“The liturgical assembly is never a random group of individuals but the gathering of God’s people to exercise its royal priesthood in the sacrifice of praise. Everything in the celebration is organised to encourage and foster an awareness of this assembly’s common dignity and purpose, mutual interdependence, and connectedness with the wider Church.” (Celebrating the Mass, Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, 2005, para. 23).

It is the ‘connectedness with the wider Church’ which is emphasised at the 11.00 Mass, through the choice of music and language.  The music includes:

  • mainly traditional style hymns, appropriate to the occasion, drawn from a wide range of Christian traditions and writers,  reflecting ecumenical connections with other Christians;
  • Gregorian Chant (“…specially suited to the Roman liturgy…it should be given pride of place in liturgical functions…” – Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, art. 116), including familiar Masses such as Missa de Angelis, and antiphons from a book of chants (Graduale) used specifically within the Dominican Order;
  • classical polyphony – the Choir usually sings a motet at Communion to assist the prayerful reflection of the Congregation.  Few churches can offer their congregation the chance to hear some of the finest polyphonic music written – composers often offered their best to their liturgical music, and there is a huge and wonderful repertoire available that is now rarely heard in the sacred context for which it was intended;
  • the psalm between the first two Readings (“It is preferable that the psalms…be sung” – Celebrating the Mass, para. 162).

The Ordinary of the Mass is generally one that can be sung by the Congregation, and alternates between Latin and English. The Latin Ordinaries are on the second, fourth and fifth Sundays of the month, and on these occasions some or most of the rest of the Mass is celebrated in Latin.  For three or four weeks in the Summer the choir has a holiday.

As with the choice of music, Latin is used to demonstrate connectedness with the wider Church, helping those who may not be so fluent in English to feel less distanced from others in the Congregation. Latin and its music also connect us with Catholics who have gone before us, most of whom would have been extremely familiar with the texts of the Mass in Latin and with Gregorian Chant.  We have produced the yellow book Emmanuel to help you in the full and actual participation in the Mass that is required by the Church.

HOW YOU CAN HELP ? The Mass cannot be celebrated without the assistance of a variety of lay people – readers, servers, choir members, someone to bring the gifts at the Offertory, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.  The choir has sixteen regular members whose ages range from teenage to much older than they care to admit, including students from many places around the world, and always welcomes new members.  As you will have seen above, the repertoire of the choir is quite demanding, but if you appreciate this music and enjoy learning, the experience in the choir is very rewarding.

After Mass, tea and coffee are served in Blackfriars Hall, to which you are most welcome.  If you would like to assist in any way, do please see a member of the Dominican Community or a member of the choir after Mass.

Comments and suggestions – feedback – are also welcome so that we can better “…give verbal and bodily expression to the profound realities of God’s gracious activity…” (Celebrating the Mass, para. 31).