The ceremony of dark matins is one of the most theatrical, yet moving, forms of the Holy Week liturgy. Following the 20th-century reforms, it was abandoned and forgotten by the Church, but its reminiscent survive in the dedicated music works composed in the past.

A particularly large number of them were created in France during the reign of Louis XIV. Almost every major composer tried his hand at this, including Couperin, Lambert, and Delalande, however it was Marc-Antoine Charpentier who left us the larger number of musicalized Leçons de ténèbres. All his arrangements, although varied and composed for a variety of performance ensembles, are written with an equally deep understanding of the text of Jeremiah’s Lamentations assigned to the dark matins. Baroque was passionate about funeral ceremonies; everything connected with death and passing was celebrated in an extremely festive and elaborate manner. During dark matins, one candle was extinguished after singing each of the subsequent parts of the liturgy, which was to symbolise the apostles leaving Christ. The light was not due to return until Easter Day. This service was one of the most popular in 17th- and 18th-century France. Churches were invaded by crowds going there as if to an opera, and the main person responsible for this phenomenon was precisely Charpentier. With his Leçons, he gave the French music a new genre that was to flourish exuberantly for decades to come.



Tim Scott Whiteley – bass

Cohaere Ensemble:

Marta Korbel, Katarzyna Olszewska – violin

Marta Gawlas, Ana Fernández Anguita – flutes

Natalia Reichert – alto

Monika Hartmann – cello

Giulio Quirici – lute

Natalia Olczak – positive organ/harpsichord



Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643–1704)

Leçons des ténèbres

Première leçon de ténèbres du Mercredi Saint H.120

Première leçon de ténèbres du Jeudy Saint H.121

Première leçon de ténèbres du Vendredi Saint H.122

Marin Marais (1656–1728)

Pièces en trio

Suite à 3 g-moll (selected part)

Suite à 3 B-dur (selected part)