One of the most beautiful and uplifting Masses I have been to for a long time took place on Saturday, September 17 at the Birmingham Oratory, writes Józef Łopuszyński.
Archbishop Longley was the chief celebrant at the Mass to launch the Blessed John Henry Newman Institute for Liturgical Music.
The Mass was sung throughout using the music as set out in the new Missal, and as will also be printed within the text of the People’s Missal to be made available later this year.
Participants in the launch were also treated to a highly illuminating explanation of the close connection between the liturgical function of a church and the building itself.
The day concluded with sung Vespers and Benediction.
As the day came to an end, I asked institute director Fr Guy Nicholls for his thoughts on the day.
“It’s been wonderful to have such a magnificent Sung Mass,” he said, “especially with His Grace, the archbishop, in person there, people having the experience of our beautiful church, and of course the experience also of Vespers – being able to sing it both in English and in Latin, showing that there’s a wonderful way in which the two languages can so happily co-exist in the one and the same liturgical celebration, all because of the harmony of the style of the chant in both languages. That’s the thing that people can take back from today.”
Before the Mass the archbishop helped by singing his parts of the liturgy at the rehearsal.
“What a wonderful grace it is to have an archbishop like that who has not only got a wonderful voice but came also to share in the practice and, of course, to give us his blessing,” said Fr Nicholls. “Marvellous.”
I asked him how the institute would develop, both now and in the future.
He said: “I hope that many more people will come to know what we’re doing and will have an opportunity to join in the celebration of Mass and the celebration of the Office such as we’ve enjoyed today and perhaps be able to take it round to some of the different parishes, rather than expect them always to come here. We might be able to say: ‘We’ll come and do that for you.’ ”