Sacred Triduum at Buckfast Abbey


Through the generous hospitality of the Benedictine community there are currently three worshipping catholic congregations at St Mary's Abbey on any given Sunday. First the diocesan parish has Mass at 9.15am, then the Abbey has its principal Mass at 10.30am and then finally the newcomers, the Ordinariate, usually have their Mass at 3pm. For the sacred Triduum we came together to celebrate the paschal mystery as one worshipping body. It was a great privilege to witness close at hand the enormous care and hard work that is put into providing the Church's Faithful with a liturgy that can touch heart and mind in a way nothing else can.

Father Abbot invited the Ordinariate clergy to concelebrate at all the masses of the Triduum alongside the fathers of the community, which was a privilege of course, but also gave us insight into the enormous efforts put into making sure a worthy and inspiring liturgy was offered to God. The Triduum could not have been more different for me personally for it felt more like riding the crest of a wave than the usual hard labour a parish priest has to contend with.

While we sat back and concentrated on the adoration and depth of mystery being celebrated, Brother Daniel had the enormous task of making sure everything was made ready for each liturgy. Brother Daniel did so with great care and patience, and despite the great headache it must have been, always had time to show the newcomers where they needed to sit and other such trivial matters. Despite the complexity of liturgical rites I did not notice anything particularly out of place - it all seemed to go smoothly.

Did the Ordinariate contribute anything to the proceedings? Well of course the most important participation in worship is our adoration of God and prayerful engagement with all that happens. Everyone is called to this, and the importance of this outstrips any particular activity anyone might do, or any ministry performed. But perhaps one of the most striking aspects of the worship at the Abbey is the music that is offered. There is quite possibly nothing like it in the region and this is organised and delivered through the hard work and enthusiasm of the Music Director, Michael Vian Clark, who is himself a member of the Ordinariate. Not only is Michael a keen member and advocate of the Ordinariate but also has offered himself for the sacred priesthood, and begins soon a period of ongoing discernment and formation as an Ordinariate seminarian.

Michael photographed in Rome at the recent pilgrimage
 Michael has been engaged in developing the music at the Abbey for a while and this year's music at the Triduum was a fitting tribute to that work. He is of course part of a team of willing volunteers and professional/semi-professional musicians and singers. One cannot fail to be impressed by the obvious delight all the musicians and singers have in being part of the worship of the Abbey. This is no mere performance but a real offering of worship using the gifts God has given.


The breath-taking list below speaks for itself.

Maundy Thursday

18:00     Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Spatzenmesse (G, S/B) Mozart
Ubi caritas Cann
O sacrum convivium Tallis
Ego sum panis vivus Palestrina
Tantum ergo Durufle (in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel)

Good Friday

15:00     Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion

Caligaverunt oculi mei Lassus
Tristis est anima mea Lassus
Popule meus Victoria
Adoramus te, Christe Lassus (men's voices)
Ave verum corpus Lassus
Miserere mei Lassus

19:00     Stations of the Cross

The Reproaches Sanders
O sacred head (chorale) Hassler
O vos omnes Casals
Glory be to Jesus (chorale) Filitz
Ubi caritas Cann
Vinea mea electa Poulenc
Lamentations I Tallis
Ah holy Jesu (chorale) Cruger
Timor et tremor Poulenc
Crucifixus Lotti
Popule meus chant with drone

Holy Saturday

21:00     Easter Vigil

Messe Solennelle (G, S/B, A) Vierne
Christus vincit Wolff
Vidi aquam Magalhaes
Laudate Dominum Dupre

Easter Sunday

10:30     Mass

Missa in tempore paschali (G, S/B, A) Moore
Haec dies Byrd
Victimae paschal chant
Terra tremuit Byrd
Dum transisset Sabbatum Taverner (polyphony + Sarum chant)


To experience this was quite outstanding and never failed to lift heart and mind to God in heaven.