Saturday, August 09, 2008

Solemn High Mass in the Dominican Rite

(Video at the foot of the post)

The spire of Blessed Sacrament church is clearly visible from I-5. We booked it up the Interstate (having just come out of watching The Dark Knight at the IMax at Seattle Center. Woot!) and arrived a few minutes before 7:00 pm. The streets around the church were completely full, and it took several minutes to find parking and hoof it up to the imposing neo-Gothic facade. The Kyrie had just started and the church was absolutely packed. People were still streaming in. I am horrible at estimating crowds, but I wouldn't be surprised if the number were somewhere between 500 and 1000. Lots and lots of young people too. We stood at the back, towards the right.

The Mass was absolutely beautiful -- stunning polyphony (performed by the accomplished Tudor Choir), beautifully chanted propers, and, when occasion permitted, the congregation joining in the et cum spiritu tuo with gusto. (Of course, there was precious little for the congregation to say really.) The homilist was Fr. Michael Sweeney OP (who co-founded the Catherine of Siena Institute), who had a simple but profound reflection on what it means to be light for the world. Communion was received kneeling, on the Communion rail. The programs were all gone by the time we got there, so I couldn't really follow along with the various prayers, but I am familiar enough with the contours of the old Mass to have some sense what was going on. Besides, the presider's chanted Latin was impeccable.

I must say it was really strange to experience a silent (sorry, inaudible) canon. After the Sanctus, everyone knelt, and the liturgy continued in silence (except for the bells at the elevation) until the final Per omnia saecula saeculorum ... I am not entirely sure about the development of this tradition, and it certainly gives a sense of the (literally) unspeakable mystery that is at the heart of the Mass. In the East, I believe, large parts of the anaphora are recited by the priest alone. However, in the Melkite liturgies I'm familiar with, the words of institution are chanted out loud, and, of course, the people respond throughout the liturgy in various ways. I really am a creature of the Novus Ordo, I guess! (Ad orientem however? Yeah!)

Am also not sure if the Last Gospel was omitted, or recited silently by the priest. After the final prayer and blessing, the choir chanted a motet and the celebrants processed out. I was looking forward to the Last Gospel actually!

Fr. Michael Sweeney OP preaching

Anyway, it was a beautiful celebration and I feel fortunate to have been able to attend (thanks for the invite, Mark!). The video is from the Agnus Dei. A bit grainy, because I had to reduce quality so it wasn't too humungous an upload. Enjoy the photos. Links at the foot of the post.

PDF of the flier advertising the special 100th anniversary Mass.
Several posts by Fr. Augustine Thompson OP at The New Liturgical Movement blog on the history of the Dominican Liturgy.

Wikipedia on the Dominican Rite.


Anonymous said...

I was there too. We got there very early and walked around for a while. By 6 PM, the first quarter of the church was essentially filled. I was surprised at how many children were brought to this Mass and how very well they behaved!

I had heard the Tutor Choir at Tacoma Art Museum's opening for the exhibit of the St. John's Bible (in will be there until September.) That opening was absolutely packed as well.

I think everyone was a little stunned at the attendance, and I know that they were scrabbling for at the reception.


Virtualawrence said...

The Last Gospel was read while the choir chanted the final motet. There was a brief moment of genuflection at "And the word was made flesh" before the procession out

Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. said...

Thanks for the photos and fine comments. I hope you don't mind if I "harvest" them for use at NLM and Dominican Liturgy. By the way, the church holds over 700, so the congregation was over 900.

I have a post at Dominican Liturgy on the Last Gospel ( It was read immediately after the blessing as the recessional chant was sung, as is customary in at O.P. Sung Masses.

Gashwin said...

Thanks y'all ... and Fr. Augustine, please feel free to use the photos as you wish. A link back to the post would be appreciated! Thanks for all the hard work and planning that must have gone into sharing this part of the Church's beautiful heritage!

Jesuvera said...

Gashwin thanks for this. During my WYD trip to Sydney, I had the opportunity to participate in my first Latin Mass (Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite) at one of the FSSP Church's there. Here in India there are no masses according to the extraordinary form anywhere except perhas in one of the Church's in Mumbai.