed the meaning of all evening prayer. It takes the theme of the whole day, beginning at evening (very important) up to the noonday in the cycle inclusively, and then combines these elements of time, as betokened by the celestial bodies, with the theology of the “sun of righteousness” at the end of prophecy (Malachi 4:2); that as we mark the going down of the sun with the kindling of lamps (the symbol of the Lucernarium), so we are mindful of the darkness of our own hearts and hope in the true light of God’s countenance. In a sense, it goes from nature to theology and thence to eschatology. It’s very clever, and I’ve found this to be a hallmark of other Spanish Collects, and indeed some of the better Roman ones too.

As to what form the Lucernarium took, it’s difficult to say with certainty. Gregory Woolfenden was of the opinion that it was like a miniature vesperal liturgy from Holy Saturday, with a ceremonial offering of light (the “oblatio luminis”) at the altar, perhaps with an accompanying blessing and the ceremonial kindling of candles around the church. The Ambrosian Rite retains such a ceremony at Vespers to this day and there are parallels all over the place. Egeria spoke of what she knew to be the “Lucernare” at home in her travels; in Byzantine Vespers there is the hymn O Gladsome Light, &c. Ultimately, the ethos of the rite was to begin the day, not to conclude it.

As Tolkien once said, in the series Pater ad filium natu (sed haud alioquin) minimum, I’d pay a bit for a time machine!

Image: Stolen shamelessly from my friend Rubricarius. It depicts the last remnant of lucernaria in the Roman Rite, in the vesperal liturgy of Holy Saturday – ruined, of course, by Pius XII.


A papal audience…

“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2Timothy 4:4.

I found this on YouTube the other day. I don’t know the context but I expect it’s part of a film since the camera keeps returning to a silly old biddy with tears in her eyes, and the musical score is triumphantly Protestant. At any rate, Pacelli’s nose is still intact so it was probably filmed some time in the 1940’s. It’s an extraordinary thing to watch, and rather disconcerting. Preceded by Swiss Guard, the pope is carried into St Peter’s on a sedia gestatoria and greeted by a throng of devotees, waving and clapping their hands and crying “viva il papa.” Pacelli begins by blessing the crowds but soon abandons this in favour of simply waving to them and basking in their adulation. He is carried around the high altar, blesses an infant and is then set down, greeted by a cardinal and accompanied to a throne before the altar. There he speaks briefly to the assembled people in Latin, Italian and German, before giving the Urbi et Orbi blessing. He then goes to greet the other cardinals and is carried out again, to more cries of “viva il papa.”

The pope has twice been in my presence; in Cologne in 2005 and at Hyde Park in 2010. In Marienfeld in 2005 I watched as pilgrims to “World Youth Day” rushed to get a closer look at the passing “popemobile,” trampling camping equipment in their hysteria. In 2010 I was pressured into going to see Benedict XVI by two women in my parish. I had already refused to attend a gala evening in honour of the pope’s visit to Britain at the Chislehurst Golf Club because, by this time, I had more or less abandoned the Popish creed, and only agreed to go to Hyde Park so as not to disappoint the children, to whom I was something of an avuncular figure. Nonetheless, I felt stifled and out of place and welcomed the phone call from my uncle, who had got in by waving his press pass. This afforded me an excuse to both abandon the traditionalists and have a nice (free) dinner. The next morning, however, I was thrust back into the hysterical milieu as I watched aghast at a priest who stood up and genuflected towards a television screen. The pope’s final mass was being televised in the parish club and he was giving his blessing.

There is no meaningful difference between the papal audience in the YouTube video and the events I have just described. The crowds are still there; they still cry out viva il papa. If the establishment in Rome had the prescience to abandon the tawdry, Baroque tat in favour of a white motorcar to better suit modern sensitivities, how is that different from all the spurious apologies made by John Paul II or the removal, by Benedict XVI, of the controversial prayer for the Jews on Good Friday? Rome may have been wrong about everything, but she was right in general! And she’s certainly still there. Tangentially, what always struck me during my time with the traditionalists was their unique knowledge of, and futile yearning for, all the quasi-imperial tat surrounding the popes of times past. Liturgical tradition was, to them, the suspicious by-product of the temporal power. This is confirmed by the hideous delight in the expression of that same genuflecting priest as he told me the story of Henry IV’s “road to Canossa;” but also in the traditionalists’ cavalier attitude to substituting feasts of considerable antiquity for newly-created papal ones. They are very materialistic.

I’ve spent some time since first watching the papal audience video thinking about the silly old biddy. My first reaction to her was hostile. I wanted to reach at her over the sundering years and shake her like a dog, bellowing with wrathful conviction: “this isn’t real! Get a bloody grip!” For I just cannot believe that her devotion to the Papacy comes from the wells of Christian piety. It seems to me that her devotion is vicarious, mistaken and sentimental; it’s dramatic emotionalism, and ultimately has no spiritual foundation. I speak as a pretty emotionless Englishman; I have wept copious tears in church only once in my life, and that was in the presence of the relics of blessed Thérèse of Lisieux, which I wrote about here (please forgive the saccharine tone of that post, by the way!). That was a religious experience, which nothing evil can counterfeit. By contrast, megalomaniacal popes whose bodies explode in their tombs do not provide genuine religious experiences; the “experience” lies with the people who idolise them, who have turned unto fables, as the Scripture says.


George Orwell wrote something fascinating about the futility of imperium in his essay Shooting an Elephant. You can read the whole text here. He says:

And suddenly I realized that I should have to shoot the elephant after all. The people expected it of me and I had got to do it; I could feel their two thousand wills pressing me forward, irresistibly. And it was at this moment, as I stood there with the rifle in my hands, that I first grasped the hollowness, the futility of the white man’s dominion in the East. Here was I, the white man with his gun, standing in front of the unarmed native crowd – seemingly the leading actor of the piece; but in reality I was only an absurd puppet pushed to and fro by the will of those yellow faces behind. I perceived in this moment that when the white man turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he destroys.

I’ve met several nominally Papalist theologians over the years; stricken, tortured types who were always wondering whether they could resign their livings. One told me at a party that he rejected the Chalcedonian Definition (that was some party!); another in a private tutorial that he just about believed that St Mary the Mother of God existed! It would be interesting to know the depth of religious faith among high-ranking members of the Vatican establishment. Do they really believe all the rubbish? I wouldn’t be surprised if pope Francis, like Fr Jack Hackett, didn’t believe in God, and that he is just the oracle of an institution that provides him with three square meals a day and a nice room to sleep in! But, like George Orwell with his rifle, the natives expect a show. I’ve often said that the Papacy is all about perpetuating its existence into the next generation, and protecting the reputation of its vast institution. Pope Francis may have a somewhat insouciant disposition to the strict interpretation of his religion, itself a flicker of honesty, but I can’t imagine for a moment that he would allow that to erode at the integrity of the institution. He won’t because he can’t. This is the futility of the Roman imperium, with all its false teaching, laid bare: Pope Francis is a prisoner of those benign, teary-eyed old biddies. If they wanted him to shoot an elephant, I have no doubt that he would shoot.

Of course, there is an alternative for the teary old biddies. It’s summed up in the injunction: get a life!

Clerical celibacy and Liturgy…

Christ is Risen!

How well do you know the “Mozarabic” Rite? For many years, all I had was a vague idea gleaned from authors like Geoffrey Hull, who, in his highly recommended “The Banished Heart,” tells a poignant and compelling story of the rite’s unwarranted persecution by the Romanising party (he also gives a comparative account of the treatment of the Ambrosian Rite and the subsequent riots in Milan which, barely, saved it from total suppression); as well as a few things I’d read in the “Tracts for the Times” (specifically tract seventy-five). I also have a CD of Mozarabic chant somewhere, sung by the specialists in mediaeval and liturgical music, “Ensemble Organum.” Otherwise I knew almost nothing about it. I have never seen a Mozarabic liturgy celebrated, and I am not prepared to travel to Toledo to be potentially disappointed by something tampered with fifty years ago at papal command.

To dispel my ignorance, I ordered two libelli from Abebooks, which have arrived this week, namely: Gregory Woolfenden’s “Daily Prayer in Christian Spain,” and Bishop & Feltoe’s “The Mozarabic and Ambrosian Rites;” both of them in the Alcuin Club series. They are very illuminating; the latter ostensibly biased in favour of the ancientry and superiority of the Old Spanish Rite (“Mozarabic” being a pejorative term preferred by the Romanisers, who saw it as a Moorish hybrid, tainted with Arian heresy). I’ve often said that the history of Christian prayer is a sad story, rather like Tolkien’s account of Gimli and Legolas walking the streets of Minas Tirith and musing on the Númenórean architecture, or Victor Hugo’s poignant descriptions of Notre Dame. The authors here, like Geoffrey Hull, write with painful regret of the florid and beautiful customs of this rite, embellished with many ancient elements lost or buried in the Roman Rite. Vespers, for example, has a lucernarium, reminiscent of Egeria’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem in the 4th century. Where is the Roman lucernarium at Vespers? Apart from the Lumen Christi procession from the vesperal liturgy of Holy Saturday, itself mutilated in the Pacelli reforms, it has been lost or buried in the passing years. While some traditionalists have hypocritically revived the lucernarium, the fact that they get the service times exactly wrong mars and obscures the fundamental significance of this rite in the context of Easter. If you ask me, they might as well just content themselves with the Pacelli rubbish.

The sanctorale and temporale in the Spanish Rite have propria for Mattins and Vespers on Sundays and holydays only (except in Lent and Rogationtide, which cover all the hours). Why? Because unlike the Roman Rite, with its burdensome monastic course of psalms, the Spanish Rite had a truly secular character suited to cathedrals and parishes; reminiscent of Anglican Mattins and Evensong. Of course it had a monastic rite also but that was solely restricted to monasteries. The principal difference between the Roman secular breviary and the monastic breviary is that the former comes to us from the monks of Rome, the latter from Monte Casino. All traces of the old Roman secular rite have disappeared, perhaps in Gregory VII’s reforms. The Spanish, and comparatively, the Ambrosian, Gallican, and later Anglican, secular custom is actually older, and was normative throughout Western Christendom before the Gregorian revolution.

Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the most zealous reformers and political figures of the 12th century. This is the putative vision of the “lactation” of the Mother of God.

On this matter of secular versus monastic office, I remember my old parish priest (an execrable man) going into the church by himself with his breviary after some parish event to “catch up” with his office. I waited till the sacristan went home, whereupon I went into the sacristy to do some spying. Unbeknownst to the priest, I watched him as he recited the hours. I did this because I thought it strange for secular clergy to have this burden of canonical recitation on their shoulders in addition to providing three or four masses on Sundays, visits to parishioners’ homes, hospitals, prisons, schools, and all the other things expected of a pastor; not to mention a teacher in a seminary as well! I didn’t stay long but I went away with the unclouded, unchangeable view that it was wrong. It was wrong not because priests shouldn’t have high standards expected of them, a discipline of regular prayer, and a prayerbook from which to recite. It was wrong because he was on his own, in a dim church and reciting what should be sung communally in a monastery. Compare the liturgical abuse of low Mass and its insidious influence even upon the ceremonies of high Mass, at which the celebrant was (formerly) required to read even those parts sung by the choir. In a sense, the whole thing was too monastic. Even the incomprehensible (to me anyway) “liturgy of the hours,” the culmination of the rational liturgical experiment of the 20th century, sits upon a monastic foundation; a course of psalms and scripture readings. I am reminded of the abortive attempt by Cardinal Quiñones (interestingly, a Spaniard) to simplify the Breviary, shelved (whether rightly or wrongly) by Pius V but adopted as a model for Cranmer’s later reform of the Sarum office. It’s interesting to reflect upon the undoubted popularity of Mattins and Evensong within the Church of England (at least until recently) and the paucity of sung office in the Papal Communion, even after the Second Vatican Council.


An Anglican church local to me. Much healthier than mass, mass, mass, mass, mass…

The reason the Roman Rite is too “monastic” is because of the discipline of clerical celibacy, the shibboleth of the Papal Communion, a custom so intrinsic to her ecclesiology that it has survived unscathed where virtually everything else has not. It’s no coincidence that pope Gregory VII, who hated the Spanish Rite (calling it, absurdly, “the Toledan superstition”), aggressively enforced the reforms begun by his revolutionary predecessor Leo IX, who condemned the very idea of clerical marriage (nefanda sacerdotum coniugia) at the Mainz Synod in 1049. After almost a century of fierce and bitter resistance, the Gregorian revolution triumphed in 1139 with the decrees of the second Lateran synod. It was a theocratic and utopian ideal, by definition unattainable, but which has become habitual and necessary to the Papacy as the only legitimate ecclesial model. This is reflected not only in the manifest corruption and hypocrisy of the clergy, and the hysteria surrounding the mystique of the priest (ie: clericalism), but the liturgical books themselves, which became more monastic and burdensome, and therefore less accessible to ordinary people, ultimately resulting in the scenario I’ve just described, that is of a priest, sitting in a dim church, mumbling from a book while his parishioners are elsewhere and couldn’t care less about a non-eucharistic service. The fathers of the Second Vatican Council indeed tried to resolve this but couldn’t extricate themselves from the inherently flawed, monastic ideal of the priest. Even pope Francis, in all other respects “liberal,” has said that clerical celibacy is not up for debate, but what would be the point in changing the discipline now? Celibacy, and all the other uniquely Roman things, bolster his very position, and I’m sure he knows that.

This brings me back to the old Spanish Rite and the Romanisers’ intolerance of the other regional rites and uses in the West. It should come as no surprise to you that they were so despised. In the time of St Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome and Preacher of Dialogues, liturgical diversity was celebrated, as evidenced by his truly wise counsel to St Augustine: Non enim pro locis res, sed pro bonis rebus loca amanda sunt. But the true faith waned with the spread of heresy; Orthodoxy gave way to Popery; and the Babel ambition of the popes, who desired to reach to heaven with their power and to subject all Christendom to their will, left little room for rites of ancient character which did not express the ideals of reform. This was as true in the time of Charles, King of the Franks, and Alfonso IV of Castile as it was for the Ultramontanists of the 19th century; men like Cardinal Wiseman, Cardinal Manning, and Dom Guéranger. Long before Pius X, Wiseman (who in some ways was a noble man) had pushed for liturgical uniformity and Italian pronunciation of Latin in mid-19th century England, with its plurality of old Romanists and zealous converts. Guéranger, by contrast one of the most arrogant and destructive men of the 19th century, was the fiercest enemy of the (neo-) Gallican Rite, of which, like his mediaeval Romanising predecessors who heaped opprobrium upon the old Spanish Rite in the name of Rome, he was totally ignorant. I own a 1739 edition of the Missel de Paris, which I have studied, and it’s a marvelous work; a legitimate, regional liturgy, based on ancient sources. Its greatest asset, and the thing most odious to Guéranger, was that it was not Roman enough. What unites the enemies of the Spanish and other regional uses is an ideology, as irreligious as it is unscientific. It took hold of the ritualist movement within the Church of England, and won; it took hold of the cabal of Ultramontanist bishops at the Vatican synod, pressing for a definition of papal infallibility, and won. It is the ideology that the manners, customs and doctrine of the most aliturgical, corrupt place on earth are of their very essence good, catholic and authentically old, and that any deviation therefrom is axiomatically heretical, innovative, suspect, and unworthy of serious study or care.

It would be nice, I have to say, because of its unaccustomed beauty and pedigree, and legitimate variety and plurality, if the Spanish Rite could have continued unmolested to this day. It would be nice if the other regional uses and rites within Western Europe could have continued, and flourished, and had the support of sympathetic bishops, and literate priests. It would be nice if the Papacy had not mounted a brutal, thousand year assault upon the old Orthodox rites and had heeded the words of St Gregory, decrying the idolatry of a place. It would be nice if the erstwhile Orthodox Christians of Spain could have continued to pass on that which they had received from St James, and not had their cherished traditions wrested from them by tyrannous kings and reforming friars. It would be nice if anybody had at any time over the past thousand years tried to undo this terrible mistake, but nobody did, and it’s too late now.

I fear that this article grew in the telling. I’m willing to answer any questions you might have in the comments section.



The holy fire…

Holy Fire

I thought this was a very lovely idea, and it actually brought a tear to my eye. The miraculous holy fire from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is to be taken to Kemerovo, the site of a recent tragic fire in which 64 people died (41 of them children). It reminds me of this quote from an essay Tolkien wrote about Gandalf: “Warm and eager was his spirit (and it was enhanced by the ring Narya), for he was the Enemy of Sauron, opposing the fire that devours and wastes with the fire that kindles, and succours in wanhope and distress.” May the holy Paschal fire be a consolation to those mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters who lost their loved ones in Kemerovo, and kindle their hearts to the consolation that those who die in the faith of Christ will not die forever.

St Patrick…

St Patrick Icon

It’s the feast of my patron to-day, Saint Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland and Equal-to-the-Apostles. With the pressures of work I haven’t really had the time to write a proper post, and it’s a shame that St Patrick’s feast always falls within Lent, but I have my Guinness and I have read passages from his Confessio, and sung his “Breastplate” to the tune I knew as a child, which, I suppose, is more than can be said of most Irish people who have turned the feast into a drunken sham, odious to every Christian principle St Patrick represented in life. In Northern Ireland the Papists have truly turned faith into faction, and St Patrick is there seen, if he is actually thought about at all, as a proto-Provo, or at the very least another Sinner. This is ironic given that Ian Paisley preached sermons about St Patrick, and claimed that he had proselytised an early form of hardline Presbyterianism. For me, as an Orthodox Christian, the legacy of St Patrick is marred and obscured by all this. St Patrick no more preached Calvinism than the symbol of the shamrock meant a false, filioquist God; rather he preached the quick and powerful word of God, with the apostolic authority of an Orthodox bishop.

Read part of his Confessio and see:

And if at any time I managed anything of good for the sake of my God whom I love, I beg of him that he grant it to me to shed my blood for his name with proselytes and captives, even should I be left unburied, or even were my wretched body to be torn limb from limb by dogs or savage beasts, or were it to be devoured by the birds of the air, I think, most surely, were this to have happened to me, I had saved both my soul and my body. For beyond any doubt on that day we shall rise again in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as children of the living God and co-heirs of Christ, made in his image; for we shall reign through him and for him and in him.

For the sun we see rises each day for us at his command, but it will never reign, neither will its splendour last, but all who worship it will come wretchedly to punishment. We, on the other hand, shall not die, who believe in and worship the true sun, Christ, who will never die, no more shall he die who has done Christ’s will, but will abide for ever just as Christ abides for ever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty and with the Holy Ghost before the beginning of time unto endless time and unending ages. Amen.

New Liturgical Movement thread…


On Sunday afternoon a friend of mine alerted me to this thread over on the New Liturgical Movement blog. Once again, it’s the old hypocritical controversy about the times of the Triduum services. Of course, I was barred from commenting on the New Liturgical Movement blog by its present editor four years ago (I wonder if that still stands?) for having seemingly compared Pius XII with Morgoth, so I can’t add anything there, but my own voice is hardly to be proscribed here!

I took exception most of all to the contributions of “Bonifacius,” whose sneering disparagement of traditional praxis seems to have been unchallenged. He writes:

“I don’t see why the ability to start Easter Sunday celebrations half-a-day early, during what should still be Lent, is dispositive. Liturgically, an evening Easter Vigil allows Holy Saturday, the day Christ lay in the tomb, to be observed as . . . the day Christ lay in the tomb, instead of as the beginning of Easter Sunday. Liturgically, an evening Easter Vigil allows the Exsultet and the Easter candles to shine in actual darkness, instead of having the light of morning stream through the windows.”

I can only imagine he came to the same conclusions as Alcuin Reid in his assessment of the reforms of Pius XII. He might also think that, on years in which Julian and Gregorian Pascha coincide, observing an Orthodox and a Roman church, they were celebrating the same mysteries, and the same events, at the same time. Only they don’t. The Byzantine Paschal liturgy on the Holy Night is the equivalent of the Roman Resurrexi Mass of Pascha morning, not the so-called “Easter Vigil” (whence came that name?). By contrast, the vesperal liturgy of St Basil is celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday, being the equivalent, in content and ethos, of the old Roman morning service (with the Exultet and the prophecies, &c). Paschal Mattins, the focal point in times past of the entire year for most people (you only have to observe the location of prominent benefactor tombs in mediaeval churches), were not reformed or abridged, they were just abolished.

As for the times, it seems hypocritical for people to be so “rational” about the times of the Triduum services when they don’t seem bothered about the abomination of evening mass at other times of the year. And why are they not consistent? Any modern timetable of Triduum services has the principal services at odd times, like 7pm Thursday, 3pm Friday and 10pm Saturday. Where’s the reason in this? As for me, as an Orthodox Christian I feel completely dispassionate about it. I have the Byzantine Rite now, which I am learning every day. The comprehensive reform of the Roman Rite will never be reversed, and the traditionalists are just tolerated. Who knows how long that will last? Even if it lasts a hundred years, the defective worship of these people, having no real spiritual foundation but rather a vicious and reactionary spirit, will just fizzle out anyway. If any good comes of this grotesque, rational experiment at all, it’s that the Orthodox Church looks westward and is warned off any systematic deconstruction and reform of the Byzantine Rite, and it would be unthinkable anyway. Who knows, it may be revealed in God’s eternal time that the immolation of the Roman Rite was for the Church of Rome what fire and brimstone was to Sodom and Gomorrah, in recompense for the hubris of the Papacy and their arrogant, filioquist doctrine.




This may seem out of step with the ascetic spirit of the season but this afternoon I bought a new hi-fi sytstem. My reasons for this unseasonable extravagance are as follows. I’ve had an Apple iPhone, in various models, since February 2010 and during this period I had more or less stopped buying CDs. I had grown accustomed to listening to most music through the medium of iTunes or YouTube and had quite forgotten the pleasure of just listening, as opposed to having music projected in an inferior, sort of “tinny” way, from a small, multi-purpose piece of machinery. Of course, years ago if we wanted music, we either made it ourselves or went to a theatre or opera house. Now popular music, which propels the ideals of the sexual revolution into our lives, is omnipresent; in supermarkets, in restaurants, &c. People go about spellbound by music as they plug those small things into their ears, which probably cause long-term physical damage and undoubtedly render them intolerant to periods of silence. They can’t possibly enjoy it! Some years ago I was with my mother in an Italian restaurant and asked the waiter to turn off the radio and was met with looks of horror and bewilderment by others. Their apparent abhorrence for silence, much more conducive, in my view, to the ambience of conversation, reminded me of man’s present addiction to television. People spend all this money on Sky or Netflix and watch trashy soaps and sitcoms beyond all possible enjoyment. Well, I’m not like that and if my modest investment in a new hi-fi system can mitigate the effects of the boredom and resignation of popular trash, I say money well-spent!

By the way, the theme of this post put me in mind of this reflection on popular music by Roger Scruton.


30 to-day…

It’s my 30th birthday to-day. I don’t remember my 20th birthday at all but I remember that I was diagnosed with “Asperger syndrome” that year. I also remember reading Michael Davies in the waiting area of the Maudsley Hospital, and thinking that he was a visionary of unparalleled erudition. Looking back, it’s at once irritating to see how obsessed and naive I was, but also liberating in that the obsession paled away comparatively quickly, with sound company and a healthy thirst for true knowledge, unabridged by ideology, while in others they festered away (and perhaps still do). I suppose that nowadays I am less important to most people. If people remember me at all, it’s as that fiery youth, holding the establishment types to the honesty of what really happened, and how things should be, in the impetuosity of his wrath. How soon that fire smouldered! These days I look aghast at members of the old communion as I would at Jehovah’s Witnesses standing at railway stations, asking what the Bible really teaches (or what the prayer really says!) with that characteristically vacant, yet unflinchingly dogmatic, expression. A bit like Pilgrim looking back at the city of destruction, or the prodigal son at the swine. Would you go back to gnaw at yourself with resentful obsession if you had found the pearl of great price?

This is not esoteric. I am not an intellectual; I am just a neophyte who has nothing more, still less original, to say other than the words of the Fathers and of Scripture. Come and see! Or to-day, the Friday of the fourth week of Great Lent, I am reminded of God’s command to our father Abraham, The LORD had said unto Abraham: Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee.