Dropping the Curtain - does everyone do this?
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 640
    Here in Brazil, at least at all the NO and EF parishes I've been to over the course of 10 years during Easter, the Easter Vigil includes having a huge purple curtain hung in front of the altar. All the activities before the Gloria (in the dark) take place in front of the curtain. Behind the curtain the altar (high altar, retablo, etc. etc. depending on the architecture) is covered in flowers and candles. At the right moment every bell that can be found - from the steeple to the hand bells - are rung, the curtain is dropped and taken away, the organ (if there is one) plays thunderously, and the lights come on. Then we launch into the Gloria (whether a pop-charismatic version or the chant version). It's quite dramatic. But I have no idea if it's a regional practice or a general practice? Do Catholics in other countries do this?
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  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,043
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 640
    Here are a couple random examples I found on YouTube.



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  • Chrism
    Posts: 809
    I've seen all of that done at the TLM (and some Novus Ordo) Easter Vigils' Gloria except the curtain. Instead, the statues which were individually veiled are individually unveiled by the altar servers and sacristans, who spread out through the church with hooks and poles (having one curtain sounds easier), while other servers light the candles and, with the musicians, ring the bells. To the best of my recollection, flowers were placed in the sanctuary before the service.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Elmar
  • We had two distinct pieces of cloth hanging over the altar last evening, to make it much easier to remove than it would have been, otherwise. Mind you, we're in a make-shift church for Wuhan-flu-related reasons, but God may yet give us our own building, at which point we might make a more regular version happen.

    Mind you, this is an EF parish.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,575
    We did the lights, bells and grand organ (of which I had the honor to add my improvisational skills) in fantastic fashion... no curtain per say, but drama was certainly on display.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,374
    In the OF, veils are to be removed before the Vigil begins and the all the lights except the altar candles are to be lit before the Exsultet begins (the final rubric before the Exsultet in the Roman Missal is: "And lights are lit throughout the church, except for the altar candles"; # 26 of Paschalis Sollemnitatis (1988) directs in relevant part: "Images are to remain covered until the *beginning* of the Easter Vigil." (emphasis added)). The Liturgy of Fire and pre-Gloria parts of the Liturgy of the Word are not a penitential fore-Mass in the OF, but there are folks who ignore the express rubrics and instructions about this, which have been well covered in older threads on this forum.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,802
    According to the U.S. edition. It's likely that the bishops of Brazil voted to retain a custom dear to the people, which received recognitio from Rome, since in that country it seems to be universal custom.
    Thanked by 1MatthewRoth
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 514
    Yes, when I sang with St. Mary's Choir in Akron, Ohio. From the late 70s through the early 90s a large purple curtain was strung across the Sanctuary. Then at the Gloria everything was uncovered and the choir sang. This was a Novus Ordo mass.
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  • Carol
    Posts: 695
    We are NO and followed the rubrics as laid out above by Liam. After the Vigil Mass, the gentleman in charge of ringing a set of very pleasant bells remarked how wonderful it was to be able to ring since it had been two years since he last had the opportunity. Even though our music was very scaled back due to covid, it was still a great joy to sing at the Vigil.
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 242
    Yes, I’ve seen this before in the OF. I thought this was just a more effective way of doing all the flowers for Easter in the middle of the liturgy than having multiple people invade the sanctuary to prevent dragging out the process (I’ve seen that too, which is distracting and annoying). I never found it particularly dramatic.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,382
    Meh. The way that it's done in Wausau, at St Mary's, is extremely efficient. The flowers are carefully placed out of the way but in the front of the church. The oldest altar boys are tasked with moving the flowers into position for the Mass of the vigil after the ministers have retired to the sacristy in order to vest for Mass.

    It's a challenge in the NO, but that's another question.

    Anyway, the Brazilian custom seems to be a remnant of unveiling the images covered before I Vespers of Passion Sunday, which is done during and after the Gloria of the paschal vigil.
  • FKulash
    Posts: 34
    In medieval Germany, some churches had a curtain (called a Fastentuch) in front of the altar, not just for the Easter Vigil, but all through Lent. I suppose the liturgy worked somewhat as in the Eastern Church, with the priest or deacon coming out from behind the veil for certain parts.
    Thanked by 1CatherineS
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,043
    Not related to Lenten or Vigil curtains, but unbelievable as it sounds -
    I have read (decades ago) that in some post-Reformation times the Protestants and Catholics in some villages got along so well that they shared the same church building - the Protestants putting a curtain or veil before the altar for their services and the Catholics removing it for theirs.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,378
    To this day Augsburg's Ulrich & Afra Basilica has a separate doorway for Lutheran Services. The curtain is masonry.
  • FKulash
    Posts: 34
    St. Peter's Cathedral in Bautzen, Germany is a "Simultankirche". Catholics use the altar in the middle of the nave (near the pulpit and font); Lutherans use the original high altar (farther back and to the right in the attached picture).
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  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 8,043
    One would never have suspected as much considering the irrational confessional hatred and enmity which culminated in the Thirty Years War..But that war was really as much about dynastic rivalries as it was religion.
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  • CatherineS
    Posts: 640
    .That's crazy! But I remember someone (here?) saying that this relates to the German support for Communion for protestants?
  • Elmar
    Posts: 371
    That's crazy! But I remember someone (here?) saying that this relates to the German support for Communion for protestants?
    Absolutely! When I was young, for any of us it was hard to understand what the actual difference of faith was between 'us' Catholics and 'them' Lutherans... beyond things like:
    - we have a pope (who we have to obey, in theory) and they don't;
    - their pastor may be married but ours not;
    - we have to kneel at mass but not them (and their's isn't called mass);
    - they may or may not go to chruch on Sundays as they please, but we have an obligation (in theory);
    - they were the first to have the Sunday service in the vernacular but still use a bit of Latin, which we don't anymore since VII;
    - we have communion every Sunday but only get the bread, they have it only on special occasions (and call it differently) but always get bread and wine;
    - we have go to confession regularly (in theory) but they don't have that because God can decide by himself which sins to forgive and when;
    - we have first communion and confirmation at different ages, they have both together preceded by two years of catechesis;
    - for them the latter isn't even a sacrament, whatever difference that makes, but still they call the entire thing confirmation, in Latin, while we have a German word for it;
    etc. etc.

    The daughter of our Lutheran pastor joined the catholic religion class at school because of the better theological knowledge of the catholic teacher.

    Furthermore we had an ugly modern post-WII rectangular church, while they resided in the romano-gothic village church with high altar, statues of the evangelists, recently re-discovered paintings on the ceiling.

    It was still a little bit 'us' and 'them', but completely unimaginable that this could be the front line of a war, even in the middle ages, so much less in our epoch (Northern Ireland anyone?).
    I was convinced that I would see these churches re-unite rather than East and West Germany.
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