Friday, April 20, 2007

Buxom and bonny ....

A good while ago I picked up a copy of the 1847 printed edition of the Exeter Pontifical, a 14th Century episcopal liturgy manual compiled by Edmund Lacy, then Bishop of Exeter. It's almost entirely in Latin, naturally, and records lots of local usages which have long since fallen by the wayside. Some of the more interesting ones include a blessing for books (ideal for yours truly), a blessing for the shield and staff before a duel (!), and even the form for consecrating a King or Queen. (When we finally set things to rights I'll be well prepared!)

What was interestingly familiar was the marriage service. It had shades of Cranmer's Prayer book though of course it is more accurate to say that Cranmer has shades of it! Though being a Catholic, which is to say Sacramental, marriage service it's a bit more earthy than the fastidious Anglican sensibility would allow for. Thus we find the following exchange "Here Ich N. take ye N. to my weddud wife, to haven and to holden fro yys day forward, for betre, for wors, for rycher, for porer, in syknesse, and in helthe, tyl deth us departe, yf holy chyrche hyt wol ordeyne, and thereto I plyzth my treuthe.

That's fairly recognisable - if the spelling seems a bit awkward, try saying it out loud and it will sound familiar. However when we get on to the wife-to-be's lines they are a bit, well, odd ... She says and I quote "Ich N. take ye N. to my weddyd hosebound, to haven and to holden fro yys day forward, for betre, for wors, for rycher, for porer, in sekenesse, and in helthe, to be boneyre and buxom in bedde and at boorde, tyl deth us departe, yf holychurch hyt wol ordeyne, and ther to I plyzth my trewthe."

Romantic? Not much. Practical, yes, very! I'll say nothing about the bit, a little further on, where the priest/bishop blesses the "lectum" i.e. the marriage bed, and then blesses the spouses while they're in the bed and he (finally) disappears. Like I said, earthy. Of course, every time I hear the word 'buxom' I have visions of Barbara Windsor in something like this. In fact all 'buxom' meant originally was obliging or pliant. In return for being buxom and bonny she got the following promise from him "Wyth thys ryng Iche ye wedde, and with my body ich ye honour, and with al my gold ich ye dowe, in nomine Patri, et Filii et Spirit us Sancti, Amen." So he provided the money and she provided the home comforts. It's one way of doing things I suppose ...

Monday, April 16, 2007

If you haven't already ...

In case you hadn't heard todays is the Holy Father's 80th Birthday! For those who (like I did) forgot to send him a proper birthday card, you can at least send him best wishes electronically. Just follow the link and fill in the form. Here's to hoping we'll be doing this for many years to come. (Hat tip to the Curt Jester.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Recovered, finally ...

I've thoroughly recovered from Holy Week at this stage but then it was (as far as the Traditional Mass in Dublin goes) the best ever. We had the whole Triduum with some extras, like Tenebrae on Spy Wednesday and Stations of the Cross on Good Friday; the latter included Meditations on the Way of the Cross by the Servant of God John Henry Newman. The Triduum itself was intense and very moving, and also very musical. We had the Lassus Scholars and their junior colleagues The Piccolo Lasso providing much of the music under the directio of their incomparable Foundress. Their rendition of Allegri's Miserere (Psalm 1) would move the Angels - were they capable of it - to envy.

As welcome as these visitors always are, it's important not to forget our own regular choir or rather Guild of Choristers with their indefatigable leader Robert Daly. (Yes he's the gentleman with the intense expression in the photo; his seriousness about the music is matched only by his geniality and affability when "off duty".)

Apart from that the liturgy itself went like a dream. The Holy Week ceremonies are usually a lot of work and this year was no exception. But somehow, we (the altar servers and general liturgical factota) seemed to be able to manage it all with less panic than in previous years. Our pastor (not his official title but it reflects what he actually does) commented that a few years repetition has given us a certain finesse in these matters. Well, thank God for that! About the ceremonies themselves the less said, the better. You really have to be there to understand how they work and what they mean. They'll be on at the same times (more or less) in the same place next year, so you know where to come! (NB The reason why the map is in Polish is because we share the Church with the Polish chaplaincy in Ireland. This led to some rapid change-overs from their congregation to ours and back again over Easter but we all came through it unscathed!)

The other high-point (of a non liturgical kind) was persuading this lady to make the trip to Dublin for the Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday. She nearly killed me for "persuading" her to drive into the (almost) City Centre - which she hates! However, all's well that ends well. Both she and her friend K seemed to get a lot out of it. What they also got a lot of was information and explanations out of me; I'm just hoping that they were actually as accurate as I thought they were at the time. Anyway, after all that fun and excitement, the next big event will be the Ascension rapidly followed by Pentecost which means - Chartres! Or rather it means three days of walking & praying to get there and not incidentally three days of your humble servant chivying the poor patient Irish pilgrims! Be that as it may if you feel like joining in there's just time to sign up. Contact me ( or our esteemed President ( and we'll let you know what's involved :-)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Apparently, I'm St Melito of Sardis!

You’re St. Melito of Sardis!

You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!