Friday, April 03, 2015

Two Takes on "Ten Thousand Angels"

It's Good Friday.  The day God's plan to save sinners from their own filthy selves came to its bloody, brutal climax.  All through my entire childhood, in Michigan and in North Carolina, until I left home for college, every Good Friday, our church would have a Tenebrae service, or "service of darkness."  My dad, the pastor, would wear his black cassock instead of his usual white alb.  We'd have candles on tall candle sticks at the ends of the pews, lining the center aisle.  At the beginning of the service, all those candles would be lit, and all the lights would be on.  As the service proceeded, after various Bible readings and homilies about Christ's arrest, trials, and crucifixion, the ushers would extinguish the candles, a pair at a time, and the electric lights would be dimmed gradually, so that by the end of the service, the entire church would be in darkness, with only the Christ Candle still lighted.  One man would carry that candle out of the church while my dad would walk behind him, carrying our giant family Bible, the biggest Bible we had -- basically a coffee table-sized book.  When he got to the back of the church and the Christ Candle had gone outside, Dad would say loudly Christ's last words on the cross, "It is finished."  Then he'd slam that Bible shut, to signify Christ dying.  Then they'd carry the Christ Candle back in to signify the fact that Jesus did not stay dead, but is still alive now.

Well, during that service, the choir would also sing various songs.  Different ones different years, except they always always always sang two:  "It's Over" and "Ten Thousand Angels."  When I got old enough, I joined the choir and got to sing those songs too.  Either my Googling powers are weak today, or "It's Over" is a really obscure song... I'm going to have to ask my mom to tell me who wrote it, and maybe I can share it next year.  But today, I'm going to share two very different renditions of "Ten Thousand Angels" that I found on YouTube.  They are radically different -- one traditional, one bluegrass -- but I think they're both awesome.



Our church here doesn't have a choir, but we will be having a Tenebrae service tonight, which I'm very glad of.  I never seem properly prepared for the joy of Easter if I don't go through the dark journey of Good Friday first.

7 comments:

  1. "I never seem properly prepared for the joy of Easter if I don't go through the dark journey of Good Friday first."

    Amen! I feel exactly the same way. And then the joy of the happy Sunday get's doubled!

    At our Church there are many services - we just came back from a long reflective one, and the choir (which I'm part of) will be singing Bach's Matthew Passion this night. It's a sad day, but amazing and so deep.

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    1. We generally have three -- the Maundy Thursday service was last night, the Good Friday Tenebrae service is tonight, and then on Easter we have our usual two services, with a big potluck brunch in between. And an egg hunt for the kids!

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    2. Yes, we also had a Maundy Thursday service!

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  2. The church I attend now doesn't have a choir, either and I do miss it. At my old church, frequently at the Good Friday service our choir would do an arrangement of "It Is Finished" which was just such an expression of triumph. For personal listening today, I've been playing a lot of Andrew Peterson, especially "High Noon" from his "Love & Thunder" CD and all of his "Behold the Lamb of God" album. So good.

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    1. I really miss being in a choir. It's kind of logistically impossible here, but I do miss it.

      All those sound great! After supper, I intend to dig out Handel's "Messiah" and listen to the Lenten tracks.

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  3. Interesting tradition. I've never heard of it before, but it sounds very... profound. :)

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    1. It's very moving. I was in tears last night. It's an odd mix of convicting and comforting, for me -- convicting, that my sins put Christ through that, and comforting, that he loved me so much he was willing to suffer and die horribly to save me.

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