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2 days ago
DiaryI'm very pleased with Mr Paflin's article, which I'm sure has brought the existence of the vigil to the attention of many people, as well as publicising S. Magnus - very good work.
by Glyn Paflin
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Violet at Whitsun
I KNEW I would one day need a 1933 English Missal for the Laity when I bought one at Easter 1988 — recording the date in the front, as bookish young men still do, no doubt, if they haven’t fallen for the latest electronic wizardry.
But when at long last, on the eve of Whitsun 2011, no other book that I own would do as well, where was it? Certainly not where it needed to be, in St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge, as we in the pews looked at the backs of two cantors briskly intoning six lengthy Prophecies — in the Authorised Version, needless to say — while the celebrant read them at the altar.
So, though too much fuss is made about versus populum by Anglicans who call themselves Modern Catholics, I do begin to see why a “common-sense” view of liturgy — if not, indeed, a rather Anglican one — began to make itself felt in the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century. In the mid-1950s, the Pentecost vigil became a casualty of the new way of thinking, which was about to transform the worship in RC churches.
So this was history in the making; for we could be confident that the Bible-based service revived by St Magnus’s was a great rarity if not, indeed, probably a first for some half a century — and just the thing for this KJV year. The altar sheathed in violet, and the candles unlit; the sacred ministers in their Lenten vestments, prostrating during the singing of the litany, having returned with the paschal candle from the blessing of the font; and the bells ringing during the Gloria of the mass. . .
So, what had it all been about? It was, I was told by the MC, a service from ancient days when there were too many candidates for baptism to be “done” at the Easter vigil. It certainly makes much more of an event of the festival of the descent of the Holy Spirit than we are used to now that both the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite and Common Worship take us back into green on what used to be Whit Monday.
Maybe there is something to be said for an Anglican cathedral-style version of this service for the Eve of Pentecost, if it hasn’t already been done: those readings that I heard were Genesis 22, Exodus 14 and 15, Deuteronomy 31, Isaiah 4, Baruch 3, and Ezekiel 37. But it is possible that the old ritual notes could be followed with a freer hand. . .