8 April 2018, 2nd Sunday of Easter [aka Low Sunday, aka Dominica in Albis, aka Quasimodo Sunday] (Year B)
Station at St Pancratius
After the 2nd reading, before the Alleluia-verse, all will sing:
Sequence: Victimae paschali laudes, V2H, p. 478
Alleluia: Post dies octo
*Credo III returns today.
Offertory: Ye sons and daughters, p. 354. All 9 verses.
Communion: Mitte manum
Dismissal: Ite Missa est alleluia, alleluia.
Recessional: Come ye faithful raise the strain, p. 247, vv. 1-3, & 5.
Mass I (Lux et origo) PBC, p. 46ff. Credo III, PBC, p. 77ff.
In the ancient rites of the catechumenate, the newly baptized (the neophytes) were vested in white baptismal robes for their baptism, confirmation, and first Mass and Holy Communion. They wore these through entire week following, and were guests of honour in the church of their baptism, where they attended Mass each morning and attended a special service at the baptismal font in the afternoon. On the Saturday of Easter week they came to their baptismal church for the last time as a special group. After Mass they removed their white garments and placed them in the church's wardrobe as a reminder of their baptismal vows. On this Sunday, the eighth day of the Easter Octave, they joined the faithful for Mass without their white garments for the first time as all marched to the final stational church of Easter, St. Pancratius, named for a young man of 14 who was martyred for being baptized. Hence the Saturday is 'Sabbato in albis,' and today is Dominica in albis depositis, 'Sunday on which the white robes have been put aside.'
The Introit antiphon has two phrases:
- Quasi modo geniti infantes, alleluia
- rationabiles, sine dolo lac concupiscite, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
A newborn child, with its instinct of self-preservation, desires its mother's milk. It needs no admonitions. We also, in order to preserve the supernatural life, should have a spontaneous longing for the nourishment of our souls, for truth, and for the Holy Eucharist. Like a mother, the Church cries out to us: Preserve the spirit of the children of God, remain simple, humble, and submissive to Him. Remain rationabiles, and sine dolo; preserve the truth without falsity, and love without envy.
The chant is extremely simple. After it has risen to the tonic of the sixth mode (fa), it clings to it tightly. It moves about this note, several times descends lower, but always strives toward it again. This is especially shown with infantes, al-(leluia). The plagal form of the F (fa) mode could scarcely be shown more clearly. Melodically, rationabiles, with its harmonious line, is the highest point. Its constituent notes are a syllabic part of the psalm-verse of the Introit: adjutori nostro. (The Introit of the Christmas vigil Mass resembles this melody to some extent.) After sine dolo there is a sort of break. So this phrase is not connected with the subsequent lac, as some do who translate: "Desire after the unadulterated milk"; it must be considered a separate phrase, parallel to rationabiles. Concupiscite is a variant of (do)-lo. Of the three alleluia the second forms a contrast to the two others, which are identical with the exception of one single note. After the preceding d, the first sets in on c, while the third sets in on d after the preceding c; so the beginnings are varied.
The Alleluia verse has three phrases:
- Post dies octo, januis clausis
- stetit Jesus in medio discipulorum suorum
- et dixit: Pax vobis.
These melodies are unknown in the important manuscripts St Gall 339 and Einsiedeln 121. The motif which sets in over -luia appears again in the third member of the jubilus; in the second member it sinks pleasingly a third lower; the second parts are identical in the first and second members, but in the third there is a slight difference.
The first two phrases of the verse are clearly psalmodic in structure:
Intonation Middle Cadence Closing Cadence
Post dies octo januis clausis
Stetit Jesus in medio discipulorum suorum
The third phrase repeats Alleluia with its jubilus.
This Alleluia serves nicely as an introduction to the Gospel. During the eight days after Jesus' appearance in the Cenacle on the evening of Easter Sunday the disciples, no doubt, asked about Him and yearned for His presence. For one who seeks, whose heart is filled with longing, a period of eight days seems a painfully long time. Suddenly Jesus stands in their midst. He comes with that blessed greeting: ‘Peace be with you!’ He comes again with His cheering goodness, which seems to have become even more warm and profound since the resurrection. In today's Mass this appearance of Jesus will be renewed. The Saviour wishes to come to us, to address also to us His joyful Pax vobis, to give us His peace, yes, even to give Himself.
Again, in the Communion antiphon we have two phrases:
- Mitte manum tuam, et cognosce loca clavorum, alleluia:
- et noli esse incredulus, sed fidelis, alleluia, alleluia.
The melody prefers simple seconds and avoids larger intervals, reflecting the simple, straightforward manner in which Our Lord speaks to St. Thomas, in contrast to Thomas with his impetuous demands. So the piece is best sung devoutly and tenderly. OTOH, despite its simplicity, it does have its contrasts. Inserted among our Lord's words we find a comparatively florid and bright alleluia, on which the melody reaches its peak. At the end are two alleluia, which likewise extend to high b♭. There is also an interval of a fourth between fidelis and alleluia. These alleluia are the jubilant thanks of the Church for our redemption. And so the Risen One directs the words 'Put in your hand!' to us as well; for by faith we can touch His sacred wounds and unite with Him.