« Vesperae solemnes de confessore | Main | Treason? »

August 07, 2005

Requiem Aeternam

Last Friday night's Requiem to a setting by Thomas Luis de Victoria was an interesting experience. Firstly, it was very moving, secondly the music created a tension in the soul which underscored the separation from those we loved and whom we remembered in the Mass. As ever, the choir performed magnificently and the organ accompaniment (some of it is unaccompanied) was superb.

The Requiem service is in itself stark. There are no hymns, there is no sung prayer, and the lessons are read unnannounced and without a closing declaration. The Gospel is read from the nave, the Deacon reading it rather than the usual sung chant, and the acolytes who accompany the Deacon and Sub Deacon do not carry their torches. The intercessory prayers are short and the names of those who are being commemorated are read during these prayers. Even the proclamation of the peace is subdued.

Where there would normally be hymns, special settings are sung as Introit, Gradual, and Offertory (during which the elements of Bread and Wine are carried up to the High Altar by members of the congregation, received at the entrance to the sanctuary by the acolytes who then hand them to the Deacon and Sub Deacon who prepare the altar for the Celebrant Priest.

The Sanctus and Benedictus have their usual place in the "Sursum Corda", the introduction of the Consecration prayers - which are again said and not sung - and the Agnus Dei follows the consecration prayers and the Lord's Prayer and "fraction" - the moment when the priest audibly and vissibly breaks the "Host" the large "Priest's Wafer" which he will share between all the sacred ministers and sometimes with members of the congregation as well.

There is no final blessing, and the post communion prayers are followed by the dismissal "Go in the Peace of Christ!" and the singing of the Lux Aeterna. The Sanctuary party process out in silence followed by the choir - there is no organ voluntary and the congregation, too, leave in silence.

While I personally found the service moving and uplifting, I enjoyed the music, but would not put it among my favourites. But then many others did, so I guess we all take something away from these services.

It was equally appropriate that we should have celebrated this Requiem Eucharist on the eve of the anniversary of the dropping of the Hiroshima bomb and the suffering that preceded it and ensued from it. It was not forgotten in our prayers.

May all the faithful departed rest in peace - and rise in glory at the resurrection.

Saturday morning's service of Solemn Matins was enriched by music from Harris, Leighton, Walton, Tippet, and an organ Praeludium by Jackson. The Leighton setting for the Preces and responses is a difficult one, but our choir delivered it perfectly, as they did the settings for Psalms 22 and 23, the psalms set for the day. The Te Deum to a setting by Leighton is techniaclly brilliant, but probably not to everyone's taste, while Walton's setting for the Jubilate is equally challenging but easier to appreciate.

Tippet's Anthem setting for Plebs Angelica is superb, and the choir did excellent work in their rendition of it. As a closer, Carleton's rendition of Leighton's "Paen" was superb and, yet again, demonstrated how fortunate we are to have the magnificent Milton Organ with its amazing versatility - and a Master of the consoles to play it.

Laus Deo! Deo gratias!

Posted by The Gray Monk at August 7, 2005 07:48 PM