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Some of the Old Mass

2014 March 15
by Gordon Reid

We use only the English Missal Mass at St Clement’s, which is the old Roman Missal translated into the language of the Prayer Book, and incorporating much of the Prayer Book.

While I said Mass to day, I mused on which bits of this rite I love most. It’s hard to choose, but here are a few.

In the Preparation at the foot of the altar, I can almost hear  people laying their burdens down when I say “Why art thou so heavy, O my soul, and why art thou so disquieted within me?”, and they answer “O put thy trust in God, for I will yet give him thanks, which is the help of my countenance and my God”. Right at the start, we confess that we have problems and sadnesses, but that if we trust God, they will somehow be turned into thanksgiving.

Then comes the body of the Mass, and the last words the people say are “Thanks be to God” at the end of the Last Gospel, the first fourteen verses of St John’s Gospel, where the little church in Ephesus heard their Bishop testify that  the creator of all things “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”. Again, I can hear behind me the congregation sink to their knees at this wonderful announcement, and then whisper or state boldly “Thanks be to God”.

These two moments are at the beginning and ending of the old Mass, but there is a point in the middle which I love, when I have poured some wine into the chalice, and then bless the cruet of water with this prayer: “O God who didst wonderfully create, and yet more wonderfully renew, the dignity of human nature, grant that by this mystery of water and wine, we may be made partakers of his divinity, who vouchsafed to share our humanity, even Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of  the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.” The Mass is where we are built up into a spiritual body, capable of living with the life of God, ready to be “divinized” by him who was made man for us.


8 Responses leave one →
  1. Fr. Alton permalink
    March 15, 2014

    I love these parts of the old Mass too. Barbara and I were the only two this morning for the Ember Saturday Mass. Our knees enjoyed a workout.

  2. Ray permalink
    March 15, 2014

    I’m really glad that S. Clement’s keeps the use of the English Missal alive, and I’m saddened by the fact that it appears to be going extinct. A lot of detractors refer to it as “museum religion”, believing that by using it one is behaving pretentiously – almost as a sort of liturgical hipster. What they ignore is that it is a unique expression of the Western rite mass that many people find uniquely spiritually edifying, myself included.

    To give you a testament of it’s power, I find it spiritually engaging. And I’m an atheist!

  3. Michael Smith permalink
    March 16, 2014

    Fr Alton introduced me to this treasure, and I agree with your, Fr Reid. When my friend Woody and I visited St. Clem’s for the daily mass a few weeks ago, it was a balm.

  4. Roberto permalink
    March 16, 2014

    I remember there were a couple of Sundays when the American Missal would be used. If memory serves me it was for an origianl proper preface, that is not contained in the English nor the Gavin, Anglican Missal. I would like to acquire an American Missal for my collection as well as 1940 BCP (preferably leather bound) for my daily devotions. Mine is over 50 years old and falling apart and is PB and 1940 hymnal combined.

  5. March 16, 2014

    Through the English Missal, the Anglican Communion is still in common prayer with all of the Eastern and Oriental Churches, because the holy Tradition is one, and orthodoxness is worship.

  6. Fr Scott permalink
    March 17, 2014

    Thank you for your reflections. We only use the English Missal once a week but it is a valuable part of our liturgy.

  7. Roberto permalink
    March 20, 2014

    Years ago following the custom of the Roman Rite, the celebrant of low Mass at St. Clement’s recited the Prayers A fter Low Mass as contained in the English Missal. I know that the modern Roman parishes have abandoned the custom, and I have never had an opportunity to attend a traditional Latin Mass. I think the custom should be revived. those prayers are more relevent in todays environment, ‘not for the Church in Russia, but the Middle East, with the change of one word. In the prayer “O God our refuge and strength . . .hear our prayers for the conversion of heathen and for the liberty etc. It is hard for me to see radical Muslims as sinnersThen, after the three ejaculations Most Sacred Heart of Jesus etc I would ad the Versicle, Saviour of the world
    Response, Grant us Thy peace.

    • todd permalink
      April 1, 2014


      You must be referring to the The Leonine Prayers. Three Ave Marias, a Salve Regina, a versicle and response, prayers for the conversion of sinners, and a prayer to St. Michael followed by a devotion to the Sacred Heart?

      I often say this prayer silently after Low Mass and have been known to say it at our the Shrine to Our Lady after High Mass. Sadly this prayer was not included in the 1962 Roman Missal and some believe that, with the freedom to practice the Catholic Faith in Russia being restored, the aims of the prayer have been achieved.

      I, however, find the prayer quite beautiful and very relevant for our modern world. To me it’s an invocation to the BVM, St. Michael, and St. Joseph for protection and mercy – something we can all use a bit of now and then.

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