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Happy St Clement’s Day!

2009 November 23
by Gordon Reid

“And therefore on St Clement’s Day,
We go a-Clementing”,
is the chorus of one of the hymns at Mass this evening. It refers to the old London custom of children singing a Saint Clement carol round the houses on his feast day, and their being given a reward of an orange. From this comes the word “clementine” and the old song “Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clement’s. The bells referred to are those of St Clement’s church in the City of London, a few hundred yards from St Michael’s Cornhill, where I was Priest-in-Charge for a few years. I always sing it with gusto, enjoying the simple faith it shows in our great patron, who was the fourth Bishop of Rome (Peter, Linus, Cletus, Clement) and a brave martyr for Christ.

The High Mass will be glorious, with full choir and orchestra (and you can hear it on our web site in a few days time, as you can all the Masses for several years past: just click the music icon). This year the setting is the Mass in B flat by Johann Nepomuk Hummel. The Procession at the beginning will take us round the church, stopping at the Shrine of St Clement, whose statue will be decked in a red cope for the occasion, and in front of the statue our precious relic of Clement in a gold mitred head and shoulders bust. On the way there we sing the hymn:

“In days of yore through Rome’s fair streets
A saint of God was dragged to die,
Willing to suffer bonds and death,
Sooner than his dear Lord deny.”

Then the procession will wend its way to the shrine of St Catherine of Alexandria, our secondary Patron, singing the Hymn “Great St Clement”. This verse from that hymn applies just as much to the brave Alexandrian girl, Catherine, who was cruelly tortured for her faith:

“Great St Clement….
Help us now as fears surround us,
Give us courage from above,
That when faced with hate and violence,
We may live the law of love”.

The Mass will end with what has become one of my favourite hymns, “In our day of thanksgiving”, to the tune (appropriately enough) of “St Catherine’s Court”. There won’t be a dry eye in the House!

Come and join us if you are within reach.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Bill Shedden permalink
    November 23, 2009

    Father, would St. Clement’s Church consider putting this Mass of your patron on a DVD just as you did for your Corpus Christi High Mass a couple of years ago? I’ve watched my copy of that DVD many times and it brings me closer to a church that I greatly miss, and a DVD of the High Mass of the church’s patron would be glorious indeed to behold.

  2. November 23, 2009

    I wish I could just say Yes, but it takes a lot of effort and money to make one of these, and at the moment we have other things we have to do. But maybe one day…Thanks for the thought.

  3. Stephen permalink
    November 23, 2009

    Even though I have a feeling Saint Clement’s Day will be over or nearly so for 2009, by the time you read this, Father, I must extend my good wishes to you, Father Rector, to your esteemed vestry and devout parishioners for the happiest of patronal Feast days!

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