12 November 2017, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Introit: Intret oratio mea
Offertory: Jesus my Lord my God my all, p. 324
Communion (Year A): Quinque prudentes
Recessional: O Jesus Christ, remember, p. 303,
Mass XI, PBC p. 58. Credo III, PBC p. 77
The Introit antiphon is taken from a Lenten formulary, the Saturday Ember Day (Week I) in the EF. It has two phrases:
- Intret oratio mea in conspectu tuo
- inclina aurem tuam ad precem meam Domine
This antiphon is long enough that you probably won't need to repeat the antiphon between the psalm verse and the GP.
Psalm 87 stands alone in all the Psalter for the unrelieved gloom, the hopeless sorrow of its tone. Even the very saddest of the other psalms, and also the Lamentations, admit some strains of hopefulness; here all is only darkness, right to the close. Many believe this psalm was composed in the immediate aftermath of the Exile, when hope of Israel's return to Temple worship and reuniting of scattered families seemed impossible; others think it was a prayer for someone in the throes of a final illness. The Fathers saw it as the prayer of Jesus in His passion.
So when we find the opening lines of the psalm set here with a rather 'upbeat' Mode 3 melody, that doesn't seem to fit the mood of the text. The resolution to this apparent contradiction is that the melody we have in the Vatican edition is almost certainly not the original. At some point, the original form of most Mode 3 melodies was modified, moving the dominant from b to c, giving it the very declamatory form, similar to Mode 8. If we look at this melody in the Graduale Novum, we find the b restored, and the tone is completely different. It has much more of the mystical dimension that the ancient authors attributed to this mode. The restored melody and psalm tone bring out the passionate, plaintive, pleading undertones of the text. In the current (Vatican) version, that comes through only at the final cadence of the antiphon.
The Communion antiphon has three phrases:
- Quinque prudentes virgines acceperunt oleum in vasis suis cum lampadibus :
- media autem nocte clamor factus est :
- Ecce sponsus venit: exite obviam Christo Domino
The melody only slightly expanded from an Office antiphon carries the key message clearly. We are all called to heed the Gospel command: go forth to meet Christ the Lord. This antiphon brings the command into prominence in a most captivating manner. We see the melody move along steadily and quietly in a lower register of the Mode 5 scale as the wise virgins prepare their lamps and rest. Then the melody rises suddenly as the clamor is given, and the melody reaches its high point over (ex)-i-(te). This is our ultimate goal in life: to go out of ourselves to meet Christ. After that encounter, if it is fruitful, we find the peace and rest of true interior joy.