Thursday, April 21, 2011

Where There Is Love and Charity

Tonight is Maundy Thursday the beginning of the Easter Triduum in many Christian churches. For me it was always the most emotional of the observances of those three days that formed the climax of Holy Week.

At my old parish church, St Thomas, Huron Street, in Toronto the evening brought the celebration of the Lord's Supper and after the homily the ancient custom of the Washing of the Feet would be enacted. While this ritual, which has its roots in the traditions of hospitality, was taking place the choir would sing one of the loveliest and most loving of ancient hymns - Ubi Caritas.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
Christ's love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
As we are gathered into one body,
Beware, lest we be divided in mind.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease,
And may Christ our God be in our midst.

This setting by Maurice Duruflé - perhaps the most famous version - was one of his Four Motets Based on Gregorian themes.

This was the only picture I could find of the inside of St Thomas, Huron Street, my old parish church in Toronto.  As the observance of Maundy Thursday drew to a close the glorious Arts and Crafts interior became shrouded in black and darkness - the wonderful carvings, brass work and decorations cloaked until the first Gloria of Easter.
At the end of the Mass the Sacrament was processed out of the main body of the church to a temporary chapel in the crypt.  Then as the unaccompanied choir, the organ remained silent until Easter Eve, intoned a series of antiphons the sanctuary was stripped bare. Altar coverings were removed, the huge pavement candelabra were cloaked in black and the candles removed.   The beautiful carved reredos and gleaming brass candles of the retable were covered by a full length black drape. The sanctuary lamps were extinguished and it became a dark and empty place,  not to spring to life again until two days later with the jubilant Gloria of the first Mass of Easter. 

21 aprile - Giovedi Santo

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Debra She Who Seeks said...

Beautiful rituals of charity and grief, so suited to the meaning of this time.

Redspect said...

"If you haven't any charity in your heart you have the worst kind of heart trouble" to cure it help people, let's unite for one good cause, be a volunteer"save lives"!