yrieithydd: (Cross)
Well, last night's Mass was one of the more interesting of my serving career.

We had a congregation of 11; choir of 6; organist; 3 servers and a priest.

2 of the rota'd servers could not make it and nor could the replacement who'd been arranged to cover one slot. So we had MC, thurifer and crucifer (me). No non-rota'd servers arrived so it got to the point where we had to improvise. The suggestion I should carry both cross and lights was never serious but, ... . It was decided that it would have to be cross and no lights for the gospel but that I should enter with the others and be by the table for the Mass but that we wouldn't have torches at the entrance. In fact, I ended up as boat girl at this point as the most sensible thing for me to do so I had an obvious place to be. It was also decided that we could have torches for the Canon because the MC retires from the altar at the Sanctus so we left one candle on the gospel side and one by the credence table which the thurifer lit at the offertory. Unfortunately we did not quite agree what would happen after the Canon. I guessed we'd stay as normal to the Agnus but the MC move after the Canon and there was an awkward moment where I couldn't work out where to go. A quick exchange of glances with the thurifer led to me going out. He then suggested that as the MC had returned his candle to where it had been on the gospel side I ought to take my candle back in and he'd go to that side after the the Communion and we'd take the torches out together. The MC forgot the rail but the thurifer did that.

I think it worked, but not quite our usual!

Thurifry

Feb. 18th, 2005 09:45 pm
yrieithydd: (Cross)
That was fun. As I mentioned, a friend was organising a service of Vespers as the Anglo-Saxons might have known it. She asked me to be thurifer which I was glad to do.So I turned up around 4pm this evening by which time the choir (of 4) had nearly finished their rehearsal. Chris* came out and gave me and the acolyte who'd arrived a sheet of instructions and told me that as I'd only have the thurible for a bit that I could MC the rest of the time. I didn't find the instruction too bad, but the acolyte was rather scared by them. She commented that she'd be to a Catholic school but it was all rather informal. I had to show her how to genuflect.*** Chris went through the order with Jessica and then we had a quick run through of how it was going to go. Thsi was interesting as the layout of the Chapel made life difficult. Having the choir in the middle and a large pavement in front of the altar and only one way out makes for some interesting arrangements. The other acolyte arrived just after we started. Then practicalities -- such as bases for the acolytes candles, lighting the thurible, robes (cassocks for the choir, highly authentic cassock albs for the celebrant and servers) -- had to be started. We were a few minutes late going in in the end.

It was fun. I realised I had power as we got to where we were going to genuflect and I gave the signal! I was also giving the congregation the lead on standing and bowing (for the Gloria Patri). I had to give quite clear directions to the acolytes who got a bit lost at places. But they did basically a good job especially given how little rehearsal they'd had. I at least had serving experience behind me and had learnt to serve in service where I knew what was happening. Actually, it has to be said Solemn Evensong was a good basis for it. I took a bit long going out and getting the thurible during the hymn and so only got back at the Amen. By the time I'd worked out what the acolytes were to do next they'd missed it, so I sent them up to get their candles for the mag and then realised the instructions actually said that they put the candles down then. But I made them stand nearish the altar, although I could have done with getting them to turn in while the altar was censed. I also censed the congregation from a slightly random position. It was awkward though having gone down to do the choir so I did the congregation from the choir side of the where most of the congregation were (and missed those sat west of the choir).

I couldn't pay that much attention to the words because I was too worried about the next bit, but I managed to follow most of the homily (about St Agatha). We had the A-word at one point, which led to discussion afterwards and we decided it was okay as it was a feast day. It was also commented that as there was no sacrament reserved we shouldn't have been genuflecting (a thought which had crossed my mind earlier), but of course, there would have been had it been authentic (which was Helen's line) and Chris and I commented that there were traditions where one genuflects to the altar. Indeed one of the choir (who I think was a Schola Cantorum person) commented that she'd always thought it was to the altar.

We also had fun getting rid of the lit coals afterwards as Trinity don't use incense often and so aren't quite set up for it. There was some rather acrid smoke at this point. It really needs a good clean out and foil used in future or something.

I'm never quite sure about historical re-enactment of worship, but I think this worked. It was about worship even if I was struggling (but that's a side effect of serving what ever period it is) and I was struck by how little it had changed really. I mean I knew Cramner had used Vespers (and compline) in the creation of Evensong, but this was going back another 500 years or more.

I was also amazed that I wasn't scared by realising I had power, but was confident I could cope and at least appear I knew what was going on. I'd told the servers that one of the tricks of good serving was looking like you meant it!

*Former member of Fitz choir who runs Schola Cantorum** and is now doing an MPhil on Anglo-Saxon liturgical music.
**The Fisher House Latin choir
*** or at least which knee.
I might post a coherent response to the past week at some point but after 21 hours up on 2 hours sleep (and 5 hours lying awake - going to bed earlier is a fine theory but doesn't work if you then fail to sleep), plus some quantity of alcohol, coherence is probably too much to expect. But I'm still bouncing.

The Easter Vigil was wonderful. The previous days were good too (although in a different way) and the whole think just works. When I think back to last Sunday morning and processing from Laundress Green with our palms: What we've done; where we've gone in that time. It just brings it home. One service can't do that. The joy of Easter is made more real by having gone through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The stripped altar, empty aumbry, empty stoup, veneration of the cross, the waiting, mean that when the Gloria comes at the First Mass it's amazing.

In fact the whole day's been great. Even the hurried rehearsals for High Mass didn't detract too much and we got through. Two new servers (one acolyte, one torchbearer) and complicating processions is a poor combination. But is was good.

There's something bizarre and yet right about drinking buck's fizz at quarter to seven in the morning and then drinking champagne. Lunch (interrupted for Evensong) was great too. Lovely people, mad and deep conversations and just much fun.

But I must calm down and sleeeeeeeeeeeeep

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yrieithydd

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