Thursday, 9 October 2014

October's music list is published!

In the excitement of moving to London, and being put to task straight away in the service of my lovely new community, I had forgotten about this blog, having set it up on a whim on a lazy summer's day! But I am back and eager to keep this record of the vibrant musical life of this lively parish I now call my home!

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice the inclusion of the Salve Regina at the end of Sunday Mass this month. This ancient Marian antiphon is traditionally sung from the end of Easter until the beginning of Advent, and is particularly appropriate this month, with October being the month of the Rosary.

The use of Latin can all too often be somewhat of a 'touchy subject' for modern day Catholics. Some find it alienates them from the proceedings, the ancient language coming as an unwelcome distraction from the liturgy to which all are called to fully participate. On the other hand, others believe in holding fast to the Church's rich tradition of using Latin, which acts as a further symbol of her universal communion. 

I find myself somewhere in the middle! Certainly, the liturgy can enjoy sumptuous adornment from the Latin polyphony of old, with the likes of Byrd, Palestrina and Victoria providing a liturgical repertoire which contains some of the finest music ever written for the human voice. Still, as a child born into a post-Vatican II Church, "full, active participation" has always been the highest of my liturgical priorities! 

Is there a way to fully hold on to our liturgical heritage whilst maintaining a liturgy which is fully participatory? The debate will not be silenced in a hurry! However, I feel a healthy dose of Latin once in a while, used in the right place at the right time, will go some way to bridge the gap between the two sides of the spectrum. Backed up with further explanation of WHY we sing the things we do, the exposure of Latin anthems, such as Salve Regina, aligns us with that great authority of the Church - tradition - which binds us as the people of God as we approach his altar.

This is the music which our ancestors sung - yes, even the saints! When we are gathered together with our Lord in the great hymn practice of heaven, we don't want to be the ones mumbling at the back!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Bicentenary of Don Bosco's Birth

On Saturday 20th September, Mass will be celebrated at St. George's Metropolitan Cathedral, Southwark, to give thanks for the life and mission of St. John Bosco, marking the beginning of the bicentenary of his birth.

The saint, who founded the Salesians of Don Bosco, is the patron of young people, having devoted his life to the service of the young and the poor in eighteenth-century Turin. The Salesians are now one of the largest Roman Catholic congregations, and continue to serve the young across the globe with the same apostolic zeal of Don Bosco.

Photograph of Don Bosco hearing confession.

Southwark has been chosen to host the Mass which will open the bicentennial year, since it was to Battersea that Don Bosco sent the first Salesians to Great Britain. It will be the beginning of a year of celebrations, including a touring expo, celebrating Don Bosco's life and the Salesian Charism, and culminating in a large youth festival, to be held at Savio House, the Salesians' residential retreat centre in Macclesfield, near Manchester.

The strong Salesian Presence at CYMFed's 'Flame', March 2012. 

It is a special time for me, since I spent a year, from 2009-2010, as a volunteer at Savio House, and since then have been increasingly involved with the Salesians. I had the joy of going of pilgrimage to Turin in August, where we visited the place of Don Bosco's birth, and Valdocco, the eventual home of his Oratory. During this pilgrimage, I was blessed to be able to premier a mass setting that I had written especially for the bicentenary year, the Mass of St. Dominic Savio, which is also to be used at all of the bicentenary liturgies throughout this special year.

For more details about the exciting event which are taking place this year, or to just find out a bit more about the Salesians, please follow the link below.

Salesians of Don Bosco UK


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