Rome moves slowly; meanwhile, may we not work towards a better " understanded " liturgy? Why should not a layman, or two laymen antiphonally (licensed by the Bishop for their good clear voices) read in English the Introit, Gloria in Excelsis, Prayer, Epistle, Gradual, Gospel and Offertory, while the Priest recites them in Latin at the Altar?
It saves the priest's voice: It accords with the English tradition. The lessons at Mattins and Evensong arc often read (very acceptably) by laymen in the established Church.
For the most part, the laity are ignorant of these treasures of worship. I would have them recited or sung in English (in a corrected XVI. century version) at Benediction.
The Psalms have most deeply affected the national character; without them, we shall never convert England.
The late Bishop Keatinge (God rest him) told me that it was his wont to recite the funeral office privately in Latin on his way to the cemetery and publicly in English at the graveside.
I think that Cranmer translated the Prayers before he had been actually adjudged a heretic. Can we not use his superb English?
Occasionally we might use the English translation of the Latin hymns at Mass. On Palm Sunday we sing Omnia Gloria, Laus, Honor—" But the English " All Glory, Laud and Honour To Thee, Redeemer, King is actually a finer example of hymnology— and what a tune!
THE TWO TRADITIONS.
I was bred in the Anglican tradition and know nothing of the equally important Nonconformist tradition, Dr. Orchard bears witness to this.
But, at a Catholic retreat in America, once heard a priest address a long, simple extemporary prayer to Our Lord sacramentally enthroned; and it was a most moving experience.
Latin is not a symbol of unity, but of disunity with the East.
It is the most glorious of tongues; those who know will deeply regret its disuse in any part of our worship. But if it is, even slightly, hindering the conversion of England or the lull participation of the lay folk in the sacrificing of the mass we must make our sacrifice.
More, Not Less, Liturgy
SIR,—While greatly interested in the psychology of Dr. Orchard's articles on the conversion of England, I must beg leave to
differ from some of his conclusions. I agree that simple explanatory addresses—(if they have a spiritual application to the needs of the soul)—on liturgical and theological questions, would do much to attract the truth-seeking non-Catholic who drops into a Church on a Sunday evening feeling rather like a bad, bold wolf masquerading as a lamb. But unless they are followed by a fervent and devout ritual, I do not think that they would ever induce such a person to go one step further and ask for instruction.
I do not think that the average Englishman, semi-educated and sentimental as he may be, is repelled either by ceremonial or the Latin tongue. If he is, then he has not the Catholic mind, and might just as well remain a honest, puzzled, God-fearing Protestant. I believe that what is really repellent to our hypothetical truth-seeker is just the absence of ceremonial and the want of dignity which has been allowed to invade so many Catholic churches in this country. Over and over again we find that it is sung Vespers with Compline, followed by Benediction, that impresses the non-Catholic with the feeling that we possess something " different "—some contact with the unseen —which so many in these small islands long for and cannot find.
I believe that if, in our services, we " lift up Christ," as for ages the Church has uplifted Him in her liturgical services, He Himself, by His own power—would " draw all men " to Himself.
Nor is the use of the Latin tongue really repellent to the seeker after truth, however British his antecedents may be! One essentially British (though educated) man sa d once that the first time he repeated the Paternoster in Latin, he felt the link with the whole Church as he had never felt it before. And a Carmelite nun told me that even those who came to Carmel knowing no Latin—and obliged to recite the office without any teaching of the language learntin time the value and meaning of those words merely by their repetition and their association with the living spirit within the " dead " language.
The conversion of England will never be brought about until we Catholics, all over the land really value our inheritance and perhaps. are purged by the martyrdom which has been meted out to so many other nations in our own times.
F. C. H. St. Mawes, Southdown Road, Seaford, Sussex.
SIR,—Some time ago I had the pleasure of spending a holiday in Whitwick, a village where the liturgy is carried out almost in its entirety. At Low Mass, coincidental with the silent Latin prayers said by the celebrant, the altar servers recited aloud the translation of the prayers in English. To the visitor the experience was novel, but the extremely beautiful way in which the village lads said the prayers was a real aid to a better understanding of the Sacred Mysteries.
L. J. G. Boor.
21, Arundel Street, Derby Road, Nottingham.
SIR,—It would be so easy for a community to arrange that in a prominent part of the church a time-table was placed indicating the hours of the daily Liturgy, and, would it be too much to ask, a Calendar indicating at least the day's Vespers?
The choral recitation of the Office is a duty laid upon certain members of the Church who carry it out in the name of all the faithful; if some of those who have no canonical obligation, out of devotion, desire to be. present at the public prayer of the Church, surely no obstacles should be placed in their way.
LANCELOT C. SHEPPARD.
44, Curzon Street, Caine, Wilts.
SIR,—The point of many of your correspondents seems to be that the laity would probably take a more active part in the Divine Sacrifice if they could use the vernacular. What is to prevent them doing so now? As Mr. Abbott points out, we can follow the vernacular in the missal, and really identify ourselves with the priest, if we wish to do so.
A. L. L. HAWARD.
Sue—In reply to Mr. Rees, I appreciate his kindness in drawing my attention to the Society of the Magnilicat. I have, however, been associated with it since 1932, but there are many people who cannot undertake the recitation of the Divine Office on weekdays or partake in the office of Vespers on Sundays because this office is not performed in their parish churches. My idea was to associate those people together in a work of love on one day a week : Sunday. Their bond would be their undertaking to recite Sunday Vespers, and certain other psalms associated with the Sunday office, throughout the year. I have hopes that such a work would prepare yet more people to participate in the work of existing liturgical societies.
BASIL N. ALDRIDGE, On., O.S.B. 71, Tolisham Road, London, S.W.17.
SLR,--The writer/well remembers some years ago hearing High Mass at the Cathedral, Glasgow. Seated next to him in the nave was a working man with neither collar nor tie, but a clean white neckerchief, who sang the Mass through, except the Proper, without book or music, together with the rest of the congregation.
If only part of the time expended in crossword puzzles or football competitions could be applied to the study of such a book as Church Latin for Beginners (J. E. Lowe, M.A., Burns and Oaks) during the approaching winter, much real pleasure would be experienced with lasting benefit in many directions.
H. E. COSGREAVE. Bedford Court Hotel, 61, Brixton Hill, S.W.2.
SIR,—I think of my own two children, who first came to England aged four and five. How were they able to go to school two months later and speak like natives? Just by letting them play and romp with their little neighbours! Children have no difficulty with Latin, provided they start early enough to hear it and to sing it. Let us maintain, if only on their behalf—and they are our hope for the future of English Catholic life—that outward sign of the Catholicity, the universality of our Church, which is the Latin Liturgy of our congregational services.
L. T. PEVAN.