8 February 2015, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
[Anniversary of the Latin Novus Ordo at SMV]
Introit: Venite adoremus Deum, begin on A (as do)
Alleluia: Mode 2 melismatic, PBC, p. 85, with Lectionary verse.
Offertory: Hail true victim, life and light, p. 323.
Communion (Year B): Multitudo languentium, begin on D (as re)
Recessional: Holy God we praise Thy name, p. 217, vv. 1, 2, & 4, begin on F
Mass XI, PBC p. 58. Credo III, PBC p. 77.
The Introit antiphon is taken from the formulary of September Ember Saturday in the older Graduale Romanum (1908/1961). It has three phrases, the first allowing a very quick break in the middle:
- Venite adoremus Deum, [1b] et procidamus ante Dominum
- ploremus ante eum qui fecit nos
- quia ipse est Dominus Deus noster
We sing here vv. 6 & 7 of Psalm 94 (95). From a time of great antiquity—long in place by the time of St Benedict—this psalm has been the start of each day's Divine Office (The Invitatory). So you will correctly surmise that it has been the subject of much commentary from many perspectives by many people over many centuries. Note that when we sing or recite v. 6 in the Invitatory, we do it on our knees, because (a) the words, at least in Hebrew and some Latin versions, refer to kneeling and (b) it is the turning point of the psalm when it moves from a song of praise for God's goodness (cf. v. 1, the psalm-verse of this Introit) to imploring his mercy for our failure to listen to His voice calling us to be His obedient people and enter into His rest. The melody of the intonation (Venite), and again at procidamus, reflects this physical act of bending the knees (in Latin, genu flectare). To emphasize this submission, the manuscripts even indicate a moderate hold when we reach the low point (fa) on (Veni-)te. The high points of the melody are all directed to God (Deum, Dominum, Deus), and the low points to us (fecit nos) and the acts of submission to which we are called (adoremus, procidamus, ploremus). To submit our will to the divine will is an effort we need to renew daily. As we saw last week, Mode 2 can be sad yet not without its own joy and hope.
The Communion antiphon is taken from the formulary of Sts. Fabian and Sebastian in the older Graduale. It has two phrases, but the first one we will break at the two points indicated:
- Multitudo languentium / et qui vexabantur a spiritibus immundis / veniebant ad eum
- quia virtus de illo exibat et sanabat omnes
At first glance, this antiphon looks rather much for a Communion in Ordinary Time. But after singing only a few words of the first long phrase, one senses—physically—a tightness in the range of pitch in the melody of that phrase. Yes, it's obviously simple to chant. But in fact, that same stricture in the melody is a striking inducement in the body of the singer of a sense of the binding of the evil spirits that our divine Lord is doing in the Lucan text, put here to complement the day's Marcan gospel reading. Only in the second phrase do we see the melody break free a bit as it sings of the power (virtus) flowing out from our Lord and healing those afflicted. Appropriately, the high point of the melody is on that very virtus, where the manuscripts not surprisingly mark a slight hold. So we can focus for a moment on our own need for healing from the power of evil. A lingering hold on (sa-)na(-bat) reinforces that. We probably won't have enough communicants to get that far, but the later verses of the Communion psalm say this as well. Although it's the primal communion psalm, 33 (34), as we've seen before, we don't even sing the usual verse 9 (Gustate et videte). Rather, we sing verses of healing and salvation to reinforce the impact of the day's gospel. A modern commentator, Fr. Mark Kirby, OSB, remarked of this antiphon, 'The fact that the liturgy makes us sing this text during Holy Communion tells us that healing power radiates from the Body and Blood of Christ received from the altar.' [BTW, St. Hildegard von Bingen, our newest Doctor of the Church, wrote a lovely organum setting of this chant.]