Ecumenical Choral Evensong — January 28, 2015

Archbishop Cranmer’s reworking of the Liturgical Hours reduced eight to two: Morning and Evening Prayer. Evening Prayer is roughly the equivalent of Vespers; it may be said privately, corporately, or publicly. Its Officiant may be either cleric or lay; it may be said or sung — in the latter case it is commonly called Evensong. A famous rubric in the Book of Common Prayer states in Quires and places where they sing here followeth the Anthem, a replacement for the Votive Antiphon of the Blessed Virgin, an artistic highpoint at the close of Vespers in pre-Reformation England. Such services, which require superior musical resources, are normally called Choral Evensongs. Those who desire a fuller understanding of Evening Prayer — where its elements came from, when, and why — may be interested in reading this explanation, written in 1922; it should however be remembered the author was an Anglican Bishop and it is written from that, not the Roman Catholic, denomination’s viewpoint (in the Ordinariate the same form is used but small, theologically important, changes have been made to the text to bring it into conformity with the Church’s teaching).

Our Ecumenical Evensong was held at the end of that year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, of particular importance to our community and the Ordinariate as a whole not only for its intention but for its founder, the American Episcopalian Anglopapalist Priest Fr. Paul Wattson who — with his lifelong colleague the American Episcopal Anglopapalist laywoman, Mother Lurana, later Superior of an Episcopal Franciscan Order of nuns, as Fr. Paul was Abbot of an Order of Friars — came into communion with the Roman Catholic Church with their Orders. They were the first “groups of Anglicans” (indeed of any Protestants) to be corporately reunited since the sixteenth century (in 1909 — exactly a century before Anglicanorum Cœtibus would be promulgated, by which the Ordinariate was erected). Invitations were sent to clergy of all denominations on the North Shore; our founding Pastor Father Liias’ long association with ecumenical groups and initiatives — both as a Protestant and as a Catholic — assisted our outreach. We were especially honored by the early news his eminence, Seán, Cardinal O’Malley and the Right Reverend William Murdoch, then Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of New England (who had been Father Liias’ Bishop immediately before being received into the Church) would honor us with their presence.

It was a joy and a blessing to collaborate with the Choir of Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church and their Minister of Music and Organist Dan McKinley:  Father Liias was founding Rector of this parish of the ADNE; its musical program under Mr. McKinley’s leadership has set and maintained an extremely high standard in both repertoire and execution. The selections made for this Evensong were entirely typical in both — the first can be seen in the Order of Service, below; those present could appreciate the second. A fierce and protracted blizzard the previous day and night had everyone saying extra prayers…by the evening, the streets were plowed and the church full, praise God. Sadly, Bishop Murdoch was not able to be with us: his flight from California was delayed by the storm and he was represented by his Canon, Father Ross Kimball — himself an old and dear friend of our community. We are grateful to all those, clergy and laity, who braved a snowy, cold night to be present and bid them to join us in continuing prayer for Christian Unity.EcumenicalEvensongHandbill

Please click here to see a hi-resolution, downloadable PDF version of the poster. The Order of Service is here. Some photographs of the event follow:


The Cardinal and a small selection of clergy attending; many were already at the reception by the time this photograph was taken and are therefore not shown: Ross Kimball, Canon to Bishop Murdoch stands between the Cardinal and Fr. Liias. The Permanent Deacons of the Archdiocese have distinguished themselves in their support of our community; three stand at the left rear: Deacons Ed Giordano, St. Patrick’s own Frank Dello Russo, and Michael Curren. Deacon Thomas Burke (of the Eastern Rite Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy of Newton, RIP), an active communicant of Saint Gregory the Great, stands to the right of Verger Kevin McDermott.


An overview of the reception which followed this very well-attended liturgy — remarkable when the day’s weather is taken into account. Fellowship has been take very seriously by our community from its beginning as one of the distinctives of the Anglican Patrimony to be preserved and shared with the greater Church (as charged by Pope Benedict); the members of our hard-working Hospitality Committee outdid themselves.


In casting the mind back to this happy occasion and speaking of “hard-working,” it is impossible not to be reminded of Cardinal O’Malley: after a two-hour liturgy he spent another two hours graciously standing at the door to speak with all desiring to meet him (seen here). He then remained another hour, finally able eat a bit, and speaking to our community and those Priests of the Archdiocese still present…


Canon Ross Kimball, Bishop Murdoch’s representative, is seen at center facing the camera.