Holy Week 2007


Holy Week and Easter: April 1-8, 2007

February 2007

March 2007

(Click on underlined entries below for more information and even recorded music.)

Holy Week Music at the Cathedral


The trip through Holy Week for your Cathedral musicians is always a rewarding if exigent one, involving this year ten services in eight days. The richness of themes and emotions, of course, has inspired composers throughout the ages to real heights of creativity.


You will have noticed some basic changes from the beginning of Lent. The most obvious is that the “A” word (as we like to call it), that is the “Alleluias” have been removed from the gradual psalm at Eucharist, and the word does no appear in any sung text, including hymns. This is just one way in which we note Lent as a preparation time for the great 50 days of Easter. -- Patrick Wedd



Giotto di Bondone:  Entry into Jerusalem, Cappella Scrovegni (Arena Chapel), Padua, 1304-06 

 ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven(NRSV, Luke 19:38)!’


April 1, 2007:  Sunday of the Passion   [Comments


Palm/Passion Sunday is always one of my favourites. First, I love the outdoor start, with the Palm Gospel and then our trip around the block singing the great “Hosanna” hymns. Then the change of mood as we approach the reading of the passion narrative is always gripping. The Trebles will sing a fine setting of “Ride on” by Bill Ives immediately preceding the passion, and then a setting of “O vos omnes” (Behold and seeif there is any sorrow like my sorrow) by Giovanni Croce at communion. -- Patrick Wedd 


10:00 am Choral Eucharist

The Choir of Trebles and Adults


Mass Setting:Derek  Holman (b. 1931), Mass of St. Thomas [Aquinas]

Gradual:   Grayston "Bill" Ives (b.1948), Ride On

Motet:  Giovanni Croce (1557-1609), O Vos Omnes

Postlude:  Raymond Daveluy (b. 1926), All Glory, Laud, and Honour 


On Palm Sunday afternoon the Singers will reflect the same dichotomy with Weelkes’ “Hosanna to the Son of David”, a grand fanfare of a piece, then the greatly effective “Solus ad Victimam” by Kenneth Leighton. This is a deeply felt setting of a poem by Peter Abelard (11th cent.): Alone to sacrifice thou goest, Lord, giving thyself to Death whom thou hast slain… Heavy with weeping may the three days pass, to win the laughter of thine Easter Day. You see that  it encapsulates the entire week in a few verses. It has also become tradition that the Evensong postlude is “Jésus accepte la souffrance” by the great Olivier Messiaen. As with all his organ works, this captures the same themes of anguish and ultimate triumph in most unusual ways, including pedal solos for a deep and dark reed stop rarely heard on its own! -- Patrick Wedd


4:00 pm Choral Evensong

The Cathedral Singers


Prelude: Healy Willan (1880-1968), Vexilla Regis 

Introit: Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623), Hosanna to the Son of David (OBTA)

Responses:Thomas Tunnard

Canticles: Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986) in A-flat

Motet: Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988), Solus ad Victimam

Postlude:  Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992), Jésus accepte la souffrance





Domenico Ghirlandaio, Judas the Betrayer at the Last Supper (detail), Cenacolo di San Marco, Florence, 1482

After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do (NRSV, John 13:28).


April 4:  Wednesday in Holy Week


The office of Tenebrae is one of the most dramatic of the year. It’s title means “darkness”, and as the service proceeds, candles are extinguished one by one, so that the space is in total gloom at the end save one light which is then hidden to represent Christ in the grave; a loud noise is made (the Dean loves this part) representing the Easter earthquake, the candle is restored, and everyone leaves in silence. The music of this office includes meditative psalms and canticles to plainsong; the other particular feature is the singing of three lessons from the book of Lamentations to a tone reserved exclusively for Tenebrae. Responsories this year will be by Roland de Lassus, a renaissance composer of much elegance. Altogether this is an evening well worth attending. -- Patrick Wedd 

7:30 pm Choral Tenebrae

The Cathedral Singers


Plainsong, Psalms

Responsory: Orlande de Lassus(1532-1594), Domine Convertere

Responsory: Lassus, Domine, Exaudi Orationem Meam

Responsory: Lassus, In Monte Oliveti




 Ford Madox Ford, Christ Wasing the Foot of St. Peter

Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head(NRSV, John 13:8-9)!’


April 5:  Maundy Thursday   [Comments]


On the evening of Maundy Thursday we sing the Mass of the Institution in which we commemorate Christ’s “last supper”, the washing of the disciples’ feet and the institution of the Eucharist; rich themes indeed. This year we sing a setting by contemporary Richard Shephard of Jesus’ words: A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, as well as the traditional plainsong “Ubi caritas”: Where love and charity prevail, God himself is there. The communion motet is the wonderful “O sacrum convivium” of Thomas Tallis, one of his most deeply felt works: O sacred banquet in which Christ is received, as memorial of his passion. The singing of Psalm 22 (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?) while the chancel is stripped of all ornaments is always most moving. -- Patrick Wedd


7:30 pm  Choral Celebration of the Institution of the Eucharist

                With the Washing of Feet and the Stripping of the Altar

The Cathedral Singers


Mass Setting: Healy Willan,(1880-1968) Missa Brevis No. 5

Introit:Richard Shephard (b. 1949),  A New Commandment

Motet: Thomas Tallis (1505-1585),O Sacrum Convivium



Matthias Grünewald: The Small Crucifixion, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., c. 1511-20

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son."  Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother (NRSV, John 19:26)."


April 6:  Good Friday   [Comments]


Good Friday brings three separate opportunities for worship, all of them rich in music. The noon family service takes the form of a very effective Stations of the Cross: our Trebles lead the whole congregation in the singing of several well known and loved hymns, including When I survey the wondrous cross and There is a green hill far away. At 12:45 the Singers present music for meditation on the Passion, and there are two short homilies as well. Two major works are featured this year. The Lassus setting of the 13th century hymn “Stabat Mater”, which focuses on Mary’s reactions to the crucifixion, is for two choirs, one of upper voices, the other lower. This results in fascinating textures as the choirs alternate verse by verse, and are finally combined as the poet prays for the comfort of Christ at our death and for the glory of Paradise. The music is restrained and elegant throughout. This is the piece which Rosemary Cass-Begg’s parish dance group will interpret this year. It has also become our tradition to sing the famous setting of Psalm 51 “Miserere” attributed to the 16th century Italian Gregorio Allegri. The provenance of this piece is most mysterious, as works almost identical reside in the Vatican libraries attributed to other composers, the whole shrouded in mystery because the Sistine Chapel guarded the scores with great secrecy for centuries. One thing is certain: the famous “top C’s”, which have made the quartet writing of this piece so popular, are not in the original scores, but must be the result of the improvisation of “abbellimenti” for which the chapel choir was renowned. In this spirit, it is our practice to add ornaments to the basic lines, largely to emphasize the moments of dissonance and consonance, of tension and release. As part of the excellent BAS Good Friday liturgy we sing the Reproaches by Victoria, as well as his setting of the John Passion, in which character parts are sung by solo voices and the crowds are represented by the choir; we know this setting has proved very moving for many parishioners. -- Patrick Wedd


12 noon  Family Service

The Choir of Trebles


Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672), Praise to Thee, Lord Jesus


12:45 pm  Music and Meditation

The Cathedral Singers


Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), Drop, Drop Slow Tears

William Walton(1902-1983), Drop, Drop Slow Tears

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896), Christus Factus Est

Giammateo Asola (c.1532-1609), Christus Factus Est (TBB)

Lassus,Adoramus Te, Christe (SSA)

Lassus,Tristis Est Anima Mea

Lassus,In Monte Oliveti

Lassus, Stabat Mater

Gregorio Allegri,(1582-1652), Miserere Mei


13:45 pm  The Liturgy of Good Friday

The Cathedral Singers


Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611), The St. John Passion

Victoria, Reproaches


Piero della Francesca: The Resurrection of our Lord, Pinocateca Communale, Sansepolcro, 1463-65

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body (NRSV, Luke 24:1-3).

April 7:  Holy Saturday   [Comments]


The oldest existing liturgy of the church is the Great Vigil of Easter, and this is always a moving experience for those of us involved. The lighting of the new fire, the blessing and lighting of the Paschal Candle, its procession into the darkened Cathedral and the singing of the Exultet are all echoes of ancient rituals, still retaining much power. Beautiful readings from the Hebrew Bible telling stories of creation and redemption are interspersed with canticles and psalms sung by everyone to plainsong, again evoking very old liturgical traditions. Then comes the moment when, as I like to put it, “all Heaven breaks loose”! To begin the Mass itself, the presider intones the Gloria in excelsis; in response, the organ, which has been silent from Maundy Thursday, breaks forth in a great peal of sound, and as many bells as possible are rung (remember to bring a bell with you!); and then everyone sings the Gloria as the building bursts into light, revealing all the Easter decorations which have been so carefully prepared. A truly astounding moment! We then proceed with the great hymns of Easter, and with joyful choral comments, this year including settings of the “Regina coeli”, another medieval text on Mary’s response to the resurrection. -- Patrick Wedd


7:30 pm  The Great Vigil of Easter, with the Lighting of the New Fire,                     the Blessing of the Paschal Candle, and the First Eucharist of Easter

The Cathedral Singers


Vigil: Plainsong, Responsories and Psalms

Mass Setting:Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986), Missa Cantuariensis (Sanctus/Benedictus)

Motets:Gregor Aichinger (1565-1628), Regina Coeli

              Cristóbal de Morales (c.1500-1553), Regina Coeli

              Francesco Soriano (c.1548-1621), Regina Coeli

Postlude:Jean Langlais (1907-1991), Incantation pour Pâques


Agnolo Bronzino, Noli Me Tangere, Casa Buonarroti, Florence

 Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God (NRSV, John 20:17).'"

April 8:  Easter Day [Comments]


Easter Day is one of those Sundays to “pull out all the stops”, call in all our singers and add a brass quartet as well. 2007 is the 100th anniversary of birth of Jean Langlais, the very important Parisian organ virtuoso and composer. We will present his Messe Solennelle, which has become a classic of 20th century mass settings; it is grand and tuneful, and our singers love it. -- Patrick Wedd


10:00 am  Procession and Choral Eucharist

The Combined Cathedral Choirs


Prelude:Jean Langais (1907-1991), Gloria in Excelsis (Messe solennelle)

                 (Brass and Organ):

                Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643), Canzona in G

Mass Setting:Langlais,Messe solennelle

Motets : Arr. Charles Wood,(1866-1926), This Joyful Eastertide

              Arr. Robert Shaw (1916-1999), Now the Green Blade Riseth

Postlude:  Michel-Richard Delalande (1657-1726), Musique royale


At Evensong the Singers will celebrate with canticles by William Walton, a fine setting of the Easter Anthems by John Joubert, and the wonderful short cantata by Benjamin Britten “Rejoice in the Lamb”. The text, by the visionary yet disturbed 18th century poet Christopher Smart, invites all of creation to worship God, including several Hebrew Bible figures, flowers, musical instruments, and even Smart’s cat Jeoffry. It is both whimsical and profound, and Britten’s music is simply genius. -- Patrick Wedd


4:00 pm  Festal Evensong

The Cathedral Singers


Prelude:Herbert Howells (1892-1983), Saraband for Easter Day

Introit:John Joubert (b.1927), Christ is Risen

Responses:Timothy Moore (1922-2003)

Canticles:William Walton (1902-1983)

Motet:Benjamin Britten, Rejoice in the Lamb

Postlude: Langlais, Fête