Friday, 27 May 2016

A Night Prayer

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; 
and by thy great mercy defend us 
from all perils and dangers of this night; 
for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

This brief but lovely prayer is found in the 1559 version of The Book of Common Prayer, but whether it had an antecedent in pre-Reformation English Catholic use is unknown to me. The prayer was intended to be said at Evensong, the last Hour of the day.

Whatever the intention of the prayer's author, we can look at his use of the word "lighten" in two ways :

"Shed your light upon our darkness"   or

"Lift the burden of our darkness".

"Darkness" may refer to our sinfulness, or to our spiritual or intellectual short-sightedness. It is certainly a prayer for those who wish to be at rights with God before sleep descends.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Anglophone Missals of the "Interim Rite" 1964 - 1969 : Part One (re-posted)

Fifty years ago, in 1964, as a consequence of the deliberations of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, culminating in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, changes began to be introduced into the Celebration of Mass. New liturgical books which reflected these alterations were required.

This is the first in a series of posts examining the various iterations of the Roman Missal which were published between 1964 and 1969. These missals are often referred to as "Interim Rite" missals. Of necessity, these posts must be confined to Anglophone Interim Rite Missals.

The first of these Missals for the English-speaking world was published by the Catholic Book Publishing Company (New York) after May 1964, for the use of the Dioceses of the United States of America. Below are photographs from that Missal.

Please click on the images for an enlarged view.

The Missal handsomely-bound in red morocco leather and gold stamped.

The titlepage of the 1964 Missal.

On the reverse of the titlepage, the Imprimatur of Cardinal Spellman of New York
is shewn. It also makes reference to the translation of the Scriptures 
which the Bishops determined for use.

In publishing this Missal, the Bishops Conference of the United States obtained a decree from the now infamous Consilium, signed by Cardinal Lercaro and Father Annibale Bugnini CM and dated 1st May 1964. The decree defined the specific changes to the celebration of the Mass which were permitted. The English language was permitted to be included in the following parts of the Mass (shewn in the photograph below) : the proclamation of the Epistle and Gospel; in the chants of the Ordinary of the Mass, namely the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei; in the Lord's Prayer; in the formula Ecce Agnus Dei before the Communion of the Faithful; in the chants of the Proper of the Mass, namely the Introit, Gradual etc., Offertorium and Communio; in acclamations, Greetings and Dialogues between the celebrant and the faithful. Lastly in the "Common Prayer" or Prayers of the Faithful.

First part of the decree of the "Consilium" : May 1964.

This Missal, however, is a curiosity: it was published before the decisions regarding revisions to the rite of Mass were published at the beginning of 1965. Consequently, ritually it contains no changes from the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 typical edition of the Missale Romanum. All it admits of is the inclusion of the English language. It permits English for the use of the "Common Prayer" (General Intercessions), but no reference to these prayers is made in the rubrics of the Order of Mass. But one thing worthy of note : where these vernacular admissions are printed, no alternative in Latin is shewn. It seems that when the Consilium used the words in its decree " Linguam anglicanam adhibere licet ", it was more of a requirement than a permission.

The first page of the Proper of the Seasons
shewing the Introit and Epistle in English,
but the Collect still entirely in Latin.

The next photographs are a selection of the pages of the Order of Mass.

The Prayers at the foot of the Altar : still entirely in Latin.

Pages shewing the Kyrie and Gloria, given only in English.
Compare the translation with the present translation for
the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

One of the prefaces :
The Preface itself and its introductory dialogue are
entirely in Latin;
the Sanctus given only in English.

Pages shewing the Communion Rite :
The Lord's Prayer and Agnus Dei given in English,
everything else in Latin.

The concluding prayers of the Mass remain unaltered
from the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum and all its predecessors.

Pages shewing the Rite of Burial, including English for chants and orations,
but the antiphon remaining in Latin with its gregorian notation.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Welcome, New Visitors, to the Studio Blog

Recently, daily visitors to the Saint Bede Studio blog have significantly increased, prompting me to write a word of welcome to those visiting these pages for the first time. This Blog was established in March 2007 for two purposes :

  • To illustrate the vestment-making work of the Saint Bede Studio
  • To discuss aspects of Sacred Liturgy and Ecclesiastical architecture in general and in particular.

In 2014, a subsidiary blog was established specifically to discuss Ecclesiastical architecture and Sacred furnishings. Unfortunately, the pressure of vestment-making work has limited my capacity to add to this Blog regularly, but there is hope of improvement soon.

In the sidebar there are links to help you look through the blog by category.

Happy reading : ad majorem Dei gloriam.

Friday, 20 May 2016

The Liturgical Colour Red (Ruber) : 1

For those observing the calendar of the 1962 (or earlier) edition of the Missale Romanum, the Octave of Pentecost is still being celebrated. * It seems an appropriate moment to commence a short series here on the history of the use of the liturgical colour red (ruber).

Red chasuble
Chasuble made from a brighter red silk.
This vestment in the Studio's
Saint Martin form.
We begin by noting when red vestments are to be used :

Articles 123-126 of Chapter XVIII of the Rubricae Generales of the Roman Missal (1962) prescribe that the colour red is to be worn in Offices and Masses of the Season from the Vigil Mass of the Pentecost throughout the week to the Saturday following.

It is also prescribes red to be used on feastday Masses of the mysteries and instruments of the Lord's Passion; on feastday Masses of the Apostles and Evangelists (except Saint John); on the feastdays of all the Roman Pontiffs; on the feastdays of the Martyrs and on feastdays of the Holy Relics.

Further, red is to be used in Votive Masses of the Passion of our Lord; of the Holy Spirit; and for the election of the Roman Pontiff. And lastly red vestments are to be used for the Blessing of Palms &c on Palm Sunday.

The Roman Missal of 1970 at article 308 of its General Instructions is somewhat altered and abbreviated :

Dalmatic made from a silk 
damask of deep red.
Red is used on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, Pentecost, feasts of the Passion of our Lord, feasts of the Apostles and and Evangelists and the feasts of martyrs.

Nowhere is it prescribed in either sets of liturgical directives what shade of red is to be used. Consequently we find several different shades of red in liturgical use, but mainly two : a very bright red (similar to the scarlet used in the choirdress of Cardinals) and deeper shade, perhaps even darker than crimson.

Whilst neither one or the other of these two shades is prescribed, it is fitting that a deeper red - a blood red - be used on the feasts of the martyrs and evangelists and for mysteries of the Lord's Passion (for example, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross). Conversely, on the Solemnity of Pentecost and other days associated with the Holy Spirit (for example, ritual Masses for Confirmation), it seems fitting that a flame red be used.

Chasuble made from a brocade 
of red and gold. The combination 
produces a flame-like colour, 
very fitting for Pentecost.
Throughout the history of the liturgical colour red, both these shades - blood red and flame red have been found.  The use of vestments which are both red and gold is most fitting for the Solemnity of Pentecost, since these colours in combination frequently give the impression of a flame colour. The festal character of this combination is also very fitting to so great a Feast.

In further posts, we shall trace the varied history of the use of red as a liturgical colour.

Click on the images for an enlarged view.

* A very misguided act it was by the devisers of the 1970 Roman Missal to suppress the beautiful Whitsun Octave. 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Deaconesses? Not again!

Astonishingly, we hear that the tired subject of a "female diaconate" has been raised again, but this time - most disappointingly - by a Supreme Pontiff (who shall remain nameless) who claims that the history of the deaconesses in the Early Church is "obscure".

It assuredly is NOT obscure, but was the focus of a definitive study published in 1982 by the distinguished French liturgiologist, Monsignor Aime-Georges Martimort.  Ignatius Press published a translation of this wonderful work in 1986 Deaconesses : An Historical Study, which is still in print. I urge you to obtain this book and read it (it assumes a working knowledge of Greek and Latin). It also appears to be available to be read online.

Deaconesses DID exist in the Early Church but they WERE NOT female deacons. Their ministry was narrowly defined, completely distinct from the ministry of the deacon and DID NOT include any liturgical role at the altar, where traditionally no woman set foot.

Sunday, 8 May 2016


The Saint Bede Studio has recently completed a set of white vestments for a Cathedral in the United States. The chasuble, shewn in the adjacent image, is in the Borromeon form, but modified in its decoration to suit its Gothic environment.

The vestments were made from dupion silk and ornamented with Puginesque braids of the Studio's own design. The braids are in colours of red, green and straw-gold. The taffeta lining was also straw-gold.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Enquiries :

Friday, 29 April 2016

Vestments in the 16th century style

A priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin, a returning customer, commissioned the Studio to make a set of red vestments. Of special importance to our customer was that a shade of red be used that was similar to fabrics used in the mediaeval and renaissance periods. A dupion silk in a rich shade of ruby red was chosen for the vestments.

The chasuble, in the Saint Philip Neri style, was ornamented with a rich brocade of burgundy and gold according to the Roman form. The vestments were lined with a bronze-coloured taffeta.

A subsequent post will trace a little of the history of the Liturgical Colour red.


Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Reform of the Rites : The Kiss of Peace

At a previous Synod of Bishops, Pope Benedict and other bishops posed a question about the Kiss of Peace or Pax in the celebration of the Ordinary Form of Mass according to the Roman Rite. Subsequently, the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments issued a decision of admirable Roman liturgical conservatism, rejecting a proposal that the Pax be observed at the Offertory, rather than before the reception of Holy Communion (as it has been since the time of Pope Saint Gregory the Great).

In a previous post about the revision of the Rites, we pondered if celebrants might consider that any ritual actions of the Extraordinary Form could be incorporated into their celebration of the New Mass in such a way as would not disturb the Faithful. One of these, it might be suggested, is the Pax.

The ritual actions for the Pax in the Extraordinary and Ordinary forms of the Roman Rite are quite different. The prayers - which are the same in both Old and New - are rearranged in the Ordinary form. One thing remains unchanged, however, and it is most significant. Domine Jesu Christi, qui dixisti apostolis tuis ... This prayer, which is the preface to the Pax, is not addressed to God the Father (as all the other prayers of the Mass are) (1)   but addressed directly to God the Son, who is present upon the altar before the very eyes of the celebrant.

All the more inappropriate, therefore, for the celebrant to say or sing this prayer looking around at the Congregation (we need not elaborate on various manifestations of the ars celebrandi of some priests). (2) The celebrant ought to have his eyes cast down upon the altar, looking at Him whom he is addressing. This injunction, however, will not be found in the rubrics of the Pauline Missal.

The Kissing of the Altar :
Karsh's photograph from the famous book by
Bishop Fulton Sheen : This is the Mass.
There is a regrettable ritual excision from the Pax as observed in the Pauline Missal. In Solemn Masses, according to the Extraordinary form, the celebrant recites quietly the prayer Domine Jesu Christi, qui dixisti apostolis tuis and then he kisses the corporal upon which rest the Sacred Host and the Chalice. The deacon (standing at his right), kisses the altar, but not the corporal. The celebrant then gives the Pax to the deacon. In some Mediaeval Western liturgies, the celebrant kissed not the corporal, but the Sacred Host itself, or the foot of the Chalice. These ritual gestures are of great significance and underline that the Pax is not a greeting per se, but a ritual transmission of the Peace which comes directly from our Saviour.

Would it be so objectionable if celebrants of Mass in the Ordinary Form were once again to kiss the corporal before giving the Faithful the Greeting of Peace? Would that ritual action not emphasise their words : The Peace of the Lord be with you always ? Would this be so objectionable? For some, probably. Others might not even notice. Still others might welcome the enrichment of an other-worldly ritual dimension in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Prudence in all things.

(1) With the exception of the Kyrie eleison, which is a litany.
(2) We had the misfortune to observe during the ANZAC Dawn Service at the Gallipoli Beach in Turkey on 25th April, the Anglican minister "praying" the Lord's Prayer whilst looking from side to side to those gathered (whom he would have been unable to see because of the glare of lights). This is is the antithesis of Liturgical Prayer.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Commissions with the Studio

Re-posted from 16th August, 3rd September, 12th October and 22nd November 2015 and 19th January 2016

Owing to an unprecedented amount of Commissions for new vestments received by the Saint Bede Studio in the last several months, we wish to advise that our schedule of work for 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 is now closed. We regret any disappointment this may cause to those who have not yet made enquiries with us.

The Studio has commenced accepting commissions for the third quarter of 2017.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

On the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth

Regnans gloriose

Almighty God, we pray for your servant Elizabeth our Queen, 
now by your mercy reigning over us. 
Adorn her yet more with every virtue, remove all evil from her path; 
that with her consort and all the royal family she may come at last in grace to you, who are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.