…is the hardest but most rewarding time of the Christian Year, especially when we share and observe it together as unworthy but faithful disciples.
Sunday 22nd March, Passion Sunday when the Crosses and Statues are covered. 10.45am. Mass in A minor, by Casciolini and the Anthem, Crucifixus etiam pro nobis, by Lotti.
Wednesday 25th March please try and come to the Feast of the Annunciation. Sung Mass at 7.30pm. Missa “Dixit Maria” by Hans Leo Hassler. Anthem: Hymn to the Virgin, by Benjamin Britten.
Sunday 29th March, Palm Sunday, 10.30am (N.B. earlier start and the clocks will have gone forward an hour overnight!) Sung Mass with Blessing and Procession of Palms. Sung Passion Gospel. Mass in D by Leighton. Anthem: Pueri Hebraeorum, by Victoria.
Wednesday 1st April at 6pm, Spy Wednesday when Judas arranged to betray Jesus, the traditional 14 Stations of the Cross are prayed along with the singing of the devotional poem Stabat Mater Dolorosa to music by Charpentier.
Stations of the Cross are said weekly during Lent on Wednesdays, except Feast of the Annunciation (25th Mar), but today the prayers and meditation are enhanced by a simple setting of the Stabat Mater.
Maundy Thursday, 2nd April, Sung Mass at 7.30pm. We especially remember Jesus and his Disciples in the Upper Room, the Foot-washing, how the Last Supper became the First Holy Communion, the words of Jesus to his followers, and the Betrayal.
The Mass Setting is Missa Brevis by Lotti, and the Anthems are “Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est” by the contemporary composer Paul Mealor and “God so loved the world” from Sir John Stainer’s Victorian meditation, The Crucifixion.
At the end of the service, the High Altar is stripped, the Blessed Sacrament carried to the Altar of Repose in the Lady Chapel, and the Watch is kept there through the night recalling Christ and his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane and then before Pontius Pilate.
Friday 3rd April, Good Friday 10.30am Good Friday Liturgy. Reproaches, by Upton. Veneration of the Cross. Crux Fidelis, attr. King John IV of Portugal.
Crux fidelis, inter omnes arbor una nobilis: nulla silva talem profert, fronde, flore, germine.
Dulce lignum, dulces clavos, dulce pondus sustinet.
Faithful Cross, among all, the one noble tree; no other forest offers such leaf, flower and seed. Sweet the wood, sweet the nails, sweet the weight it bears.
Part of a 6th century hymn by Venantius Fortunatus written for the procession that brought a part of the true Cross to the Frankish Queen Radegunda in 570. Interestingly, she is a patron saint of Jesus College, Cambridge, which was founded on the site of the 12th century Nunnery, and has a chapel in Exeter Cathedral named after her.
Although King John IV of Portugal (1604-1656) was an accomplished musician and composer, the Crux fidelis attributed to him cannot be traced to earlier than mid-19th century France. His extensive library was destroyed with much else in the tragic Lisbon earthquake of 1755.
Good Friday, 8pm Tenebrae. An ancient service sung in Latin and English from the West Gallery to plainsong and polyphony by Lassus (1532-1594) and Palestrina (1525-1594), ending in darkness and silence to symbolise Jesus’ descent to the dead.
Saturday 4th April, Holy Saturday 8pm – The Easter Vigil . We kindle the New Light, prepare and bless the Paschal Candles for St Michael’s and St David’s, hear the Exsultet, the proclamation of Christ’s Resurrection, and renew our Baptismal Vows.
Setting: Fitzwilliam Mass by Alex West. Anthem: Lift up your heads, O ye gates, from Handel’s Messiah.
Easter Sunday, 5th April at 10.45am, Festal Sung Mass and Blessing of the Easter Garden.
All at St Michael’s wish you a Happy and Blessed Easter. Christ is Risen; He is risen indeed!
Introit: Surrexit Christus Dominus, Michael Praetorius (1571-1621) died on his 50th birthday and is buried in Wolfenbuettel.
Setting: Kleine Orgelmesse, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) prolific Classical composer.
Motet: Easter Anthem, William Billings (1746-1800) of Boston, Massachusetts, is widely regarded as the first American choral composer.
The Lord is ris’n indeed, Hallelujah.
Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
Hallelujah. And did He rise?
Hear, O ye nations, hear it, O ye dead.
He rose, He burst the bars of death, He burst the bars of death and triumph’d o’er the grave.
Then I rose, then first humanity triumphant passed the crystal ports of light, and seiz’d eternal youth.
Man, all immortal hail, hail; Heaven, all lavish of strange gifts to man;
Thine’s all the glory, man’s the boundless bliss.
Since it is the first Sunday of April as well as Easter Day, there will also be Festal Choral Evensong and Benediction at 6pm. The music will be Thomas Tallis’s Festal Responses, Canticles by Herbert Brewer in D, and Anthem “This Joyful Eastertide” by Charles Wood. Benediction Hymns to the familiar plainsong.