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Mass of the Dawn.

2009 December 28
by Gordon Reid

Midnight Mass at St Clement’s was Haydn’s St Nicholas Mass, with full choir and orchestra. The High Mass of the Day was beautifully sung by a quartet. Both were well attended. But the “Philadelphia Inquirer”, our local daily paper, wanted to review only the 8 a.m. Mass of the Dawn, when we had eight people in the Lady Chapel.

I had tried to dissuade the reporter, Amy Rosenberg, on the phone, saying the two “big” Masses would be far more suitable for review, but she insisted that she was intrigued by the fact that St Clement’s (almost alone among local churches) was celebrating the Mass of the Dawn and including in it the Commemoration of St Anastasia, the martyr. So I gave in and said, “Well, come along; you’ll be welcome. But I hope you are not disappointed”.

How glad I am she paid no attention to my doubts and came, for her article appeared on the front page of Saturday’s “Inquirer” along with three fine pictures, and Amy painted a beautiful picture of how the quiet early-morning Mass appeared to an outsider. She entitled the article “A Hushed and Humble Shepherds’ Mass” and wrote: “The Mass of the Dawn is a bit like Linus in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, standing aside from the hubbub and pageantry of the holiday; pure and unadorned, echoing the gospel in the quiet of a misty morning of melting snow outside the church where two winter robins flew around the tree branches outside the door”.

If you can access the Saturday December 26 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, do read the whole thing. The pictures of the Crib and the altars are very well done. As you may imagine, I have had many messages already from friends who have seen the article, full of praise for it. It is a fine piece of writing, and a lovely Christmas present to St Clement’s

5 Responses leave one →
  1. ron permalink
    December 28, 2009

    You can read it online at:

  2. Earl of Lauderdale permalink
    December 28, 2009

    What a lovely note on Christmas. I got back from St Mary’s Bourne Street Midnight Mass at 2.30. I’ve found the Enquirer article web address:

    With all best wishes for Christmas.


  3. Susam permalink
    December 30, 2009

    I read the article and was intrigued as a former Episcopalian who converted to Roman Catholicism 12 years ago. I now wonder if I would have made my journey at all had I known about St. Clements and the Anglo-Catholic faith community.

  4. John permalink
    January 4, 2010

    What a great article Father! Done with care and accuracy, which is unusual for the press. You should be proud. Happy New Year! John

  5. January 5, 2010

    If only the Roman Catholic Church had reformed its liturgy along the lines of what you have at St. Clement’s.

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