The lead up to Easter started for me at Southwark Cathedral when I attended the Chrism Mass. With the previous Bishop of Southwark – Tom Butler – having retired at the beginning of March 2010, the service was celebrated by the Richard Cheetham, the Bishop of Kingston. He was joined by Nick Baines, Bishop of Croydon and Chris Chessun, Bishop of Woolwich.
Sitting in the North Transept, I watched the modus operandi with interest. After the Renewal of Commitment to Ministry by those ordained, the Holy Oils were brought to the Altar. Each oil was brought by a deacon with a flagon of oil, wearing an appropriately coloured dalmatic accompanied by a server carrying a basket of phials oil for distribution after the service. The dalmatic colours were Purple (Oils for the Sick); Green (Oils for Baptism); and Gold (Oil of Chrism). At the end of the service, a long queue of clerics quickly formed in the south aisle to collect their oils. The provision of oils in phials made the distribution less messy and also ensured that there was no need for the clerics to bring their own vessels of varying designs and sizes – as I have previously seen elsewhere.
The music was provided by the Girls’ Choir and Lay Clerks, with the Offertory Anthem being Tantum Ergo (Langlais) and the Post Communion Anthem Salvator mundi (Tallis). The service setting was Messe Solennelle (Langlais).
The Evening Celebration of the Lord’s Supper, like many places followed a traditional order of a eucharistic service, with feet washing in place of the sermon. The music came from the Boys Choir and Lay Clerks, with the service setting being Missa Brevis (Walton). During the washing of the feet the choir sang Ubi cartis (Durufle), and the post communion anthem was Christus factus est (Bruckner). During the striping of the altars, the choir sang Psalm 22 from the west end to a plainsong melody, with the final verse sang by the Succentor – Anna Macham – from the crossing.
The Celebrant was Canon Pastor – Bruce Saunders; Deacon was the Succentor – Anna Macham; and the preacher was Michael Doe, General Secretary of USPG . At the end of the service, the Sacrament was processed – led by a Thurfier and Lights – to the Lady Chapel (in the retrochoir) where the watch was kept till midnight.