As far as the organizers know, this was the first time in the Americas that a Sarum Use liturgy of any kind was publicly sung inside a Roman Catholic Church and officiated by a Catholic priest. While not an official event of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, James T.M. Griffin, KM, a member of the ordinariate parish St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in the Philadelphia area, organized the event and many ordinariate members either participated in the choir or liturgy or attended the event that drew about 700 people.
“I first conceived of this project after seeing photos of a Sarum Vespers being offered at Balliol College, Oxford last August (see here),” said Griffin in an email. “I then had a conversation with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s director of worship, Father Dennis Gill (also president of the Society for Catholic Liturgy) who was excited about the idea and agreed to support and promote it.”
“The Sarum Use’s role in the development of the first Book of Common Prayer needs no explanation,” Griffin said. “But it is one thing to reference what aspects of Anglican liturgy were drawn from Sarum, and quite another thing to see that liturgy itself!”
The event attracted a wide area of Catholic academics from various institutions from all over the East Coast.
Father Jason Catania, of the ordinariate parish of St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Omaha, Nebraska, was the officiant.
Griffin’s pastor Fr. David Ousley and one deacon from St. John the Baptist attended in choir and a number of parishioners joined the choir of over 30 people who came from as far north as Yale University and as far south as Alexandria, Virginia.
Participating clergy spanned not just the ordinariate, but the Dominican Order, the Norbertine Order, the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), and diocesan priests, deacons, and seminarians.
The choir under the direction of Peter Carter rendered the sacred music of the Psalms in Sarum chant, a collection of polyphonic works set by Thomas Tallis for Candlemas Eve, and a Magnificat written by Robert White during the brief restoration of the Sarum Use under Queen Mary I’s reign.
The liturgy took place at St Patrick’s Church, served by the Dominican Friars, in center city Philadelphia (242 S 20th St) on the Eve of Candlemas: Saturday, February 1. The event was co-sponsored by the Collegium Institute for Catholic Thought & Culture.