“Ufficio delle Tenebre” The Musical Celebration of the Rite of Mattutini of Maundy Thursday

Project location: Italy, Rome
Project start date: December 2012 - Project end date: March 2013
Project number: 2012-094
Beneficiary: Associazione Culturale Musicale Musicangelica


The "Ufficio delle Tenebre" is the celebration of the Mattutini of the Maundy triduum: Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the Holy Week.
A Mattutino is divided into three Notturni, each of which consists in three psalms and three lessons. In the first Notturno the lessons are taken from the Lamentations of Jeremiah; The lessons of the second Notturno are taken from patristic literature (St. Augustine) and in the third Notturno they are taken from the epistles of St. Paul.
Characteristic of this celebration is the use of a triangular candlestick placed near the altar. Important composers from Renassaince to modern era wrote the music for the celebration of this rite (Lamentations, Psalms and Responsoria).

In this project the musical aspect of the rite was studied in order to have the best musical setting for the liturgy. In particular:

- The Gregorian Chant
- The Lamentations by Alessandro Scarlatti (1660 - 1725)
- Some Unpublished lamentations possibly by Scarlatti recently discovered in Rome by Valerio Losito
- Other anonymous roman Lamentations (beginning of XVIII cent.)
- The Responsoria by D. Lorenzo Perosi (1872 - 1956)

The Lamentations of Alessandro Scarlatti are characterized by a severity of style, so far from the "operatic" style church music of his time; they are written for Soprano with string accompaniment.
A couple of unpublished lamentations to be attributed to Alessandro Scarlatti were discovered by Valerio Losito in the musical archive of Santa Maria in Monserrato, Rome, during his musicological studies in roman musical archives; one of them was written for the Maundy Thursday Mattutino and fit perfectly with this project. Also this piece is scored for Soprano, two violins and continuo (organ and theorbo).
The Responsoria by D. Lorenzo Perosi were published in 1899 by the author in the anthology Melodie Sacre, anno III. D. Lorenzo Perosi is the most famous composer of church music of the modern era. His Responsori, written for three voices without accompaniment are an unique example of mixture between the great sacred music tradition and modern innovation.
The combination of Gregorian chant, Scarlatti and Perosi music will create a very interesting musical contribution to the rite.

The project, which received a grant from the NPF,  consists in the celebration, with a proper music, of the Mattutino of one of the days of the Holy Week. In particular the Mattutino of the Maundy Thursday will be considered, to be sung the evening of Maundy Wednesday.
A musical group, led by Valerio Losito, will be involved to perform the music (Lamentations, Responsoria and other).
Musicians are: Soprano solo voice, two violin players, organ player, lute player and three singers (Alto, Tenor and Bass), for a total of seven musicians (one of them will perform both with organ and tenor voice).

A collaboration with the Fathers of the Oratorio of St. Filippo Neri could be possible to organize and celebrate this rite; a possible church for this celebration could be the ancient church of SS. Nereo and Achilleo that belongs to the roman Congregazione dell'Oratorio.
The liturgy could use both the Latin language (Lamentations, Antiphonies, Responsoria) and Italian language (Psalms and Lectures). This aspect will be detailed in a second moment according to the celebrant indications.

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