A Holy Week Festival online from London
A group of young musicians from the See of Fulham have drawn up exciting plans for an online celebration of Holy Week using choirs, instrumentalists and churches from across London and Southwark dioceses.
James Day, Daniel Turner and Tom Williams direct the music at St Gabriel’s Pimlico, St Augustine’s Kilburn and St Matthew’s W14 (Kensington Olympia). They were acutely aware that some Fulham parishes were not holding their usual rounds of Choral Holy Week services because of the pandemic. Current rules mean that only 3 professional singers may be used at services and this has restricted repertoire significantly. As professional church musicians they themselves felt an acute sense of loss and deprivation at the removal of regular choral services, amateur choirs and concerts. Many will miss the vast corpus of music written for choirs and instrumentalists especially for Holy Week – the centre of our faith.
By pre-recording the services and concerts behind locked doors with professional musicians, larger choirs and ensembles can be used than is permitted at in-person events. Sharing their time, talents and importantly their technology from across different churches is certainly one positive thing to come from these turbulent times!
The current listings for the festival are:
– Palm Sunday – 8pm Sung Compline with the choir and clergy from St Matthew’s W14
– Fig Monday – 8pm Haydn’s Seven Last Words from the Cross from St Luke, Kingston
– Tuesday in Holy Week – 8pm Lecons de Tenebra by Merula with Angie Hicks & Jacob Garside from All Saints, Notting Hill
– Spy Wednesday– 8pm Tenebrae with the Bishop of Fulham, choir and clergy from St Augustine’s, Kilburn
– Maundy Thursday – 1pm Organ Recital on Holy Week music by Jamie McVinnie from St Andrew’s, Holborn
– Good Friday – 6pm Stainer’s Crucifixion with the Parish Choir of St Gabriel’s Pimlico
– Easter Even – 3pm Richafort Requiem & other motets with the Erebus Ensemble from St Matthew’s W14
At many of these events the viewer will be able to join in with the singing of familiar hymns, responses and prayers. Running alongside the events will be short commentaries, interviews and explanatory talks given by Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham, his priests and some of the lay musicians involved. In addition to the online festival the musicians are gathering videos and pictures from across the Fulham family of parishes to put together a virtual hymn and a video montage showing what our churches have been doing during the pandemic. They have chosen Sweet Sacrament Divine as this year’s hymn. This will be shown in full ahead of the celebration of the Chrism Mass by Bishop Jonathan on Tuesday in Holy Week.
The musicians are adamant that this offering represents a devotional aid in addition to regular worship in your own parish church. The timings are such as to permit everyone to attend daily mass and other devotions and then to watch and listen to these events at home. Once launched the content will be available for up to one month. Any proceeds will be shared between the host churches and the festival committee for future celebrations.
Bishop Jonathan said of the trio’s joint efforts: ‘I commend to everyone these online celebrations of the Great Week. Our young musicians deserve our support during this pandemic. This festival unites our catholic faith and the rich musical and liturgical traditions of our churches to allow us all to follow Our Lord more closely through Holy Week than is otherwise permitted in public at this time’.
For more information please have a look at the festival’s website HolyWeekFestival.london and do look out for Holy Week Festival .London on social media and the Bishop of Fulham’s facebook page.