Parish Mass for Maundy Thursday

Please join us in person or online for our Parish Service for Maundy Thursday. To connect online click on the image below, or search for ‘St Pauls Wokingham’ on YouTube. Organ meditation begins at 7:45.

The organ meditation is a reflection on Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E minor, ‘The Wedge’ (BWV 548)

Bach’s music is often described as ‘monumental’, which is such an appropriate term to describe his work heard at the start of today’s service. Monuments are often intended to call us to remembrance. They remind us of the life and faith of someone who has gone before us; they cause us to pause momentarily and look at ourselves in the shadow of someone or something greater. On this Maundy Thursday, we particularly recall the last supper and ‘eat and drink in remembrance’ of our Lord and Saviour.

At the end of his musical manuscripts, Bach would frequently add the words ‘Soli Deo gloria’ which means glory to God alone. Through the music heard tonight, Bach invites you on a journey to the glory of God – a journey which will end in a celebration of God’s Easter victory. This monumental piece is Bach’s longest for the organ. It is presented as a two-movement symphony brimming with what Bach’s biographer, Philipp Spitta, called ‘life energy’. Like the opening of Bach’s choral masterpiece, The St Matthew Passion, the Prelude announces with arresting oratory the start of a story. Its use of three main themes give it a balance which suggests the mystery of the Trinity at the heart of the Gospel. The imitation between low and high voices, and melodies which ascend and descend, suggest our vain attempts to emulate the example of Christ. There always seems to be a distance between them. The Fugue is often known as ‘The Wedge’ because of the shape the melody makes on the page as it divides apart in small chromatic steps before ascending through an octave leap and returning to the home note again. Perhaps this melody is symbolic of those times we grow apart from God; it also reminds us of the disciples who distanced themselves from Jesus after his arrest. Our sins may form a wedge that comes between us and our Creator, but through this repeated musical homecoming, a glimmer of Easter hope is suggested. The Fugue ends on a majestic E major chord which positively affirms God’s promise of salvation. It is a sound to remember as we journey together through the tension and darkness of Passiontide.

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Mar 28 2024


8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

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St Pauls Church
St Pauls Church
St Pauls Church, Reading Road, Wokingham, RG41 1EH

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