Sunday 23 December 2018

The Great Antiphons: O Emmanuel

Today is the seventh and final Great O AntiphonO Emmanuel.  As always, this is the antiphon sung just before the Magnificat at Vespers. It is the last, because tomorrow's Vespers, on Christmas Eve, is the First Vespers of Christmas.

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Here is the final part of Pärt's Sieben Magnificat Antiphonen.

O Immanuel, unser König und Lehrer, 
du Hoffnung und Heiland der Völker: 
o komm, eile und schaffe uns Hilfe, 
du unser Herr und unser Gott.

O Emmanuel, our king and counselor, 
Thou hope and saviour of the nations: 
O come, make haste to help us, 
Thou our Lord and our God, our God.

Saturday 22 December 2018

The Great Antiphons: O Rex Gentium

Today's Great Antiphon is O Rex Gentium.

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

And here is Arvo Pärt's setting:

O König aller Völker, ihre Erwartung und Sehnsucht,
Schlußstein, der den Bau zusammenhält,
o komm und errette den Menschen,
den du aus Erde gebildet!

O king of all nations, their expectation and desire,
Keystone, which holds all things together:
O come and save mankind,
whom thou hast formed from clay! 

Friday 21 December 2018

The Great Antiphons: O Oriens

Today's Great Antiphon is O Oriens.

O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Here is Arvo Pärt's setting:

O Morgenstern, Glanz des unversehrten Lichtes:
Der Gerechtigkeit strahlende Sonne:
o komm und erleuchte, die da sitzen in Finsternis,
und im Schatten des Todes.
O morning star, incandescence of pure light, 
radiant sun of righteousness; 
O come and enlighten those who sit there in darkness 
and in the shadow of death.

Thursday 20 December 2018

The Great Antiphons: O Clavis David

Today's Great Antiphon is O Clavis David - O Key of David.

As ever, this is sung at Vespers, just before the Magnificat.

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

And here, once again, is Arvo Pärt's setting.

O Schlüssel Davids, Zepter des Hauses Israel,
du öffnest, und niemand kann schließen,
du schließt, und keine Macht vermag zu öffnen:
o komm und öffne den Kerker der Finsternis und die Fessel des Todes.

O David's key, sceptre of the house of Israel,
That which thou openest, none can secure,
That which thou securest, no power may open;
O come and unlock the prison of darkness and the fetters of death.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

The Great Antiphons: O Radix Jesse

Today's in the series of Great Antiphons is O Radix Jesse.

As usual, here is the chant, as sung at Vespers before the Magnificat:

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

And here is Arvo Pärt's setting:

O Sproß aus Isais Wurzel, gesetzt zum Zeichen für die Völker,
vor dir verstummen die Herrscher der Erde,
dich flehen an die Völker:
o komm und errette uns, erhebe dich, säume nicht länger.

O Scion of Isaiah's Line, predestined to be a sign for the nations,
the rulers of the earth fall silent before thee,
the nations cry unto thee:
O come and save us, bestir thyself, delay no longer.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

The Great Antiphons: O Adonai

Today's antiphon is O Adonai. Here is the traditional Gregorian Chant version, as sung at Vespers. (For an introduction to the Great Antiphons, see my previous post, here)

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

And here is Arvo Pärt's version (in German):

O Adonai, der Herr und Führer des Hauses Israel,
im flammenden Dornbusch bist du dem Mose erschienen
und hast ihm auf dem Berg das Gesetz gegeben:
O komm und befreie uns mit deinem starken Arm.

Adonai, the Lord and leader of the house of Israel,
In the burning bush hast thou appeared unto Moses
And given him the law upon the mountain:
O come and deliver us with thy powerful arm.

Monday 17 December 2018

The Great O Antiphons: O Sapientia

As part of our Advent ritual, we always sing and pray around our Advent wreath. As well as the increasing number of candles lit on the Advent wreath, we have the gradual arrival of all the family to add to the build up. The prayers include the collect from the Sunday Mass, as well as the invocation of all our patron saints etc, singing consists of the Alma redemptoris mater, and O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

This hymn is of course a metrical adaptation of (five of) the Great Antiphons; the antiphons for Vespers for the week preceding Christmas, sung just before the Magnificat.

The Great Antiphons start today.

I was going to blog about both the Great Antiphons and the hymn, but find that the Wikipedia entries on both cover all that I was going to say, and indeed more than I knew.

The entry on the Great O Antiphons is here; there is only one thing I would argue with, and that is the suggestion that the reverse acrostic, Ero Cras, is a coincidence. There is no place for coincidence in my theology...

The entry on O Come, O Come Emmanuel is here. I was fascinated to read Neale's original version; I had only known the Ancient and Modern version.

Here is the chant version of O Sapientia, the first of the Great Antiphons, sung at Vespers today.

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other,
mightily and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Here is Arvo Pärt's setting (in German)

O Weisheit
O Weisheit, hervorgegangen aus dem Munde des Höchsten, die Welt umspannst du von einem Ende zu andern, in Kraft und Milde ordnest du alles: O komm und offenbare uns den Weg der Weisheit und der Einsicht, O Weisheit.

O Wisdom
O Wisdom, proceeding from the mouth of the Most High, Thou encirclest the world from one end to the other, Thou orderest all things with might and mercy: O come to us and reveal the way of wisdom and of understanding O Wisdom.

Sunday 16 December 2018

Gaudete Sunday

One of the joys of  tradition is that it confronts the need for endless novelty (and therefore ephemera) head on.  Therefore, unashamedly, I can re-post this from a couple of years ago... (and note that it had been previously posted two years before that, and two years before that...!)

Today is Gaudete Sunday,  named after the first word of the Introit in the EF (and retained somewhat simplified in the OF).

As in Lent, with Laetare Sunday, one Sunday in Advent has a slightly less penitential tone. The Purple vestments may be replaced with Rose and the tone of the Mass is more joyful.

In our Parish Church this morning I was delighted to see that our new PP had put on rose vestments - something the previous incumbent would refer to laughingly but never wear.  

And of course, today is the day the third, pink, candle on the Advent Wreath is first lit.

Here is the Introit for the Mass (EF):

Gaudéte in Dómino semper: íterum dico, gaudéte. Modéstia vestra nota sit ómnibus homínibus: Dóminus enim prope est. Nihil sollíciti sitis: sed in omni oratióne petitiónes vestræ innotéscant apud Deum.

Benedixísti, Dómine, terram tuam: avertísti captivitátem Jacob.

Glória Patri...

Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in every thing by prayer let your petitions be made known to God.

Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.

Glory be...

Saturday 8 December 2018

The Epiphany and Our Lady

Here's a Marian post for today's great Feast!

I have blogged before about chant melodies from the Requiem Mass being similar, or identical, to chant melodies used elsewhere. The Tract is very similar to the Tract for Quinquagesima (see here); the Gradual to the Gradual for the Mass of a Confessor not a Bishop (see here).

This week, as I have started to learn the Mass for the Epiphany, I found the Introit strangely familiar.  For it is indeed another example of such re-use: the Introit for the feast of the Epiphany is practically identical to the Introit for the Mass for feasts of Our Lady throughout the year.

Is this just laziness?  Re-cycling melodies rather than composing new ones?  It may be so, but even if so, I am inclined to suspect Providence at work behind the scenes... Or is it deliberate, as I have wondered before (in the post about the Quinquagesima Tract)?

So in this post I think out loud about why the Epiphany and the Feasts of the BVM through the year share the same music for their Introits.

First, let us establish that it is indeed so (with only one or two notes different).  Compare:

So let's look at the texts, and see if there are thematic similarities.

The Epiphany text is:

Ecce advenit dominator Dominus: et regnum in manu ejus, et potestas et imperium.  (Ps 71) Deus, judicium tuum regi da, et justitiam tuam filio regis.

Behold, the Lord the Ruler is come: and a kingdom is in his hand, and power and dominium. (Ps) Give to the king thy judgement, O God, and to the king's son, thy justice.

The text for Feasts of the BVM is:

Salve sancta parens, enixa puerpera Regem, qui caelum terramque regit in saecula saeculorum. (Ps 44) Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: dico opera mea Regi.

Hail, Holy Mother! Thou in giving birth to thy Child didst bring forth the King who ruleth the heavens and the earth for ever and ever. (Ps) My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the king.

I am assuming that Salve sancta parens was set to the music of Ecce advenit and not the other way around; though in fact my hypothesis works either way around*. For immediately one sees why the genius who set these words to that chant might think it appropriate. Anyone familiar with the Mass for the Epiphany will immediately be reminded of it, and the kingly theme of its Introit, every time he sings the opening of Our Lady's Mass on her Feasts: which starts by greeting her as the Mother of the King.

And there's more.  The Epiphany is the feast of the showing forth of Christ: to the Magi, of course; but also by the Holy Spirit resting on Him in the form of a dove at His baptism; and also by the first of His miracles, at the wedding feast at Cana.

And consider that great prayer to Our Lady, the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen). Right at the heart of it, the actual petition is: Iesum... nobis... ostende (Show unto us... Jesus). So Our Lady is responsible for the desired, continuing, Epiphany, the showing forth of Our Blessed Lord.

What we have lost by disregarding Sacrosanctum Concilium and largely consigning our heritage to history...

Our Lady, Conceived Immaculate, Pray For Us


*UPDATE: On consulting my Graduale Triplex, I find that Ecce advenit does indeed predate Salve sancta parens.

Sunday 2 December 2018

The First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.

Whilst the experts on the Pray,Tell  (or is that Prate, Hell...?) blog are quick to proclaim that Advent is not a time of penance, I demur.

I understand the concern with my position: that Advent should not be seen as the same as Lent.  I agree: the two are different, but there are similarities. Both Advent and Lent are characterised by a more solemn tone in the liturgy: violet or purple vestments are worn, and the Gloria is omitted; and both have a respite Sunday (with rose vestments): Gaudete in Advent and Laetare in Lent. 

Advent, of course, is a time of joyous preparation for the coming of Our Lord (memories of his first coming, and looking forward to his second, of course). But both of these considerations naturally lead us to listen to the words of St John the Baptist: Repent!

We think it important to keep our Advent Celebrations quite distinct from our Christmas Celebrations - though they are related, they are two different seasons of the Church's cycle, with different themes and moods.

So as ever, we will celebrate Advent by saying our prayers around the Advent Wreath, singing O Come O Come Emmanuel and having a reading as we add another character to our Jesse Tree. We will also say the wonderful collect from the traditional Roman rite of the Mass:

Arise in thy strength we beseech thee O Lord and come; from the dangers which threaten us because of our sins, be thy presence our sure defence, be thy deliverance our safety for ever more. 

For those who love Latin, or those who fondly remember my introduction to Liturgical Latin, here is the collect in Latin. too:

Excita, quǽsumus, Dómine, poténtiam tuam, et veni: ut ab imminéntibus peccatórum nostrórum perículis, te mereámur protegénte éripi, te liberánte salvári.

(This, of course, changes with the four Sundays of Advent).

The Marian Antiphon changes today from the Salve Regina to the Alma Redemptoris Mater, which we will sing until the Feast of the Purification (February 2nd).

Alma Redemptoris Mater

Alma redemptoris mater, 
quae pervia caeli porta manes,
et stella maris succurre cadenti
surgere qui curat populo.  
Tu quae genuisti, 
natura mirante, 
tuum sanctum Genitorem.  
Virgo prius, ac posterius, 
Gabrielis ab ore, 
summens illud ave, 
peccatorum miserere.

Mother of the Redeemer, who art ever of heaven
The open gate, and the star of the sea, aid a fallen people, 
Which is trying to rise again; thou who didst give birth, 
While Nature marveled how, to thy Holy Creator, 
Virgin both before and after, from Gabriel's mouth 
Accepting the All hail, be merciful towards sinners.

(Translated by Blessed John Henry Newman)

So today, we have been out collecting holly for the wreath, up in the attic looking for the advent calendars, Jesse Tree book etc, and I have been singing the Alma Redemptoris throughout the day. This afternoon, we sang  the Mass of the First Sunday of Advent: Ad te levavi animam meam.

Anna's Jesse Tree blog, means that Ant and her family, in the North East, and Bernie, down in London, and Dominique, at university in Durham, can be with us spiritually at the end of each day as we Anna, Charlie (currently in residence) and I recall Salvation History.  

Pray for us all.