BOUT TWO MONTHS AGO, the first Catholic liturgies in 450 years was held in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace. The choral Vespers according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite was celebrated by Vincent Cardinal Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, on February 9. Even though February 9 is not a Marian feast day, the Vespers was dedicated to our Blessed Mother. Over 300 people attended the service.
The music was provided by one of the best choirs in the world, the Sixteen, directed by Harry Christophers. The liturgy was celebrated mainly in Latin (You would think that an ecumenical service with the Anglican Church must be in English, but no! It was in Latin except for the homily, the intercessions and collects.) and the Psalms were chanted with organ accompaniment. The recording of the service is now available on BBC’s Choral Evensong until the end of April.
I am filled with joy to see the Roman Catholic Church and Church of England being united together through music and prayer. There is one interesting thing I noticed about the music selection: Taverner, Cornysh and Tallis are all early English composers who were living during Henry VIII’s reign. The music was truly beautiful, angelic and uplifting! Here is what the cardinal and a few other participants of the choral Vespers have to say about the service and the music:
Let us continue to pray, especially through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Church, for the unity of Christ’s body.