More and more Pope Benedict’s intentions are being clarified in regard to the Church traditional liturgical expressions.
The Holy Father’s throne is raised high above the floor of the Basilica. I had heard when I was in Rome from one of the canons of St. Peter that there would be a dias of five steps.
This is a very "Roman" occasion. The mayor of Rome is present, and the Holy Father in his sermon adddressed the spiritual situation in the diocese, young people, the life of parishes, etc.
Vespers is on EWTN as I write. It is also available through CTV.
Can you believe that on the EWTN audio feed the speaker, all the way through, read from the English language breviary? When they were sining the hymn he read a text which had absolutely NOTHING to do with the hymn sung in Latin in the Basilica! I don’t know if that was EWTN’s audio or if it was coming from Vatican Radio. If the later, then that was truly embarrassing. How hard would it have been to get a service booklet, which are available in advance and then do the necessary homework? In any event, they sang the hymn for vespers of Christmastide, Christe redemptor omnium. I am not quite sure why they sang that rather than the hymn for 1st Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, Corde natus ex Parentis. Christe redemptor omnium is to be sung during the Octave unless there is a proper hymn, as there is for Mary Mother of God.
I truly detest the explanatory commentary in Italian sister, but … toleratur.
There is something important to notice. Gregorian chant is being used and not the drippy gooey personal melodies of the present director of the Cappella Sistina. I am sure he was informed that Gregorian chant shall have pride of place. I am sure he would like to keep his job.
For those of you inclined stinginess who might think this is too little too late, remember that it takes longer to build than to tear down. The Holy Father is moving pretty quickly now.
The morse of the cope:
Also, note the medieval image of Mary chosen for the ceremony.
There are quite a few of the curial and other cardinals present.
Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, to whom those who love the older form of Mass owe a debt of gratitude.
I rather wish that Cardinal deacons would have been the deacons for Vespers, but these two fellows did a serviceable job.
The Holy Father spoke in his sermon about the upcoming ordinations to the priesthood of nearly 30 men for the Diocese of Rome.
Their Excellencies Piero Marini and Renato Boccardo were preesent, together with their brethren in service of the Holy See.
Pope Benedict sings the oration.
There are some priests who think that having their cope or vestments held as they process is somehow not to be done, perhaps from false humility?
Adoration. Perhaps too much organ. Silence would have been better here.
I would have much preferred a traditional Te Deum which is solemnly sung in God’s honor at the end of a year. I don’t know who wrote the Te Deum used today. I suspect it of fairly recent composition, since there was a little refrain to encourage congregational singing and you could hear traces of the traditional Te Deum.
As the great Fr. Finigan reminds us:
A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful under the usual conditions who devoutly assist at the singing or recition of:
The Te Deum on the lst day of the year to give thanks to God for benefits received during the past year.
The Veni Creator on 1 January to implore divine help during the coming year.
As ever, do see my post Plenary Indulgences not impossible if you are worried about the conditions
Another good look at the back of the cope.
And the recessional:
Judging from the coat of arms on the cope, this may have been from B;. Pope John XXIII, who was a great promoter of vespers for the Roman people.
And back out into the Roman evening to find some supper!
But wait! There’s more!
A band and kneeler are set up before the Christmas scene in the Piazza.
Here comes the Holy Father!
The band is comprised of the Swiss Guard and the Vatican police and perhaps also the Roman police.
This is a marvelous occasion really. You see the Holy Father’s dedication to formal liturgical ceremony and also popular devotion, which is also of great importance in the life of the Catholic people. They strengthen each other, and the Holy Father understands that.
He is giving a good example as Bishop and chief pastor of Rome to his City and to the world. The broadcast of vespers and the visit to the Christmas scene in the piazza is his way of showing the bishops and priests of the world how this is to be done.