Maundy Thursday is one long day when two ballet classes are added on in the morning. By evening I was pretty exhausted. The rest of the Triduum madness is better paced for me. I have time to rest and prepare today and tomorrow before the evening services. One priest I knew always referred to Holy Week as “Hell Week.” Or at least I remember him waving his nicotine stained hands in the air and say “too much church… too much church.” This particular priest I believe ended up in an insane asylum. He was a good priest and a good man. I enjoyed working for him. Not too many of those in my history.
I have scheduled the Widor Toccata again this year for the Vigil and Easter Sunday. I have been practicing it slowly. I’m hoping I can play it a bit better than I usually do. My teacher, Ray Ferguson, taught me to ignore the staccatos in it. I remember playing it for a jury at Wayne State. A visiting professor who was sitting on the jury told me I played it very “impressionistically.” I think this was his polite way of saying I didn’t respect the staccatos in it.
Ray always pointed out that the articulations reflected a much more live environment of a church with decent acoustics. I think about that. But I find myself married closer and closer to what I see on the page. It remains to be seen how I will actually perform it, since it comes at the end of two strenuous services. Usually it takes a surge in energy for me at that point. It takes a lot of my energy to remain as balanced and as calm as possible in my work.
But things are going well so far this week at church. We do Maundy Thursday in the basement of the church which has even worse acoustics that the church itself (low ceiling). We practiced the anthem down there on Wednesday. The choir resisted coming early for a rehearsal (actually they resisted ducking out of the ritual Maundy Thursday meal for a run through), so we did it cold last night. It came off pretty well. It helped that wine is served at the meal and people were a bit more relaxed.
The anthem was “Ubi Caritas” by Maurice Duruflé. It’s a gorgeous little piece I think. We also did the Taizé setting. Someone said last night that having the text twice in one service was “a bit much.” I replied that it is the quintessential Maundy Thursday text. But I find myself caring less about some of this stuff after so many years of banging my head against the wall trying to teach people how liturgy is designed.
We have made a lot of headway under the leadership of my current boss. That is satisfying. The previous priest was a former Roman Catholic. I found it dismaying that led this community toward a more Roman Catholic theology. They had the Roman Catholic Hymnal “Gather” in the pews, and tacked on rituals like a Maundy Thursday vigil in the presence of the “reserved sacrament.”
There are of course Episcopalians who go for this sort of thing. But I prefer to do the ritual in the Prayer Book just as I prefer any denomination to figure out its genius and go with it.
Whew. I guess I’m tired this morning. I sound cranky.