15 March 2015, 4th Sunday of Lent (Year B)

15 March 2015, 4th Sunday of Lent (Year B)

Introit: Laetare, begin on D (as fa)

            N.B. On this Sunday, the day of the second scrutiny of the candidates for baptism, we will use the Rite of Sprinkling form of the Penitential Rite and sing:

Antiphon: Asperges me, PBC, p. 22, begin on C. While the celebrant sprinkles the congregation, all sing the antiphon, women of schola will sing the verse & GP, then all repeat antiphon. This replaces the Penitential Rite, and the Collect of the Mass follows after the concluding prayer of the rite.

Offertory: O kind Creator, bow thine ear, p. 352, begin on E

Communion (Year A): Lutum fecit, begin on A (as fa)

Communion (Year B): Jerusalem quae aedificatur, begin on F (as mi)

Communion (Year C): Opportet te, begin on G (as sol)

Recessional: When I survey the woundrous cross, p. 341, begin on D

Ordinary from Mass XVII, PBC, p. 71. No Kyrie today.

Credo I, PBC, p. 75

The Introit antiphon has three phrases:

  1. 1.Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam:
  2. 2.gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis:
  3. 3.ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.

This Sunday's Mass shows the first buds of the spring of Easter joy. Somewhat differently than the rather subdued Gaudete before Christmas, Laetare joy is fuller, reaching a climax at exsultetis. But even here the melody observes a restraint common to liturgical hymns. It contends itself with the range of a seventh. Laetare has b. for its highest note, and this will dominate diligitis. Jerusalem has as its highest note c, which is the supporting note for conventum facite. The clivis on the last syllable of Laetare is to be extended somewhat, but the conventum facite is almost like the ringing of bells, calling us to this joy.

            In the second sentence, the final cadence of the solemn lesson tone, c g d f, is continued over cum laetitia. Between the similar forms over (tristi)-tia and (fu)-istis, which are characterized by the melancholic effect of the repeated b, there is placed on the first syllable of this word an energetic b. The third sentence returns to the solemn tone of the first sentence and amplifies it. The vivid exsultetis closes with the dominant, while a tristropha prepares for the brilliantly executed satiemini. The word closes with a kind of modulation in A minor (a b a), which renders the second part of the sentence with its recurring b all the more effective. The broad intervals, fourths and fifths, also indicate the fullness of consolation; but this is achieved most effectively by the rich final cadence which rhymes with the first sentence. The final syllable of uberibus is rendered softly. The execution should bring out the sweetness of divine consolation. The exultant mode V breaks forth in the psalm verse, Laetatus sum, quickening the pace at the repeat of the antiphon.

(Year A) The Communion antiphon has two phrases:

  1. 1.Lutum fecit ex sputo Dominus et linivit oculos meos:
  2. 2.et abii et lavi et vidi et credidi Deo.

In the Ordinary Form, we sing this antiphon on the 4th Sunday of Lent in Year A and in other years if the Gospel of the Prodigal Son is read. The antiphon is the ‘take-away’line from this Gospel: I went, I washed, I saw, and I believed. A clear reference to baptism. Like Opportet te in year C, the few Communion antiphons that have a gospel text rather than a psalm have been the subject of much scholarly scrutiny. They appear in a large number of manuscripts, and appear to have entered the repertory earlier rather than later. Given the simplicity of the melodies, they were perhaps Office antiphons—perhaps for the Magnificat, though one manuscript assigns this antiphon to Sext—that were taken into the Mass formulary to reflect the day’s pericope.

(Year B) The Communion antiphon has two phrases:

  1. 3.Jerusalem, quae aedificatur ut civitas, cujus participate ejus in idipsum:
  2. 4.illuc enim ascenderunt tribus, tribus Domini, ad confitendum nomini tuo, Domine.

The key word for this antiphon is obviously Jerusalem. The climax comes at the words illic enim ascenderunt tribus with a harmonic melody and an excellent expansion of the motifs of ejus in idipsum. This is intentional. In medieval Rome, one commentator notes, 'even the ascent to today's station church “in Jerusalem”was a reality, since it went from the Lateran down into a valley, then higher up again. Even today, despite the filling in of the lower parts of this valley, this is still discernible from the course of the old city walls which are found at that place.' The purpose of the rising melody, however, is not only to portray a melodic image of ascent. It is an echo of the joyful songs that the Israelites, dressed for the solemn occasion, sang on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and an anticipation of the songs of the catechumens, when, at the Easter vigil, vested in their white robes, they went up to the altar from the baptistry in order to take part in the Eucharist (participatio). It is truly a foretaste of that heavenly Jerusalem, to which we are all ascending in pilgrimage.

            As the commentator quoted above alluded, the Roman stational church today is that of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. The next time the Roman church gathers in that building will be on Good Friday, to ascend the hill of Calvary and honor the holy cross and the wounds of our Saviour.