Today is Maundy Thursday, the beginning of our four-day marathon (The Three Days plus Easter Day). The choir will meet tonight for rehearsal at 6:15, followed by the service at 7:30 pm. For some reason, it doesn’t seem like it will be so horrendous this year. I guess it’s because this is probably the first year EVER that we are not picking up programs from the printer at the last moment. Finally, the church has a brand-new color copier!
A few days ago there was a survey on FaceBook: What is your favorite service of the Sacred Triduum? Of the three services (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil), I think I would pick Maundy Thursday, for its many moods and contrasts. For the last umpteen years, I’ve started the service with Bach’s “O Lamm Gottes unschuldig,” (O Lamb of God) from the Great Eighteen Chorales. It’s in three parts, with the melody played quietly in the first verse in the soprano; in the second verse it’s in the alto and gets a little louder; and finally for the grand third verse, the melody is in the pedal — all a downward movement. Perhaps this signifies Jesus being put into the grave?
Then we’ll sing “Love divine, all loves excelling” (Hyfrydol) with the last verse harmonization by Carl Crosier, followed Kyrie X by Jacques Berthier, and a Gloria by Peter Hallock with organ and handbells. After the first lesson, we’ll sing Psalm 116 by Hallock, and then I’m DONE with organ playing. I even make a point of closing up the organ right after the Psalm, as the organ stays silent until midway through Saturday’s service, after the Easter Proclamation and the intonation to the Gloria in Excelsis.
Anyway, after the Psalm tonight, the rest of the service is sung a cappella, with pitches given from a pitchpipe. The choir will be singing “Christus factus est” by Richard DeLong, Maundy chants during the footwashing, “Draw nigh and take the body of the Lord,” by DeLong for the offertory; “Ave verum” by Anton Bruckner for the communion, Spanish chant and “Tantum ergo” by Bruckner, and finally Psalm 88