18 April 2011

music monday: holy week

Easter has always been my favorite holiday. And by extension and by being Catholic, the Holy Week leading up to it is always a very prayerful time for me.  I'll be posting more about my Easter traditions later this week, but today I wanted to reflect on the music traditionally used in the services this week.

I used to think they were boring when I was younger, but now I love the use of repetitive chants during this week.  These songs are not intended to be a performance (although I found a lot of those on YouTube); instead, almost all liturgical music this week is used as a backdrop to help draw you into reflection and prayer about the Passion of the Lord.  And in many churches, Holy Thursday service ends in silence, the altar is stripped down, and everyone just stays in prayer as the priest makes a silent exit.

The song "Were You There?" is common during Holy Week in pretty much every Catholic church I've set foot in, and I think it's so beautiful.  I was trying to find the best representation of just a cantor singing this with minimal instruments, the way it happens in the church setting.  I found this version featuring only a singer and a trumpet that I think creates a gorgeous environment for contemplation on the mysteries of the Triduum.  The note under the video says that the singer and trumpeter didn't even rehearse this before using it in the Good Friday service, making it truly improvised.

Now I can't wait to share our "buried" word in song next week :-)  Do you have a favorite Holy Week (not Easter) song?


  1. That was so beautiful Cat- thank you for sharing. I must say I listened to the song at least three times.It really makes you think about the sacrifice that Christ gave on the cross. Isn't it so amazing to serve a Savior who took on our sins and died for us so that we might live? And even more amazing that He rose from the grave and lives within us as well! :)

  2. This is a beautiful song.
    I'm also a new follower.
    Semper Fi, Amber joy