Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Living Dominican Tradition

In response to fr Augustine Thompson's erudite posts on the Dominican Holy Week liturgies and to some of the comments that were left on the NLM, I thought the following photos and musical presentations might be of interest. Some have been posted on the NLM before.

In the Dominican priory at Blackfriars in Oxford, the Triduum liturgy still attempts to incorporate some of the distinctive elements of the Dominican liturgical tradition.

On the mornings of the Triduum, Tenebrae is sung albeit adapted to suit the psalmody of the modern Roman Office, but we have retained the pattern of three nocturns with readings and Latin responsories, and of course, the Tenebrae hearse with unbleached candles is used:

As fr Augustine has said, the Dominican use of Tenebrae ends with the Preces (in the arrangement shown below, with 4 Cantors) which is a short litany in Latin and Greek. At the end of the Preces, in the English Province, our custom is to sing the words "Mortem autem Crucis" a fifth higher than the intoning note, which makes a very dramatic end - far better than the 'strepitus' - and the Cantors fling themselves to the ground in a prostration.

Tenebrae Kyriale

Fr Augustine also mentioned the medieval practice of 'Creeping to the Cross' whereby three full prostrations are made as one approaches the Cross and this is done is three pairs:

Creeping to the Cross

During the course of the Good Friday liturgy, the Passion is sung using the traditional Dominican chant modes. Below, a moment after the Good Friday liturgy:

Good Friday

At Tenebrae on Holy Saturday, the Oratio Ieremiae is sung:

A translation of the text, which the entirety of Lamentations, chapter 5, is available here.

And finally, this culminates with the Paschal vigil at which the Exsultet is sung, again using Dominican tones:

Vigil light

This is followed by Solemn Vespers on Easter Sunday:
Incensed at the Altar

The liturgies are very well attended, and I believe we add a distinctive Dominican 'flavour' to the rich liturgical 'scene' in Oxford. NLM readers are welcome to join us, and times of the liturgies will subsequently be posted on Godzdogz.

More photos of our Dominican life at Blackfriars may be seen here.

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