Celebrating our 200th year, Blackfriars Market has been an opportunity to make a solid effort to develop our ministry and outreach for the future. And we have all excelled ourselves! Working hard over the weekend, we have now raised a total of £12,399.22 from our efforts over the last number of weeks. We will also be able to claim significant gift aid on some of the donations.
The Market is your success, your future
Blackfriars Market does not happen by itself and so in advance we would like to thank all those who have made it happen. It really is a cast of thousands! From those who get things moving months before in the planning stages, to those who arrange the timelines of what needs to happen when, and those who co-ordinate the bringing of goods for the market and overseeing the various things that happen. We are grateful to every single person. Your contribution is vitally important to securing the future of Holy Cross and realising our ambition to make the place ready for the next 200 years of ministry. Many thanks!
The Market is making things happen
The many steps forward that we have been able to make in our buildings over the last number of years have been amazing. From relighting the church to upgrading the living and working facilities in the priory, to tackling the deficit, these things have only been possible because of your efforts and generosity. As we go forward, our dreams and ambitions are within reach because of our achievement as a community. We have managed to raise over £40.5K since we launched the appeal in June. Many thanks to everyone!
Some more photos of the Blackfriars Advent Market:
“Were you at Holy Cross Priory on Saturday for Rossini’s Stabat Mater? If you were, lucky you, lucky all of us. If you weren’t, I cannot begin to tell you what you missed. And we had Monteverdi’s Beatus Vir as well.” – Roger Cairns, Swannington (Leicester Mercury, Letters page, 16 October 2019)
A historic occasion
The Dominican priory church in Leicester was filled last Saturday (12th October) for a concert celebrating 200 years since the first Holy Cross church was founded on this site in 2019. Over 330 people attended the performance by the Knighton Chamber Orchestra and Coro Nostro Chamber Choir, two local ensembles, also drawing on other local talent for the soloists. The highlight of the programme was the Rossini ‘Stabat Mater’, which in a sense was coming home: in the nineteenth century Holy Cross had given the work its first complete church performance in the UK. So it was a fitting way to celebrate the 200th anniversary.
A thoughtful programme of sacred music
The Rossini was anticipated by a first half of various sacred choral works by Monteverdi (Beatus Vir), Mozart (Ave Verum Corpus) and Bruckner (Locus Iste) among others, selected to highlight the dedication of the church and its consecration for Catholic worship. One Eucharistic motet, the Tantum Ergo text by St Thomas Aquinas, was set by Charles Guynemer, the first director of music at Holy Cross in 1819. As an exile from France, he had been helped to settle in Leicester by William Gardiner, the prolific writer and publisher of hymns. So it was appropriate that the audience all stood to sing one of Gardiner’s tunes (‘Germany’) for the hymn to the Holy Cross, Vexilla Regis. Backed up by the organ and full orchestra, the combined voices of the choir and congregation really swelled the air in the resonant acoustic of Leicester’s largest church.
The historical origins
Professor Patrick Boylan provided historical notes in the programme and expanded these in a pre-concert talk. He explained how Leicester’s Catholics in 1819 were still suffering under penal laws, yet their growing congregation developed a strong musical tradition under Guynemer’s impulse, drawing on the English Catholic style of Samuel Webbe as well as the Dominican chant repertoire. After Guynemer, a succession of outstanding music directors ensured the Holy Cross choral tradition continued through the nineteenth century. Besides the Rossini Stabat Mater, other UK church premieres at Holy Cross included Mozart’s Coronation Mass in C Major and Gounod’s Messe Solennelle St Cecilia.
‘At the Cross her station keeping’
Fr Matthew Jarvis introduced the Rossini with a word about the meaning of the Stabat Mater. This Catholic hymn to the Virgin Mary as ‘Mother of Sorrows’ (feast day 15 September), standing at the foot of her Son’s cross, is well known to those who pray the Stations of the Cross. Fr Matthew invited the audience to contemplate the great crucifix hanging above the sanctuary, showing the Mother of Christ and the Beloved Disciple standing by, so that whatever meaning the music may convey in itself, or by the words of the hymn, might be framed and focused by that vivid scene of love and sorrow.
A word of gratitude
The event would not have been possible without the often hidden work of many faithful members of Holy Cross, including the Frassati Young Adults group, who turned out in large numbers to clean the church, arrange furniture, prepare and serve refreshments, and manage the welcome desks. Their efficient organisation, thanks in large part to the coordination by Jeff Henry, drew several compliments from the musicians and ensured that the large crowd that gathered on the night could relax and enjoy this musical celebration of Holy Cross in its 200th year. While the music received a well deserved standing ovation, perhaps many of those present also went home touched in some deeper way by the mystery of the Cross, the sign of God’s saving love for us.
A selection of photos of the event by Br Joseph Bailham OP:
Please note there will be a PRE-CONCERT TALK by Professor Patrick Boylan at 7.00pm in the church. Professor Boylan will reveal some of the unique historical connections between Holy Cross Church and the Rossini ‘Stabat Mater’.
To celebrate 200 years of Holy Cross, we are delighted to announce a grand performance of the Rossini ‘Stabat Mater’ on Saturday 12th October, 7.30pm in the Holy Cross Church, LE1 6HW. The Knighton Chamber Orchestra and Coro Nostro Chamber Choir will be joined by soloists Michelle Carlin (soprano), Alice Chambers (mezzo soprano), Richard Roddis (tenor) and Robert Clarke (bass), under the direction of Paul Jenkins and Lydia Hind.
The first half will present choral works by Monteverdi, Mozart, Bruckner and others, followed in the second half (after interval refreshments) by Rossini’s sublime setting of the poignant Stabat Mater sequence. The words of the Stabat Mater draw the listener into the sorrow of Mary the Mother of Christ, standing at the foot of his Cross, a sorrow that emerges hopeful and triumphant through the promise of the resurrection and eternal life.
Holy Cross Church has a unique relationship with Rossini’s ‘Stabat Mater’. Holy Cross was the probable venue for its UK premiere and went on to host annual performances every Good Friday for many decades.
Don’t miss this historic opportunity to hear this impressive work once again in the beautiful setting of Holy Cross Church!
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The Priory of the Holy Cross is home to a community of Dominican friars, serving a large parish in the city centre and a Mass station at the village of Woodhouse in a 14th-century chapel.
The Dominican friars are active in the local community, including the nearby hospital, prison and schools, and provide chaplaincy for Catholic students at the University of Leicester and De Montfort University.
The friars are also active in outreach and education, including speaking on local radio, hosting the Leicester Theological Society, and teaching at seminaries and institutes of higher learning, such as Blackfriars, Oxford.
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