HAT EXCITING NEWS! For the first time in more than 450 years, a Roman Catholic service will be celebrated in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. Vincent Cardinal Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, is going to celebrate Vespers on February 9 in Henry VIII’s chapel. The Dean of the Queen’s chapel will be giving a sermon during the service. The music will be provided by The Sixteen and Genesis Sixteen under the direction of Harry Christopher. The repertoire for this historical liturgy includes Thomas Tallis’ Magnificat, William Cornysh’s Salve Regina and John Taverner’s ‘Leroy’ Kyrie.
Before Vespers is celebrated, the Cardinal and Dean will be in conversation under the heading “Faith and the Crown” in the Great Hall of Hampton Court. The discussion will explore the relationship between the two churches and the monarchy. They will also talk about the role the Chapel Royal in maintaining elements of Catholic worship to the present day.
In the past, Sacred Music had played an important role as a bridge between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. We can see that in the live of faithful Catholic composers like Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, Edward Elgar, etc.; these composers wrote liturgical music for both Churches. In the recent years, we have seen the Choir of Westminster Abbey singing Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with the Sistine Chapel Choir, and Pope Benedict XVI attending Evensong during his visit to the United Kingdom. Let us pray for the success of this Vespers and discussion. May God united us together through beautiful music and liturgies. Ut Omnes Unum Sint!