‘Mattins at eleven; a foretaste of heaven’ (Betjeman)
Once the watchword was ‘It’s the Mass that matters.’ Today should it be revised to ‘It’s Mattins that matters’? Why? Surveys of church attendance show cathedral congregations growing. Significantly Mattins is more likely to be found in a cathedral than a parish church.
Of course, folk may be attracted to cathedrals for reasons other than liturgy. There’s less chance in a cathedral close of meeting a cleric wearing a blue stock. When this apparel first appeared I thought it a sign of devotion to Our Lady, but it seems that the wearers, normally of liberal views, usually have a greater love of H&M than the BVM.
Cathedrals may also be attracting RCs who feel that Benedict’s revival of Latin proceeds too slowly. A distinguished RC historian told me, ‘I frequently go to Anglican cathedral Mattins and Evensong just to hear Latin sung’.
Equally, whether or not the chant or anthem is in the second language of Heaven (Welsh, of course, is the first), you’ll also be less likely in a cathedral than in a parish church to hear Worship Songs that make Dizzee Rascal sound like a Bach Chorale.
‘Let us return to our Mattins’ as they say in a language that will certainly never be found in Heaven.
BCP Mattins presents no permutations of the kind that make modern rites as difficult to negotiate as filling in your income tax return. In Mattins, no Peace, that often over-effusive greeting that can make a newcomer feel even more of an outsider.
However, there is real unity at Mattins. The banker hears ‘when the wicked man’ and rejoices that the officiant recognizes him. The Venite’s ‘40 years long’ echoes with pensioners, recalling their wage-slave days. Infant squawks are drowned by the Choir attempting Anglican chant.
So, ‘Dearly beloved brethren…’