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.

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