Maundy Thursday Vigil Devotion

I’m theoretical in charge of the vigil over the reserve sacrament between the end of the Maundy Thursday service to Good Friday’s Masses of the Pre-Sanctified at my congregation. Due to my bite I’ve mostly been writing bits for newsletters, announcements, etc. instead of doing real organizing work.

I completed my final task here at the last moment; it’s a booklet of devotions for use at the vigil. Two I borrowed with light adaptations from the St Augustine Prayer Book produced by the Order of the Holy Cross some years back. I also edited one myself out of George Herbert poems and hymns. Since, to the best of my knowledge, these are not under copyright I’ll post them here: Herbert-Hymn Devotion

I noted something interesting in the midst of preparing the other two. The St. Augustine’s Prayer Book is an Anglo-Catholic book that runs in line with current (or current then) Catholicism rather than being the medievalist sort of Anglo-Catholicism. My congregation is not Anglo-Catholic. It’s MOTR to low and very broad. The Maundy Thirsday vigil itself is perceived as being “too Catholic” in some quarters. In any case, I decided to tone down some of the elements that might scandalize and disrupt devotion should a MOTR to low parishoner read through one of these. One item I took out was a concluding prayer after intercessions that was a devotion to the Sacred Heart. I substituted instead the Prayer for All Sorts and Conditions from the BCP.  In reading through the final copy, it stood out like a sore thumb; it has a dignity, poise and spare eloquence that the surrounding prayers lacked. I’m not saying they were bad prayers or anything—I’m just saying that they weren’t the BCP. . .

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10 Responses to Maundy Thursday Vigil Devotion

  1. Christopher says:

    Funny that Herbert should be a part of my Maundy Thursday sermon…

  2. Gee, what’s funny about that?

    We should refer to our best theologians whenever we can… ;-)

  3. trueanglican says:

    Some years ago I put together three meditations for use at the Altar of Repose, one each hour, for which the scripture readings were all drawn from the Song of Songs. Our then rector thought it strange. I thought it worked.

    The Song of Songs deserves more attention than it gets. At my request, it was also read as one of the lessons at the requiem mass for my wife.

  4. The Song of Songs is a great book. Unusual and with very complicated Hebrew, but a great book. Bede’s commentary on it is a classic and, I must say, I prefer it to Bernard’s sermons… Nevertheless the Song has long been a central resource for the monastic tradition in understanding the relationship between Christ and his Church. And yes, I think reading it at that level works but it *only* works if it is properly recognized as erotic love poetry first.

    (I’d argue the same of Ps 63 as well…)

  5. Actually, I could see using the Song for Holy Hour devotions. Not for Maundy Thursday, perhaps, but at other times I can see it. Particularly the motif of the lover seeking after the beloved and the relation/distinction between sense impressions and the act of attaining the beloved.

  6. Ian says:

    I’ve just found your devotional, and my wife and I are going to use it tonight during the vigil at our parish. Thanks so much for posting it!

    I found your blog searching for something to use tonight, and I’ve been looking through it. I really appreciate what you have to say about music. I think “Terrible Lie” really helped purge me of an idolatrous conception of God. I’ll be reading!

  7. LP says:

    At some point you should post a little something about liturgy of the pre-sanctified. I’ve got to tell you, it is one of those practices I’ve never quite “gotten”.

  8. Thanks for stopping by, Ian!

    That’s one of my favorites off an album loaded with them… I’d love to hear your story about it.

    Will do, LP

  9. Ian says:

    I wrote about it on my old blog:

    http://sweetandheavytrouble.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_archive.html

    Oh, the things I was preoccupied with as an undergraduate!

    By the way, my wife and I greatly appreciated using the devotional you put together last night. We’re fairly ill-read, and going through those poems was a really healthy stretch. So thanks again!

  10. Christopher says:

    Well, it is our poetic sense that so distinguishes our modes of theology and worship language. One of the things I love about our BCP prayers is they bring you to the brink of affective eruption with such grace and hold you on the edge without letting you go over. There’s a certain Stoicism to them that isn’t without affect but is contained.

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