Holy Week at the Abbey

Our busiest week of the year in terms of services at the Abbey took place in mid-April. It began with the annual Palm Sunday procession from the South Garth, a garden in the grounds of the Abbey, into the Nave for the 10am Sung Eucharist, which included the dramatic Tudor anthem by Thomas Weelkes, Hosanna to the Son of David.

A solemn Sung Eucharist, incorporating the ceremonial washing of feet, was celebrated on Maundy Thursday; Ubi Caritas by Maurice Duruflé was the communion motet. The theme of penitence continued on Good Friday with an entirely unaccompanied Choral Evensong. This began with a haunting setting of the Crucifixus by the Venetian composer, Antonio Lotti.

The Easter Vigil, sung by the Gentlemen of the Choir, began in the evening twilight. Ancient plainsong was interspersed with readings from scripture by candlelight until, with pealing of bells and a toccata from the organ, the Nave was flooded with light to symbolize the triumph of Christ over darkness.

A capacity congregation attended the Sung Eucharist on Easter Sunday. Sunshine lifted the spirits of all after several weeks of cloud and rain and we hope the music – the Missa Brevis in D by Mozart and O sons and daughters by Stanford – contributed to the air of festivity. The Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah, sung at Evensong, duly rounded off the day’s celebrations. You can listen to some of the music sung in Real Audio:

Further tracks can be heard on the Real Audio page.