Holy Week Preparations Have Begun

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The liturgical cycle of the Church as a whole, but also of the college as well, reaches its pinnacle during the Paschal Triduum. It is in these days that all of our efforts combine to render to God our best gifts of beauty, beginning with sung Tenebrae on Wednesday and continuing through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, and Easter Sunday morning. These liturgies, their music, their images, and ultimately their meaning constitute some of the fondest memories of our graduates. Indeed, it is not uncommon for alumni to return to campus for the Triduum.

Preparations have begun in earnest. The five-man server team is hard at work. Music is being rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed again. The campus is being cleaned and brightened, with plans for flowers and decorations. Food is being planned and ingredients purchased. The entire college unites as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

Palm Sunday’s celebrations begin with a procession with palm branches into the chapel. As the congregation processes, a schola of women lead them in the chant Pueri Hebraeorum. The Passion Narrative of St. Mark is sung by two students and our chaplain, Fr. Roger Boucher.

On Wednesday evening, a Tenebrae service guides us prayerfully into the Triduum. Chants are simple, yet profound, and readings are primarily from Isaiah and Lamentations.

Maundy Thursday is celebrated with the polyphonic Mass of Ste. Cecilia and the Mandatum chants, sung during the foot washing. Holy Thursday concludes with the sung Pange Lingua as the Eucharist is reposed and guarded by the college’s Knights of Columbus.

After observing the traditional three hours of silence on Good Friday, the Crucem Tuam and Crux Fidelis chants turn our hearts and minds to Christ’s sacrifice. The Passion Narrative of St. John is sung. The Holy Cross is venerated and the congregation departs in silence.

Easter Vigil celebrations begin outside around the vigil fire. The Easter Candle is prepared and the light is processed into the chapel, where Fr. Boucher sings the Exultet. At the Gloria, the bells are rung and the joyous music begins! After Mass, celebrations continue well into the night with joy and feasting.

The morning of Easter, students return to the chapel to conclude Holy Week by offering our thanksgiving to Christ through song and prayer. Traditional Latin chants, such as the Easter Introit and the Easter Alleluia are sung in addition to the great Easter hymns, such as At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing and Jesus Christ Is Risen Today. Christus Resurrexit! Resurrexit Vere, Alleluia!

View this year’s Holy Week Schedule.

Learn more about Spiritual Life at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts.

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