Music of Passiontide and the Paschal season as we journey through the Triduum and, at long last, arrive at Easter Sunday.
The Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service begins with a mystical ode to the mysteries of the Eucharist in Olivier Messaien's "Le Banquet Céleste" (the celestial banquet). The Chancel Choir offers "What Wondrous Love Is This" in a contemplative setting by Peter Stearns. Lenten chants from the Taizé tradition will be beautifully embellished with vocal and instrumental descants by members of the Chancel Choir and violinist Harmony Tucker and cellist Aaron Dunigan-Atlee.
On Good Friday, we reflect on the ministry of Jesus and the crucifixion in a time of readings, scripture, prayer, and music of Passiontide from the organ. Works by Jehan Alain, J.S. Bach, Johannes Brahms, Pamela Decker, Jeanne Demessieux, and Ludwig Lenel will be prayerfully offered.
On Easter Sunday we celebrate the resurrection with a joyful musical potpourri featuring the Plymouth Brass, Plymouth Ringers, Chancel Choir, and the roar of the organ! Easter carols will be aplenty including two settings of the Palestrina tune "Victory" (most associated with the text "The Strife Is O'er, the Battle Done") for brass quintet and organ and my own arrangement for handbells at communion — a gentle fanfare expressing Easter's accompanying quiet joy and assurance. The Chancel Choir offers the simple message of "Christ Jesus Is Arisen" in a Renaissance-inspired arrangement by Michael Burkhardt. Finally, the Easter celebration closes with the ecstatic expression of exhilarating joy in Jean Langlais' "Acclamations," the final movement of his "Suite Médiévale" based on the two-note motif of the Gregorian Chant "Christus Vincit" (Christ victorious.)
Expressions of the Triduum from the German Baroque era and ethereal sonorities from 20th century French composers greet us this Maundy Thursday. The impressionistic work "Le Banquet Céleste" (The Heavenly Feast) by Olivier Messiaen begins the service as a musical paraphrase of the eucharistic text John 6.56: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them." Cellist Heidi Mausbach joins us for the restless and surreal second movement of Sonata in A Minor for cello and organ by Marcel Dupré. With soprano Blair Carpenter, the sublime "Pie Jesu" from Maurice Duruflé's Requiemwill be offered. Additional works by J.S. Bach, Ronald Perera, Jean Langlais, and Jehan Alain bring this holy night to a tranquil and reflective space of repose.
On Good Friday, a meditation though music, prayer, scripture, and poetry will be offered at noon. Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson will weave in stories of this holy day with musical expressions from the organ contributing their own tales. Repertoire spanning the centuries including J.S. Bach, Johannes Brahms, Helmut Walcha, and Ludwig Lenel provide you with an inviting template to contemplate the life and death of Christ. In closing, a setting by Jeanne Demessieux on the Good Friday text "In Manus Tuas" (Into your hands, O Father, I commend my spirit) concludes this prayerful time.
The Plymouth Brass returns this Easter Sunday to lead our hymn singing and share joyful works of the Paschal season by G.F. Handel and Johann Crüger. The ecstatic joy of Jean Langlais' "Acclamations" from Suite Médiévale closes the Easter celebration in triumph: Christus vincit.