Easter is always a grand celebration in Hallgrimskirkja and we have a busy and festive week ahead.
On Holy Thursday a choir of 120 children will sing church music with a swing, accompanied by some of Iceland’s best jazz musicians: Kjartan Valdimarsson, Gunnar Hrafnsson and Petur Gretarsson. Local organist Hordur Askelsson will also be partaking in the event. At this most joyful annual event there always is a full church of happy guests of all ages. The concert starts at 5 pm and admittance is free.
On the eve of Holy Thursday the atmosphere turns more serious with a mass starting at 8 pm. Right after the mass there is a so-called Getsemane Hour, where the altar of Hallgrimskirkja is adorned with a special altar cloth in black showing a pelican. The pelican is an ancient, Christian symbol of martyrdom and atonement. Artist Unnur Olafsdottir made the cloth and gave to the church along with a black chasuble embroidered with the first verse of the Passion Hymns.
During the ceremony Hallgrimskirkja´s chamber choir Schola Cantorum sings beautiful renaissance lent music by Tallis, Lotti, Purcell along with Allegri’s amazing Miserere. Soloists are soprano Rakel Edda Guðmundsdottir and baritone Fjolnir Olafsson. Schola Cantorum is long recognized as one of the best choirs in Iceland and has received numerous grants and prizes. Conductor is Hordur Askelsson. Admittance is free.
On Good Friday we honour the tradition of reading all of the Passion Hymns, written in the 17. Century by priest and poet Hallgrimur Petursson, namesake of Hallgrimskirkja (The Church of Hallgrimur). The Passion Hymns are a major work in Icelandic literary history. Readers are from the Hallgrimskirkja Motet Choir and the reading starts at 1 pm and lasts till about 6 pm.