Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday Memories

Remember when Good Friday was an actual legal holiday? It was in Maryland, at least. Surprisingly, Frederick County had the day off this year.

In sixth and seventh grade, I remember being a soprano in the choir at the Shrine of the Little Flower. Our director (who wasn't Catholic!) had us sing all sorts of pieces, such as a couple Latin Glorias that only got as far as the line Filius Patris ("Son of the Father"), the "Gloria of the Bells," the fiendishly difficult "He Watching Over Israel" from Mendelssohn's Elijah, Brahms' "How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place", "The Heavens Are Telling" from Haydn's Creation, Adoramus Te, and various parts of the Messiah (including, inexplicably, the Hallelujah Chorus at Easter!). So he loved the classics and Latin, and I think that's where I started my appreciation for the "dead language."

For Good Friday, the choir sang at both the 3 PM and 7:30 PM services. I recall every year I sang, the temperature would be in the high 80s or even low 90s, and I had to walk uphill to church (I know, both ways :-)). This made things brutal up in the choir loft; we had to get an Igloo dispenser of water put in. I liked the Good Friday services as we got to sing the Reproaches, something I don't hear at too many Good Fridays anymore. I also loved singing the chant version of Pange Lingua, although that's more often a Holy Thursday tune.

Then we had the Easter Vigil Mass, where we had to stand in the aisles through all the readings (ouch!), and we usually sung the Gloria of the Bells. Finally, the 10 AM Easter Sunday Mass rounded out our Holy Week.