It is now Holy Week at the Abbey, one of the busiest times of the year for the Choir, as the music list confirms. Commemorations began this morning with the Sung Eucharist for Palm Sunday, preceded by a procession from the garden outside the south transept, and will continue with a further Sung Eucharist at 7.30pm on Maundy Thursday. The Gentlemen of the Choir will sing a Fourteenth Century Mass and Vocem meam audisti, a haunting setting by Alfonso Ferrabosco the Elder of part of the Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Good Friday sees the Choir singing Evensong unaccompanied. This moving service begins with the phrase Crucifixus rising through the scale as it is passed from one vocal part to the next in Antonio Lotti’s setting of part of the Nicene Creed. Other music includes Morley’s short evening service of fauxbourdons alternating with plainsong and the only work in our repertoire composed by a monarch: Faithful cross (Crux fidelis) by John IV of Portugal.
The Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday begins outside with the lighting of the Paschal candle and continues in darkness inside with readings interspersed with Plainsong Psalms sung by the Gentlemen. Then, with an organ fanfare, the Abbey is flooded with light and a Gloria is sung. The service concludes with the renewal of baptismal vows.
The services on Easter Sunday are always well attended and, weather permitting, this year should be no exception. We conclude a busy week at Evensong with Wesley’s rousing anthem Blessèd be the God and Father.