Ubi caritas est vera

Where there is true charity

Deus ibi est.

The Anglo-Catholic worship tradition that I spent many years observing is a theatrical one.  It was often mockingly referred to as “smells and bells” Christianity and indeed the smells and bells were there.  But so was the beauty of worship and the depth of devotion that ritual and all its attendant symbolism can bring to the worshipper.

I have always thought that the ceremonies and symbols of Maundy Thursday are the most theatrical of all the rituals in a week heavy in ritual and the theatrical.  Beginning with the Washing of the Feet, the commemoration of the institution of the Last Supper, the reserving of the Sacrament at a place of repose, the stripping and cleansing of the altars, the covering of images and furnishings, the open and empty tabernacle, and the final fleeing from the sanctuary of clergy, acolytes and congregation.  All leading up to the drama of the Liturgy of Good Friday.

It is traditional to intone the Ubi Caritas antiphone that was introduced into the liturgy sometime after 500 CE.  In most parishes where it is sung the Maurice Duruflé setting from 1960 is used however in searching I found a recent composition by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo which begins, as does the Duruflé with a chant theme but one that is closer to the Eastern tradition than the Gregorian.

UBI caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exultemus, et in ipso iucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.
WHERE charity and love are, God is there.
Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a sincere heart.
UBI caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:
Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus.
Cessent iurgia maligna, cessent lites.
Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus.
WHERE charity and love are, God is there.
As we are gathered into one body,
Beware, lest we be divided in mind.
Let evil impulses stop, let controversy cease,
And may Christ our God be in our midst.
UBI caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul quoque cum beatis videamus,
Glorianter vultum tuum, Christe Deus:
Gaudium quod est immensum, atque probum,
Saecula per infinita saeculorum. Amen.
WHERE charity and love are, God is there.
And may we with the saints also,
See Thy face in glory, O Christ our God:
The joy that is immense and good,
Unto the ages through infinite ages. Amen.

The text both Duruflé and Gjeilo use is a more recent one which begins Ubi caritas et amor (Where there is charity and love) however earlier manuscripts use the text of the post title.   And it is a title I prefer at a time more than any other I can recall in my life when it seems that “true charity” has become more and more difficult to identify in our world.

Musically it is a quiet and touching moment as the text, music and action portray an act of “charity” in the drama which began with the Hallelujahs of Palm Sunday and after the sorrow of the Reproaches and the Seven Last Words reaches the glorious proclamation of the Esultet and the Alleluias of the traditional Easter greeting.

On this day in 1613: Samuel Argall captures Native American Pocahontas in Passapatanzy, Virginia to ransom her for some English prisoners held by her father; she is brought to Henricus as hostage.

Author: Willym

A senior with the heart of a young'un

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