19 January 2014, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
We will have the two newly ordained deacons of the Canons of the New Jerusalem with us for this Mass. We will sing all the propers today.
Introit: Omnis terra, begin on F (as fa)
Gradual: Misit Dominus, begin on D (as fa)]
Alleluia: Laudate Deum, begin on F (as fa)
Offertory: Jubilate Deo, begin on C (as do)
(Year A) Communion: Laetabimur, begin on D (as re)
Recessional: Now thank we all our God, V2H p. 221, begin on B♭
Mass XI, PBC p. 58. Credo III, PBC p. 77.
The Introit antiphon has two phrases:
- Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi:
- psalmum dicat nomini tuo, Altissime.
We're now in the first portion of 'Ordinary Time' the season before and after the year's peak time of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. In Latin it is called the time 'per annum' [literally, 'through(out) the year'] but its alternate name has a deeper meaning. It's a time when the liturgy calls us to reflect on how the great events of salvation history, the coming, suffering, dying, rising, & ascending of our Saviour have radically changed what constitutes 'ordinary' in our world. Christ is the new 'order' in ordi-nary now, and we are invited to enter more deeply in His newness as the weeks unfold. How appropriate it is that this antiphon is in Mode 4, the contemplative mode, as we come to a time of calm reflection after the heady excitement of Christmas and Epiphany. Like the Introit of next Sunday (in Year C) and the following Sunday, this antiphon reminds us that even the most mundane and 'ordinary' elements of our lives are opportunities to transform ourselves and our world into living songs of praise to the God who works such wonders as we are privileged to see. So in the ascending fourth over terra, the melody calls us to rise up from the earth(ly). It reaches its peak over adoret, as adoring God should be the high point of our lives, and the manuscript tells us to hold on firmly as we sing the te before Deus. The same pattern of our earthly song ascending in praise to the throne of the Most High and ligering there in a moment of comtemplation is repeated over dicat nomini tuo. We will want to hold the phrasing together closely to keep the sense and mood flowing. Both times we address God directly (te Deus and Altissime) we finish on mi, a weak note that leaves us with a sense of something incomplete; orienting our lives to His work and worship is still a work in progress. This text also ties us back to the recently celebrated feast of the Baptism of the Lord, when it was sung in the Office of Readings. (Cf. 2nd antiphon and psalm).
The Gradual has three phrases in the corpus and three in the verse:
- Misit Dominus verbum suum,
- et sanavit eos:
- et eripuit eos de interitu eorum
- Confiteantur Domino
- misericordiae ejus:
- et mirabilia ejus filiis hominum.
The corpus of the Gradual has the same melody in its first phrase as on the first Sunday after Epiphany (EF); the same holds true for the beginning of the verse. In the second phrase we find the pleasant melisma known to us from the word illuminare of Epiphany. The melody of the third phrase repeats itself in the first half of the verse over mirabilia ejus. We are struck by the unusual ending of the corpus.
It is difficult to explain the frequent repetition of the third-intervals at the beginning of the verse. We met with this construction for the first time on the second Sunday of Advent, but at that time it was enlivened by a variety of neumes. The clivis alone produces a slight variation in the melody concealed in the third ca, the fourth eg, and the ascending fifth fc. Peter Wagner (Stimmen der Zeit, 58, 136) thinks that it wishes to visualize the expansion of the singer's heart, since the liturgical chant recalls to him his own vocation (confite'ri). For the early designation of the cantor was confessor (cf. the Collects for Good Friday). An admirable effect is afterwards produced by the development over misericordiae. The pressus, it is true, constitute the supports of the melody; still one should give close attention also to the notes which precede in every instance. Over ejus occurs a partial motive of eos in the first part of the Gradual; (mirabi)-lia resembles eripuit eos. The closing melisma is the same as that in the second Christmas Mass.
Ecce advenit—"Behold, He is come," constitutes the answer to our Advent petition of Veni Domine—"Come, 0 Lord." Similarly the present misit is a fulfillment of our cry: Mitte Domine, quem missurus es—"Send Him, O Lord, whom You are about to send." The Lord has sent His Word, His eternal Word, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; this Word is Jesus, the Saviour; He heals our wounds and saves us from destruction. How can we thank Him fittingly for this favor? Be comforted: He who has come to us as the mercy of God will Himself direct our song. In today's Sacrifice he again sings to the Father a perfect song of thanksgiving for all the wonderful things He has done to men; He hymns God's wisdom and goodness and power and fidelity, for all these combine in God's mercy.
The Alleluia verse has two phrases:
- Laudate Deum omnes Angeli ejus
- laudate eum omnes virtutes ejus.
The Introit had incited the entire world to adoration and to the praise of God; in the Gradual the eternal Word of God Himself fulfills this service of thanksgiving; in the Alleluia all the choirs of angels join this hymn. Here truly all sing along in the most profound adoration and blissful rapture, and the united hosts never weary of crying: Who is like God? Alleluia!
This melody presents a typical form of the fourth mode; we heard it for the first time on the third Sunday of Advent (q.v.). It does not, however, like all other pieces of this type, ascend to b♭ on the third syllable of the teat. Virtutes repeats the preceding formula of ejus.
The Offertory has five phrases:
- Jubilate Deo universa terra:
- jubilate Deo universa terra:
- psalmum dicite nomini ejus;
- venite, et audite, et narrabo vobis, omnes qui timetis Deum,
- quanta fecit Dominus animae meae, alleluia.
This song of thanksgiving is the most animated, if not of plain song as a whole, then surely of all the Offertories. The pleasant repetition of the text: Jubilate . . . is paralleled in very few Offertories. Such repetitions are practically unknown in the chant Mass repertory. The first two phrases predominate not only by reason of their length, but above all through the joy that wells up from within: The entire earth is to shout with joy. An effect of tone-painting is produced by the great intervals over universa. But the singer is more concerned with jubilate. His heart is filled to the point of bursting; he wishes to have his jubilation resound throughout the entire world. He wishes to carry away all things with him and bring them to the throne of God on wings of song. Rapidly the melody falls into the depths; then expanding, ever expanding, it rushes upward. The pressusforms—given in the manuscript as trigons—not only divide the movement, but also supply it with new power and energy. However, they should not be emphasized too strongly, lest the delicate melodic line suffer from it.
The melody shows a marvelous development and gradation till the outburst with f, a twelfth above the lowest note of the piece. We are struck still more by the force of the passage if we compare it with a similar passage, for example that over corde in the Gradual Os justi from the Mass for a Doctor of the Church. A vigorous tone-sequence relaxes the tension. The only other extended figure we meet with is that over the second terra. In place of the b♭ in the first phrase, the second shows an energetic b. After this unusual development comes comparative rest and relaxation in the third phrase. God's name is pronounced reverently. Its close with the impetuous pressusalready prepares for the following phrase and has some relation to the third member in the second Jubilate phrase.
The fourth phrase is an impulsive exhortation to all who fear God. Its three short expressions: "come, hear, I will tell you," not only tend to awaken and attract the attention by the delicate interplay of motives, but they also serve to give us an inkling of powerful movements of the singer's heart. The motif over omnes has been borrowed from the third phrase and is introduced like it. Then it gradually dies away, expressing the contents of the message to expectant hearts in its descent to d.
In the fifth phrase the singer devoutly ponders all the marvels that God has wrought in him. This inner agitation is still felt toward the end over animae. The closing alleluia really is shorter than that generally found in Offertories, but even the oldest manuscripts have the present form.
This Offertory is also sung on the fourth Sunday after Easter. Indeed, it may have been originally composed for that Sunday. It certainly is striking that not a single Offertory from Advent to Easter, not even those of the great feasts of Christmas and Epiphany, closes with an alleluia except this Offertory Jubilate. What is more, the Sundays after Epiphany received their Mass formularies later than did those after Easter. Who sings this song? Holy Mother Church. Of her we sang on Epiphany: on that day the Church was wedded to her divine Spouse. In the EF, and in year C in the OF, today's Gospel also speaks of a marriage. In the Incarnation Christ assumed a human nature. This the Church knows full well. But she is also conscious of Christ's deed (quanta) and sufferings, by reason of which she stands before us pure and immaculate. She knows that in the Eucharist Christ has presented her with a gift than which no more sublime can be found in heaven or on earth, and that in this most exalted Mystery (tantis mysteriis), as the Postcommunion so frequently says, He forever remains the source of her life and strength. She sees all the saints with whom Christ has embellished her, all the graces ever bestowed upon man; she looks upon that marvelous bridal array with which He has adorned her. At this she cannot help singing and shouting for joy and happiness.
(Year A) The Communion antiphon is a chant taken from Lenten week IV (Tuesday) in the EF. It has two quick phrases:
- Laetabimur in salutare tuo
- et in nomine Domini Dei nostri magnificabimur
This Mode 2 melody has a strong Lenten flavour with its—IMHO, deliberately—unsatisfactory termination. We are a people in the midst of a journey; we've not yet arrived at our destination. The high point of the melody clearly is salutare tuo, Your salvation. It alone is the source of true joy. The low point, in turn, is over magnificabimur, which mirrors much of the melody of Laetabimur. Like Mary in her Magnificat, we are made great and whole when we praise the greatness of the name of the Lord and recognize and acknowledge our own lowliness—and in that is our joy. It is assigned in Year A to reflect the last sentence of today’s Gospel reading: I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God.