Maundy Thursday: Ubi Caritas et Amor (Mariano Garau)

We had the Maundy Thursday service this evening at Christ Church Brunswick.  It’s a truly stunning piece of liturgy, particularly when the priests and servers stripped the altar and its surrounds of all decoration – first putting out the candles, then removing the candles and candlesticks themselves, then removing the altar cloths and all other accoutrements, and changing their decorated golden vestments for plain ones, while we spoke Psalm 22 (O God, my God – why have you forsaken me).

Priests and choir then exited silently through the side door, rather than processing, leaving the alter bare and empty, and the congregation were invited to hold silent vigil at the side chapel for a few minutes or until midnight if they chose.  Next year, I may do the full vigil.

Anyway, after all that, I really couldn’t go and write up a post for Friday Fun this week.  So instead, you get one of the pieces we sang this evening during the foot-washing part of proceedings.

I love how archaic this sounds.  I don’t think it is a medieval arrangement, but it does have that sort of feel to it.  All those parallel 5ths and octaves. We sang it more slowly and softly, which I think suited it better for this occasion.

The lyrics are in Latin and are traditional for Maundy Thursday.  The English translation is:

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

Where charity and love are, God is there.
As we are gathered into one body,
Beware, lest we be divided in mind.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease,
And may Christ our God be in our midst.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
And may we with the saints also,
See Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good,
Unto the ages through infinite ages. Amen.


I’ll be singing these lyrics again tomorrow, as a Taizé chant for the Way of the Cross.  Not such beautiful music, but still a good sentiment, and perhaps one that holds more meaning when sung by a large, ecumenical congregation rather than a small choir.  Trying to fund the Garau version on YouTube, I realised I’ve also sung the Duruflé version at some point.  It’s much lusher, and very gorgeous, but I think the simplicity of the Garau suits this service better.

And, while we’re on Maundy Thursday music, here’s the final hymn for today, Pange Lingua Gloriosi, or Of the Glorious Body Telling (we sang it in English, but the lyrics I know kicked in at about verse 5, and start Therefore We Before him Bending) (also this recording claims to be by Benedictine Nuns, but I have my doubts.  Most nuns I’ve met don’t have those bass notes…).  This is another text that keeps getting set in beautiful arrangements (some texts just seem to consistently inspire magnificent music), but the Gregorian chant – which we sang – is still, to my mind, the most beautiful.

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