Today is Holy Saturday, when the world waits in prayerfulness and recollection for the Mass of the Day of the Pasch, of Our Lord's Death and Resurrection. In prayer and recollection in the best of circumstances; most of us of course plod along as best we can. The day's agenda: am going to follow Saint-Eugène's Paschal Vigil (here and here) from 0600 until 0820, when I'll leave for Tenebrae at 0900 at Saint Stephen's. Vespers there is at 1700 and then the Paschal Vigil begins at at 2100.
Hmm; I suspect I may be tempted to give Vespers a pass. So far as I know, Vespers in the Triduum comprises one Psalm (Psalm 116 today, the shortest Psalm-- I went to check) before the Magnificat with their antiphons and a collect. On the other hand, having available a church where the Offices of Holy Week are celebrated with such completeness is a great blessing and, after all, why I'm spending coffers of silver coins on 'Portland'.
One of the positive elements of the Pauline Rite's new version of the Roman Breviary is an expanded selection of lessons from the Fathers; although this one, for Holy Saturday, is by an anonymous writer of the early centuries. Saint Thomas Aquinas's explanation of Our Lord's Descent into Hell is here, although I cannot do a translation this morning.
What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.
Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.
The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.
‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.
‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.
‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.
‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.
'See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.
`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.
‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.
Am listening to-- since Tenebrae later on is Matins and Lauds I am listening to-- Johann Sebastiani's St Matthew Passion (there's not much more at German Wikipedia) . I never certainly knew of him until seeing that Wigmore Hall was giving us Fretwork's performance of the Passion-- yesterday. (Sign in, then Watch and Listen, then Video Library.) Am mildly surprised to see that the concert is at YouTube-- I suppose that at this time in the plague-world any incentive to donating money to Wigmore Hall is useful.