Music, or silence on Holy Thursday evening?
  • aryobvg
    Posts: 2
    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: 3,023
    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 2eft94530 aryobvg
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,100
    I would think silence would be best, other than compline.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,399
    Silence is golden, but he who has the gold makes the rules.
    Thanked by 2aryobvg Vilyanor
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,000
    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 2canadash aryobvg
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,399
    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.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 710
    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.
  • 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: 172
    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.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • 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 2eft94530 aryobvg
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,787
    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:
    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/dicamillo/to-the-seven-churches-go
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • donr
    Posts: 920
    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.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,023
    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.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • Point taken, Liam, but Our Lord is publicly reposed for adoration, then.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,353
    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 3Liam chonak aryobvg
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,353
    he who has the gold makes the rules decides which rules he will observe and ignore.

    Fixed.

    I wish Sacrosanctum Concilium # 23 had been created as # 0
    because nobody ever reads beyond # 14 (and # 30 explains # 14).
    Thanked by 2CharlesW aryobvg
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,399
    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.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • Stephen,

    Thank you for that thought.

    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • This might be of interest.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • 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.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • 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.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • aryobvg
    Posts: 2
    Thanks a lot for all the suggestions, thoughts, ideas! A lot of you presume that such an event would take place after Holy Thursday Mass. But the point is, there will be no Mass that day in that church. (It's being celebrated in another, nearby church at 7pm.)

    Now, 'our' church will be open between 4pm and 9pm, for which we were asked to "fill the time with some nice music". We agreed with the parish team that during the time when Mass is celebrated in the other church, the people from our student association can leave to attend Mass there. Someone from the parish will take over from us during that hour. So no problem for us there.

    My question to you all was: Shouldn't Holy Thursday evening be an evening in full silence? Or is making music fine?
    Your answer seems to be that there can be music, but not too much. Indeed, silence is golden. But we have to discuss that with the sacristan, who usually gets nervous when we "aren't doing anything".

    We have been trying to grasp why we and the rubrics are all so fond of silence, why we are so hesitant to make 'noise', especially this evening. So we looked up what happened after the Last Supper and before the crucifixion. And what happened was that Jesus was arrested. So that evening the disciples where deprived from Jesus. They had no idea how He was, how the Romans were treating Him, and what would happen. I think this sense of uncertainty, of the inability to reach Jesus, because He was unreachable in this Roman government building, the feeling of distance, is what makes silence particularly appropriate for this evening. But it also gives an indication for types of prayer and songs we can do.

    Now we can understand why no monstrance is shown. In a way, this evening is like an adoration evening, but this time Jesus is 'detained' instead of 'exposed'. We cannot see Him. The Rosary and the Complines are some of the excellent suggestions you guys shared. So the plan now is to fill the time before Mass (4-6.45pm) with His Blessed Mother, by praying the Rosary. Parts of the Rosary can be sung and maybe some Taizé songs can be added. But to keep a silent atmosphere we keep a substantial time of silence after each mystery. Someone came up with the idea to go 'unplugged', which means in this case, no mics. This would also add to the silent atmosphere. But we have to see on location how this sounds.
    After Mass there's still 45 mins until nine. We have no specific plan for that. At the end we can close the evening with the complines, (partly) sung or spoken.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 478
    Not your problem, but for the period you are away at Mass, it would presumably be appropriate for whoever 'takes over' to lead Evening Prayer. Evening Prayer has the opportunity for long reflective silences between most of the elements.
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • PaxMelodious
    Posts: 172
    Thanks for the background - your question makes a lot more sense now. And your reflection about what is happening to Jesus at that time is excellent.

    I understanding the leaning towards silence, especially towards the end of the time.

    But remember that you have actually be asked to be there and actively praying, effectively offering spiritual hospitality to anyone who calls in: if the parish wanted only silence, they could have just left the sacristan and a security guard. They want more than that - to offer a prayer-experience to some likely short-time visitors who drop into the church given where it is situated.

    So this might be a time when you have to sacrifice your own inclination for extended silent meditation in order to serve others, and invite them into the Triduum with active prayer rather than contemplation. Of course it will need to be theme appropriate, simple, etc. But given that you are mainly catering for people who will be dropping in for short periods of time, I'd think that shorter periods of silence might be more useful
    Thanked by 2Spriggo aryobvg
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,485
    well to be historically accurate it might be fitting that we all fall asleep because we can't even stay awake and pray for one hour with our Lord

    Matthew 26:40
    Thanked by 2CharlesW aryobvg
  • Francis,

    One of us would have to escape, and be wearing nothing but a loin cloth. Someone else would have to betray Our Lord into the hands of sinners ... and some visitor to the church would have to lose his ear. Are you volunteering for any role?

    Thanked by 2PaxMelodious aryobvg
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 710
    Remember too that Jesus and his apostles sang a hymn before heading to the Mount of Olives. Matthew 26:30
    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • Earl Grey,

    Do we know what the hymn is likely to have been?

    Thanked by 1aryobvg
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 8,399
    One of us would have to escape, and be wearing nothing but a loin cloth


    Already been done. It was called, "streaking."

    and some visitor to the church would have to lose his ear.


    I could easily provide a choir member who has lost his ear.

    Remember too that Jesus and his apostles sang a hymn


    Maybe they sang, "In the Garden." ;-) I suspect they sang a psalm.

    So many things in scripture that I wish presented much more detailed information.

    Thanked by 2MarkS aryobvg
  • MarkS
    Posts: 161
    It is suggested/supposed that they would have sung the (then) received 'Paschal' psalms, 115-118 (since in Matthew it was Passover); Psalms 113 and 114 were also sung at the meal, which also makes them possible candidates.
  • donr
    Posts: 920
    Do we know what the hymn is likely to have been?


    I believe it would have been the great Hallel which was prayed on Passover. But I will need to check that.
    Thanked by 3MarkS CHGiffen aryobvg
  • MarkS
    Posts: 161
    Yes! The Hallel, or song of praise, comprises Psalms 113-118; they are not sung all at once, but broken up during and after the Passover meal.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen aryobvg
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 3,517
    An excellent article, which has been cited here before:

    http://www.thesacredpage.com/2009/04/what-did-jesus-sing-at-last-supper.html

    Thanked by 3MarkS eft94530 aryobvg