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July 30, 2008

Installing an Abbot

Today's feast of music and worship has included the Mass this morning, an Organ Recital this evening and Compline to finish the day. The Mass setting was a modern one by MacMillan, a very unusual setting indeed and I will be honest, not exactly to my taste, though it did have some interesting moments. That said, the musical cogniscenti in the congregation loved it, so I guess if it floats their boats, then it has achieved something.

The stunning performance of works by Bach, Vaughan-Willians, Messiean, Dupre and Nielsen on the Milton Organ played by Carleton Etherington was, in my humble opinion, unsurpassable. I am not normally a Messiean fan, but Carleton's rendition of his "Communion" and "Sortie" almost convince me to change my view. And, as usual Carleton found a few Stops I have not heard before on that instrument. One part of the "Communion" counterpoints the highest note on the instrument - just audible at the top of my audio range in my aging ears - with the lowest. Well, I reckon there are some puzzled bats out there tonight - and some worried moles!

Now to my title! You were wondering weren't you? Well, ever since the Dissolution of the monasteries in the British Isles in 1537 - 1541, the "English Congregation" of the Benedictine Order has appointed "Titular" Abbots to the "lost" monasteries. We learned a year or so ago, that our "titular" had recently died and his successor was to be Father Aidan, a former Abbot of a Monastic community in Washington DC. A letter was sent inviting him to visit us and to preach for Musica Deo Sacra - but unfortunately last year the floods prevented this happening. So the invitation was sent again this year.

So, for the first time since the Abbey was surrendered to the King's Commissioners in 1541, we welcomed the Titular Abbot to our Abbey and his. The Vicar installed him formally in a Stall in the Choir in the presence of the congregation and of representatives of his House and his Order. As the Vicar said, we hope and pray that this small gesture will help to further the fostering of good relations between our two churches and between Christians everywhere. The Abbot then preached a very good sermon, one we hope will soon appear on the Abbey website. Keep an eye out for it at www.tewkesburyabbey.org.uk There may be further pictures and reports on MDS there too!

Posted by The Gray Monk at July 30, 2008 09:27 PM

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