29 July 2018, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

29 July 2018, 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

IntroitDeus in loco

OffertoryTo Christ the Prince of peace, p. 291

Communion (Year B)Honora Dominum

RecessionalAt 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 and for the first time strikes bThe 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, bc. The cadence-like torculus over su-(ae) should be sung very broadly.

(Year B) There are four phrases in this long-ish Communion antiphon:

1.    Honor a Domino de tua substantia

2.    et de primitiis frugum tuarum

3.    et implebuntur horrea tua saturitate

4.    et vino torcularia redundabunt.

These four phrases are like so many strophes of an intimate and appealing song, one over which the good odor of the earth, the fragrance of gardens and of fresh wine seems to hover. Once again we hear the melody paint pictures of the text. As we see often in the Scriptures, abundance in the ancient world was represented by an image of barns overflowing with grain and vats overflowing with wine. The parallel melodies over substantia and redundabunt reflect this vivid image of overflowing amounts of grain (=bread) and wine. The rise over impleantur to a high point on horrea reinforces this image of barns filled to the top.

            The first phrase has the same beginning as today's Gradual, In Deo speravit. Over tua and substantia the first f ought to be prolonged. You are not to offer any kind of gift, but the noblest, the best, the first fruits. This gradation of thought is paralleled by that of the melody in the second phrase, while the warm-toned cadence over primitiis, which also exerts some influence on that which follows, speaks with the tender, cordial voice of love. The ending of tuarum corresponds with that of the first and fourth phrases. In the third phrase the melody becomes even more luminous than in the second. We are struck by the sudden beginning of horrea with an interval of a fourth, as if it were a cry of wonder at the immensity of God's goodness! Vino in the fourth phrase closes on a podatus and the following word begins a fifth lower, a frequent occurrence in pieces of the first and eighth modes (cf. the Introit Gaudete  and the Introit Dum medium silentium.). The Revue Gregorienne calls this musical turn a "smiling interrogation mark." Torcularia, reminding us of impleantur, brings the joyous answer. Here again the secondary as well as the principal accent receive very curt treatment.

            Clearness and joy characterize the melody, rather than solemnity. Holy Communion is the life-giving bread, the never-failing wine which gives strength to the soul. Would that we who chant ever derived new energy from the celebration of the sacred Mysteries, in order to glorify the Lord with all our strength (substantia) and to offer Him the noblest and the best we have!

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