Experience Medieval worship at St Teilo’s Church
Step into the Medieval Church of St Teilo’s next week (Tuesday 13th and Thursday 15th 11.30 & 4.00) and you will experience, as closely as possible, the sights and sounds that accompanied our Medieval ancestors at prayer. The rare and unusual services take place at the reconstructed medieval decorated church of St Teilo at St Fagans: National History Museum of Wales.
In the morning, a medieval Mass and Procession with authentic music, will be celebrated by people in period dress and using recreated religious artefacts. Compline, the final church service of the day, and a short related devotion in honour of the Holy Name of Jesus will also be celebrated at 4pm. All of these services will be sung to Latin plainchant, with some polyphonic music for choir or organ.
Members of the public are also welcome to attend.
The ritual enactments take place as part of a Bangor University research project: The Experience of Worship in Medieval Cathedral and Parish Church.
“What we’re doing is trying to recreate the medieval experience of worship as authentically as possible. We’re also reliving the devotional services that we think would have been heard regularly at St Teilo’s. The recreations also help those of us who study music to better understand that element and bring new insights to our colleagues in several other subject areas – the medieval church, social history, art and archaeology,” said Sally Harper, one of the project investigators.
Professor John Harper, who leads the project says: “A long period of research lies behind these church services. The project team has examined many early written sources and surviving artefacts. A complete set of historically-informed vestments and essential ritual objects have now been made, in addition to a rare reconstruction of a medieval organ.”
Prof Harper explains further: “About a dozen craftspeople have contributed to the project to date. No fewer than five individuals (including a wood turner and a blacksmith) collaborated in making a copy of the very rare painted pax board that survives at Sandon Parish Church in Essex, and dates from around1500. This object was kissed during the Mass by each member of the medieval congregation in strict status order - a moment of particular reverence. The project has also enabled recreation of a painting of the ‘Arms of Christ’, two pyxes or containers used for consecrated bread, flagons, an incense boat and spoon, and hanging lamps.
Professor John Harper of Bangor’s International Centre for Sacred Music Studies, is working in association with Dr Sally Harper and Judith Aveling of Bangor University’s School of Music and colleagues from Oxford University and Newcastle University. The project is funded by both the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Economic & Social Research Council as part of the ‘Religion and Society’ programme.
The project seeks to reveal not only how worship was conducted and experienced in the Middle Ages, but also how this might lead to new insights about worship in medieval buildings today. The project’s partner organizations are St Fagans and Salisbury Cathedral, and a team of associated clergy is led by Canon Jeremy Davies, precentor of Salisbury Cathedral.
The Latin liturgies themselves have been assembled from a variety of manuscript and printed sources of the widespread liturgical Use of Salisbury rite (‘Sarum Use’) and will be published online. Some of the melodies will be sung direct from original notation. The project team will be leading further enactments in Salisbury Cathedral on 6 October and 9 October.
For further information see http://www.bangor.ac.uk/music/AHRC/index.php.en
Publication date: 9 September 2011