Monday, April 01, 2013

Tenebrae in St Mary Moorefields

On 'Spy Wednesday' I attended the celebration of Maundy Thursday Tenebrae in London organised by the Latin Mass Society. The Extraordinary Form Triduum is celebrated in St Mary Moorefields, thanks to the great generosity of the Parish Priest Fr Peter Newby (a former Chaplain of Oxford University); what with other things going on in the church, we only have one of the Triduum's three Tenebrae services, anticipated the day before.

The polyphonic consort Cantus Magnus accompanied it, and presented the UK Premiere of Tenebrae Lamentations and Responses by Italian cleric and composer Pietro Amico Giacobetti (fl. 1579–1616).

Only two of his works are known, with the five-voice Lamentationes 'cum omnibus responsoriis in triduo hebdomadae sanctae' (Venice, 1601), a sublime, austere and elegant set that have been neglected in the choral repertoire. For this performance, the first modern edition has been prepared by Presto Publications.

This was an exciting musical event, and a very fitting accompaniment to the service.


The polyphonists say the Responsaries between the readings, and the cry 'Jerusalem, return to the Lord!' found at the end of the three readings from Jeremiah's Lamentations.

I joined the schola singing the psalms, and these photos were taken by a member of the congregation.

Tenebrae is the Matins and Lauds of each day of the Triduum, celebrated with a number of special features. Not only is it austere (no Gloria Patri at the end of the psalms, for example), but there is a unique ceremony of extinguishing each of a set of 14 candles after each psalm. Although Matins is in origin a service celebrated at night ('Matins' means 'morning, but this is the 'morning' before dawn), it developed over many centuries as an evening service, and the candles are gradually extinguished as the evening gloom gathers. So our celebration was, in fact, in accord with tradition.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Dr Shaw, great photos of a beautiful tradition in a lovely church.