A very happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception to all our readers! Normally this solemnity falls on 8th December, but it falls today this year because yesterday was Sunday.
We will keep the Feast today at the 1230 Mass, and look forward to welcoming Fr Andrew Bishop from Croydon Minster as our preacher. This is an occasion which members of the local Cells of Our Lady of Walsingham are particularly encouraged to attend. We will offer special prayers at Mass for all pilgrims to Walsingham, for Fr Kevin Smith and all who work at the Shrine.
I've chosen a piece by a French composer today - Hymne a la Vierge by Pierre Villette (1926-88). Villette was a pupil of Maurice Durufle and, as you will hear in this recording, his influences were eclectic and included monastic plainsong and jazz.
O toute belle, Vierge Marie, Votre âme trouve en Dieu Le parfait amour Il vous revêt du manteau de la Grâce Comme une fiancée Parée de ses joyaux. Alleluia. Je vais chanter ta louange, Seigneur, Car tu as pris soin de moi, Car tu m'as envelopée du voile de l'innocence.
Vous êtes née avant les collines O sagesse de Dieu Porte du Salut Hereux ce lui qui marche dans vos traces Qui apprête son coeur A la voix de vos conseils. Alleluia. Je vais chanter ta louange, Seigneur, Car tu m'as faite, avant le jour, Car tu m'as fait précéder le jaillissement des sources.
Avant les astres Vous étiez présente Mère du Créateur Au profound du ciel Quand Dieu fixait les limites du monde Vous partagiez con coeur Etant à l'oeuvre avec lui. Alleluia. O toute belle Vierge Marie.
O fairest Virgin Mary, Your soul finds in the Lord perfect love; He clothes you in robes of grace Like a bride attired with jewels. Alleluia. I will sing thy praise, O Lord, For thou hast looked after me, and covered me with the veil of innocence.
You were born before the hills, O wisdom of the Lord, Gate of Redemption, Blessed be he who walks in your steps And tunes his heart To the counsels of your voice. Alleluia. I will sing thy praise, O Lord, For thou hast made me, before dawn, For thou has made me precede the Gushing forth of springs.
Before the stars you were there, Mother of the Creator, In the highest Heaven; When God was setting the limits of the world you shared his love As you laboured with him. Alleluia O fairest Virgin Mary.