Friday, April 03, 2015

The Music of Good Friday

Frequently on past posts I have spoken of the strong role that music played in Holy Week observances in my old parish of St Thomas.  From the Hosannas of Palm Sunday to the Hallelujahs of Easter Sunday it was music rich in both the traditional and the modern.  On Good Friday when the sanctuary was stripped of all ornaments, the redos hidden by a black drape, the clergy, acolytes and choir robed in black cassocks and the organ silent the words and music of the liturgy of the day took on a more important role. 

Though much of the sung liturgy was restricted to plainsong the setting of the Improperia, central to the liturgy of Veneration, was varied and ranged from Stanford to Sanders to Vittoria.  However I don't recall the Palestrina ever being sung.  Though Palestrina had been released from his job as cantor at the Sistine Chapel when Paul IV enforced the rules of celibacy for the Papal Choir his setting of the Reproaches from the Cross were used  there continually on Good Friday from 1555 until the present day.

The photographs that I used in this video were taken on one of our several visits to Barcelona and Antoni Gaudi's miraculous Sagrada Familia. The Passion Facade was unfinished at the time of Gaudi's death but a design was found in his pocket when he was taken to the hospital after being hit by a tram on June 7, 1926. Because he had no identification and was poorly dressed it was assumed he was a drunken vagrant and he was neglected both at the scene of the accident and later at the hospital. By the time the Chaplain of Sagrada Familia recognized him it was too late and he died on June 10.

The work on his masterpiece continued intermittently after his death and continues to this day with a projected completion date by 2026 in time to commemorate the centenary of Gaudi's death.  The work on the decoration of the Passion Facade was begun in 1987 by Josep Maria Subirachs and is in stark contrast to the joyous Nativity Facade and has proven to be controversial in both the arts and religious communities. Though it may be the complete opposite of Gaudi's florid style I find it still fits into the grand design of this miraculous piece of architecture.

This design for the Passion Facade was found in Gaudi's coat pocket when he was taken to
hospital after being hit by a tram.  The accident was to prove fatal: his appearance suggested
that he was just another homeless beggar and he was neglected both at the accident scene
and in hospital. He died two days later.

Josep Maria Subirachs' design for the Passion Facade received much criticism as being
the antithesis of Gaudi's style.  He began work on the facade in 1987 and continue until
his death in 2014.  A right click will take you to a larger version which can be enlarged
for a closer look at the detail.

April 3 - 1922: Joseph Stalin becomes the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

1 comment:

more cowbell said...

It's odd how much I love this type of music, being a former zealot left with Post-Traumatic Religion Syndrome.