Monday, April 09, 2007

Eastertide in Charleston

A blessed Eastertide to everyone!

This Easter Week is very special. The “Victimæ Paschali Laudes” Sequence is either recited of chanted every day. It is a wonderful piece of music, especially with the organ accompaniment from “Nova Organi Harmonia” which I have put into Finale with both the English and Latin texts.

My involvement in the Triduum this year was limited to helping ring the bells (change ringing) at the Gloria for both Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday at the Great Vigil, and leading the verses of the “Stabat Mater” a capella at the Stations of the Cross Good Friday evening.

Then came Easter Sunday – a long, wonderful day of church music! The following has been my schedule for three years now.

It began downtown at St. Michael’s Church (Episcopal – the oldest church building in Charleston) helping ring for the pre-dawn Vigil Service.

Then I stopped at a 24-hour restaurant for some breakfast – bacon, eggs & grits – sitting in a booth where I could see the sunrise.

I arrived early for the 8:00 a.m. Mass. There were people already finding a seat at 7:30, and a fairly full room by the time Mass began. Many of the 9:30 regulars were at this Mass. I had a Cantor for both this Mass and the next.

We rang the bells over in the church between the first two Masses, stopping at 10 minutes till so I could get back across the street. That was a feat in itself, as the crowd was very thick!

The 9:30 Mass started just a few minutes late so that all could be seated. The Cantor and I picked a second Communion Hymn just after the Offertory hymn was finished – the room was SRO! Everything went very well musically. I found out from the ushers after Mass that we had over 800 people!

The 11:30 Mass was SRO again, but much more reasonable. I repositioned the microphone so that I could both sing and play the organ. Again, everything went very well. The music for these English Masses was a combination of English and Latin, including the Gloria from Missa VIII – de Angelis.

At 10 minutes before the 5:30 Traditional Latin Mass, I rang down the change ringing bells which had been left in the ‘up’ position since the Vigil on Saturday. Then I played 5 minutes of organ preludes followed by chanting the Easter Introit, again with organ accompaniment from “Nova Organi Harmonia”. Today’s Mass was a Low Mass with the congregation joining in on the hymns. The Offertory hymn was the Sequence we had just heard recited. I also chanted the Communion Antiphon before introducing the hymn. I have been chanting the Introits as prelude music and the Communion Antiphons every Sunday since Septuagesima.

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