Saturday, 1 July 2017, Most Precious Blood
EF Missa Cantata, 9am
Introit: Redemisti nos
Gradual: Hic est qui venit
Alleluia: Si testimonium
Offertory: Calix benedictionis
Communion: Christus semel
Recessional: Salve Regina, PBC, p. 116.
Ordinary will be from Mass IV, PBC, pp. 49ff. Credo I, PBC, p. 75.
This feast was first prescribed for the universal Church in 1849, and its present date determined by Pius X. Formerly it was commemorated on Passion Sunday [NO = 5th Sunday of Lent]. Given its modern date, the melodies for the formulary are neo-Gregorian and are adapted from other chants. Dom Johner in his commentary explains many of the borrowings and how they function to interpret the texts of this new formulary.
The Introit (Apoc. 5: 9,10) has two phrases:
- Redemisti nos, Domine, in sanguine tuo, ex omni tribu, et lingua, et natione
You have redeemed us Lord in Your blood from every tribe and tongue and nation
- et fecisti nos Deo nostro regnum.
and have made us a kingdom for our God.
This, as the Apocalypse indicates, is the song of the saints in heaven, the song that continues to resound for all eternity. And only an eternity will suffice to render gratitude for our redemption through the Blood of Christ, for our gracious vocation to be members of the kingdom of Christ. This song has celebrated the advent of every human soul into the midst of the saints, and has been re-echoed by such out of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation as have attained the heavenly Jerusalem. Ineffective and feeble though our chant and our gratitude on earth may be, it is consoling to know that this selfsame song is rendered with the fullest perfection by the saints in heaven. Our goal should be to strive for the ideal of this choir of heavenly singers; to become as faithful and persevering subjects of the heavenly king as they are.
The beginning of the melody recalls that of the Introit Cognovi which is sung on the feast of a Holy Woman neither Virgin nor Martyr, and in the old manuscripts is assigned to the feast of St. Sabina (August 29). The beginning of the Introit of May 12 also bears some similarity to the present melody. In each case the word Domine marks the high point, and today especially emphasizes the fact that God alone through the shedding of His precious Blood effected our deliverance from sin and death. The only and somewhat soft is found over tuo. The classical age of choral composition would, without any further ado, have sung here the closing cadence of the fourth psalm tone: a b g e. Nevertheless, the combination with b♭ is already found in the Introit of SS. Peter and Paul over suum. In the second phrase, of the words tribu, lingua, populo, natione, the first and third form the arsis while the second and fourth form the thesis. In imitation of the passage caelestium, terrestrium et infernorum of the Introit In nomine Domini of Wednesday in Holy Week, we should have expected a gradation here. The close over natione nevertheless is very effective and permits a greater modulation in the three phrases, all of which have the same range. A lively and joyful melody begins with et fecisti. Torculus and bistropha should be sung over (popu)- lo.
The third phrase predominates over the other two, its melody attaining melismatic richness. Some similarity exists between et fecisti nos Deo of today's Introit and et fac nobiscum secundum of the lntroit of the twentieth Sunday after Pentecost; also between nostro regnum, and the close of the Introit of the fifth Sunday after Easter and the tenth Sunday after Pentecost.
The tempo can be taken quite lively. In the psalm-verse the major accents should be given prominence. Softer secondary accents on generationem and annuntiabo will give the melody a nice, even flow.
The Gradual has two phrases in the corpus and six in the verse.
- Hic est qui venit per aquam et sanguinem Jesus Christus:
This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ
- Non in aqua solum sed in aqua et sanguine
not by water only, but by water and blood,
- Tres sunt qui testimonium dant in caelo
There are three who give testimony in heaven.
- Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus.
Father, Word, and Holy Spirit.
- Et hi tres unum sunt
And these three are one
- Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra:
And there are three who give testimony on earth
- Spiritus aqua et sanguis
Spirit, water, and blood
- Et hi tres unum sunt
And these three are one.
The first two phrases of the above text are wanting in all of the old Greek manuscripts and in the best manuscripts of the Vulgate. They are a later explanatory addition (Comma Johanneum). The melody is the same as that of the Gradual for the Sunday within the octave of Christmas (q.v.). Corresponding passages of the two Graduals are grouped in the following schema:
- Hic est qui venit (per aquam) et sanguinem
- Speciosus for-ma prae filiis.
- Jesus Christus: non in aqua solum, sed in
- hominum: diffu-sa est gratia, in
- aqua et sanguine, V. Tres sunt, qui
- Iabiis tuis. V. Eructavit cor
- Testimonium dant in caelo: Pater Verbum
- meum [audivimus: patres nostri
- est Spiritus Sanctus: et hi tres unum sunt.
- annuntiaverunt nobis] dico ego
- Et tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in terra
= above: Tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in caelo
- Spiritus, Aqua, et Sanguis: et hi tres unum sunt.
- opera mea regi:. . .velociter scribentis.
The melody over per aquam, in parentheses above, cannot be substantiated in the Gradual of the Sunday within the octave. The melody from caelo to sanctus is taken from the Gradual verse of the Tuesday after the fourth Sunday in Lent; the corresponding text above is enclosed in brackets. The same melodical treatment accorded the two Tres sunt. . .is in no way wearisome. In fact, the present arrangement is much more effective than had the melody over lingua mea calamus scribae been adapted to Tres sunt. In this case, the composer happily chose identity of melody for an identical text.
At the baptism of Christ in the waters of the Jordan, the Father and the Holy Ghost proclaimed Him the Son of God. His own claims that He was our Lord and Saviour He attested by shedding His blood for us. The water and the blood that flowed from His pierced side—of which we read in the Gospel—bore witness that He offered Himself for us as a sacrifice of propitiation. To these supernatural, invisible witnesses of His divine mission, we add the earthly, visible testimony of the operations of the Holy Ghost through grace, the waters of Baptism, and the bloody death of Christ on the cross. The testimony which these three witnesses bear is all in accord.
The Alleluia verse has two phrases:
- Si testimonium hominum accipimus,
If we accept the testimony of men
- testimonium Dei majus est
the testimony of God is greater.
The melody is taken from the twelfth Sunday after Pentecost (q.v.). It differs from the latter in the close over (accipi)-mus—where the present text has a dactyl, the original has two trochees. In the original, moreover, the first phrase is rightly given melodic superiority, while today, in accordance with its import, the second phrase is given prominence. The manner of rendition will aid to proper interpretation. The text is a continuation of the Gradual text, as if to indicate that Alleluia and Gradual were to form one composite whole. St. John here adduces proof that Christ was already conceived and born as the Son of God; He did not become such through His Baptism.
The Offertory antiphon has two phrases:
- Calix benedictionis, cui benedicimus, nonne communicatio sanguinis Christi est
The chalice of blessing we bless, is is not a sharing of the blood of Christ?
- et panis quem frangimus, nonne participatio corporis Domini est
and the bread we break, is it not a sharing of the body of the Lord?
The priest raises the chalice a first time at the Offertory. Soon after he raises it again, but higher and in a more solemn manner. He has blessed the chalice, spoken over it the words of transubstantiation, and it now contains the blood of Christ. At the tinkling of the small bell the assembled congregation bends its knee in profound adoration. And wonderful to contemplate, we mortals are permitted to unite most intimately, with this blood, and by partaking of it can in very truth become blood-relations of Christ. O truly precious is the blood that imparts such nobility and dignity! And the consecrated host which is broken, "is it not the partaking of the body of the Lord?" The interrogatory form with its double nonne is for us the expression of our deepest conviction that we believe this word spoken by the Son of God, than which nothing can be more true.
This conviction is reflected also in the melody, the phrasing of which is determined by the text. The first phrase with a range of a ninth is especially well developed melodically, due perhaps to the fact that it refers to the blood of Christ. The second phrase which is more quiet and lower-pitched has a range of a sixth. The second nonne corresponds to the first, but is a fifth lower. Just why the former has not the porrectus toward its close like the latter is difficult to see. In the rendition, the conclusion of each nonne should be extended, or even a short breathing space inserted. The gradual growth of the melody in'the first phrase: Calix: c—g; benedictionis: c—a; cui benedicimus: d—b♭, nonne...est: d—d is very effective. The melodic flourish over the last syllable of communicatio is pitched a third lower over the corresponding participatio. A similar condition obtains with est at the close of the first and second phrases. This ascending close at the end of a selection is rarely found. It occurs with the Alleluia Tollite jugum of the new Sacred Heart feast, Opportebat of the third Sunday after Easter, Post partum of the votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin, and occasionally with the Amen of the third and fourth mode. The interrogatory form may have influenced the melodic construction. Otherwise the general rule for the conclusion of readings and lessons obtains, that is, when no Tu autem, Domine follows, the usual closing form of a declarative sentence is used, and not that of a question.
The Communion antiphon has two phrases:
- Christus semel oblatus est ad multorum exhaurienda peccata
Christ was offered once to take away the sins of the many
- Secundo sine peccato apparebit expectantibus se, in salutem.
He will appear the second time without sin to those awaiting him, unto salvation.
The first phrase is similar to Hoc corpus of Passion Sunday (q.v.) [Holy Thursday in the NO.]. As a kind of leitmotif, the intimate connection between the sacrifice of the cross and the Eucharistic Sacrifice is stressed melodically. Over oblatus est the melody of the original might have been assumed without change; the major third was most likely introduced to give prominence to the word-accent. Seemingly motifs from the Communions Justorum animae (21 June) and Primum quaerite (14th Sunday after Pentecost) were adapted to the second phrase.
In Holy Communion Christ enters our souls. His love for sinners prompted Him to veil His majesty under the ordinary form of bread and wine. When He shall come again, however, when He "shall appear a second time," it will radiate splendor and power. And this splendor and power He will share with those who expect Him, and who have become one with Him in Holy Communion; He will be to them a source of eternal happiness and salvation. The gradation, apparent in the text, is easily recognizable and actualized in the melody. In place of the suppressed dominant b of the first phrase, the second phrase has the brighter c.