24 July 2016, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Introit: Deus in loco
Offertory: To Christ the Prince of peace, p. 291
Communion (Year C): Petite et accipietis
Recessional: At the name of Jesus, p. 310,
(Vaughan Williams's adaptation of the great King's Weston tune.)
Mass XI, PBC p. 58. Credo III, PBC p. 77
The Introit antiphon has three phrases:
1. Deus in loco sancto suo:
2. Deus qui inhabitare facit unanimes in domo:
3. (a) ipse dabit virtutem, et fortitudinem (b) plebi suae
The melody faithfully observes the division of the phrases. The first and third phrases tend upwards, while the second tends downward. Hence we have here the form ABA. This contrast is based on purely musical grounds, since the text offers no reason for it. The text has three ideas: (1) God abides in His holy places: in heaven, in the Church, in the heart of him who has the life of grace. We owe Him reverence and adoration. (2) God wishes to unite all those who enter His house into one family, into one heart. (3) If the mystery of strength already abides in this unity, then God provides special power (Exsurgat in the ps verse) for the struggle against His foes, who are at the same time ours.
Like the Introit Ecce Deus (OF: 16th Sunday Per Annum; EF: Ninth Sunday after Pentecost) the first phrase also begins immediately on the dominant, with a descending line to the tonic. Give emphasis to the word Deus, and take care to not prolong the doubled notes more than their alloted pulses require. The rest of the phrase is solemn and reverential. Each of the disyllabic words has the accented syllable lengthened, so that the whole sounds like a succession of solemn spondees—Deus, loco, sancto suo. The final clivis over (lo)-co corresponds to that over (sanc)-to. They must not be made too abrupt.
The second phrase has the more interesting melody. Here again the word Deus is marked by its accent and melodic independence; and just as the first phrase properly begins only with in loco, so does the second with inhabitare. This second Deus is more tender and quiet than the first, as this phrase speak of God's goodness rather than His majesty. Both word-accents in each of the two members, inhabitare and unanimes, have a correspondingly important musical accent. The second porrectus should be sung more lightly than the first, and then we have a steady crescendo to the musical climax, which speaks of the workings of divine mercy with the word facit. Without cutting short the clivis of (fa)-cit, we should keep facit and unanimes together without a pause. (If needed, steal a breath before facit.) The cadence on domo has no long pause; it moves urgently toward completion.
Melodically speaking, the third phrase has two members. The first bears some resemblance to the first phrase of the antiphon, with the same spirit of solemn affirmation. Happy trust in God is suggested by the accented dominant and the fourth. A sharp, clear pronunciation of the consonant "t" before the "v" will contribute much to bring out the symmetry between dabit and virtutem. This part moves in the four-note range a-d, emphasizing the c, while the following et fortitudinem, employing a similar range (f-b♭), stresses a and for the first time strikes b♭. The cadence closes a part of a phrase, but not the entire piece, and therefore no considerable pause is allowed after it. The second member, plebi suae, reminds us of qui inhabitare in the first phrase with its upward movement. The principal accent on ple-(bi) occurs with its highest neum, b♭c. The cadence-like torculus over su-(ae) should be sung very broadly.
(Year C) The Communion antiphon has three phrases
1. (a) Petite, et accipietis: quaerite et invenietis
(b) pulsate et aperietur vobis
2. omnis enim, qui petit, accipit: et qui quaerit, invenit
3. et pulsanti aperietur, alleluia
This melody might well be considered a model of musical tension with a concomitant relaxation. The very words: ‘Ask, seek, knock,’ expressed as they are in a higher tone of voice, depict this feeling of tenseness. The result of heeding these commands: ‘You shall receive, you shall find, it shall be opened unto you,’ will naturally be expressed in a more quiet and lower tone of voice.
This indicates in general the outlines of the melodic development in the first and second phrases. The close of the second aperietur with d ff makes the promise which is given all the more prominent and trustworthy. A fitting preparation is also thus afforded the alleluia. The first and second phrases show many similarities. Both divisions of the second phrase, which are practically identical as to melody, are an extended form of Petite and invenit, while pulsanti is an abbreviation of pulsate.
These words of the Saviour, taken from today's Gospel, should find application not only within the house of God, but in our everyday life as well. They are fulfilled in a wonderful way time and again at Holy Mass. We asked the Father for bread and in turn received heavenly Manna in Holy Communion. We sought out the Saviour and found Him; we knocked and He opened for us all the treasures of His goodness and love. Outside the house of God we should also ask for heaven's grace and blessing; there also, if we seek we shall find Him, and if we knock it shall be opened to us. The more intimately we remain united with our Eucharistic Saviour, the more abundantly will He give us all that is conducive to our eternal salvation.