29 June 2015, Ss. Peter and Paul. EF Missa Cantata, 7pm

29 June 2015, Ss. Peter and Paul. EF Missa Cantata, 7pm 

Introit, Nunc scio,

Gradual: Constitues eos

Alleluia: Tu es Petrus

Offertory: Constitues eos

Communion: Tu es Petrus  Psalm verses in the Communio book or musicasacra.com.

Recessional: Oremus pro Pontifice, PBC, p. 105

Mass IV, Credo II.

This feast, as the Collect tells us, has always celebrated both Apostles together. Indeed, they both had, as St Leo the Great reminds us, the same calling, the same labors, and the same end. Their combined feast is a feast of the papacy and of the Church, commemorating the victory of the cross. We hear the words of St. Peter in the Introit, then in the corpus of the Gradual and in the Offertory we praise God for the dignity accorded the Apostles. The verse of the Gradual sings our joy for the gift of the Apostles and the unbroken line of popes which God has given us. In the Alleluia and Communion we hear Christ Himself speaking to Peter.

The Introit antiphon has three phrases:

[if !supportLists]1.     [endif]Nunc scio vere quia misit Dominus Angelum suum

[if !supportLists]2.     [endif]et eripuit me de manu Herodis

[if !supportLists]3.     [endif]et de omni expectatione plebis Judaeorum.

With the words of the Introit St. Peter shares his prayer after being miraculously liberated from prison. The text and thought serve as a prelude to the First Reading [EF: Epistle], taken from the Acts of the Apostles. Peter is in prison and the universal Church is praying fervently, for Peter's beheading was to have taken place on the following morning. Divine intervention often comes only when every human resource has been exhausted. Peter is not perturbed; he removes his sandals, takes off his mantle and lays himself down to sleep. An angel enters his cell, loosens his chains, and bids him put on sandals and cloak. Together they pass by the iron gate which opens of itself. At first, all this seems like a dream. It is only after the angel has accompanied him for some distance and then vanishes that he understands that he has in fact been saved.

            The melody over nunc is somewhat dreamlike. Very quickly, however, the Apostle grasps the reality of the situation. The melody begins piano, grows rapidly, and over quia misit breaks forth like a radiant sun which has triumphantly pierced a persistent fog.  Einsiedeln 121 places an emphatic "t" (=tenere, hold) over the virga of quia. In the main, however, the tempo should be lively, and the tendency to lag, especially in several passages, must be avoided. If we make the joy of the Apostle our own, we will sing his hymn with a thankful and rejoicing heart. All three phrases begin with f ; the close of the second and third have some similarity with that of the first. The repetition over de (omni) of the initial motif over Nunc is the more noticeable in manuscript 121 of Einsideln, since there we have in both cases a bistropha and a porrectus. The four intervals of a fourth which follow—alternately ascending and descending—have an effect like irony on the eagerness of the Jews, who feel certain of their prey, until their well-laid plans come apart. Again, all three phrases should be kept fresh and lively. The construction of the melody may possibly have been influenced by the use of the tetrachords d-g over Nunc and et de, g-c over scio vere and expectatione, e-a over de manu Herodis and Judaeorum.

            In the psalm-verse the Apostle expresses gratitude for the guidance of divine Providence. While he lay bound in prison he was not forgotten; his liberation was effected and with it went the grant of a new life. The text of the verse, taken from Psalm 138 and well adapted to the feasts of the Apostles, reminds us of the Easter Introit. In fact, the deliverance of St. Peter is effected by none other than the risen, transfigured Christ. Numerous popes might have reiterated these same words of St. Peter. Death and affliction threatened them also, but the Lord protected His representative even to the extent of miraculous intervention. St. Luke remarks that St. Peter, having been liberated from his prison in Jerusalem, went into another land (in alium locum). Divine Providence led him to Rome. Blessed Idelfonso Schuster remarks that the Lesson from the Acts which follows is like an attestation, a record of the birth of the Church in Rome, the mother and teacher of all Churches.

The Gradual has two phrases in the corpus and two in the verse 

1. Constitues eos principes super omnem terram:

2. memores erunt nominis tui, Domine

V. 1. Pro patribus tuis nati sunt tibi filii:

2. propterea populi confitebuntur tibi

The melody announces a wonderful work of God, a great distinction that God has conferred upon His Apostles: He has created them princes. With awe the melody bows low before such great dignity. The inception of a fifth, the stressing of the dominant c, the ascending fifth g-d, the descending c-f depict for us the Apostolic conquest which is to embrace all lands and all peoples.

            The melody is peaceable and reassuring, for He who chose and commissioned the Apostles, came into this world to preach the Gospel to the poor. In this selfsame spirit the Apostles should subdue and bring peace to the world. They know and recognize the Prince of peace, know His name and understand the real nature of His being. They pledged themselves even to the shedding of their life's blood that His holy name might be made known to the limits of the earth.

            The motif over nominis tu-(i) is repeated over Domine, after which the bistropha of (tu)-i is pleasantly developed. Following tui a breath will evidently be necessary. By observing the mora on a which follows the pause in the melody over Domine, quiet two-note groups will be effected. The close of Domine recalls that of principes and terram. The latter two, however, are more closely related: fga gg f rises to gac bb a. In holy wonder the singer now contemplates the Church and pours forth praise of her wonderful fruitfulness in saints, apostles and confessors. Special emphasis might well mark the word filii—designating the Apostle-princes—as also the word confitebuntur; technique of composition calls for florid melismas at the beginning of the verse, resulting in the extended melody over patribus tuis. The bistropha on a divides the first member of this melody into two groups which, however, are not in harmony with one another. The energetic c b a c b g a corresponds to the more soft b a g a g f g.

            The melismas after the second pause enhance one another and reach their high point on f, which is twice extended. Sing the nati following broadly, and give filii special warmth even though the melody is not very effective. St. Gaul 339 and Einsiedeln 121 seem to have sensed this and give the first eight notes over filii the broad form. To be sure, this typical form is always found in Graduals of the fifth mode. To illustrate we might refer to preces in the Gradual Protector noster of the fifth Sunday after Pentecost (EF; or 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time in OF), although there the melody really belongs to a significant word. The c a b g g a c d c over propterea answers the cabgfgac over (ti)-bi. In the first case b is qualified by the following c; in the second b♭ by the following f.

            The melody of the present Gradual is also sung on Trinity Sunday. Where today we have a definite break in the melody after terram—demanded by textual punctuation—the Gradual of Trinity Sunday continues without interruption in its first phrase the melody over memores. A similar continuation over Cherubim in the same Gradual is somewhat unpleasant. A happier result was achieved in the verse. The melody of today's verse has been adapted almost perfectly to the verse on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The Alleluia verse states the principal theme of the formulary in two phrases:

1. Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram

2. aedificabo Ecclesiam meam.

We previously saw the adaptation of this Christmas melody for use during the summer cycle on the feast of the Nativity of St. John. This may reflect the fact that in some churches the present feast was celebrated on 27 or 28 December. In the Gospel, the text of which combines intimately with that of the Alleluia, Peter professes his faith in our Lord, and as a reward for this profession, Christ answers him: 'You art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.' The text of the Alleluia acts as a prelude to these words of Christ. The inception on the dominant and the development over Tu es Petrus produces a truly festal ring. The series of pressus over aedificabo might depict a structure firmly built of well-fitting granite stones, which like the melody over Ecclesiam meam, proudly and triumphantly raises itself on high. With a joyful heart we conclude the whole by a repetition of Alleluia.

The Offertory verse has two phrases:

1. Constitues eos principes super omnem terram:

2. memores erunt nominis tui in omni progenie et generatione

The Offertory text adds to the corpus of the Gradual the words in omni progenie et generatione, which form the closing verse of the psalm. In the Gradual the word memores makes the assertion that the Apostles will ever remember the holy name of our Lord; in the Offertory it assures that every tribe and generation will sing the praises of this holy name. This universal praise is possible because the Apostles carried this name to the ends of the earth, thereby affording all people the opportunity for happiness and salvation.

            This solemn, royal hymn should not be sung too fast, yet it must be enlivened by festal joy. The numerous fourths should have special emphasis. The initial motif dg acb cdc c over super omnem becomes efg ga cbc and efg gabc over -ratio-(ne). Tui in the middle of the piece has a closing cadence; so we should distinguish three phrases of practically equal length. The three consecutive groups of three notes over constitues, over the closely related in omni at the beginning of the third phrase, and over omnem enliven the entire piece. As in the Gradual, the composer here also gave special prominence to principes and omnem terram. The entire first phrase with its effective close on f inspires a conviction that this kingdom founded by God need fear neither revolution nor overthrow. It stands immovable because it was established by One who is eternal. A spirit of recollection characterizes the beginning of the second phrase. Presently, however, the melody waxes bright and joyful at the thought of the divine name; the repetition of the same motif over nominis is descriptive rather of the trepidation this name inspires. Finally the soft melody over tui gives us a foretaste of the sweetness of the Lord. The f d g b a g over me-(mores) corresponds to the f d f a g e over erunt. The consciousness of the universality of the Church induces word-painting by means of large intervals over in omni progenie. After omni there may be need for a pause. The intervals of a fourth should be sung broadly, as also,  according to the manuscripts, the rhombus over (proge)-ni-(e) and (generatio)-ne.

The Communion antiphon is a single phrase:

Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam

            The text brings us once more the words of Christ: Tu es Petrus. Through the worthy reception of Holy Communion we also become an integral part of the Church, we pulsate with her innermost life, and are bound to her in a most intimate manner. Today we can only thank God for this grace which he has vouchsafed to us, as well as for all the graces which He bestowed on St. Peter, His vicar on earth, and on all the sovereign Pontiffs.

            The melody is very simple. The one major interval is that of a fourth over Petrus; beyond this there are only minor thirds and seconds. The motifs over (aedifica)-bo and Eccle-(siam) are antithetical. Would that the entire body of the faithful might be congregated as one unit to sing this hymn; each individual could then realize the more fully how he forms an element in that one, holy, catholic and aspostolic Church of which Christ said: This is My Church. In past centuries the Communions of the vigil and the feast were interchanged. The gripping melody of the Communion of the vigil would set off the Mass liturgy of today's feast very effectively.

            Note: the adaptation of this melody to the feast of the Holy Trinity is found already in St. Gall 339. In the Trinity Sunday version, however, the phrasing is different. Four phrases were formed from the three of today and various minor divisions introduced that are less than satisfactory.