Nihil Innovatur

Fr John Fennelly, parish priest of Greystones, was one of the most vocal clerical champions of the Liturgical Movement in the Irish Church of the 1950s. He was an active proponent of liturgical participation and an improved standard of congregational singing. The following poem of his was published in Worship in December, 1956:

The strangest things are happening to the rubrics of the Mass!
Old men like me don’t understand, we thought our days would pass
Without disturbance of the way we learnt to celebrate.
Now worship, like the world itself, is in a dreadful state.

Some time ago the priest was sure of what was his to say,
And also that the altar-boys would answer up his way:
Now anything can happen from a hold-up to a strike,
Or someone making comments through a nuisance-making mike.

The people used to keep their place, and did not interfere
Except perhaps to cough or sneeze or snore, but in the rear:
They wouldn’t dream of singing out or butting in with noise,
Or talking up in Latin like the Clerk and altar-boys.

Young Curates now don’t seem to mind if Mass is started late,
Provided that the people who are there “participate”:
And some would like motets, and psalms and hymns and chants,
Distracting to the celebrant and pious maiden aunts.

A plague upon those liturgists and all their fussy ways,
There’s nothing solid in them, ’tis a passing whim or craze:
Old men like me have battled for our faith and fatherland
With nothing but the Scripture and the Sacraments in hand.

Of course we had the Liturgy, a makeshift to be sure,
And more or less a native growth, but still Tradition pure;
We said the Mass and let the people pray as best they could,
That was the way in Penal times, and surely it was good.

The world is moving on, no doubt, and times have changed a lot,
The Church of Christ must follow — if her net is in a knot
She’ll never catch the fishes that are milling round the boat:
She needs a change of tackle, sweeter bait and lighter float.

So say professors and divines, who ought to know a lot:
Perhaps old trowlers like myself should try to change our trot:
I’ll read that journal “Worship” and some book on Liturgy,
And maybe when I understand ‘twont seem bizarre to me.


Posted on November 19, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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