Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Triduum - Part 1

The Triduum gets off to a dramatic start with the Maundy Thursday. The morning office is somewhat sombre as we follow the tradition of omitting the glorias at Morning and Evening Prayer during the Triduum. This is not strictly BCP, but was widely tolerated in even Low Church dioceses in times past. The major liturgical function of Maundy Thursday is the Eucharist. However, this differs from the standard Roman/Anglo-Catholic model in that English liturgical tradition, as represented by Sarum, does not have separate Chrism and "evening" Masses, but rather a single Eucharist that covers both, which, in former times was celebated in the morning, with Vespers occuring straight after communion.

In accordance with the older custom, I took the option of focussing on the institution of the Lord's Supper. The Gospel is the shorter of the two Gospels appointed in the 1928 BCP which focuses on the "new commandment." The older rites do not incorporate the foot washing into the service; that was part of a separate function in the chapter house in the old Roman Rite and in the Sarum Use.

For the most part the Maundy Mass is a standard 1928 BCP Solemn Eucharist. As the Bishop is the celebrant, we use white, rather than the festal red prescribed by Sarum for a priest celebrant. With our relatively slender resources the altar party consisted of the bishop, deacon, subdeacon, thurifer, and crucifer. Standard High Mass ceremonial as per the English Use is followed, but things begin to "go wrong" at the end of the Prayer of Consecration when we came to the blessing of oils. In the absence of any authoritative guidence, I followed the old custom I stopped after the words "and pardoning our offenses" to bless the oil of the sick; then, after the Lord's Prayer the Oil of the Catechumens and the Chrism are blessed before Communion. After Communion, the Eucharist concludes with the Prayer of Thanksgiving, the Blessing and the sacrament for tomorrow's Mass of the Pre-Sanctified being reserved in "the accustomed place."

Evening Prayer then follows, with the Gloria Patri omitted as in the morning. The sacred ministers then go to the sacristy and remove their outer vestments. They then strip the altar while Ps. 22 was read. Lastly the bishop washes the altar with water and vinegar. The church is left stripped and bare for Good Friday.

The Good Friday begins with Morning Prayer with its three proper psalms. Again there is no Venite, no glorias, and with Ps 51 as the first Canticle. This latter touch is "borrowed" from the proposed English BCP of 1928. Unlike many places which, incorrectly, wear only cassocks, normal choir habit is worn by the clergy. Being a bishop, I wear rochet and black chimere, but on Good Friday I omit the usual signs of Episcopal jurisdiction - the ring and the staff. Mattins is followed with the Litany, and concludes with Ante-Communion and a short address.

The afternoon service is that appointed in the 1967 Scottish Holy Week booklet. For this service the celebrant wears an alb and either back, or a dark red chasuble, the deacon alb and stole, and the subdeacon an alb. A lay reader in an alb takes the place of the third "passion" deacon. I favour dark red as the colour for Good Friday as that is more in keeping with English tradition.

The 1967 Booklet provides an outline into which BCP elements are fitted rather than a complete service. At St Paul's the service begins with the three Good Friday collects. This is followed by three lessons - Hosea 6, Hebrew 10, and St. John 19 interspersed with Ps 31, 1-6, and Ps 140. The Passion is read by the deacon, subdeacon, and reader. A short address then follows. The service continues with the nine solemn collects, which in our case consist of a long bidding read by the deacon followed by a suitable prayer from the BCP read by the priest. This arrangement is similar to the modern Roman Rite, but commended itself to me not for that reason, but simply because it is practical.

When the nine solemn collects are completed, the celebrant removes his chasuble and goes to the sacristy to collect the Cross. As he brings it in he makes three stations at the rear of the nave, "amidships," and just in front of the altar steps. Each time he lifts up the cross and says "Behold the wood of the Cross, whereon hung the world's salvation" and the congregation makes the response. The cross, rather than being individually venerated, is placed on its bracket above the altar and the service proceeds with the Reproaches from the English Hymnal ending with the hymn "Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle."

After this the reserved sacrament is brought from the side altar. The celebrant washes his hands and the service proceeds with the General Confession, Absolution and Comfortable Words, Lord's Prayer, Prayer of Humble Access, and Agnus Dei before communion is administered. The ablutions are taken in the normal manner, and there is a closing collect. The ministers leave in silence, and remove their vestments. The reader extinguishes the candles and removes them from the altar, and the linen cloth is also removed. The clergy then put on choir habit and return to church for Evening Prayer which is said in the usual form for the Triduum. This placement of Evening Prayer immediately after the principal liturgy is an adaption of the mediaeval custom of saying Vespers "infra missam" to the rubrics of the BCP.

This series of blog entries will conclude with the next post, which describes with ceremonies of Easter Even, and the Vigil.

1 comment:

  1. Your Excellency,

    It should be noted that the "Chrism Mass" is a creation of Dr Bugnini. Prior to 1955, the Chrism was consecrated at the (only) Mass of Maundy Thursday, after which the Blessed Sacrament was reposed, which was followed by Vespers, and then followed by the Stripping of the Altars. (The Maundy was observed later in the day as a separate service.)