Music, or silence on Holy Thursday evening?
  • aryobvg
    Posts: 1
    Our university's Catholic student association has been asked by the parish to play and sing on Holy Thursday evening at one of their churches.

    The church is located in a busy shopping area, and the parish would like to keep the church open until 9pm, when shops close. From an evangelizational point of view, I think that's a smart move. But from a liturgical point of view I was wondering what would be appropriate to do for us as musicians. We are familiar with Taizé songs, calm worship songs and some simple Gregorian chant. However, shouldn't Holy Thursday evening be an evening in full silence? Or is making music fine? Should we ask to have the Blessed Sacrament exposed for adoration?
    Thanked by 1StephenMatthew
  • Liam
    Posts: 2,856
    Well, the Blessed Sacrament would not be *exposed* (i.e., in a monstrance), but it would be in the place of reservation and public adoration would be suitable until the church is closed that evening.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,093
    I would think silence would be best, other than compline.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,029
    Silence is golden, but he who has the gold makes the rules.
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 967
    Traditionally (which is what we follow here) the organ (and possibly bells) are used through the Gloria, and then silent. The Mass continues a capella - though some congregations need just a bit of organ to lead. The procession to the Altar of Repose is accompanied with the "Pange lingua" (Sing My Tongue), preferably unaccompanied. After that there should be silence, much like the First Friday hours of adoration.
    Thanked by 1canadash
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,029
    We don't silence the organ, but use it only to accompany singing for Holy Thursday and Good Friday. There are no instrumental pieces played - interesting to me since the local Trad mass plays preludes and postludes all through Lent. Their reasoning is that both are not part of the mass. I think that violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the regulations. Go figure. However, there is silence after Repose Holy Thursday with adoration until 10:00 p.m. - midnight or so when the building is locked.
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 692
    During an extended period of Adoration, I should think some simple meditative pieces such as Taize refrains either sung a cappella or lightly accompanied if needed would be suitable, providing there is sufficient time left for silence as well. I would not try to fill the whole time with music -- leaving long pauses between pieces and certainly no instrumental music.
    Thanked by 1StephenMatthew
  • The consensus around here, based on custom I think, is that silence should be kept.

    I would like to concur, in part, and dissent in part.

    Just as the consecration is spoken in an extremely quiet voice, and just as music is not permitted* at that point, it is reasonable that the custom of silence should be maintained during this most unusual of evenings.

    A local parish hereabouts has a sign posted at the entrance to the adoration chapel. It notes that that there will be [in the directive sense, not the descriptive] a rosary, a divine mercy chaplet and then.... silent prayer for the balance of the hour.

    I had not (until recently) thought about the singing of part of the Divine Office, but this would make eminent sense. I can think of other music which would be appropriate (but unlike others here, I do most emphatically think that Taize is appropriate.

  • PaxMelodious
    Posts: 152
    Your question has me confused.

    You say you have been asked to "to play and sing on Holy Thursday evening at one of their churches"

    Is this for the Mass of the Lord's Supper, which occurs on Holy Thursday evening - in which case liturgical musician sensibilities certainly apply?

    Or is it for the post-Mass non-liturgical prayer and/or Eucharistic adoration period that many parishes have after the MOTLS? If this, then it's a non-liturgical period, so liturgical principles apply to so much.

    Or both - in which case it's a truly Catholic "both and" situation!

    A key question would be - what is the sound-proofing like between the church and the outside environment. In one church I know, there are likely to be street traders, drummers, singers and goodness only knows what outside on. Sacred silence would be a lovely idea, but it will not be a reality for them in their current building.

    In my current parish, we aim to go have a full-on Mass complete with Gloria - to ending with a processing with very gentle Taizé accompaniment (to discourage talking) - and then on to silence. Both And.
  • Let's see what the relavant part of the Roman Missal has to say and then some personal opinions:

    The Transfer of the Most Blessed Sacrament
    37. A fter the Prayer after Communion, the Priest puts incense in the thurible while standing, blesses it and then, kneeling, incenses the Blessed Sacrament three times. Then, having put on a white humeral veil, he rises, takes the ciborium, and covers it with the ends of the veil.
    38. A procession is formed in which the Blessed Sacrament, accompanied by torches and incense, is carried through the church to a place of repose prepared in a part of the church or in a chapel suitably decorated. A lay minister with a cross, standing between two other ministers with lighted candles leads off. Others carrying lighted candles follow. Before the Priest carrying the Blessed Sacrament comes the thurifer with a smoking thurible. Meanwhile, the hymn Pange, lingua (exclusive of the last two stanzas) or another eucharistic chant is sung.
    39. When the procession reaches the place of repose, the Priest, with the help of the Deacon if necessary, places the ciborium in the tabernacle, the door of which remains open. Then he puts incense in the thurible and, kneeling, incenses the Blessed Sacrament, while Tantum ergo Sacramentum or another eucharistic chant is sung. Then the Deacon or the Priest himself places the Sacrament in the tabernacle and closes the door.
    40. A fter a period of adoration in silence, the Priest and ministers genuflect and return to the sacristy.
    41. A t an appropriate time, the altar is stripped and, if possible, the crosses are removed from the church. It is expedient that any crosses which remain in the church be veiled.
    42. V espers (Evening Prayer) is not celebrated by those who have attended the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
    43. T he faithful are invited to continue adoration before the Blessed Sacrament for a suitable length of time during the night, according to local circumstances, but after midnight the adoration should take place without solemnity.
    44. I f the celebration of the Passion of the Lord on the following Friday does not take place in the same church, the Mass is concluded in the usual way and the Blessed Sacrament is placed in the tabernacle.

    Now the important bit is #42 and especially 43.

    43 seems to suggest that adoration should be held WITH solemnity prior to midnight.
    Now to get an idea what that may mean you won't find the answer in the GIRM or the Missal, you need to instead take a look at "Order for the Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist" (usually a green book) and "Holy Communion and Worship Of the Eucharist Outside Mass" (often an ugly tan cover). Both of those go into more detail regarding what is fitting for an organized, solemn form of adoration.

    Compline (Night Prayer, in the Liturgy of the Hours) seems to be an option. The singing of chant, Eucharistic hymns, and other suitable songs also would seem to be an option.

    (Other than the Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office the only place hymn singing traditionally is part of Catholic prayer is during paraliturgical devotions like Eucharistic adoration.)

    If I were organizing such a thing I would want a substantial period of silence, perhaps followed by some form of singing, perhaps some silence, then perhaps Compline. I would likely keep the music simple enough that it can be comfortably sung acappela, though since this is not part of the liturgy that isn't an absolute requirement.

    In Rome (yes, that Rome, the one with the Pope) the custom is that people will visit several different churches and chapels on the evening of Holy Thursday and perhaps on Good Friday. The "Seven Churches" or Visita Iglesia as it is sometimes called. Indulgences were attached. Praying the traditional indulgence prayers for the Pope would have been part of the practice, as would in some instances the Stations of the Cross. Some people went individually, others went as a group in something like a procession. These are not exactly carried out in strict silence, as you might imagine. Don't think it is either necessary or traditional to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament in perfect silence and stillness for three hours without blinking or you go to hell or anything like that.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,627
    It's not unusual for big churches (cathedrals, etc.) to have quiet adoration of the Blessed Sacrament after the Holy Thursday Mass, ending with Compline, and closing the church at midnight.

    Keeping the church open (and of course attended) helps people follow the lovely tradition of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday, as described in this article:
    Thanked by 1StephenMatthew
  • At Walsingham adoration at the Altar of Repose lasts until sometime in Good Friday morning. This is ancient custom which, apparently, some (quite a few?) nowadays would consider a novelty. But, surely Walsingham is not alone in this - there must be others.
    Thanked by 1StephenMatthew
  • Evidently, I must stand corrected about the singing of the Divine Office in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Is it only Vespers which does not occur there, or is the rest of the Office precluded as well?

    I can not shake the feeling (but since it is that, I must hold it in reserve) that the choir's singing of beautiful chants or even sacred polyphony in front of the Blessed Sacrament on Maundy Thursday is entirely fitting, if not legally permitted.
  • donr
    Posts: 896
    As a 4th Degree Knight, we stand guard at the place of repose until midnight. Then our pastor removes the Lord and locks the church.
  • Liam
    Posts: 2,856
    The Blessed Sacrament is not exposed for this event. It is in repose, but not exposed. So rubrics for exposition are not directly on point.
  • Point taken, Liam, but Our Lord is publicly reposed for adoration, then.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,298
    There is no such thing as "after Mass" because the Liturgy is one long event spread across three days.

    So ... how does # 44 work?
    Finish MOTLS, use dismissal, no adoration?
    I dont get it.
    Thanked by 2Liam chonak
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,298
    he who has the gold makes the rules decides which rules he will observe and ignore.


    I wish Sacrosanctum Concilium # 23 had been created as # 0
    because nobody ever reads beyond # 14 (and # 30 explains # 14).
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,029
    decides which rules he will observe and ignore.

    And decides which rules we underlings will observe and ignore.
  • Chris Garton-Zavesky
    Compline/Night Prayer is still good to go, but Vespers/Evening Prayer is out for those attending the mass that evening.
    Singing a bit of chant seems reasonable to me and within the rubrics so far as I can determine.
  • Stephen,

    Thank you for that thought.

  • This might be of interest.
  • ClemensRomanus

    Fascinating. If I understood correctly, there is a liturgical rite used by the Franciscans in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, a rite which involves much singing of hymns, chanting of canticles and -- did I get this correctly -- the chanting of various parts of the Gospel? I could not tell if the Gospel were read facing the people or facing God.
  • Yes, it's used by the Holy Land Franciscans. Having never experienced it, I couldn't answer your question about the readings. I would like to be in the Holy Land for Triduum one year.