The Night Mass of Christmas (which was the Midnight Mass but at 4pm on Christmas Eve) was a great success. Nearly 180 people turned up to the Oratory for the first Mass of Christmas, well in excess of the expected number. It was a Missa Cantata, which was possible thanks to Mr Oliver Hayes; he organised music, lead a small schola of three men, and even provided organ accompaniment for the first time after months of painstaking practice, for the Latin hymns Veni Redemptor Gentium, Quem Pastores and Adeste Fideles.
I am very grateful to the Oratory Fathers (in particular Fr Philip Cleevely who sung the Mass) for indulging our desire to make a really special celebration of this feast day, which has been a Low Mass in previous years. It included High Mass ceremonial (two acolytes, a thurifer, MC Colin Tunnicliffe, and even four torch bearers: left), showing just what is possible with no budget but lots of willing volunteers bringing their gifts to the service of the Lord.
The Low Mass on Christmas morning (right) also took place in St Philip's Chapel at 9.30am, with thirty people filling it nicely. It has been noted that since Summorum Pontificum, the Extraordinary Form of Mass has become more of a natural part of the Oratory Parish, with new faces attending all the time, numbers increasing, and the Mass sheets really helping people participate in the Proper Prayers for each feast.
This latter aspect is only a small investment to help the success of the Latin Mass in Parishes, with a free downloadable accompaniment to the infamous 'red booklet' available for each major feast from Una Voce. At the Oratory we use our own purpose written ordinary booklets to make it easier to follow; one for Low Mass and one for High Mass. I simply adapt the Mass sheets to suit these. Here is the one I used for Christmas Eve, which was unusually two sheets of A4 to fit both the Latin Hymns and also the Gregorian notation for Missa de Angelis, which allowed the congregation to participate in both:Nativity Night