Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Ordinariate evensong at Spanish Place

Yesterday afternoon I travelled up to London to attend the Ordinariate Solemn Evensong and Benediction to mark the external feast of Bl. John Henry Newman at St James Spanish Place. As with previous Ordinariate liturgies at the church this was a fine occasion.


The interior of St James Spanish Place

Image:simon_white on Flickr

St James' is a very fine church indeed - I got the feeling that this what the great churches of the English middle ages would still have been like if it had not been for the disasters on the mid-sixteenth century. So, despite its origins as the Spanish Embassy chapel and the hadsome nreminders of that inheritance, this felt like patrimony.

The choir sang beautifully and the ceremonial was dignified - although, as I have written before, I have come to genuinely prefer the traditional Catholic structure of Vespers and Compline rather than the Anglican combination of the two.

The sermon was preached by Fr Daniel Seward, Provost of the Oxford Oratory as the advertised preacher, Fr Paul Chavasse from the Birmingham Oratory, was unable to attend due to illness. This was a fine homily, linking Newman's theological contribution and personal search for holiness with the forthcoming Year of Faith and its application to daily Christian living.

Following prayers for the work of the Ordinariate to the exposed Blessed Sacrament and Benediction the service concluded.

Afterwards there was areception in the Social centre under the church and an opportunity to catch up with old friends from Oxford  who are now based in Londobn and to hear their news  and learn how other Ordinariate groups are faring. I received some compliments on this blog from readers - which I appreciated. I also had some banter with Mgr Newton, the Ordinary, about which faction of the Oxford Newman Society my tie represented (this is a highly technical and complicated matter which insiders will appreciate, and others would, probably rightly, think pointless...) and also a conversation with Mgr Robert Mercer.

When photographs of the service are available I will post a link to them.

As always on these large Ordinariate occasions I came away with a confidence in what has been achieved and the promise it holds for the future.

Then, in best Oxford tradition, I moved on from the drinks reception to meet another Oxford friend who lives nearby and to have a drink with him in a nearby pub... ah, the pleasures of church going and friendship!


Marylebone Ordinariate Group said...

Very nice to see you again, and of course very glad that you enjoyed your trip to Spanish Place.

You can find a link to a set of very good photos of Sunday night stored on Flickr in a link at the end of this blogpost, which also contains Fr Seward's excellent sermon.


AndrewWS said...

Having had the tie and the Newman Society factions explained to me before the service in the café on the corner, I can confirm that the subject is quite fascinating but also not really for the vast mass of the public.