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.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Tenebrae in Oxford

The Special Correspondent sent me the following link to an article about the traditional observance of Tenebrae: http://www.fathercekada.com/2009/04/07/the-office-of-tenebrae-old-vs-5562-rite/


A Tenebrae Hearse

Image: Breviary.net

All however is not lost.

Here in Oxford Blackfriars has for many years put on a version of Tenebrae on the mornings of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. As last year I was fortunately able to attend all three days and found them very dignified and moving.

The service conforms to modern rules in that they are in the morning and in the vernacular. Although there is a hearse with the gradual extinction of its candles there is no singing of the Miserere, or the return of the Jesus candle or the simulation of the earthquake with the book banging, but there is the dramatic prostration of the cantors in the midst of the chancel and of the other Dominicans super formas.

These are always well attended, and I am sure a restoration, a reform of the reform, of the missing traditional features would be entirely acceptable to the congregation as well as being a very good to do in itself.

This year on Good Friday and Holy Saturday the Oxford Oratory, for the first time, also celebrated tenebrae on the Friday and Saturday mornings. As I am not (yet) capable of bi-location I was unable to attend being already committed to the observance at Blackfriars, but this is a very welcome development, and further evidence of things moving in the right direction.

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