Rector’s News August 2022

During the last few months, we have been able to relax some of the restrictions which were necessary during the Covid pandemic. One of these has been that we are now able to share a common cup, if we wish to, when we receive holy communion.

During Covid, at Holy Cross and in common with the wider church, we were required to pare down our liturgy (especially the 9.30am Parish Communion) so that we did not spend too long gathered together and so minimise the risk of infection. As we have emerged from the restrictions of the pandemic, some changes have been made to the 9.30am Parish Communion.

We now have an extra reading from scripture. The Revised Common Lectionary, which we follow along with Christians around the world, provides us with three readings for the principal Sunday service. I must confess that I was a little surprised when I arrived at Holy Cross that we only used two readings. We were I suppose what one might call a little 'scripture light'. The lectionary readings are selected in order to show the continuity and development of salvation history. Even with three readings there is still a substantial portion of scripture that we do not hear read to us during the course of a year.

I plan to write in more depth to explain the principles and workings of the Revised Common Lectionary in an upcoming edition of this magazine. I also plan to write something which explains the various parts of the structure of the Eucharist.

Just as we have a gradual hymn between the second reading and the Gospel, so we now have a psalm between the first and second readings. The idea of the psalm is that it helps the assembly to meditate on and respond to the reading that has just been proclaimed. The psalm is a prayer addressed to God. It is worth remembering too that the psalms are Hebrew poetry and, as such, reflect the whole spectrum of human emotions such as joy, praise, lament, grief etc. The psalms were the heart of Jesus's own prayer life too, whether in the synagogue or in the other situations in which he ministered. And... it was words from psalm 22 that he prayed as he was dying on the cross.

Another custom is to use what are called responsorial psalms. The principle behind this is that a cantor sings the words and we all offer a sung response. It might be that we try using these from time to time in our worship.

 During the Easter season, which runs from Easter Day to Pentecost, we heard some acclamations before the Gospel reading. The Acclamation before the Gospel is a sort of standing ovation to welcome Jesus Christ whose words we will hear in the Gospel reading.

We have also introduced one new setting for the sung parts of the Eucharist and this was the St Cedd setting by Peter Nardone. We have also recently been using the St Thomas setting by David Thorne and which was familiar to us from pre-Covid times. One or two of the settings which we used in pre-Covid times were not always the easiest for congregations to sing and it is always good for us learn a new setting from time to time. In consulting with Jon Rawles, our Director of Music, we would like to try another new setting later in the year. This gives us a selection of settings to use throughout the year and means that we have some variety. I shall, of course, ask Jon to give us all a run through so that we become familiar with a new setting before we use it.

Next month, I plan to offer an explanation of the various parts of the structure of the Eucharist, but until then...

Your friend and Rector

Matthew Tregenza