Friday, 5 January 2018

Royal Peculiar

Coincidentally, after recounting Oenone's visit to the Royal Chapel of Hampton Court, I was there yesterday, visiting a friend and former colleague from Museum days who has long worked for the Royal Palaces. The mid-week service was a 1662 Prayer Book Low Mass, cracked through at a pace worthy of any Continental cathedral: we arrived about 8 minutes late, and the Chaplain had already got to the Preparation of the Table. The congregation of about 15 included a couple of Palace staff, identifiable by their ID badges, but most were apparently visitors, and you don't want to divert them too long, it's true. The service was virtually all eastward-facing (even I don't do that) and for a moment during the consecration I wondered what the Chaplain was doing that caused the right side of his outline to wobble rhythmically until I worked out he was making the sign of the cross over the Elements, three times, very, very fast. 

I say '1662 Prayer Book': but technically I'm not sure what rite this was, as it did include the 'blessed are you, Lord God of all creation ...' Offertory dialogue which comes from the reformed Roman Rite of the 1970s. Hardly anyone celebrates the Lord's Supper in the absolute Prayer Book form, after all.

The Chaplain wore Gothic vestments and a maniple, which would have filled most of those who have presided at the Chapel Royal over the centuries with horror, and which is Very Sound.

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