Just got back a few moments ago from our parish's Tenebrae Vespers. A solemn praying of four Psalms (spoken) 22, 2, 27, 51. Then the singing of "O Sacred Head" (Bach setting; but four stanzas) leading into the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, According to the Holy Evangelist St. John (Schalk). David, as usual, did his bang up job on the Evangelista and the choir did a lovely job on the the cries of the crowd. Kudos to Kantor Muth for pulling it off! Responsory and then "A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth." Pastor preached a comforting homily "It Is Finished!" And then we concluded briefly with Kyrie, Our Father, and three collects. The sounding of the strepitus and then we left in silence, but not quite dark. Easter is so late this year there was even a touch of light in the sky.
Earlier, Cindi and I had taken Lydia, Henry and Oliver to the Chief Service, where they were good as gold for us. The Chief Service is longer and filled with some moments of silence, but they made hardly a peep. That liturgy begins unusually (though the way the ancient liturgy DID begin) with simply a collect and then the reading commences. Also unusual that a collect follows the first reading (Isaiah 53) and the second (2 Corinthians 5). Then we sang the first stanza of "Jesus, I Will Ponder" and proceeded to do just that: ponder His Passion as the St. John passion was read, interspersed with the singing of seven stanzas of the rhythmical version of "O Sacred Head." Sermon, then Fortunatus' "Sing My Tongue." The bidding prayer followed and I was delighted to hear grandson Henry chiming in on the Our Father at the end. Then the adoration of the cross with the reproaches (the school children sang the response to the pastor and we joined in the "Lamb of God" after each). They sang the last canticle: "We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You, for by the wood of Your Cross You have brought joy into all the world" as the altar was readied for the Sacrament. Unlike our Roman brothers and sisters, our rite calls not for administration of the pre-sanctified carried from the altar of repose, but for an abbreviated communion rite. So we proceeded from Preface to Our Father to Verba and then Distribution. After the school children communed they sang a lovely Hildebrand setting of "God So Loved the World." Otherwise the Distribution was in silence. A collect after the Distribution and then "The Royal Banners" was sung and we left.
Only one more service to go for this year's joyous Triduum, the Great Vigil of Easter tomorrow. It will not start until 8 p.m. Our pastor (as I have noted before) is no trimmer. The whole provision for the rite will be done, and the service will stretch into the evening with its 12 Old Testament Readings; an epistle reading connected with the Baptismal Remembrance; the Easter Litany, and then the Easter Gospel and the Easter Homily of St. John Chrysostom and then the Sacrament celebrated. Just thinking about it, brings such joy!
The tilt happens tonight. From here on out we're pressing toward the Descent into Hell, the Resurrection, and the Joy that cannot never be taken from us.