Maundy Thursday

Join us online and in church on Thursday for our live-streamed Eucharist service for Maundy Thursday from St Paul’s Church Wokingham. The service itself will begin at 8:00pm, but the  organ music will start at 7:30. Please maintain a quiet solemnity if you arrive after this organ piece has started.

To connect to the Live streamed video click on YouTube, or click on the image below

Order of Service:

The service this year has benefit of a monumental piece Chorale Partita on ‘Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig’ (BWV 768), by Johann Sebastian Bach which will be played before the service as a form of introduction and a reflection in sound of the silence of the watch that will occur after the service.

Bach’s music is often described as ‘monumental’, which is such an appropriate term to describe his work heard at the start of this service. Monuments are often intended to call us to remembrance. They remind us of the life and faith of those who have 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 for this service, Bach invites you on a Passiontide journey to the glory of God – a journey which will end in a celebration of God’s Easter victory.

This monumental work is believed to have been written in around 1705, when Bach was just 20 years old. At over twenty minutes in length, it is the longest of his sets of chorale variations, depicting that sense of the Lenten and Passiontide journey. The text which inspired the chorale (a Lutheran hymn) was written by Christian Keymann, the son of a pastor at Pankratz, Bohemia. It shows a firm conviction of faith, especially in the way Christ’s Passion can help us face our own mortality.

This Partita takes the form of an opening statement of the chorale tune, followed by eleven very distinctive variations based on the opening melody. Perhaps the number of movements symbolises the figure of Christ and the eleven disciples (excluding Judas) who each in their own very distinctive way, like us, aim to follow the example of their figurehead? Through each variation, Bach explores the harmonic, rhythmic and stylistic possibilities of the opening melody, just as, through our faith, we can endlessly explore the possibilities open to us by following Christ. The final five variations also require use of the organ pedals which creates for the listener a sense of the piece nearing its culmination. The final movement is a grand, death-defying, restatement of the opening melody deploying the full resources of the organ. Through his musical art, Bach represents the momentum and inevitability of the Passion which, ends not with the despair of Good Friday, but with the majesty of Easter Day.

English Translation of Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig by C. S. Terry
1.      Jesu, Saviour, heed my greeting!
Kind and gentle is Thy being.
Long the torture Thou hast suffered,
Deep the insults to Thee offered.
Let me all Thy love inherit,
And meet death in Thy sure merit!
2.      Jesu, Master, dearest treasure,
Christ, my Saviour, my heart’s pleasure,
Hands and piercéd Side, O show me,
Should I tempted be to doubt Thee!
Let me all Thy love inherit,
And meet death in Thy sure merit!
3.      O Thou fountain ever flowing,
Gracious comfort e’er bestowing,
When Death lays his hand upon me
Help me then to meet him boldly!
Let me all Thy love inherit,
And meet death in Thy sure merit!
4.      Sweet refreshment floweth freely
To Thy children stayed upon Thee.
On Thy Passion, Lord, relying,
Nought I fear the hour of dying.
Let me all Thy love inherit,
And méet death in Thy sure merit!

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