Thursday, 29 March 2012

Good Friday service at Ta' Pinu Shrine

by Stefan Attard

According to the Church's ancient tradition, sacraments are not celebrated on Good Friday or on Holy Saturday. At Ta’ Pinu National Shrine the Celebration of the Lord's Passion, traditionally known as the ‘The Veneration of the Cross’  was celebrated at three o'clock in the afternoon. The service is particularly solemn and significant. Schola Cantorum executed sacred polyphony a cappella while the organ and other instruments were not played in today’s sober liturgy.

The altar was completely bare, with no cloths, candles or cross. The service was divided into three parts: Liturgy of the Word, Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion. Rev Fr. Gerald Buhagiar presided the cerimony wearing red vestments. The liturgy started with the priests going to the altar in silence and prostrating themselves for a few moments in silent prayer, followed by the recital of an introductory prayer.
In part one, the Liturgy of the Word, the most famous reading of the ‘Suffering Servant’ from Isaiah was read, a pre-figurement of Christ on Good Friday. Schola Cantorum Jubilate sang a cappella Portelli’s composion of the Responsorial Psalm ‘Missier nerħi ruħi f’idejk’. The congregation was led by cantor Christabella Vella.  The Second Reading was from the letter to the Hebrews. The Gospel Reading was the Passion according to St. John. The General Intercessions conclude the Liturgy of the Word. Then it was time for the Veneration of the Cross. A cross, veiled, processed through the Church aile, whiles the priest intioned for three times in different tones the ‘Ecce Lignum Crucis’. Bernadine Attard, treble interpreted the  ‘in quo salus mundi’ while the congregation joined the choir by singing ‘Venite Adoremus’. During the kissing of the cross the Schola Cantorum performed the Imporperia - Palestrina’s ‘Popule Meus’ followed by Portelli’s ‘Crux Fidelis’.  The ‘Improperia’ are a series of antiphons and responses, expressing the remonstrance of Jesus Christ with His people.
Following the Veneration of the cross was the Holy Communion, that concludes the Celebration of the Lord's Passion. The altar was again covered with a cloth and the ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament was brought to the altar from the place of reposition. The ‘Our Father’ and the ‘Ecce Agnus Dei’ were recited. The congregation received the Holy Communion and the Schola Cantorum Jubilate performed Bartolucci’s corale ‘Crucem Tuam’, Croce’s ‘O Vos Omnes’ and finally the Gregorian Chant of ‘Stabat Mater’.

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