03 April 2015

Chief Service

A liturgy whose beauty breaks the heart and fills it with peace at the same time. The service resumes with a collect, asking God to behold His family, and unlike any other liturgy of the year, a collect follows each reading. Isaiah 53 is read, a collect, 2 Corinthians 5 is read, a collect. Then the Passion of St. John introduced with "Jesus, I Will Ponder Now." The introduction was the same, I believe, as on the Heritage of the Reformation CD set. Viola et al. Amazing. Then the unfolding of the Passion, interspersed with "O Sacred Head" but first introduced in the most lovely setting with violin. Back and forth, the reading of the Passion and each of those wonderful sung prayers. We sat for most of the Passion, but stood at the very conclusion and then sang the final stanza of "O Sacred Head" and then silence. Pastor preached us a most comforting and beautiful sermon about how on the Cross God is exposed and His love for us is exposed and our sin is exposed. Following the sermon, "A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth." The bidding prayer followed. NEVER has it seemed more fitting:  "Let us pray for the whole Christian Church, that our Lord God would defend her against all the assaults and temptations of the adversary... Let us pray for all in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty... Let us pray for peace... Let us pray for our enemies, that God would remember them in mercy and graciously grant them such things as are needful for them and profitable for their salvation..." The adoration of the Cross was truly the highlight. Pastor carried the cross in from the rear of the Church: "Behold, the life-giving cross on which was hung the salvation of the world." The crosses were unveiled and we heard the reproaches, chanted by pastor, answered by the school children, sweetly chanting the "Holy Lord God..." The congregation answered also with "Lamb of God, Pure and Holy." Staring at the image of our Lord unveiled, nailed to the tree, as these rang forth... wow. And then the school children sang the Canticle: "We adore You." The congregation concluded the adoration of the Crucified with a triumphant (even with tympani!) "Sing, My Tongue!" During this, Pastor vested in a black chasuble and prepared the altar. The simple order as suggested in Altar Book was used, save that Pastor reverted (YEAH) to the words of the old Lenten Preface. After the reception of the Eucharist in silence, a final collect was offered (the 13th collect offered in this particular liturgy!) and then we sang: "The Royal Banners" once again with triumphant registration on the organ, tympani and all kinds of musical embellishment underscoring the TRIUMPH that is celebrated on this most holy day. It was remarkable from start to finish, and took just under an hour and a half. Can't WAIT to go back tonight for the Tenebrae Vespers.


Unknown said...

Tenebrae is a Matins service. It may be served in the evening in anticipation of the next day, as has been the custom since at least the 1300s, but it is, strictly speaking, structured according to Matins.--Chris

William Weedon said...

As our Altar Book notes; but Vespers here denotes the TIME not the office. Yet then again, in the Western rite during Triduum, the offices are all simplified and simply resemble each other. The invitatory and venite that would mark off Matins drop out. So Matins/Lauds and Vespers are virtually identical. In any case, it was a joyous Vespers and we celebrated with Tenebrae, the growing darkness. Pax!