The Holy Father celebrated 1st Vespers in the Vatican Basilica of St. Peter this evening. The Holy Father’s cope was weird, at first. It suggests the medieval.
The ceremony took place at the main altar. The Holy Father’s throne was placed not in front of the altar as they usually do for Mass, but rather over to the side next to St. Longinus. There were two young deacons vested in dalmatics. The basilica was quite full, though not entirely jammed. Large crucifix and six rather modern and unattractive candles were on the altar. There were many members of the curia and apostolic household, including almost 30 Cardinals, all in choir dress, with their birettas properly in place. I think only one Cardinal didn’t have his biretta on when seated. These, you know, are the important things. Among the usual Roman suspects, I saw Cardinal Egan of New York and, I believe, Archbishop Burke of St. Louis.
The Holy Father intoned Deus in adiutorium meum intende. He made a brief reflection after the introduction. The Sistine choir was present, with the pueri cantores whose polyphonic parts alternated with the congregation. The hymn was, of course, CÃƒÂ³nditor alme siderum.
Unfortunately, the Antiphons and psalms were sung by the choir, horribile auditu, in Italian. The antiphons were extremely annoying new compositions. The psalms were in Italian with an even more annoying and unfamiliar new melody. The psalms were sung alternately by cantors with the usual effeminate voices and the congregation. The canticle from Philippians was sung mainly by two cantors, alternating, interspersed with the congregation occasionally inserting the antiphon. That was annoying too. It is as if they can’t just let the congregation listen. The congregation also sang the concluding antiphons. Each psalm was followed by a short pause and then a prayer in Italian recited by the Holy Father. The prayers have no parallel in the Latin Liturgia horarum. As usual a Italian woman religious read the reading from 1 Thessalonians.
The Holy Father spoke his sermon. I made notes on it, but haven’t digested them yet. He did have a nice reflection on the meaning of the verb "to come" when applied to God.
The Short Responsorial was in Latin. They used the Magnifcat antiphon for Year B. It was polyphonic with the choir alternating with the congregation who sang in the usual Gregorian tone. The Holy Father incensed the altar during the Magnificat.
The intercessions were in vernacular languages but the little response was in Latin: Veni, Domine, et noli tardare.
Pater Noster was in Latin, but they inexplicably and irritatingly added the Protestant Quia tuum est regnum… which amused the Holy Father who, having been interrupted, seemed not to have been expecting it. He was about to start the prayer. The concluding Collect was in Latin. A three-fold solemn blessing in Latin finished it off and the deacon sang Ite in pace. Finally, Alma Redemptoris Mater was sung, appropriately for Advent.
His Excellency, the Master of Ceremonies, Archbishop Piero Marini looked at his watch on the way down the nave. Yes, Your Excellency, the clock is ticking.