31 October 2007

All Saints and All Souls

November 1st, All Saints' Day, is a Holy Day of Obligation, and we'll be keeping it with all solemnity. There'll be a Low Mass at 7:00 a.m., and Sung Masses at 9:15 a.m. and at 7:00 p.m. The Lower School children always have a great time dressing as their favorite saint, and even though classes are in session, there's feeling of it being a "special day."

November 2nd is All Souls' Day. The vestments will be black, the Masses will be somber. We will be offering two Requiem Masses, one at 7:00 a.m. and one at 9:15 a.m., and young men from the Upper School will be singing some of the traditional chants at the later Mass. That evening at 7:00 p.m. we will be chanting the Solemn Evensong of All Souls' Day, with yet another opportunity to pray for the Faithful Departed. After Evensong there will be a presentation of one of the most beautiful settings of the Requiem ever written, Gabriel Fauré's "Requiem in D minor, Op. 48." I heard some of the rehearsals last evening, and it's breath-taking.

By the way, the picture accompanying this post shows the Doom painting from St. Thomas Church in Salisbury, England. This was the church where, as a young theological student, I first presided at Evensong. The following is a description of the painting:

"The well known Doom painting of the Last Judgement was commissioned between 1470 and 1500 from an unknown artist, who was probably an Englishman who had travelled in Europe and learned his skills in Flanders and other artistic centres. Doom paintings were not uncommon but few have survived and of those this is one of the largest, covering all the space above the chancel arch, most complete, and probably the best preserved. After the Reformation it was whitewashed over by 1593 and a panel displaying the arms of Elizabeth I set over it. In 1819 traces of colour were noticed under the whitewash which was carefully removed. The painting was recorded on paper and then covered by whitewash again! The whitewash was finally removed in 1881 and the painting restored in oils although the artist made some corrections. There is some dispute about the extent of these but most seems medieval such as the fact that there are are more bishops going to Hell than to Heaven and the figure of an ale-wife, who traditionally sold short measure, is being taken downwards."

Bishops and ale-wives going to hell? Very judgmental!