20th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2012


19 August, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Introit: Protector noster, begin on F (as fa)
Offertory: On this day O beautiful Mother, #716, begin on E
Communion: Qui manducat, begin on C (as do)
Recessional: I am the bread of life, #343, verses 1&3, begin on C

The phrasing in the Introit antiphon is clear; but the two phrases are so long that, despite the ideal phrasing, we'll grab a quick breath together after Deus and tuis

  1. (a) Protector noster aspice Deus (b) et respice in faciem Christi tui

  2. (a) quia melior est dies una in atriis tuis (b) super milia.

The first phrase has a middle cadence on the finale and a final cadence on the dominant after an emphatic b. It is dominated by the petitions aspice and respice. Aspice is not an outcry, as it is in the Introit for Palm Sunday; nevertheless the fourth and the accented c make it quite insistent. Without God the weakness of man is indeed wont to fall. Assistance from above is absolutely necessary if we would folllow the dictates of the spirit always and in all things. Hence this aspice and respice. But Christi tui receives still greater stress. When we have congregated in the house of God (atriis tuis), we may pray to Him: We are Your anointed, Your Christ; we belong to the mystic body of Christ, having become conformable to the image of Christ through sanctifying grace. Hence we may expect Your special protection. The love which You bear to Your Son Christ overflows upon Your children, the Christ-ians, Your anointed ones.

In singing this piece be careful not to slight the low d over (Pro)-te-(ctor). It is the beginning of a crescendo that must increase till it reaches c. Perhaps this d e f g a served as a model for the f g a c d c over (faci)-em Christi; it is heard again over super mil-(lia). The beginning of the second phrase on b tends to make the closing melisma of the preceding tui mellow and tender. For here we are speaking of the consolation that our soul so eagerly receives in church, in the house of God. Here we ever become more conformable to the image of Christ; here our soul finds its true home in the heart of God. Were it to taste all the joy of the world for a thousand days or a thousand years, it would still be homesick and would long for its true happiness—union with God. The bover quia and over the similar melior is influenced by the following f, just as later c over una calls for b. Una is emphasized, but millia has the richest melisma of the entire composition. But the treasures of grace which are available in God's holy place deepen our yearning for that great day which shall know no evening, for the contemplation of Christ (in faciem Christi).

The Communion antiphon is sung also on the Saturday of the third week of Easter and on Corpus Christi (OF), and on Thursday of the 2nd week of Lent (EF). It has two phrases:

  1. Qui manducat carnem meam et bibit sanguinem meum in me manet

  2. et ego in eo, dicit Dominus.

 The melody begins with a sublime simplicity. In the second half-phrase the first half-phrase is given a more elaborate form. The endings of the parts of the phrase (meam and meum) are characterized by corresponding formulas. No doubt this is the technical reason why the more important words carnem and sanguinem do not stand out so prominently. Now follows the expressive in me manet with a descending fourth, which must be given special warmth. It is answered by a rising fourth in ego in eo. Thus both thoughts are placed in strong relief: You in me and I in You. The prolonged bat the beginning of dicit, which has been avoided thus far, is to impress upon us that the word God speaks is of unfailing efficacy and harbors in itself the fullness of consolation.