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Holy Thursday Message

A Suggestion For Holy Week

Joseph Byrd writes:

I worked with Mr. Rouse while I was a graduate student at the Eastman School of Music, and his Flute Concerto was completed while my wife, Grace, and I were students there. 

 

The third movement of the concerto is an elegy dedicated to the memory of James Bulger, a toddler murdered in 1993, by two ten-year old boys, in Great Britain.  Rouse describes this movement from the concerto as his attempt to make sense out of such a senseless, awful thing.

 

Just under ten minutes in length, this movement might be a guide for us during these trying times.          (click the utube link below )

Questions for Contemplation:

 

  • This piece was written as an elegy, in memory of a senseless death.  Does it speak to you, today, as we say much of the same all around us, due to the COVID-19 pandemic?  Why, or why not?

  • Sometimes, music and art mirror life, and vice versa.  We are about to enter Holy Week.  How might this music reflect some of that which we are about to experience during such a week? 

  • Michael Tumelty, of Glasgow, in writing about this music in the The Herald, said "In the achingly poignant music of [the] Elegy, there are two purely orchestral moments, where first the music subsides then, gathering its passion and strength, resumes its statement in a huge crescendo with the entire orchestra piling in at what amounts to an anguished, collective protest at the horror. It is a shattering moment."  As we approach the many shattering moments of Holy Week, how might this music deepen your understanding of Christ’s passion? 

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Flute Concerto/Christopher Rouse (1949-2019)    III. Elegy (9:50)

Listen for the following:

 

  • Hang in there, as the music starts.  (Not bad advice for these times!)  The flute will start playing—eventually!—just about one minute in.  Even then, what it plays isn’t exactly what one might call a melody.  But:

    • Just like all of us, right now, perhaps the flute is trying to find its way, looking for its next step, note by note.  The flute doesn’t have things figured out just yet.  In fact:

  • At 1:56, something starts to happen: more instruments join in, and the flute starts to soar to its heights, its expressive depths, and a kind of musical turmoil begins.  Consider:

    • How do any of us learn how to ride a bike, or drive a car?  Certainly through trial and error.  Hopefully, we have had someone to help mitigate those moments of error: a loving companion or guardian.  How is God accompanying you, right now, as you find your way through these new times?  In some ways, God “shows up” in the music just when we need it most, because:

  • At 2:45, we hear something very special happening; a grand, expansive, moving theme.  This is music that soothes, with a pattern, and with rhythms that lead somewhere. 

    • This is one of those musical moments when I want to shout “Yahoo!” Everything comes together.  Things start to make sense, even if only for a minute.  Have you had any of those moments during these days?  If so, how do you express your gratitude to God?  If not, how do you ask God for such consolation?  What questions might you have for God during this time?

  • At just about 4:00, the flute comes out of this amazing, integrated moment with a “melody” that is asking questions.  In some ways, this melody doesn’t land; that is, it seems to hover, surveying the new territory, while the strings play very quietly, supporting the flute, which starts to get a bit bolder!  The orchestra almost seems to learn from the flute’s melody, and then:

    • At 6:23, we hear our deepest friends in the orchestra restate our grand theme.  This time, it grows and grows, until reaching a climax, one which almost yells out “Why?” or “How long, O Lord?” or even “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

  • At 7:45, and to the end, the music has changed.  There is a dialog between the strings and the winds and the brass.  Then, the bassoon takes over to finish for the flute, almost as if it is able to express what the flute could not.  The strings close the music with a plagal cadence, a fancy musical name for something which we would call a good, old-fashioned sung “Amen.”

Good Friday

Woyaya/Sung by Wiyaala (4:55)

We are going, heaven knows where we are going,

but we know will get there.

It will be hard, we know

that the road will be muddy and rough,

but we'll get there, heaven knows how we will get there,

we know we will get there.

Woyaya.

We will get there, heaven knows how we will get there,

but we know we will.

Woyaya is the title song of a 1971 album by the legendary Ghanaian band Osibisa. The song was frequently heard in work camps throughout central West Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. “Woyaya,” like many other African scat syllables, can have many meanings. According to the song’s composer, it means “We are going.”  Listen for:

  • Layering.  This very simple, catchy, wonderful song builds on itself, with new things being added throughout.  With varying instruments, rhythms, voices, and harmonies, there are many things going on at the same time.  Consider:

    • How does Good Friday mirror the same?  Just the name of this day holds promises and possibilities: that something good can come from pain and devastation.  What are some things you may already be seeing that are good, and that are coming out of the onslaught of COVID-19? 

  • Fr. Craig offered, in his Palm Sunday bulletin column, that “[Jesus] faced his death without knowing he would be raised up. This may be confusing to say. Three times in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus predicts his passion, death, and eventual resurrection. But scripture scholars show that these statements reflect the resurrection faith of Matthew’s community – rather than words that Jesus could have said during his life me. Why? Because at the time of Jesus, there was in Judaism no expectation of the individual’s survival of death.”

    • How do the lyrics of Woyaya reflect what Fr. Craig helps explain?  Over and over, we hear “Heaven knows how we will get there,” and “It will be hard, we know.”  But, each time the lyric says that, indeed, we will get there.  What does faith mean to you during times like these?  How does faith play out for you, in your prayers, and in your contemplation of the Good Friday that many are experiencing on Earth right now?  Living, as we do, as a part of “Matthew’s community,” and knowing what is to come on Easter Sunday, do they lyrics of this song carry any special meaning for you?  How does your prayer reflect the hope of Good Friday, during these days of pandemic?
       

Anima Christi


Jesus, may all that is in you flow into me.

May your body and blood be my food and drink.
May your passion and death be my strength and life.
Jesus, with you by my side enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek be the shadow of your cross.
Let me not run from the love which you offer.
But hold me safe from the forces of evil.
On each of my dyings shed your light and your love.
Keep calling to me until that day comes.
When with our saints, I may praise you forever.
Amen


(David Fleming, S.J.  Soul of Christ Prayer
Source: Hearts on Fire: Praying With the Jesuits (pp. 3-4)

Holy Thursday

In the Garden/Max Richter (b. 1966)  From: Music from Woolf Works/Mrs. Dalloway (5:16)

 

Welcome to Holy Thursday, and our aptly titled musical selection, “In the Garden,” the very place where Jesus will go after celebrating the Passover with his disciples.

 

Richter’s music, hailing from a stream of practice known as Minimalism, emphasizes small changes in harmony and in rhythm that make big things happen for the listener.  Scored for piano and string quartet, listen for:

 

  • Simplicity—but don’t be fooled.  There is a master plan at work here, as one can see while watching the video footage.  What sounds simple has been scored, arranged, and rehearsed until it reaches a place that comforts, almost beyond belief.  Now:

    • Does this sound like something familiar, such as liturgy, and the Eucharist?  How might we be invited to grow in our awareness of the wonderful complexities behind life’s simple gifts; the good structures of liturgy, and of daily life, that contribute to our health and wholeness?  What are you most thankful for, during these days of isolation?

    • As well, Jesus instituted the Eucharist in the midst of the Passover meal itself, a meal that took centuries of communal thought and orchestration to come into its own. And, with the evolution of that celebration, entire guidebooks and methodologies of practice (not unlike the years of practice it takes to make music) were created to guide the simplest of activities: eating and drinking.  What routines and structures might we have been taking for granted in our lives, especially during these days of quarantine?  How does the simplicity of this music affect you?  As you listen, what do you find yourself desiring?  How might you bring these desires before God?

  • Listen for subtleties.  What “voice” (piano, violin, viola, cello) leads, and what voice answers?  What roles do the different voices have throughout, and how do they keep the music moving/flowing (even with such simple and repetitive phrasing)?

    • How have these days of social distancing led toward noticing things that one mightn’t have notice before?  Are there subtleties in your life that are more obvious than they used to be?  How might you be hearing God’s voice during these times, and how might God be using subtleties—things you may have taken for granted—as a way of being all the more present in your life?

  • The music concludes almost “unfinished,” as it were.  There is an expectant feeling, but one that is also full of portent. 

    • Holy Thursday is full of meaning, but also our first doorway into the transition of the Tridduum, where we know that Jesus will suffer and die very soon.  How do you hold the suffering of others in your prayer?  The suffering you may be experiencing in your own life?  How do you speak to God about such things?  If you find it hard to voice such prayers, might this music be a prayer for you, all on its own?

To hear an offering of beautiful music from Joseph Byrd and Dietrich Bonhoeffer Click Here

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Portland, Oregon 97206

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ST. IGNATIUS SCHOOL

3330 SE 43rd St.

Portland, Oregon 97206

Phone: 503-774-5533

Fax: 503-788-1134

website: www.sispdx.org

email: school@sipdx.org

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