21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

26 August, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Introit: Inclina, Domine, begin on C# (as do)

Offertory: O bless the Lord, #548, begin on C

Communion: De fructu, begin on F (as fa)

Recessional: By all your saints still striving, #31, verses 1, 6*, and 3. Begin on Bb

The three phrases in the Introit antiphon are long, so we'll break them up:

  1. (a) Inclina Domine ad me
    (b) et exaudi me

  2. (a) salvum fac servum tuum,
    (b) Deus meus, sperantem in te

  3. (a) Miserere mihi Domine
    (b) quoniam ad te clamavi tota die.

 This is a very plaintive chant, but the key phrase in the antiphon, 2b above, comes to a brief resolution on fa before the plaintive tone resumes. That bit of the melody clearly states that our hope anchors us. Calmly, and with a wealth of assurance, the seconds ascend to high c. At the end of each word, however, a slight bending back of the melody occurs: g-f, b-a, c-a; in so prepares and introduces the thesis that follows. It is quite impossible to sing this passage too fervently or too ardently. In the first and third phrases, as well as in the psalm-verse, Domine should be well delineated.

The first phrase supports itself on a, the second on g, the third on f. The first half of the first phrase is made forceful by a, while the second half surprises us by its descent into the lower range. We have seen the same intonation in other chants. After the accent with the pressus, the remaining notes over Domine are modest and tender. In the second phrase, stress the three notes over salvum. The concatenation of the thirds a-f, g-e, and f-d characterizes the third phrase, as do also the low notes in its second half. It almost sounds like a De profundis, a call from the depths of human helplessness. Clamavi is a suppliant cry and resounds throughout the day. Over miserere, as frequently happens, principal and secondary accent have only one note, while each of the following syllables has three.

The Communion antiphon is taken from the magnificent creation Psalm, 103 (104). The connection of this psalm with the Eucharist is very ancient, and has a long tradition in the Fathers and the medieval commentators. It is placed here to connect God's gift of bread and wine the Psalm with the Gospel reading, which is the conclusion of the series taken from the 6th chapter of St John. There is a lengthy first phrase, then four shorter phrases:

  1. De fructu operum tuorum Domine satiabitur terra

  2. ut educas panem de terra

  3. et vinum laetificet cor hominis

  4. (a) ut exhilaret faciem in oleo
    (b) et panis cor hominis confirmet.

The melody is very compact, following a typical pattern for a Mode 6 Office antiphon with only slightly amplified neumes.