Thursday, April 28, 2011

Good Friday in Melbourne at St Aloysius

By the time I reached the apartment where I was staying, and had a very late dinner, it was almost midnight on Thursday; so I awoke fairly late on Good Friday morning.  I had intended to read Matins and Lauds, but in the event I only had time for the Little Hours – for, after attending Stations of the Cross back at St Aloysius at 10:30am, which took half an hour, and then getting coffee and a hot cross bun for breakfast, I ended up joining the ad hoc schola for Easter Sunday's coming services, and we practiced the Mass and Vesper music for a good two hours and more.  I had barely enough time to go back to my quarters and change into a suit for the afternoon's solemn service.  So much for my intention of reading over Dix's masterful sermons for the Three Hours' Devotion...

The Commemoration of the Passion lasted two and a half hours: it is always a long, sombre service; the sung Gospel (the crowd parts in polyphony), a short sermon, the solemn prayers, the Reproaches whilst we crept to the Cross, the Communion, all was rightfully lengthy and fatiguing – for there was One Who hung on the Rood three hours, long ago.

After the liturgy, hot soup and hot cross buns were available for the weary faithful; after a rest at my apartment, I returned for Tenebræ (8:00-9:50pm).  I must say, I always find Tenebræ a very difficult service to appreciate intellectually, especially as one must concentrate so hard on properly chanting the psalms, without the time to savour them, and especially as the particular choice of Lessons from Lamentations and St Augustine I find difficult to appreciate, as to the meaning of the words selected; but the emotional impact of this worship is great: the chanting of the Lamentations, Victoria's settings of the Responsories in particular, and the ever-deepening darkness, till the final candle is hidden, the strepitus terrifies, and then the light returns.

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