So – my first Easter in lockdown; though perhaps not the last, if the worst predictions about the virus’s ability to fight back – mutation, the possibility of second infections – is true. How different has it been from normal?
In a way it’s been busier. Instead of singing in the choir and preaching one sermon, on Easter Day, I was asked to write and record three reflections; on the Lamentations of Jerimiah for Holy Monday, on Foot washing for Maundy Thursday and on the Harrowing of Hell for Holy Saturday. We usually open our garden as a quiet space, and the Quiet Garden Trust who support us in this have asked for virtual quiet gardens, so that was another recording with pictures this time. So it felt as if I spent much of Holy Week on the computer.
When we got to Maundy Thursday I joined in the Bishop’s service which replaced the Chrism Mass in the morning, and the Mass of the Last Supper in the Evening. I kept the vigil in my bedroom with just a candle and the dog asleep on the bed (she is why it had to be in the bedroom – she would have complained if I’d left her alone in the evening!) after a short vigil in the garden – also with the dog, which was why it was short – she didnt like staying out in the cold! I was surprised to experience the same deep silence as at the Altar of Repose. I was able to “drop in” to St Mary’s Primrose Hill, where the vicar had made a small altar of repose in a corner of her house as well as read through the last supper discourse in John’s gospel – one of the most beautiful sermons every preached.
The realisation that I was part of the whole Christian world keeping the Tridium was perhaps the most powerful element of the experience of the three days. I was able to hear the Passion sung to Stephen Barker’s contemporary setting, but also the Passion of Victoria which I have been singing for 50 years sung by a virtual choir in Wakefield; the new fire and pascal candle lit in a North London vicarage garden, the Exultet sung by a friend who is a deacon in Deal, and the Eucharist celebrated in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s kitchen.
The other thing I have become aware of this year, writing reflections and watching different services online at different times, is that Holy Week and Easter are a unity As a singer Holy Week and Easter are always a bit muddled – you have to practise the “alleluias” of Easter Day before you have sung the “Hosanna”s of Palm Sunday and the “Crucify”s of Good Friday ( though I did hear that one choirmaster made his choir sing “Four and Ninepence” instead of the word “Alleluia” when rehearsing during Lent). But going through it in time at one church as we usually do it is easy to experience it as one Easter video suggests as a ”comeback” after defeat. But this is wrong. As one commentator on that video said “ Jesus didn’t lose on Good Friday, but was victorious. The world just saw it on Easter Day.” That’s something to think about during this next forty days whilst looking at the many passion meditations and expressions of Easter joy which have been posted this year.
Christ is Risen – Alleluia – a Happy Easter to all!