Jeudi Saint

Jeudi Saint is the Thursday before Easter, the day that commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper with the Apostles. This is a recording of the Gregorian chants on that holy day, made in 1958 by a small French label called Studio Monastère.

In the Fifties and early Sixties they went around France to make recordings of the vanishing world of closed monasticism. This was eight years before the decisions made by the Second Vatican Council were put in effect. One of the major decisions made at the Council was that the Catholic Church had to be more open, more directed to the public. Before that time, mass was celebrated by priests with their back towards the congregation. After 1965 they started to turn.

However, when this recording was made, that was not yet the case. Monasteries were a closed world, where these weird people with tape recorders were a modern monstrosity. On one of the records of the label there is a more detailed report of this. The monks living in these places really had to be convinced to do this.

This is one of these recordings, from the Benedictine Abbey of Ligugé near Poitiers in western France. The original abbey was founded in 361 and dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. It was destroyed in the French Revolution and then rebuilt in 1853.

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