19 February 2015, 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Introit: Domine in tua misericordia
Offertory: Let all mortal flesh, p. 286
Communion: Narrabo omnia
Recessional: Father we thank thee, p. 322.
Mass XI, PBC p. 58. Credo III, PBC p. 77.
The Introit antiphon is taken from the formulary of the 1st Week after Pentecost, in the older Graduale Romanum (1908/1961). That would be the week after Trinity Sunday, so it would only have been sung on weekdays. It has three phrases:
1. Domine in tua misericordia speravi
2. exultavit cor meum in salutari tuo
3. cantabo Domino quo bona tribuit mihi.
The ancients called the confident and joyous Mode 5 laetus. Although this antiphon is certainly that, the first phrase is a more quiet statement of confident trust, and only in the second phrase do we break into a more exuberant joy as we rise to the dominant (do) and even above it, as the up and down melody of salutari tuo depicts the action of exultavit, which means literally to jump (for joy). God's saving action in our lives makes us jump for joy! In the third phrase, we jump again to the dominant over bona tribuit; the good things God has given us fill us with a joy that we express in song.
The Communion antiphon comes from the formulary of Tuesday of Week II of Lent, where our friend Tibi dixit appears as the Introit. It is sung here to accompany the Marcan story of the wondrous cure of the paralytic let down through the roof. It has three phrases:
1. Narrabo omnia mirabilia tua
2. laetabor et exultabo in te
3. psallam nomini tuo, Altissime
A somewhat unusual dip to low la for the intonation of this Mode 2 antiphon sets the stage. The rise above the dominant fa over laetabor, exultabo, and Altissime mark the joy of the one who has been the beneficiary of divine action. The melody has a sense of strangeness, even a hint of fear, lurking beneath the awe of the eye-witnesses of this miraculous healing. The chant composer portrays here what one supposes might well have been some of the feelings of who, the gospel reading tells us, 'were astounded' and said 'We have never seen anything like this!’
We ourselves are not so far from these sentiments. When we practiced this chant the first time, those of you who were there may recall that a couple of people made some remarks about this antiphon being strange, odd, offputting. Brian actually began his comments saying, 'I've never heard anything like this,' coming close to a verbatim quote of the Marcan text. You may well have been picking up on something that the composer very much intended.