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The Church of Ireland

The Church of Ireland
News Briefing

For Saturday 14th April 2001

From: The RCB Library
Email: RCB Library

Liturgical Remembrance in Christ Church

As the preface to the Alternative Prayer Book 1984 makes clear the Church of Ireland has a long history of liturgical renewal. The Sarum rite, which was introduced to the Irish Church by the Normans, gave way at the Reformation to the Book of Common Prayer of 1549 which itself was revised in 1552, 1559 and 1662. Following disestablishment the Prayer Book was again revised and new editions appeared in 1878 and 1926. Since 1962 the Liturgical Advisory Committee has been working continuously on ongoing revision. This sustained work produced the Alternative Service Book in 1984 and will lead to a new prayer book in a few years time.

An unusual opportunity to recover some of this rich heritage will be offered on Easter Day in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, when, with the permission of the Archbishop of Dublin, the 1549 Eucharistic rite will be celebrated to mark the 450th anniversary of its introduction to Ireland. It was on Easter Day 1551 that the 1549 Book of Common Prayer was first used in Christ Church and this was the first occasion on which the post-Reformation liturgy in English was celebrated in any church in Ireland.

Remarkably, as the Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd John Paterson, has pointed out, as a result of modern Eucharistic revision in the Church of Ireland, the difference in the pattern of the cathedral's normal service will be slight. The most noticeable differences will be the use of the old Prayer for the Church instead of modern intercessions and the 1549 consecration prayer in place of the modern prayer of thanksgiving.

Tonight (Saturday) in Christ Church the Easter Vigil will begin in the crypt at 9.00 pm. After the vigil there will be a procession to the ruins of the medieval chapter house where the Easter fire will be lit and this will be followed by the Resurrection Eucharist which will be celebrated by the Archbishop of Dublin.

Tomorrow, Easter Day, the bishops will, according to tradition preach in their diocesan cathedrals. Easter Day is also one of only two occasions, the other being Christmas Day, when the dean's name appears on the preaching list of St Patrick's cathedral, Dublin, and so Dr Robert MacCarthy will be the preacher at the Sung Eucharist. In the evening Festal Evensong will include the Easter music from Handel's Messiah.

On Thursday at 5.15 pm in the Chapel of Trinity College, Dublin, there will a service of Choral Evensong to commemorate Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, sometime Provost of the College, and his supervision of Bishop William Bedell's translation of the Old Testament into Irish. The preacher will be the Revd Terence McCaughey, and one of the lessons will be read by Canon Muriel McCarthy, the Keeper of Marsh' Library.

This is part of a programme of events to mark the tercentenary of Marsh's Library which was founded in 1701 as the first public library in Ireland. Other events to look forward to include a performance next month in Christ Church Cathedral of the medieval liturgical drama, the Visitatio Sepulchri, and a Tercentenary Evensong in St Patrick's Cathedral.

Wednesday is St Lasarian's Day and the patronal festival of St Lasarian's Cathedral, Leighlin, will be marked by a service in the cathedral at which the Dean of Ferns, the Very Revd Leslie Forrest, and Fr Tom McDonnell will speak.

Following the celebration of Easter the choir of St Fin Barre's cathedral, Cork will be in residence in Rochester Cathedral. Their place will be taken by the choir of St Bartholomew's Church, Dublin, who will sing Evensong next Friday and Saturday and the normal Sunday services on Low Sunday.

Church of Ireland Notes appear in the Irish Times whose web site may be found at

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