Monday, 24 November 2014

Lo! He comes with clouds descending

What a superb descant in this recording by the Lichfield Cathedral Choir. Along with the introit Ad te levavi and the plainchant Advent Prose, this hymn sets the tone Advent season perfectly.

A polyphonic setting of the Advent Prose:

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Fabulous French Festal Music for Christ the King as Papal Envoy Mamberti Makes Flying Visit to Sydney, Celebrates Mass with New Archbishop and Papal Nuncio

The Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States, French-Corsican Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, who has recently been appointed to succeed Raymond Cardinal Burke as the Prefect for the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, is currently in Sydney, where is his presumably having discussions about affairs of state with the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who will replace Archbishop Mamberti as Vatican Foreign Secretary. Both were present, along with the newly enthroned Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP, at the solemn choral Mass at 10.30 this morning. It had been advertised that this would be the first Sunday Mass at which Archbishop Fisher would be celebrant, but in a lovely show of fraternal comity, Archbishop Mamberti was invited to be the principal celebrant.

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, incoming Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, outside St. Mary's Cathedral Sydney after Mass on 23 November 2014

I'm not sure if His Excellency was forewarned of the impending choral force 10 gale, however he cannot but have been impressed by the Cathedral Choir's splendid singing of:

  • the Introit Dignus est Agnus; 
  • the Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus Dei from Widor's Messe √† Deux Choeurs et Deux Orgues; 
  • the Alleluia Potestas eius;
  • Dupr√©'s motet Laudate Dominum; 
  • the Communio Amen dico vobis: Quod uni; and
  • Christus Vincit.

Here is a recent upload to Youtube, the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School Schola Cantorum and others singing the Kyrie and Gloria from the Widor Mass at a recent centenary Mass at Westminster Cathedral.

In Sydney, it was a most fitting celebration of the feast of Christ the King, and a happy coincidence that on the day of an unexpected visit from a French Archbishop, one of the most effective modern French settings of the Mass was programmed.

Incidentally Burke was himself recently in Sydney. What a lot of activity in the Antipodes!


Vespers was most beautiful this evening, and occasioned a visit from the fire brigade.

Perhaps the axiom "If I can see the Blessed Sacrament, there is not enough incense" needs to be updated to "If the fire brigade did not attend, there was not enough incense"!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bishop Comensoli appointed to Broken Bay, Sydney loses another auxiliary

Sydney has become a two man show, comprising the newly enthroned Archbishop Anthony Fisher and his auxiliary Bishop Terence Brady, as news comes through that Bishop Peter Comensoli will become the third bishop of Broken Bay diocese. Sydney's other auxiliary, Most Rev Julian Porteous, was translated to Hobart earlier this year.

Incoming bishop of Broken Bay
Broken Bay's cathedral was located in St Ives, but several years ago it was moved to Waitara.

Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, Waitara
Broken Bay is still in many ways a fledgling diocese, having only been established in 1986 for reasons which do not immediately seem convincing. St Leonard's, not 10 mins by car to the Sydney CBD, was torn away from the bosom of the Sydney Archdiocese. The suburb of Manly, from where you can see the spires of St Mary's Cathedral, likewise.

Broken Bay effectively stretches from Sydney Harbour (except for a small enclave on the "lower north shore" comprising suburbs such as Neutral Bay and Mosman) up to the Central Coast of NSW, divided by the enormous Hawksbury River.

The bishop-designate has stated on Twitter that he is "looking forward to getting to know the family that is Broken Bay Diocese."

News and press releases are collected here.

Read about the bishop's coat of arms here and here. His motto is Praedicamus Christum crucifixum - We preach Christ crucified.

The enthronement will take place on 12 December 2014, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, at a time to be announced.

I wish his Lordship all the best.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Enthronement of Ninth Archbishop of Sydney, Most Rev Anthony Fisher - Full Video

What a wonderful and joyful occasion the enthronement was. The Cathedral Choir, described by the new Archbishop as "most excellent", sang MacMillan, Palestrina, Victoria, plainsong and several hymns with great distinction. There was plenty of "active participation" by the people in the parts that pertain to them, as the video will reveal. Contrary to an earlier version of this post, the order of service has indeed been made available online. Apart from being a slightly unconventional square shape and with dual columns, it was beautifully typeset and printed by Catholic Communications of the Archdiocese of Sydney, and included all music and translations needed by the people. I am in fact quite impressed with the availability of resources including the Archbishop's homily in text and mp3 formats. Sydney has sprung headlong into the digital information age!

Normally I would write a full account of the evening, but given the availability of the video in full, and my unfortunate lack of time, I will let the video speak for itself. And the Archdiocese now has a good general summary.

I add my thanks to all who were involved in preparing this most beautiful Mass, and Deo gratias, we have a new Archbishop at long last. May he serve and be served well.

xt3 version

Youtube version (with introduction)

Viewer advice: These videos contain sound and images of (well performed) contemporary worship music accompanied by a guitar in a neo-Gothic cathedral, the incongruence of which may cause distress to some viewers of this blog.   

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The day of the Archbishop's enthronement

has arrived - and the Sydney Morning Herald has a very informative (and mercifully neutral) article about tonight's proceedings. They provide this useful summary (we will forgive the American spelling of crosier):
  • "[Most Rev] Anthony Fisher will arrive at St Mary's Cathedral wearing the "choir dress" of a bishop before changing into Marian vestments, plain white and purple dress made in Australia from European liturgical silk and donated to the cathedral by a local family.
  • He will wear the episcopal ring and pectoral cross and hold the crozier, or pastoral staff, that belonged to the first metropolitan Archbishop of Sydney, John Bede Polding, 1842–1877.
  • His music choices for the ceremony include Summae Trinitati set to music by contemporary Scottish composer James MacMillan, the Te Deum of Tomas Luis de Victoria and the serene polyphony of the Missa Te Deum laudamus by Palestrina. Australian compositions include the hymn In faith and hope and love by Richard Connolly and James Phillip MacAuley. 
  • A papal bull, or letter from the Pope, will be read by the Apostolic Nuncio, confirming the authenticity of the appointment. The Holy See will be informed when the installation has taken place.
  • Mass will be followed by a reception at Cathedral House, Archbishop Fisher's new residence."

Westminster Cathedral Choir sings Victoria's Te Deum. 
Pictures are from the ordination of Bishop Peter Comensoli.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Archbishop Fisher's enthronement; Two new auxiliary bishops for Melbourne; Apostolic Nuncio to Australia to depart after elevation

Too much is happening and time is woefully lacking. So a brief summary of events will have to suffice.

First, the enthronement of Archbishop Fisher at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney will take place at 7.30 pm this Wednesday, 12 November 2014. I had heard informally that the service was to be preceded at 7.00 pm by Vespers sung by the Cathedral Scholars, and at long last we have official confirmation of this - it will be led by Bishop Peter Comensoli). The Cathedral Choir will carry the bulk of musical duties for the evening, although there is likely to be the addition of some brass in a similar fashion to the enthronement of Archbishop Nichols at Westminster Cathedral in 2009 (see here for video highlights - unfortunately most of the Cathedral Choir's singing has been edited out). The music list looks excellent, however experience suggests that there may be some pieces not listed and not performed by the Cathedral Choir.

Importantly, the enthronement will be webcast - if you cannot make it to St Mary's Cathedral, visit this webpage for the live broadcast. I implore the people responsible for the broadcast (xt3) to make the service available to watch again after the fact. What better place to make this available than xt3's very own Youtube site? Most recent enthronements in Australia and overseas have been made available to view in this way, so not only is there a precedent, but I would submit an imperative for Sydney to follow suit.

Secondly, news came through late last week that two auxiliary bishops have been appointed to Melbourne - the Reverend Monsignor Terence Curtin and the Reverend Father Mark Stuart Edwards OMI. The former was born in Cremorne, Sydney (where the author of this blog has his humble abode). Congratulations to the bishops-designate. In contrast to the Archbishop Fisher episode, Melbourne has taken the novel approach of announcing the date and time of the episcopal ordinations at the same time as announcing the appointments! The people of Melbourne will be overjoyed to hear that the ordinations will take place at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 7.30 pm.

Finally, as Raymond Cardinal Burke (recently in Sydney) is transferred to Cardinalis Patronus of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, the role (Secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State) of his replacement (Archbishop Dominique Mamberti) as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, in a display of considerable alacrity on Rome's part, has already been filled by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who for the past two years has been Apostolic Nuncio to Australia. One trusts that this is not a manifestation of what was described in Yes, Minister as an attempt at "Approbation, elevation, and castration" in one fell swoop, and "In defeat, malice. In victory, revenge!" In any event, with the weight of office lifted from his shoulders, Cardinal Burke will be able to participate more actively in discourse pertaining to current ecclesiastical affairs.

Talk about an episcopal shake-up!

Congratulations to His Eminence, His Grace, His Excellency and Their (soon to be) Lordships.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Victoria in Queensland!

T. L. de Victoria that is.  And what a splendid rendition of the 1605 Requiem by the St Stephen's Cathedral Schola (Brisbane) conducted by James Goldrick in rehearsal for a concert that was performed on All Souls day 2014.