Wednesday, November 17, 2010

High Mass in 1947

In recent weeks we have been using the high altar, rather than the new free standing altar. This is in order to accustom the servers (and the Vicar) to celebrating in the 'traditional' manner for the centenary of the consecration next year. Here are some pictures of how it was done in about 1948. The celebrant is Father William Maxwell Rennie, Vicar 1936 - 1954.

Thurifer and boat boy at the head of the procession.
The Girl Guides suggest this is a parade service.

Celebrant flanked by deacon and sub-deacon all wearing birettas.
The celebrant is wearing a cope rather than a chasuble because high mass began with a preparatory rite.

Now vested in the chasuble, the celebrant approaches the high altar.

The Collect is read from the south end of the altar.

Incense is put on at the offertory.
The missal stand is Spanish, and was given by the Harmsworth family in 1923 for use in the St John's Chapel.

The Agnus Dei.

The blessing is given from the centre of the altar before the celebrant moves to the north end for the reading of the Last Gospel.


  1. I am clearly a better detective than you are! The hymn board is the give away. I don't know which hymn book you use now, but you clearly used the English Hymnal in 1948. This must be All Saints' Day and the High Mass started with a festal procession round the church - your first photo showing this procession as it made its way down the south aisle. In those days (shortly after the end of World War II) it was quite usual for the uniformed organisations to join in the procession with their flags behind the altar servers at the head.

    The one hymn which puzzled me was No. 248! This is assigned to St Simon and St Jude (28 October). It could not be this day because the vestments are clearly white, not red. However, 1 November would have been in the Octave of what I assume is your Patronal Festival, and when one looks at the words of Hymn 248 they are in fact quite suitable for All Saints' Day.

    The hymns were as follows:
    641 For all the Saints.
    535 Praise the Lord! ye heavens, adore him.
    248 Thou who sentest thine Apostles.
    431 Light's abode, celestial Salem.
    196 For all thy Saints, O Lord.

    The vast display of flowers on the altar rather supports my claim that this was in the Octave of your Patronal Festival. Furthermore, All Saints' Day fell on a Sunday in 1948 - so the servers and Girl Guides were not playing truant from school!

    All good wishes for your centenary celebrations.

  2. Many thanks for your comments. The photos come from album that simply records them as being taken 'about 1948'. If you do not mind, I will post your comments as a separate post as many people might otherwise miss them. I have a couple more pictures I will put with them.

    Father Alan

  3. It now seems these photos were actually taken on the Sunday within the Octave of St Jude in 1947 rather than 1948. They were the work of Albert Lomax and were part of a set of ten sold by the church as a record of the ceremonial of High Mass.

    St Jude's Gazette December 1947