3 March 2019, 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Introit: Factus est Dominus
Offertory: Hail O star that pointest, p. 366.
Communion (Years B&C): Cantabo Domino
Recessional: Father we thank thee, p. 322.
Mass XI, PBC p. 58. Credo III, PBC p. 77.
The Introit antiphon has two phrases:
1. Factus est Dominus protector meus, et eduxit me in latitudinem
2. salvum me fecit, quoniam voluit me.
When the evening of his life was approaching, David looked back upon all that the long years had brought him. There had been much suffering; many had been inimical to him; bitter woe, the torture and affliction of turbulent passions, had saddened his heart. But by far outweighing all this was the help which God had bestowed upon him, the protection which had come upon him from on high. Hence he cries out with a grateful heart: "The Lord has become my Protector! I will love You, Lord, my strength!" The saints in heaven voice the same sentiments: ‘The Lord has become my Protector, and has brought me into a large place.’ Their happiness now is boundless. They are forever freed from all that is small and mean and imperfect, from all that formerly oppressed them, from all that was defective. Now they enjoy perfect liberty. They have been saved, and forever sing a canticle of grateful love. We who still tarry upon earth surely have every reason to thank God for having become our Protector, for having led us into the open, into the perfect liberty of the children of God, and for having become our Redeemer from a motive of pure love.
Our thanks ought to be especially sincere when we think of the Eucharistic Saviour and of the protection which His grace affords us against all the enemies of our soul, against whatever oppresses it, weakens it or obscures its vision. How entirely is He who was made flesh become our protector in the Holy Eucharist! What love will He not show us in this Sacrament until the very end! When we consider this, then surely the words Diligam te must well up from our inmost hearts. I shall attempt to repay Thy infinite love with my own poor love. Thou art my strength against all the violence of my unchecked nature, Thou art my refuge and my rescue, to whom I may have recourse in my every need. In the first phrase joy continually tends toward development, until the motive over eduxit me attains its full measure with the words in latitudinem. It is the song of one who suddenly finds himself free and in broad daylight after a long imprisonment in a narrow, dark, and dank dungeon.
It ought not cause surprise that this same melody occurs in the Introit Statuit. Here also it transfigures that loftiest of all themes: the dignity of the priesthood. The ascent at protector meus bears some relation to the Dominus prope of the Introit Gaudete (Third Sunday in Advent): it is also somewhat reminiscent of the beginning of the Introit on the feast of St. Stephen. The construction is apparent at first sight. Of the two phrases which compose the piece, the first has its half cadence and its full cadence on the dominant (a), the second at times on the tonic of the mode (d). The first phrase exhibits an arsis laid on a grand plan, while the second is a clear thesis. Whereas f is banned from the first half of the first phrase, the note b♭ occurs four times; the second half is influenced by high c, and b occurs thrice. At eduxit the two podatus are to be interpreted broadly. The first phrase has a descending fourth (d-a) over eduxit; the second phrase two descending fourths (g-d). The motif over me fecit is heard again over voluit with a quiet closing formula which releases the tension of the fourths.
(Year B&C) The Communion antiphon has two phrases:
- Cantabo Domino, qui bona tribuit mihi:
- et psallam nomini giveth me good things:
As is apparent from the closing note a, this piece was transposed a fifth higher, since the final interval is a full step. Ordinarily the ending would run like this: d e d. If the beginning of the piece is transposed a fifth lower, then we have b c e♭ c e♭. According to the old notation, this e♭ could only be written a fifth higher, namely as b♭. Besides acting as the passing note, the e♭ also plays the role of tenor. On the Wednesday of Ember Week in Lent the Offertory, which is composed in the fourth mode, begins almost exactly like the melody over Cantabo Domino. Why was not the Communion composed in a similarly easy style? Evidently because it had in view what was to follow. For from qui bona on, the second tone, to which the entire piece is assigned, makes itself heard. In the Introit for the fourth Sunday after Pentecost, which certainly belongs to the second mode, the passage qui bona tribuit mihi recurs over the words: et salus mea, quern timebo. The combination of the fourth and second mode—here effected by c (ordinarily f)—signifies an ascent over against the tenor e♭ which preceded it. And only after the singer has migrated into the new mode does the b=e occur twice, although each time as passing note, so that compared to the preceding b♭=e♭, it is not at all disturbing. In the second part of the Communion, the melody shows a rise seldom found in a plagal mode.
The name of the Most High must be glorified. He, although infinitely superior to all that is mundane, has deigned in His love to look upon us. Yet more, He has associated himself most intimately with us; He has become one with us in Holy Communion. He could not bestow a greater good (bona tribuit) than Himself—all His holiness, all His merits, graces, and gifts above measure.
Were we able fully to comprehend this immense gift, how our hearts would exult! In this manner we must conceive the joy expressed in the melody. If the formula for this Sunday's Mass were not much older than that for the feast of Corpus Christi, we should be tempted to say that it is an echo of the jubilation with which we paid our homage to the Eucharistic Lord as He moved through the streets several days ago. And if we are depressed because we are unable to thank God as is His due, then we possess the sweet consolation that the Saviour in our breasts is our canticle of praise—that He offers adequte praise to the Father for us. The Einsiedeln 121 manuscript endeavors to bring closer to us the full meaning of Altissimi, by giving the four torculus and the two deepest notes—the second mode is wont to indulge in these plunges—a broad marking.