Mgr Andrew Burnham: Oxford Group celebrates Our Lady of Walsingham

26 09 2011

Monsignor Andrew Burnham writes:

Plans in Oxford for Saturday 24 September, the first time the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has had opportunity to celebrate the solemnity of its title, began with an invitation to Westminster Cathedral for ‘a Day of Prayer in honour of Divine Mercy through the intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham’.  We had to turn down the invitation to go to London because the weekly mass of the Oxford Ordinariate Group is on Saturday but we decided to join in as best we could.  We met for Holy Hour at 4pm, led by the Revd Daniel Lloyd, and we used some of the material being used at the time in Westminster – and by pilgrims in Aylesford and Walsingham.  After a cup of tea at 5pm, we reconvened for Evensong at 5.30pm and for Solemn Mass at 6pm.
It was our first Holy Hour, and our first Evensong at Holy Rood.  Evensong was sung to plainsong and the Newman Consort sang the Morley fauxbourdons Magnificat. Particularly memorable was the singing of the Ave maris stella as an office hymn, using the simpler of the plainsong settings in English Hymnal.  Using short readings – after all Mass of the solemnity, with its three readings, was to follow – we were surprised that Evensong was over in little more than quarter of an hour.  We did not therefore entirely lose the opportunity for silent prayer which we customarily have during the 30 minutes Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament before Mass.

The Mass itself was particularly lovely.  There was a fine sermon from Deacon Lloyd – one which we hope he has opportunity to preach elsewhere, which is why we are not publishing it – built on the theme of Mary as the house of the Lord, the sanctuary embellished with gold where God’s Presence dwells.  Music by Dufay and Byrd adorned the worship of the Lord’s house on this occasion and there was a wholesomeness about the re-integration of aspects of Anglican patrimony.  The Walsingham hymn, ‘Joy to thee, Queen, within thine ancient dowry’, makes much more sense sung within the full Communion of the Church: ‘Lady of Walsingham, be as thou hast been – England’s Protectress, our Mother and our Queen!’  Keble’s poem ‘Ave Maria! Blessed Maid!’, beautiful words and a beautiful tune, St Alban, brought a touch of Tractarian reticence (‘thou whose name all but adoring love may claim’) which nicely balanced some of the more exotic devotional material used in the Holy Hour.