29 September 2018, Dedication of St Michael Archangel

29 September 2018, Dedication of St Michael Archangel 

EF Missa Cantata, 9am

In the fifth century the dedication of a church in honor of St. Michael was celebrated at Rome on 20 September, then later on 29 September. and the Sunday occurring about this time was called the first post natale basilicae s. Angeli or simply post sancti Angeli and many of the propers reflect that feast.

IntroitBenedicite Dominum begin on G (as sol)

GradualBenedicite Dominum, begin on F (as fa)

AlleluiaSancte Michael, begin on D (as re)

OffertoryStetit angelus, begin on F# (as fa)

CommunionBenedicite omnes angeli, begin on E (as mi)

RecessionalSalve Regina (Simple tone)

Ordinary from Mass XII, Credo III

The Introit has three phrases: 

  1. Benedícite Dóminum, omnes Angeli ejus: 
  2. poténtes virtúte, qui fácitis verbum ejus, 
  3. ad audiéndam vocem sermónem ejus.

Bless the Lord, all ye His angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute His word, hearkening to the voice of His orders.

The Introit opens with the psalm-intonation of the third mode g a c c, and is repeated with variations over potentes virtu-(te), qui facitis ad audi-(endam), either at the beginning of the phrase or part of the phrase. The interval of a fourth over (Ange)-li prepares us for the accent of e-jus and the important melodic structure over this word. For there is question here of His angels, those who have remained faithful to God. They possess marvelous strength and virtue, and all this strength, their entire being, they place in God's service. The good angels are like the stars. When God calls them, they serve Him with gladness. For to be allowed to serve God is their glory. This they have learned from their intrepid leader, St. Michael. As soon as God manifests His will in any manner whatever, they obey without hesitation, without delay, without seeking the reasons. Ad audiendam vocem: as soon as they know that God wills a thing, they carry the behest into execution.

Over facitis verbum ejus, as well as over sermonum ejus, quiet two note groups are sung. Noteworthy, although not exceptional, is the fact that the principal and the secondary accents of audiendam have only one note each, while the following syllable has several notes. A festal joy characterizes the entire Introit.

The Gradual has two phrases in the corpus and two in the verse: 

  1. Benedícite Dóminum, omnes Angeli eius: 
  2. poténtes virtúte, qui fácitis verbum eius.
  3. Benedic, ánima mea, Dóminum, 
  4. et ómnia interióra mea, nomen sanctum eius. 

Bless the Lord all His angels: you that are mighty in strength, that do His will. 

  1. O my soul, bless the Lord: and all that is within me praise His holy name.

With slight differences the Gradual has the same text as the Introit. Almost all the formulas of the melody are typical. The first half-phrase occurs in the Gradual Exsurge Domine on the third Sunday of Lent, as likewise the entire second phrase of the verse. Corpus and verse have the same florid closing cadence over ejus, and the same extensive cadence at the close of the first phrase over ejus and (Domi)-num. In the corpus, (Domi)-num and (virtu)-te have the same endings, while the subsequent phrase in each case begins with an interval of a fourth. In the verse (Domi)-num and (me)-a have a similar ending. The interval of a fifth over verbum is peculiar to this Gradual.

The Alleluia verse has two phrases: 

  1. Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio
  2. ut non pereamus in tremendo judicio.

Holy Archangel Michael, defend us in battle that we might not perish in the dreadful judgement.

In this Alleluia, dated from at least the eleventh century, we discern a more creative motif than that exhibited in the Alleluia of Pentecost and the third Sunday after Pentecost. Here the form is a, b b b.

The song has a ring like that of the clashing of swords. Its initial motif begins with a sharp accent and then continues somewhat heavily. In the second member, d ggf a becomes g aag c, in the third a bba d; and after a relaxation g dag c recurs. Over praelio we have the same form as over the third member. The address in apostrophe at the beginning shows gradual development, is then followed by an entrusting defende. The singer then sees himself drawn into battle, and extreme distress forces from him the cry: ut non pereamus

He who cannot vindicate himself in the final judgment is lost forever. Hence, O holy Michael, warrior of God and defender of souls, do thou stand by us! Help us to conquer in the battle against the devil and his host in this battle, which is daily, almost hourly, being waged against us! ‘Do thou, Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust down into hell Satan and all the wicked spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls.’ 

Sancte Michael and tremendo judicio have the same melody. Over alleluia it appears in a simplified form, no doubt, because the word has only four syllables. This melody is cleverly adapted to the Alleluia on the Commemoration of St. Paul (30 June); there it beseeches the Apostle of the gentiles for his powerful intercession. 

The ancient manuscripts assign to today's feast a typical melody of the fourth mode with the text Laudate Deum omnes Angeli ejus. 

The Offertory has five phrases: 

  1. Stetit Angelus iuxta aram templi, 
  2. habens thuríbulum áureum in manu sua, 
  3. et data sunt ei incénsa multa: 
  4. et ascéndit fumus aromátum in conspéctu Dei, 
  5. allelúia.

Holy archangel Michael, defend us in battle, that we perish not in the dreadful judgment. Alleluia. The sea was shaken, and the earth trembled, when the archangel Michael descended from Heaven.

  1. 1. An angel is standing before the altar of God when in spirit we bring our gifts to the altar to add them to the sacrificial gifts of the priest. In a mute way our gifts say, as once said St. Michael: ‘Who is like God!’ They acknowledge God's infinite perfection and our absolute dependence upon Him. In the first phrase almost every word with any prolonged melody conveys something special to us, particularly the word Angelus.
  2. The angel had a censer of great value. The gift we chanters bring, our compositions and their rendition, ought also to have artistic value. The diminished chord over habensreceives its natural resolution in the subsequent f. In its first half auremresembles templi; in its second half, aram of the first phrase. The motive over in manu sua, which we hear again at the end of the third and fourth phrases, has a truly festive ring.
  3. ‘There was given to him much incense.’ Surely it would be ignoble if we were to be stingy with God. Eiis a condensed form of templi.
  4. Practically at the same time that we are singing this phrase, clouds of incense are ascending at the altar during a solemn Mass. So song and liturgical action are joined. The melody graphically describes how the sweet-smelling incense is wafted upward, how at the top of the canopy the clouds disperse and slowly settle, only to be borne aloft again by new clouds. From the angel's golden censer came rays of heat and the glow of fire. In a similar manner the soul of the creative or imitative artist must glow. That which proceeds from the soul must ascend upward to the presence of God, must seek to glorify Him. Only then will our chant lift the hearts of the faithful aloft to God. May the sentiment of the hymn for Terce be verified in us: Flammescat igne caritas, accendat ardor proximos—Let love light up our mortal frame, till others catch the living flame. Over ascenditthe pressus on c, c, f, a, form the points between which the melody undulates. A crescendo should develop here which reaches its summit in the last group before -dit. The following are to be sung in two-note groups: eg, dc, dc, da, ga, fFumusresembles aram, while aromatum is like templi.
  5. The second group of alleluiareminds us of the motive over templi. The fact that it has nine members ending on the tonic and not one on the dominant (a) detracts somewhat from the possibilities of the piece. 

Today's Offertory gives the impression that it belongs to the second (plagal) mode. This melody is also sung on the feast of All Saints to the text Justorum animae, and, with the same text, in the third Mass for several Martyrs; likewise in the Mass for Deliverance in Time of Pestilence to the text Stetit pontifex, and its first half on the feast of St. Peter's Chair at Rome (18 January) to the text Tu es Petrus. In some places it is sung on the feast of St. Vincent de Paul (19July/27 September) to the text Inclinet. The angel stood very near to the altar. Formerly that also was the place assigned to the singers. If in many instances they are now physically distant from the altar, they should strive the more to be very near it in spirit.

The Communion antiphon has two phrases:

  1. Benedícite, omnes Angeli Dómini, Dóminum: 
  2. hymnum dícite et superexaltáte eum in saecula.

All ye angels of the Lord, bless the Lord: sing a hymn, and exalt Him above all forever, alleluia

The content repeats that of the Introit and Gradual, but the melody does not reflect that display of power and might in the same way. It shows a very dignified reserve. Benedicite begins with a reverential awe and descends to a low d before the following fourth. We saw this twice in the Gradual. Then the energy picks up, as Hymnum dicite repeats the melody of omnes angeli. The antiphon then closes with a very significant in saecula that returns to the same range, intervals, and solemn spirit with which it began. 

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