On Saturday evening, following my return to central Oxford, I went to the Pentecost Vigil at Blackfriars, which I advertised in a recent post. Last year I was unable to attend, but I had been on two previous occasions. This was, as I mentioned, a celebration of their patronal feast, so the candles were in place and burning before the consecration crosses around the church, adding to the sense of occasion.
The rite was a Dominican adaptation of the Novus ordo provision for the Vigil, consisting of First Vespers, Vigil readings - four in number, from Genesis, Exodus, Ezekiel and Joel, with responsorial psalms or other sung pieces and prayers - and Solemn Mass. The liturgy, staging of the ceremonial and the overall appearance of the church, all could be described as fulfilling the idea of "noble simplicity." Thus, although one might be drawn instinctively to a more ceremonious style, this was an elegant and dignified way of marking one of the great feasts of the Church by more than just Sunday observance - one felt that something significant was indeed happening in the life of the Body of Christ.
Thus in a simple context the use of handsome red vestments, the presence of six tall candles in simple holders on the forward altar as well as those burning in the candlesticks on the high altar, the plentiful amount of smoke produced by the thurifer - he is, incidentally, a young Dominican I had the privilege of teaching medieval church history in the autumn - and the extensive use of latin produced a fine blend of old and new, and with asense of the distinctively Dominican heritage.
As in previous years this was a good liturgical occasion to participate in, and an indication of what other churches could perhaps offer to mark the Vigil .
If I can find some photographs of the liturgy online - I noticed they were being taken - I will post them when I can.