lördag 8 juni 2013

Four decades of Catholic music - 7

The choir's period at St Peter's, Hove, came to an end when the parish priest finally ditched the Latin Mass in 1986. We all determined to continue and set ourselves up as the SPEM choir, which stood for St Peter's outside the walls. Graham who ran the choir had someone to design a badge (above), though letters on a shield are bad heraldry. There were ties for the men, whilst the women had purple gowns. Our services were much appreciated by the Latin Mass Society and we sang at their events several times a year, with visits to London, Arundel, Portsmouth, St Leonards and West Grinstead, amongst other places.

The bishop was niggardly in his consent, given under the 1971 Indult which permitted the celebration of Mass in the 1962 Tridentine Rite, and one has to ask why? The Masses were generally at inconvenient times and at places that were not easy to reach, and consequently they were not well attended. It was only a few determined souls that made their way to these events, but those that did were consistent in their support.

Relieved of the necessity to prepare music every Sunday, we were able to devote time to expanding our repertoire. The choir continued for about fifteen years. Graham retired and his place was taken by the organist Ron, who, like many organists, was less good with the singers. He died young and was replaced by Teresa, who also died young. Her funeral was conducted at St Mary Magdalen's Church by Mary Berry herself - a great honour. After that, Reg took over. He took a more academic approach and got us to pay closer attention to the neum notation in the Graduale Triplex. We also managed to maintain our link with Mary Berry's Schola Gregoriana at Cambridge. By around 2005 we were all getting a bit old to continue as a choir and we reluctantly called it a day.

Then came the election of Pope Benedict and the Motu Proprio of 2007 which revealed that the Tridentine Mass of 1962 had never been abrogated. It is not overstating the matter to say that the universal imposition of the Novus Ordo had been by deceit. We had kept the tradition alive for two decades during its darkest period. In the meantime the Latin Mass Society was no longer a fringe group of elderly diehards. A new generation had taken over as the beauty and deep spirituality of the traditional Catholic liturgy was being re-discovered.

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