HURON UNIVERSITY CHAPEL
1349 Western Road
North Parking Lot Available
Holy Week & Easter 2022
The Hearse prepared for Tenebrae on Holy Wednesday
April 10 – 17
The Meaning of Holy Week
Love would never leave us alone.
Everything in Holy Week speaks of love.
The liturgies, which run from Palm Sunday on April 10 through Easter Sunday on April 17, are often long, for example, because love endures; the liturgies are sensual, because love depends on bodily intimacies (touch, smell, sight, sound); the liturgies are sorrowful, because every day love is violated; the services are mysteriously joyful, because no violation of love exhausts love’s mercy. Indeed, the Holy Week journey that recounts day by day the story of Christ’s death and so seems nothing if not tragic is, properly understood, from beginning to end the story of a wedding—everything speaks of love.
This, at least, is the conviction of one old tradition that places the image of Christ the Bridegroom at the very beginning of the most sacred week of the Christian year. Of the many titles given to God in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures (Saviour, Lord, Father), Bridegroom is arguably the most common and significant. Holy Week is a journey into the mystery of a divine desire to be ‘wed’ to our humanity not simply in its beauty and goodness, but in its deepest and most profound darkness and forsakenness. In all of the liturgies and sermons, in the music and the silence, one truth will be proclaimed over and over again: that, though the world may betray love, ‘Love,’ as Bob Marley sings, ‘would never leave us alone.’
The daily liturgies of Holy Week are animated by lengthy readings from the four Gospels (the ‘biographies’ of Jesus at the beginning of the Christian New Testament). The reading of the story of Christ’s suffering begins on Palm Sunday with a procession through the University grounds that includes a live donkey, palm branches, and choir, in commemoration of the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem the week before his death and resurrection. The procession insists that we are not simply witnesses of the events of Holy Week, but participants. Historically, Jesus came to Jerusalem and was received as the Messianic King. The crowds that rejoiced to see him arrive quickly abandoned him and called for his death once they realized that he preached not a political or social revolution, but a revolution of the heart. Palm Sunday suggests that there is a tension, even a deep contradiction, in our relationship to love.
Mysteriously, the Gospel narratives that begin on Palm Sunday and are the most distinctive feature of the liturgies through Wednesday, offer us a unique way to cultivate our capacity to pay attention. By paying attention to the life of Jesus of Nazareth we discover the capacity to pay deeper attention to others as well as to ourselves. Indeed, as we listen attentively we begin to hear echoes of our contemporary reality in the narratives. For example, we may begin to see that the coercive use of power by the Roman authorities is not so different from the coercion that is practiced by most bureaucracies; we begin to see how tempting it is to sacrifice real people to abstract ideals of peace or justice. More urgently, we may begin to see ourselves or others in the story: some of us may be busy betraying the love we know, like Peter; some of us may have fallen asleep to love like the disciples on Maundy Thursday; others of us, like the Mary who anoints Jesus for burial early in the week, may be wide awake to love, even though this may require profound heartache.
The most unique services of the week begin on Wednesday evening with the candle-lit service of Tenebrae. This sung liturgy consists of chanted Psalms, lessons, and passages from the Lamentations of Jeremiah. As each psalm is sung, a candle is extinguished and the Huron Chapel darkens until only one candle remains. This service makes no demands on those in attendance other than attentiveness. It beautifully anticipates the “action” of the coming three days:
On Maundy Thursday, Tenebrae’s darkness gathers round Jesus who, after washing the feet of his disciples and calling them to love one another, is betrayed by Judas and abandoned by his dearest friends. This night we especially bear witness to the world’s suffering. We repent for our complicity in the large horrors of suffering that arise from betrayal: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and most recently Ukraine. But in the betrayal of Jesus we may find every betrayal of love in the history of the world — the daily domestic betrayals of family life, the betrayals of friends, the betrayals of lovers, of the Church’s betrayals of its Master, the daily betrayals of the poor and oppressed in London and beyond.
On Good Friday, the darkness of Tenebrae is made complete when Jesus is crucified. As the Gospels suggest, this death has cosmic significance: the sun is darkened, the earth shakes. All of nature is confused by the death of the one John’s Gospel says is the “one by whom all things are made.” Jesus rests in the tomb for the remainder of Friday and Saturday — the Jewish Sabbath — and we are invited to rest as well. In some mysterious way these hours of quiet allow the week’s revelations to germinate in the soil of our hearts until, at the Easter Vigil on Saturday night, a large fire is kindled and the most important liturgy of the year begins with the Deacon announcing: The Light of Christ! The darkness of death is overcome by the Resurrection and the entire cosmos is given a share in Christ’s victory over death. Easter Sunday morning continues our celebration of the Resurrection.
So then, what do we discover in Holy Week? Many things. The week is an antidote to the culture of distraction that numbs us to both our own and others’ loveliness and fragility; it is an alternative to the culture of consumption that reduces us to our most superficial appetites; it is the opportunity to discover that we are all complicit in the world’s pain — and others are complicit in ours — and yet to do so from the perspective of forgiveness; it reminds us that the human use of power almost always coerces from above, but the divine use of love serves from below.
But more than all of this, Holy Week is about the discovery, in the words of Bob Marley, that “Love would never leave us alone.” Though the world may turn its back on Love, Love himself is always turning towards us. In Holy Week, we dare to believe that there is a Bridegroom for each and every one of us — one who wishes to take upon himself all that is ours, including the betrayals and sadnesses of our lives, in order to give us all that is his, including his life and love.
Matthias Grünewald. The Isenheim Altarpiece, 1515. Unterlinden Mueseum,. Colmar, France.
About our Good Friday Buxtehude Offering
The choir will sing Membra Jesu Nostri (The most holy limbs of our suffering Jesus), a cycle of seven cantatas composed by Dieterich Buxtehude in 1680. This work is known as the first Lutheran oratorio and is based on a Medieval poem, Salve mundi salutare, which was formerly ascribed to Bernard of Clairvaux, but now thought more likely to have been written by Arnulf of Leuven. The work is in seven sections, each addressed to a different part of Christ’s crucified body: feet, knees, hands, sides, breast, heart, and face. In each part, biblical words referring to the limbs frame verses of the poem. Mr Stuart Kinney will offer reflections on each part to guide our adoration of Love’s wounded limbs.
|April 10 – Palm Sunday|
|11 AM||Donkey Procession & Sung Holy Communion|
Willie, a donkey from Oxford County, will join the tenor section.
Throughout Holy Week, the choir sings Claudio Casciolini’s (1697-1760) Mass for three voices and chant schola. The introit anthem proclaims Hosanna to the Son of David (T. L. de Victoria, 1548-1611). The reading of the Passion marks a shift in mood, reflected by the Choral Anthem Christ Our Lord Became Obedient unto Death (G. A. MacFarren, 1813-1887).
|April 11 – Monday in Holy Week|
|9:30 AM||Morning Prayer & Holy Communion Reading of the Passion Narrative|
Introit Judica me, Domine Plainchant
Motet Salve Jesu, rex D. Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Hymns O sacred head Surrounded
My Song is Love Unknown
|April 12 – Tuesday in Holy Week|
|9:30 AM||Morning Prayer & Holy Communion Reading of the Passion Narrative |
Introit Nos autem gloriam Plainchant
Motet Parce Domine J. Obrecht (1450-1505)
Hymns Sing my tongue the glorious telling
Ah, Holy Jesu, how have I offended
|April 13 – Tuesday in Holy Week|
|9:30 AM||Morning Prayer & Holy Communion Reading of the Passion Narrative|
Introit In nomine Domini Plainchant
Motet Hymn of Cassia Anon. 8th c.
Hymns When I survey the Wondrous Cross
Drop, Drop Slow Tears.
A powerful combination of chanted Psalms, lessons, and passages from the Lamentations of Jeremiah. As each psalm is sung, a candle is extinguished until only one candle remains. The entire congregation is invited to sing the Psalms to simple plainchant.
Healey Willan (1880-1968)’s Responses to the Lessons are sung.
Darkness and Silence illumined by Candles and Canticles.
Maundy Thursday to Easter Day
|April 14 – Maundy Thursday|
|6:30 AM||During the washing of the feet, Choir sings A New Commandment by Thomas Tallis (1505-85), and the ancient antiphon Ubi Caritas.|
6:30 PM The Last Supper
Motet Have mercy upon me MacFarren
Hymns Draw Nigh and Take the Body of the Lord
Deck thyself my soul with Gladness
Of the Glorious Body Telling
Go to dark Gethsemane.
|April 15 – Good Friday|
|12-2:30PM||On this Holy Day our contemplation is assisted by the choir’s singing of Membra Jesu Nostri by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707), with local musicians playing on seventeenth-century style historical instruments: Joseph Lanza and Sarah Wiebe (violins), Patrick Theriault (cello), Alexandre von Wartburg (bassoon), & Stéphanie Gouin (organ).|
Between each of the seven cantatas – addressed to Christ’s feet, knees, hands, sides, breast, heart, and face – the congregation sings hymns and chorales. Mr Stuart Kinney offers brief reflections.
|April 16 – Holy Saturday|
|11PM||11 PM The Great Vigil of Easter and First Mass of Easter|
We begin by lighting of the New Fire outside the chapel doors, proceed to the ancient Vigil of Easter, and conclude with Holy Communion.
Hymns: Jesus Christ is Risen Today, The Day of Resuurection!
Psalm 42 Sicut Cervus G. P. da Palestrina(1525-94)
Psalm 150 Laudate Dominum C. V. Stanford (1852-1924)
Motet Dum transisset Sabbatum C. Erbach (1568-1636) Voluntary Laßt uns erfreuen W. Faulkes (1863-1933)
OUR RESURRECTION FEAST FOLLOWS!
|April 17 – Easter Sunday|
Holy Communion for Easter Day!
Christ is Risen
He is Risen Indeed!