Assumption of the BVM 2012

15 August 2012, The Assumption of the BVM

Introit: Gaudeamus, begin on C (as do)
Offertory: Sing of Mary, #715, begin on G
Communion: Beatam me dicent, begin on D (as re)
Recessional: Salve Regina, PBC #424, begin on F

 Ordinary from Mass IX, Credo III

 Only the Gradual of the current formulary is part of the 'authentic' Gregorian repertory. The other elements of the formulary are later compositions, thought based on much older melodic models. Originally the Introit Vultum tuum was sung today, but that changed in late middle ages and/or early rennaissance. In 1950, when Pope Pius XII solemnly proclaimed the Assumption to be a dogma of the Church, a monk of Solesmes—still living—composed yet another Introit, Signum magnum, which is also an option for this feast. [N.B. We sang Signum magnum last year as part of the full propers in the Extraordinary Form, so this year we'll use the opportunity to sing the much loved Gaudeamus. You're welcome, Cathy. ;) ]

 The Introit antiphon has two phrases. We'll break the first one into two parts:

  1.  (a) Gaudeamus omnes in Domino,
    diem festum celebrantes sub honore beatae Mariae Virginis:
  2. de cuius Assumptione gaudent Angeli et collaudent filium Dei

 As we've noted before, this melody was originally composed for a Greek text on the feast of St. Agatha. It soon became a popular chant and was adapted for a number of feasts. Text and melody have two phrases. The first phrase summons the entire Church militant to rejoice in the Lord, for 'it is a festival day in honor of N.' (In this instance, the blessed Virgin Mary.) The second phrase depicts the reason for the triumphant joy of the Church. (In this instance, the victory of Mary over death.)

 Each phrase has two members, each of which in turn has two sub-members. Both major members of the first phrase close on a high pitch: Domino, Virginis. The second phrase repeats over Assumptione and collaudent the ascending musical line of the first part. The melody here develops according to the declamatory accents that intelligent rendition would demand. The development and division of the piece might be pictured graphically as follows:

 Gaudeamus omnes in Domino,

 Diem f. c. s. honore Mariae Virginis:

 d. c. Assumptione gaudent Angeli,

 et collaudant Filium Dei.

 The two motifs run through the entire Introit. The first occurs over sub honore, Assumptione, and with a variation, over collaudant and in Domino. It begins with the interval f-g and ascends by means of a lively torculus(once by means of a pes subbipunctis) to c, thus recalling Gaudeamus. The second motive with its quiet seconds occurs over Dei, again a full tone higher over (An)-geli, and finally a fourth higher over (Do)-mino.

 The high points of the melody are not reserved only to the accented syllables. The significant in Domino—'in the Lord'—for instance, is very prominent, and rightly so, since even the most solemn feast of the Blessed Virgin is a feast of our Divine Lord also. This thought is the invitatory antiphon of today's Office (in both OF & EF): Venite adoremus Regem regum, cujus hodie ad aethereum Virgo Mater assumpta est caelum. The same thought recurs in the second phrase of the Introit—the angels glorify God because He has honored, crowned, and transfigured His Blessed Mother.

 The first phrase begins as solemn and festal, the stress of voice increasing gradually up to the word Domino over which a and b are given special emphasis. Soft accents mark the words di-(em) fe-(stum) ce-(le)-bran-(tes), the thrice recurring double f especially being sung very lightly. This entire member should be rendered fluently. The member following is characterized by a progressive ascent and a gradual swell of the melody up to Virginis, which has a refreshing b. The double c over (Mari)-ae, the only mention of the name of Mary in the entire piece, should be rendered with warmth rather than with volume.

 In the second phrase, a minor accent is placed over the second syllable of (As)-sump-(tione). The porrectusover Ange-(li) carry the melody and should be somewhat emphasized. The dynamic high point of the phrase centers over collaudant. A further secondary accent stresses the third note over Fi-(lium).

 The Communion antiphon has two phrases: 

  1. Beatam me dicent omnes generationes

  2. quia fecit mihi magna quia potens est

These two familiar phrases of the Magnificat that we pray every day at Vespers are set in a Mode 6 melody based on the the Communion Ecce Dominus veniet, sung on the Monday before Christmas Eve (EF: Ember Friday in Advent). The first phrase is a very steady Mode 6 formulaic statement. The melody reaches a high point—appropriately--over mihi, emphasizing the lifting up of Our Blessed Mother into heaven (which is the particular magnum done for her that we celebrate today). The melody ends with a typical Mode 6 cadence as we recognize with Mary that this is possible only because He who is the powerful one has done this for her.