Maundy Thursday’s anthems reflect two different styles of church music and also point to the two major foci of the day itself. The Offertory Anthem is based on the plainsong hymn Ubi caritas et amor, which is one of the antiphons that has been traditionally sung during the washing of feet. William Byrd’s motet, Venite comedite, which our choir will sing during Communion, refers to the elements of bread and wine that Jesus used when he instituted the Eucharist. Listen carefully as the rhythmic motion increases at the words “et bibite vinum” (“and drink the wine”). One can almost imagine the pouring of the wine! During the footwashing, Derek Wong will play a solo oboe piece, as well.
On Good Friday this year, the Passion according to John will be solemnly chanted by members of the choir. This is the ancient manner of presenting this text in liturgy. The short motet that evening, Crux fidelis, is a beautifully chromatic one, expressing the pathos and heaviness of the day. The music is attributed to King Juan IV of Portugal, and the text is from Venantius Honorius Fortunatus, and is one verse of the Holy Week hymn Pange lingua gloriosum, six verses of which are found at 165 or 166 in The Hymnal 1982.
Easter Day brings an anthem from our Junior Choir and two anthems from the Senior Choir. The hymns and prelude will be enhanced by Kevin Golden, trumpet, and our very own Derek Wong will play an oboe piece. The Offertory anthem, “Come ye faithful,” is by Boston composer Everett Titcomb. Titcomb was taught at Boston University and was organist and choirmaster from 1910-1960 at the Church of Saint John the Evangelist, Bowdoin Street. This parish led the revival of plainsong in Episcopal Church worship, so it is no surprise that Titcomb quotes in this anthem the Great Alleluia from the Great Vigil of Easter (found at S70 in The Hymnal 1982). British composer Richard Shephard has written a fantastic arrangement of the Spiritual “The angel rolled the stone away” that the choir will sing during Communion. It even includes a glissando for the organ! And, in Grace Church tradition, the choir, congregation, trumpet, and organ will provide the postlude, “Hallelujah” from Handel’s Messiah.
I wish each of you a blessed Holy Week and a joyful Easter!