Matins and First Hour of Holy Thursday

by , under church, services

This is my first Holy Week as choirmistress so I do want to keep a record, but I won’t be able to count the congregation, just the altar and the choir!

Time: slightly under 2 hours, not counting the panichida; let’s make it a round 2 hours including the panichida Total: 2:00

Crew: Altar: Just Fr T, with an acolyte in civvies holding the candle when he read the Gospel. Choir: SSATB, practically my dream team, only one person who really needs to be told to pay attention, the rest do it all by themselves.

Congregation: 5-6, I think, but I have no eyes in the back of my left shoulder. I thought most or all of them were earnest young men, but during the First Hour when people were venerating the icon before they went to catch trains [1] I also saw an earnest young woman. There were 14 people at the Panichida (40th day remembrance of the death of a beloved parishioner and choirmate) but some of those were only there for the Panichida.

1 Even three people in the choir, one by one. Well, one just left, but the other two did have trains to catch. This service ends at a very awkward time for train travel.

My new timer, actually a “basic sports stopwatch”, arrived this morning. I succeeded in setting the time, date and day of the week with the Chinglish instructions, and accidentally set the time to 24-hour which I wanted anyway so I’m not going to try and figure out how I did that. Or indeed touch any of the settings now it’s set right (I think it’s about 20 seconds fast compared to my laptop, ah well). Also I discovered how to turn off the alarm. It does have a tiny beep on start/stop which is probably not noticeable when there’s any surround sound at all. I put it in my choir utensils pencil-case — and then completely forgot to use it, that’s why the time is estimated rather than exact.

I’m still learning to relax my legs when directing the choir, so I ended up with stiff knees and numb feet. But the singing was worth it: once we were used to the Holy Week tone it was as smooth as butter. Even the canon (which Fr T complimented me on after the service): we had PRACTICED that! At least, four of the five people singing had practiced it, in two different combinations.

I’m so happy that the first service went well! Apart from the glitch near the end when everybody was already tired and we kept singing the wrong response to the prayers (not the wrong words, that’s just “Lord have mercy” every time, but the wrong tune of two alternating tunes). Now if everybody had been singing the same wrong response… Also, we were expecting a short end-of-service, and got the long one, so we had to sing it by heart and nobody (not even me) remembered how the text fit to the Holy Week tune.


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