Monday, March 21, 2005

holy week

We gathered yesterday morning in the interior courtyard at church. The sky was gray and cloudy. Temps were brisk. Our white cottas and black cassocks flew in the wind, as did the red of the acolytes and the white and red of the priests. We all held palm fronds. With opening chants, prayers, and then the choir chanting Psalm 22, we then walked out onto the sidewalk, and processed into the church. The congregation gathered inside, we sang All Glory, Laud and Honor.

Palm Sunday starts with celebration and then encounters great sorrow (with the reading of the Passion). By the end of the week, we will experience sorrow and then again celebration. Yesterday, we sang pieces by Hoinby and Gasperini. The sanctus and benedictus were chanted by all without accompaniment.

Sometimes singing requires that worship comes in moments, in either rehearsal or during the service. We also work. But there is also a real connection that comes from singing in a choir, at least in the liturgical role we play in our parish. Much like the rhythm in a piece of music being sung -- once it starts you don't stop, repeat, or skip around; instead you move on in the timing of the piece -- worship services are movements forward. In a concentrated period like this week, regardless of our energy level, our concentration, our doubts and concerns, we start and at times hang on.

And sometime on Easter morning, after Maundy Thursday's intimate communion and altar stripping, after the starkness of Good Friday, after the genuine joy of the Great Easter vigil on Saturday evening, we will get to church early in the morning and then sing through two full services. On that day we will sing two Handel pieces, the Hallelujah Chorus and an Easter text set to Zadak The Priest. There will be brass and drums and the nave will be crowded. Many who come on that Sunday will not have shared the drama and work of the week. Others will be our companions for part or all of it. We will be tired -- bone achingly tired.

2 comments:

Rob said...

I think I'm already tired!

Enjoyed reading your Palm Sunday description.

We did something a bit different this year--processed in to Ride On, King Jesus with only our drummer playing along to keep the rythm (he was playing a Jim Bay--at least I think that is what he calls it). Anyway, the Crucifer, drummer and I stopped at the back of the church while the choir went up front and the congregation filled the pews. Then the drummer finished his procession behind them, coming before the altar and bring the drumming to a dramatic crescendo. Then WHAM!--he stopped, the other instruments came in, and we all sang "All glory laud and honor" together. It was our Music Minister's (I never quite know what to call her) idea, and it seemed to work quite well.

Don said...

Rob -- that sounds like an effective opening to Palm Sunday. Breaking up the routine within the bounds of the litugy gives people an opportunity to have new understandings or experiences.

Perhaps that's why I love choral evensong, particularly for the many different musical settings written for it. Composers often stress different tones or phrases that make very familiar text come alive.

May your Holy Week offer times for you to find peaceful rest!