Seasonal Liturgies And Solemn Or Sung Masses
On Major Holy Days
Christ Church was one of the first American Episcopal parishes to reintroduce the Great Paschal Vigil, the heart of the year’s worship. All Services of Holy Week (Palm Sunday, choral Tenebrae on Spy Wednesday, the full Maundy Thursday & Good Friday Rites, and the Paschal Vigil & First Mass) are kept with great reverence and the prescribed solemn ritual. The great feast of Christmas fills the church and includes Blessing of the Creche & Family Eucharist with Carols at 4:30pm Christmas Eve / Carols, Festal Procession to the Creche & the Solemn Christ Mass at 9:30pm / & Christmas Day High Mass with Carols at 11:00am. On principle Holy Days, traditionally Holy Cross, Michaelmas, All Saints, Epiphany (Feast of Title), Candlemas, Annunciation, & Ascension either the Choir will sing a Solemn High Mass with Procession, or the congregation will sing a High Mass. A festive parish potluck follows and serves as an important social gathering for parishioners. In past years, on the Saturday nearest St.Francis’ Day an Eucharist with Blessing of Animals was offered in the garden close for parishioners’ pets. Christ Church keeps All Souls with 3 requiem Masses, the last a Solemn Requiem with catafalque. From Advent until the Presentation, the Sunday High Mass concludes with the Last Gospel. In Advent and Lent, the Litany is sung in Penitential Procession. The Litany of the Saints has been sung in procession on All Saints Sunday, the Great Paschal Vigil (always), & Pentecost. All Sunday High Masses of Eastertide begin with the Asperges. Festal Processions are employed on Easter Sunday, Low Sunday, Rogation (with Blessing of Garden), Ascension Sunday, Pentecost, Trinity, Corpus Christi (transferred), the Assumption (transferred), All Saints Sunday, Christ the King, The Baptism of Christ, Transfiguration, Palm Sunday, and any major Holy Day transferred to Sunday. At Solemn Pontifical Masses, the congregation kneels in respect as the Bishop passes in procession giving the Episcopal Blessing. Solemn Te Deums with double thuribles are offered on Sundays of All Saints, Christ the King, Transfiguration, and Trinity.
Solemn Choral Evensongs
Several times a year Solemn Choral Evensong with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is offered at 5:00pm on Sundays. Often the great Anglican Cathedral composers of the 20th Century are featured instead of the more prominent Renaissance and Classical composers heard at the High Mass. An Evensong in Thanksgiving for All Church Musicians is offered in conjunction with other major church choirs in New Haven in November, often near St. Cecilia’s Day, and Benediction is usually not part of this Service. Two of the most popular Services of the year at Christ Church are the Advent Procession with Carols and Christmas Lesson and Carols, employing incense and following the English models of the Services.
Stations of the Cross and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
Architect Henry Vaughan designed for Christ Church one of the most moving sets of Stations in the American Church. Stations and Benediction is offered at 5:30pm every Friday of Lent (Stations alone on Good Friday). The devotions currently used were put together from a rich variety of sources by the previous Rector.
Currently, and for the last five years or so, Confessions have been heard by appointment with clergy, except for Good Friday. In past years a weekly set hour (Saturdays at 9:30 following Low Mass or 4:00pm preceding Evening Prayer) was announced for Confessions in addition to private appointments. On Good Fridays, unscheduled Confessions are heard by 3 clergy using the two confessional booths in the nave and the altar rail in the Lady Chapel. In years past, Confessions were also heard at a set time on Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and near or on Christmas Eve. The former rector had a discreet ministry as regular Confessor to numbers of students at the Berkeley Seminary. But, instruction in the purpose and benefits of the rite and guidance in a discipline of regular sacramental confession are elements of Anglo-Catholic tradition and practice of which the congregation is once more in need, as recorded in the parish surveys collected in the Interim process.
Recitation of the Rosary and Marian Devotion
The Rosary is prayed corporately by parish members of the Society of Mary on Saturday mornings after the Low Mass in Advent, Lent, and on Easter Saturday. The church tower bells call the neighborhood to the Angeles at noon and 6:00pm daily, and the Angeles or Regina Caeli is prayed daily after Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer; at evening it may be replaced by a sung Marian antiphon. In years past, a more active Society of Mary met for the Rosary and a potluck and discussion of Marian spirituality after Feasts of Our Lady without a High Mass: the Conception, Our Lady’s Parents, the Visitation, Assumption Day, and the Coronation. When the Saturday morning Low Mass was not the monthly Requiem or a Prayer Book Holy Day, it was kept as a votive to Our Lady. A station is made at the Lady Shrine during appointed High Mass Processions, sometimes including a choral or congregational Angelus. And, many worshipers at Christ Church light candles and offer prayers at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Epiphany after every Mass and Daily Office, or throughout the day just coming in off the street.