While the investigation of the experience of late medieval worship within the research project was focused on certain principal enactments in 2011, there have been other liturgical explorations. These fall into three categories:
Reconciliation of Penitents at St Teilo’s Church (June 2010)
Reconciliation of Penitents at St Teilo’s Church (June 2010)
The Experience of Worship research team worked with the Medieval Liturgy Network (based at the University of Exeter) to investigate the transition from written text to liturgical enactment at St Teilo’s Church in June 2010.
The ritual chosen for this investigation was the Reconciliation of Penitents. This rite took place before the Mass on Maundy Thursday during Holy Week. On Ash Wednesday, at the beginning of Lent forty days earlier, the rite of Expulsion of Penitents took place. On this occasion those identified for expulsion were ushered out of the church, and excluded from attendance at church until such time as they were judged fit to be re-admitted. This might not be in the same year as their expulsion, indeed it might be several years.
The rite begins at the main door of the church, where the penitents are ritually invited by the bishop (or a priest) to enter. The penitents are solemnly led into the church, one by one, and then the clergy and singers lead them eastwards. All prostrate themselves while the seven penitential psalms are recited. Finally, the bishop (or priest) recites prayers at the altar, and then pronounces absolution. The Mass then began with the Introit.
In this enactment, modern vestments and clothing were used, but the church itself was ‘dressed’ as in Lent: the altar cross, statues and images were all veiled in unbleached cloth (here a fine hessian), and the same material was used for the altar frontals and other hangings.
You can view, download, print and follow the main ‘performance’ text used by the participants for this enactment:
Vespers and Compline in Bangor Cathedral and St Davids Cathedral
By way of preparation for the week at St Teilo’s in June 2011, the singers chanted Vespers, Compline and Antiphon of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bangor Cathedral a few days before. And in February 2012, as part of a weekend of further exploration of aspects of the project, Compline with Antiphon of the Blessed Virgin Mary was also sung there. In late May 2013, both Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Compline with Antiphon of the Blessed Virgin Mary were sung in St Davids Cathedral as part of the cathedral’s annual music festival.
The texts and other written resources for the services in Bangor Cathedral can be found in the Resources: Texts section of the website. St Davids made use of comparable materials.
Blessing of artefacts, vestments and books at St Teilo’s Church (June and September 2011)
New artefacts, vestments and books were made for the enactments at St Teilo’s Church in 2011. At the beginning of the enactment weeks in June and September 2011 there was a simple rite of blessing of these objects. Although the rite was new, the texts were all medieval, some taken from the early fourteenth-century Bangor Pontifical, one of the few surviving liturgical books used in Wales in the late Middle Ages.
The texts for these blessing rites can be found in the Resources: Texts section of the website.
Lauds at St Teilo’s Church (June and September 2011)
Each morning (Tuesday to Friday) during the enactment weeks at St Teilo’s everyone involved in the week, whatever their role, assembled to recite Lauds in the nave of the church (on Wednesday in the Institute, while the cameras were being set up for filming). This drew on the medieval form of Lauds – of the Blessed Virgin Mary in June, and of the Holy Cross and Holy Name in September. The texts were said rather than sung, and in English rather than Latin.
Our enactments were set in the very last years of the use of the Latin Rite in England and Wales – roughly 1535. Fifteen years later the vernacular services of the first Book of Common Prayer were being introduced. During that period of radical change, which extended into the 1560s, the same people used the same buildings for worship in many places. It has seemed important to consider how buildings and people adapted to the new liturgies. It has been especially apposite to consider how the use of cathedral choirs and the organ changed. For instance, before the Reformation the organ was used in alternation with voices; but from about 1570 there are indications that the organ began to be used as an instrument to accompany both solo voices and the whole choir in cathedrals and other churches where there was choral provision.
As well as practical workshops exploring these changes, there has been a series of post-Reformation services.
Bangor Cathedral, February 2012
• Choral Evensong, Book of Common Prayer, 1559
St John’s Church, Washington, Connecticut, October 2013 (American Sarum II conference)
• Holy Communion, Book of Common Prayer, 1549
• Holy Communion, Book of Common Prayer, 1552
• Choral Evensong, Book of Common Prayer, 1604
Once again, texts and other written resources can be found in the Resources: Texts section of the website.
Modern services, using elements of medieval repertory and ritual practice
Finally, aspects of both medieval repertory and ritual practice have been integrated within a series of services held in Bangor Cathedral from November 2011 onwards. These include:
• Commemorative Eucharist for All Souls’ Day (Bangor Cathedral, November 2011)
• Eucharist for Sexagesima, February 2012
The All Souls’ Day Eucharist has been repeated in 2012 and 2013. In 2013 the singers grouped round the double-sided lectern, and sang from a single copy.
New forms of Morning, Evening and Night Prayer were devised on the same basis for Sacred Music Studies residential weeks (Bangor Cathedral, August 2012 and 2013), and Evening and Night Prayer were also used in St John’s Church, Washington, Connecticut (October 2013) during the American Sarum II conference. These texts are not available here.