5 June 2016, 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Introit: Dominus illuminatio mea,
Offertory: O Lord I am not worthy, p. 304
Communion: Dominus firmamentum meum
Recessional: Sing praise to God, p. 219
Mass XI, PBC p. 58. Credo III, PBC p. 77
The Introit has three phrases, each of which is subdivided:
1. (a) Dominus illuminatio mea et salus mea,
(b) quem timebo?
2. (a) Dominus defensor vitae meae,
(b) a quo trepidabo?
3. (a) Qui tribulant me inimici mei,
(b) infirmati sunt, et ceciderunt
Few chants in the Graduale Romanum have a melody so easily understood, so lucid in structure, and of such regular development as this Introit. From the Preface dialogue we are familiar with the opening motif, which recurs throughout the entire piece. It begins the second phrase a fourth higher, and comes to a climax in the third, being heard also over a quo. This ties together all three phrases. The phrases need to follow one another in a lively, almost impetuous sequence, as an expression of most complete confidence in victory. Perhaps the early Christians sang this song in the dim, wan atmosphere of the catacombs. And even if their brothers and sisters above were led to martyrdom and thrown before the beasts, inwardly they possessed the courage and strength of lions: the victorious Lion of the tribe of Juda had imparted His fearlessness to them. Self-possessed and unafraid they entered the lists against the entire world, scorning death. For they were invested with the firm conviction that all these attacks would be repelled by the Church and that all their enemies, though they now appeared as mighty hosts strongly encamped (castra), would finally collapse utterly
From the way in which the interrogative pronouns quem and a quo are melodically treated, scholars have laid out theoretical explanations on the handling of interrogatives in chant compositions. It remains to be seen if this is correct. However, note that the entire passage et salus mea, quem timebo with its descending close agrees with qui bona tribuit mihi in the Communion Cantabo Domino (OF, 8th Sunday in OT; EF, Sunday after Corpus Christi) in which there is not the slightest idea of interrogation. Similar instances, for example the Offertory Inveni David servum meum, could be quoted. On the other hand, the interrogation in trepidabo produces a very marked effect. It sounds like a challenge. And though foes may summon (tribulant) all their forces, naught shall come of it. How telling is the comparison between the stormy tribulant and the simple infirmati sunt with its delicate irony! All the mighty fortresses which are built to hinder the advance of the Church tumble down like houses of cards. One is reminded of the verse, ‘The arrows of children are their wounds’ (Ps. 63: 8). Ceciderunt closely resembles the closing word timebo of the first phrase. Over illuminatio and infirmati the principal as well as the preceding secondary accent is short, whereas the following syllable always has more than one note.
The Communion has two phrases, the first of which is sub-divided:
1. (a) Dominus firmamentum meum,
(b) et refugium meum, et liberator meus
2. Deus meus adjutor meus.
The Communion is much like the Introit in content, feeling, and mode. As we now go out into everyday life with its demands upon our energies, God is our strength. We are soon threatened again by dangers and death-dealing arrows, but God is our refuge. If we meet opposition from within ourselves, God is our helper. Just now He has again become my God (Deus meus) in Holy Communion. Hence I have every reason to be consoled. ‘May the Sacrament we have received be our sure defense’ we pray often in the Postcommunion.
Like the Introit, a quickening and strengthening confidence pervades the melody. This is already indicated by beginning on the dominant of the mode; also by the accumulation of the pressus of which there are no fewer than seven in this short chant. One is immediately struck by the similar endings over firmamentum meum and adjutor meus. But the opening f e f d f c over Dominus, repeated a third higher over Deus as a g a f e d, has a very definite appeal. To this must be added the sober descent and confident ascent over refugium meum and the victorious, well-prepared accent over liberator. It is a song of joyful and unshakable confidence in God, which the Apostles might have felt after the miraculous catch of fishes. Fired with this confidence, they went forth into the wide world to become fishers of men.