Sacred Music to Comfort and Inspire: Music for the Triduum

Sacred Music to Comfort and Inspire: Music for the Triduum

by Catherine Fishlock

Director of Music Ministry

As we all prepare to enter into the holiest time of the liturgical year with the knowledge that we cannot actually attend any liturgies, there are some pieces of music that I know I will greatly miss hearing, singing, and praying with you. They might be some of your favorites too, and there might be some you’ve never heard, but either way, I hope this helps keep your heart connected to Holy Mother Church, while we all experience and pray the Triduum at home.

In this series, I’ve chosen recordings from many different places and choral groups, some from great cathedrals, some from religious communities,some from college choirs and professional singing groups. The Church’s music is everywhere and belongs to us all and so while we may feel like we’re celebrating Holy Week and Easter alone, don’t forget that we really are praying and singing with the Universal Church around the world. God bless you and may your hearts be filled with peace as we place our lives  in the loving arms of the Crucified!

Here are two settings of the antiphon “Ubi Caritas Amor” from the texts appropriate to Holy Thursday. This is familiar to many as the popular setting “Where Charity and Love Prevail”. The first example is a choral arrangement by the 20th C. French composer, Maurice Durufle. Here we find the original Gregorian chant tune presented first and then expanded upon as the work grows into multiple harmonies, the composer making use then of his own musical material. This creates a rich but simultaneously ethereal and wonderfully meditative treatment of the text. For your enhanced understanding and enjoyment, here is the Latin text followed by the English translation.

Ubi Caritas et amor –  Antiphon from Holy Thursday

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur.Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero. Amen.

Where charity and love are, God is there.Christ’s love has gathered us into one.Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.Let us fear, and let us love the living God.And may we love each otherwith a sincere heart. Amen.

The second example is by living composer, Ola Gjielo. In this beautiful and moving setting , the composer does not make use of the chant melody but uses all original material. Here we have an opening melody that at first sounds plaintive and even longing but soon, as the harmonies build and blend together, the full choral writing leads us to a soaring rendition filled with joy and hope.

Ubi Caritas et amor – Antiphon from Holy Thursday 
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur.Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero. Amen.
Where charity and love are, God is there.Christ’s love has gathered us into one.Let us rejoice in Him and be glad.Let us fear, and let us love the living God.And may we love each otherwith a sincere heart. Amen.

Holy Thursday – The Eucharistic Procession

For many of us the most moving part of the liturgy on Holy Thursday, is the Eucharistic procession during which the Blessed Sacrament it taken away to the altar of repose.  The emotional impact of this can be great, as we reflect on the absence of Jesus from the world and from our lives- how dark and desolate that would be. Here are three of the Eucharistic pieces that are traditional for use during this procession.

Pange Lingua -Chant, text by St. Thomas Aquinas

Adoramus te, Christe  – Setting by Theodore Dubois   (1837-1924)

Text: Adoramus te Christe, et benedicimus te. Quia a per sanctam   crucem Tuam, redemisti mundum.

We adore you , O Christ , and we bless you. Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

Tantum Ergo – Traditional chant melody (this text is actually the final  2 verses of the Pange Lingua )

Setting by Deodat Severac – 20th C. (This is the version that the St.Gertrude choir has sung for the past several years on Holy Thursday)