Liturgical Things

Ok, a bit overdue but…

Wednesday night was great. You know, just a regular weekday mass with 20+ servers, 7 priests and a presiding bishop. I was the second torchbearer from the right. Literally. A wonderful time was had by all despite it being a tremedous hot and humid day for mid September in NY. The church certainly lived up to its nickname (Smokey Mary) and used two thuribles for the procession of a relic of the True Cross. I didn’t know they had one of those there but wasn’t terribly surprised.

The PB seems like a nice guy. He hung out and chatted with folks in the sacristy before and after the service, stayed out of the way when we were bustling around with various items, etc. I introduced myself to him; no huge chat, just a quick hi. He’s fairly soft-spoken though. This was especially evident when he was out chanting the prayers–I could barely hear him and I was in the chancel choir…I hope the sound system in the main nave carried better. He preached a fine sermon. Wasn’t stellar but it was decent and contained no heresies (for those keeping track of such things…).

Now–after observing tens if not hundreds of priests doing their thing in various situations, places, etc. I have come to a personal test to determine whether a priest is High Church. Of course this has *absolutely nothing* to do with how good of a priest, who pious of a priest, or how faithful of a priest a person is. Lots of Low Church people are these things; several High Church folks aren’t. This only determines worship style–and separates the practitioners from the posers. Anyway, the way to tell is how they cense the altar. Proper technique is about wrist action. A priest unfamiliar with this task tends to hold their wrist stable and they gingerly wave the thurible around. A more practiced priest will snap the wrist (this also causes the proper *clank* on the down-swing as it hits the chain on the rebound). The PB is a gingerly waving kind of guy. You could tell even before we hit the nave, though that he isn’t High Church. He didn’t do anything wrong, didn’t pretend otherwise–you could just tell that he wasn’t in his native environment. And that’s totally fine with me. We needn’t all be High Church…

Overall–seems like a nice guy; soft-spoken. The right leader for the church at this time? Who knows. We all have to play the cards we’re dealt.

Last night was the New York Medieval Liturgy group. The presentation was on decorative schemes in a 14th century missal from Saint-Denis in reference to the feasts of St Denis and connections with the royal court. Good scholarly discussion all around.

8 thoughts on “Liturgical Things

  1. Caelius

    So it’s all in the wrist?

    Having served as an acolyte at one of the PB’s former parishes for several years (never while he was there), I’m not surprised.

  2. LutherPunk

    When is the last time you saw a Lutheran swing one of those around? At our parish, they still insist that if we use incense, we use the brazier, you know, so as not to seem to Catholic.

    I will say that one of the nice things about hanging out with the Anglican Studies folk at our alma mater was the fact that a certain priest spent over an hour one day demonstrating how to swing the thurible. “Go ahead and swing it,” he would say, “you’re not going to break anything.”

    It sounds like a wonderful service. I too have been curious about the PB. As an outsider, I am not sure wha tto make of him. He seems to be doing ok given the fact that church is in the midst of some tough times. I sure as hell wouldn’t want his job!

  3. Derek the Ænglican

    Yep–it’s in the wrist.

    I was made to use a brazier in my internship parish. And that at the front door of the church–not even near the sanctuary. They were so bad about it that the only way I could use it in the sanctuary was to carry a lit bowl of incense around the sanctuary twice an hour before the service. *sigh*

    The main fears are a) it’s going to open up and hot coals and flaming incense will fly all over the place, b) coals etc. will fly out of the holes or c) you’ll hit something.

    a) Here it depends on what kind of thurible your using. If you have an Almy sale-rack thurible this may be within the realm of possibility but I’ve certainly never seen it happen. If you swing it with enough force that this is a possibility, you also have the centripital (sp?) force to assure that it won’t. (Caelius–as resident natural scientist, is this correct?) Of course, the top-notch thuribles have rings on the chains that absolutely prevent this from ever occurring.

    b) see a.

    c) Well how do you think the thurible got those dents in the first place? Yes, it happens. As in yes, you will dump a chalice or spill a ciborium in your time. It happens. This is also why you *practice* not during a service. The more familiar you are with it the less it’ll happen…

    I’m so glad that I’m neither PB or ABC in these times. I think both guys in the roles are really smart people..but I’m not sure if that’s what’s needed. Neither one is a Leo or a Gregory and I think it’d take someone like that to defuse the situation and move forward with vigor.

  4. Caelius

    Between the mention of the problems of the bad, loose lid and centripetal force, I think you have the right idea. It’s very hard to explain the details, since diagrams are not possible in the comments.

  5. *Christopher

    Ah…the proper clink. I look forward to that every Sunday. It’s part of the smells and bells. No clink=something isn’t quite right for me. Okay. That may be a little much, but really, those little things get in the blood.

    It is all in the wrists, and I won’t make certain jokes about that ;)

    On the other hand, our acolyte has been known to swing that thing and nearly hit the choir. LOL!

  6. bls

    Sorry I missed it, now. I was going to go – I was right across the river around 5, but I was too tired to think about going into the city and dealing with parking and the rush hour, so I went to Evening Prayer on the Joisey side instead.

    But I’d had this on my calendar for months and I’ve been seriously dying for smoke lately. The parish I’ve been going to doesn’t use it.

    Oh, well. Maybe for Evensong and Benediction sometime soon….

  7. Charlotte

    The celebrant at our last Evensong (which is one of the few places our Sultans of Swing get their ya-yas out) used to be at Smokey Mary’s. He was pretty good, but not as good as I’ve seen.

    I thought of you and bls. (The organist at SM was our guest recital artist.)

  8. Jim Olson

    Odd how the internet connects people. Searching for “used thuribles” online, I found this blog. I teach worship and liturgy at Boston University School of Theology, and I am planning to teach the students how to use a thurible. Grew up Congregational here, attended a UCC seminary, discovered ‘high-church” worship late in life, and now attend Church of the Advent here in Boston when my duties as liturgist in charge at Marsh Chapel allow.

    The ‘clink’ as an indicator of high/low….I assumed that the clink was natural…and part of the effect. Suppose that makes me ‘high’.

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