3 May 2020, 4th Sunday of Easter (Year A)
Introit: Misericordia Domini
In place of the Penitential Rite today, we will use the Rite of Sprinkling. While the celebrant sprinkles the congregation, all sing the antiphon after intonation, women of schola sing the verse, then all repeat antiphon. Since the Rite of Sprinkling replaces the Penitential Rite, there is no Kyrie.
Antiphon: Vidi aquam, PBC, p. 23
Communion: Ego sum pastor, begin on G (as mi)
Dismissal from Mass I, as in Paschaltide apart from the Octave and Pentecost, PBC, p. 48.
Mass I (Lux et origo) PBC, p. 46ff. Credo III, PBC, p. 77ff.
The Introit antiphon has two phrases:
Misericordia Domini plena est terra, alleluia:
verbo Dei caeli firmati sunt, alleluia, alleluia.
The chant begins with tender and mellow tones—the half-tone interval recurs three times in the opening words—which sing of God's mercy. For today is the Sunday of the Good Shepherd. Everything reflects His goodness His love, His understanding pity. He knows His own. He acknowledges every indication of good will; He recognizes our weakness and knows how to have compassion on us. All the earth must in very deed praise His merciful love, for He has given His life for everyone. Than this there is no greater love, as He Himself has declared. The melody develops very gradually. The notes d-f at the beginning become e-f-g over Do-(mini) and f-a on the third syllable of alleluia, yet so that the first phrase rests on f.
A more energetic spirit is evidenced in the fourths of the second phrase and the accent on g. We are speaking here of God's almighty fiat. This one word sufficed to stabilize the heavens. But to unlock for us the heaven of divine mercy, the Word of God went to a most cruel death. At this thought a heartfelt alleluia—the apex of the melody—must ascend from our hearts. We summon all the just to join in our song. The only other time we hear this bright, jubilant melody is at the end of the Introit of the Rogation Mass (EF) and in the more recent Introit for the feast of St. Paul of the Cross (April 28). As usual in Mode 4, the psalm-verse has a as its dominant. Thus we have the gradation: the first phrase f ; the second g; the psalm-verse a.
The Alleluia verse has one phrase:
Redemptionem misit Dominus populo suo.
At St. Gall, in the tenth century, this melody was sung on the Thursday of Whitsun Week. Einsiedeln Codex 121 lists it among the Alleluia at the end of the manuscripts. We find it and its jubilus also in the Christmas season. While the verse has a different close there, in today's melody the ending runs harmoniously into the jubilus of Alleluia. Only the Lord can send redemption to His people; rightly, therefore, are the words Redemptionem and Dominus and their accented syllables brought into prominence.
Ego sum pastor bonus, alleluia
et cognosco oves meas, et cognoscunt me meae, alleluia, alleluia
Each Holy Communion is a pledge that the Good Shepherd continuously leads us to the springs of eternal life, for He alone is the Good Shepherd. Hence Ego occupies a very emphatic position at the beginning of the piece. If other voices entice us and seek to influence our judgment, then we must turn to Him alone and listen only to His voice.
The Communion has the same text as the second Alleluia-verse, but a different development. The two phrases et cognosco and et cognoscunt begin with the same motif. But in place of the parallelism in the Alleluia, the melody in the Communion over et cognosco oves meas shows a lively upward swing with the range of a sixth. It portrays the great love of the Good Shepherd for His sheep. But et cognoscunt has only seconds and its range is but a third. The melody tells us that compared to His knowledge of us, our knowledge of Him will always be limited. Usually, the alleluia in Eastertide is sung with a strong cry (cf. the alleluia in today's Introit). But the one inserted between the words of our Lord here and the two at the end are much more the simple melody of a shepherd in the fields.