Late last week, the Catholic Herald reported that vespers will be sung in the Chapel Royal at Cardinal Wolsey’s great Hampton Court Palace for the first time since the English reformation. From the Herald,
On Tuesday February 9 Cardinal Vincent Nichols will celebrate Vespers in King Henry VIII’s chapel.
The Vespers, at Hampton Court Palace’s Chapel Royal, will be celebrated in the Latin Rite and the Anglican Bishop of London will deliver a sermon.
The service will be dedicated to St John the Baptist, as the Chapel Royal was built by Cardinal Wolsey on the site of a chapel of the Knights of St John Hospitaller, dedicated to that saint.
The music will be performed by Harry Christophers and his ensembles The Sixteen and Genesis Sixteen.
Before Vespers is celebrated, Cardinal Nichols and the Bishop of London will host a discussion on the bonds between their churches and the dialogue they have had over the centuries.
We suspect that the point of this service is not to sing vespers in a Catholic rite at the Chapel Royal, but to provide an edifying and pleasant liturgical framework for a Catholic-Anglican prayer service in the aftermath of the meeting of Anglican primates this month. Had we been asked, we might have suggested bringing in some Benedictines from Farnborough to sing vespers according to the traditional Benedictine rite, which would be, for the most part, very familiar to Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, and the rest of the men and women who made Hampton Court Palace so famous. It would also be a nice way of nodding to the long, rich history of the Benedictines in England.