This has been another very busy week. I was invited to the Installation of Archbishop Vincent Nichols in Westminster Cathedral, and so was unable to be with the Schola Abelis for the Ascension in the Oxford Oratory. I hear it went well, but I don't have any photographs!
Mass at the Cathedral was of course not the Ascension. When I got back from London I had the choice of going to the Ascension at Reading (sung, at 7.20pm) or St Birinus, Dorchester on Thames (Solemn, 7.30pm). I went to Dorchester - in fact I gave Fr John Saward, who preached, a lift - and so was able to witness a Solemn Mass there for the second time.
St Birinus was packed, and the music, provided by Mr Andrew Knowles, was superb. It was mostly Hyden, in recognition of his 200th Anniversary.
The Installation was an impressive service. The great cathedral was packed. The Latin Mass Society was allocated one ticket, a first for an event of this kind, and a sign of our growing acceptance as part of the Catholic mainstream. The service ended with the Te Deum, sung antiphonally between the choir - singing a polyphonic setting - and 'all', singing the simple tone of the chant setting. The choir is superb but I have my doubts about this arrangement; I think the congregation would have sung more confidently if the whole thing had been sung with the chant setting, which repeats themes and makes overall musical sense.
In my part of the church - a side chapel - we were sitting on benches which didn't have kneelers. At the canon I knelt down, but the Catholic great and the good who were with me did not. An unwillingness to kneel on a marble floor may be the least of the problems of the Catholic laity in England and Wales, but it is a representive one. If they won't submit to any discomfort for Our Lord, how much support are they going to give Archbishop Nichols when the going gets tough?