“Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Lift up your gates and sing!”

“Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Lift up your gates and sing!” November 8, 2015

I’ve spent the last couple of days in scenic Portland, Maine, where I gave the keynote address to the Northeastern Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

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They held the investiture Mass Saturday afternoon at Portland’s lovely Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

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Before Mass, we gathered in the cathedral rectory to vest. I noted that the doorframe in the dining room bore the markings from Epiphany. 🙂

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I have never seen a bigger sacristy in my life.

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But it almost wasn’t big enough for the crowd of clergy.

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It was a liturgy that I can only describe as awe-inspiring. (I told someone after, “It was so good, it was almost Anglican!”)

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The celebrant and homilist was Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

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The processional was “Lift High the Cross”; with hundreds filing in, including numerous concelebrating clergy, it took us through all 10 verses—most of which you never hear, including the triumphal conclusion:

“Worlds to be born and children yet to be,
Come, take up this song into eternity…”

But a high point for me was the recessional, which was a piece of music that was new to me—though, I suspect, not new to many members of the Order or to a significant number of Protestants, who know this as part of their canon.

It’s “The Holy City, by Stephen Adams and Frederic Weatherly. Wikipedia describes it as a “Victorian hymn dating from 1892.” You’ll find a lot of recordings on YouTube, from people like The Three Tenors and Charlotte Church.  The rendition I heard in Portland knocked it out of the park, with full choir, timpani and trumpets. But here’s a good runner up, from The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. (Hear how the soloist, evidently overcome with the emotion, chokes up in the last two minutes.)


The day concluded with a celebratory dinner.

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My generous and gracious hosts for all this were the Lieutenant, Sir John Monahan and his wife, Lady Cynthia.  I’m not overstating it when I say it was a weekend I’ll never forget. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of it.

Deus lo vult!

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