Thursday, 5 April 2012

Tenebrae...

It has become something of a custom at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, to have extra Masses at the start of Holy Week for the benefit of those who are at work and can't attend during the day. The Monday and Tuesday Masses are in the evenings, but the Mass for Spy Wednesday is in the morning (at 7am, as the Gospel is a little on the long side...) so that it is possible to attend Tenebrae on Wednesday evening.

Tenebrae is the service of Matins and Lauds of the Triduum, and a candle is extinguished after each of the psalms, until finally all are out and the lights are turned out. The banging of books represents the earthquake (I think!) But the very last candle is only hidden from view, and it gets shown again at the end.

One year I went to Tenebrae and the last candle had actually been extinguished, which caused a bit of consternation for the MC when the time came for its reinstatement...

Yesterday I decided to make the effort to go to St. Mary Moorfields. As our Senior MC remarked, it seems like a trek to get there, but you realise it was worth it afterwards. The journey itself was simple enough, though finding a parking place in Finsbury Circus proved to be a very suitably penitential exercise - I think I drove around it six times looking for the exit nearest the church - all of the exit streets looked the same and all were named "Finsbury Circus" which didn't help. I had used my mobile phone as sat-nav, and the battery had gone flat as I haven't managed to get an in-car charger yet, though fortunately it got me as far as Finsbury Circus first.

The liturgy at St. Mary Moorfields had been organised by the Latin Mass Society who had arranged for Cantus Magnus to sing the polyphony.

Although the phone camera was out of action, I had my "proper" camera with me as well, and so I recorded a couple of the polyphonic responses sung by the choir. This one is from the third Nocturn of Matins: Gesualdo's Una Hora.


I didn't take many photos, as there isn't much going on around the sanctuary during Tenebrae. This meant I was free to record "Eram quasi agnus innocens" from the second Nocturn, and you can listen to that over on YouTube.

I also recorded the Benedictus - the canticle of Zachariah - at the end of Lauds where the final candle is "extinguished"... and here polyphony alternates with plainsong. I particularly like the contrast - remember that everyone, including members of the congregation, joins in with the plainsong parts, so it's not perfect, but that is its charm.


It was definitely the best way to start the Triduum... Perhaps one year we can celebrate it at Blackfen!

3 comments:

Londiniensis said...

Lucky you. I'd wanted to go, but family commitments kept me at home. I remember St Mary Moorfields as the church I used to drop in to on my way between Old Broad Street, where I used to work, and out computer centre in the former wasteland between Liverpool Street and Finsbury Square. Lots of silly banners cluttering up the beautiful, austere sanctuary in those days ...

Mark said...

we sung it in Edinburgh... I am absolutely knackered now, and still have tomorrow and Saturday to go!

Rorate Caeli said...

Was the traditional pre-1951 Holy Week celebrated again this year?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...