This morning I made my way down to Blackfen for a Study Day of the Society of St Catherine of Siena on the St Pius X reforms of the Roman Breviary 1911-1913. Rubricarius of the St Lawrence Press delivered a most fascinating lecture (you can download it on his blog) on the subject, going through the Hours of the Divine Office and making various comparisons between different Uses (such as the Monastic Breviary), even different Rites such as the Byzantine Rite, and going through the various reasons for reform and how this relates to the modern Breviary and to the greater liturgical history of the Church. It was most interesting and edifying. One thing made everyone giggle - he said that if you imagined everyday in Lent as a ferial day, at the end of the week you'd have recited over 400 Psalms (the ferial offices being notoriously long) under the pre-1911 rubrics!
After the talk we had a short service of Benediction with a prayer for priests. I have only served Benediction on my own once before, and it was rather tricky having to juggle the offices of MC and Thurifer, but apparently my serving didn't appear too outrageous! Then we had a delicious lunch in the large hall - we are all most grateful to the ladies who volunteered. After coffee and a nice chat, we returned to the church for pre-1911 Solemn Vespers for the Feast of St Bruno. We had the appropriate commemorations too, since we are within the Octave of Rosary Sunday! By this time Jonathan, who kindly took the day off work, had come to the rescue and we both divided the offices of Acolytes, Thurifer and Master of Ceremonies between us. It was truly splendid, and a first for the parish as we agreed afterwards - the church having been built in the '30s!
I love to attend sung Offices, particularly Vespers. Alas, though, that they occur so rarely (I have served Vespers only a handful of times in my life) - I can't see why; the practicalities for a properly ordered sung Vespers are not insurmountable. I'd personally rather attend a Sung Vespers than a Low Mass. What a boon for the Church it would be if there were more sung Office and less Low Masses!
St Bruno, pray for us.