2 June 2013, SS. Corporis et Sanguinis Christi



2 June 2013, SS. Corporis et Sanguinis Christi

Introit: Cibavit eos, begin on C (as la)

Sequence: Only final four verses, from *Ecce Panis. Begin on A (as re), ending with Amen. Alleluia, as prescribed in the Lectionary. PBC, p. 99f.

Offertory: O sacrament most holy, p. 305, begin on D.

CommunionHoc corpus, begin on F (as sol)

Exposition: O salutaris, PBC, p. 103f, begin on G.

Processional Hymn: Pange Lingua, begin on D (as mi). PBC, p. 105f; or V2H, p. 457f.

Recessional: Holy God, p. 217, begin on F.

Ordinary from Mass VIII (De Angelis), PBC, p. 52. Credo III, PBC, p. 77.

The words Exsultate—jubilate of the Introit psalm-verse announce the theme of today's feast, Mass, and procession. The psalm from which these words have been taken was once sung at the feast of Tabernacles, which was celebrated in the open, in tents constructed of boughs in memory of the tent-life of Israel in the desert. Hence it also refers to the dwelling of God with us in the desert of this world, and to today's festive procession in the open over a path decorated with boughs. Today Mother Church's heart overflows with joy—with joy that extends beyond the confines of the church building. All Nature exults as well, for in a sense this is also her festal day. From her the Saviour has selected the two species, bread and wine, under the appearance of which He gives Himself to us. In 1264, under Pope Urban IV, this feast was extended to the universal Church; its liturgy was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274). As for most late entrants into the Roman calendar, the melodies have been borrowed from earlier Sundays or feasts. The Introit, e.g., has received both text and melody from the Monday after Pentecost in the EF. It has three phrases:

1.      Cibavit eos ex adipe frumenti alleluia:

2.      et de petra, melle saturavit eos,

3.      alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The first phrase never extends beyond the tenor, but twice descends to low a. The accented syllable of adipe carries only a single note, while the following unaccented syllable has a tristropha. We meet this construction rather frequently. (E.g., illuminatio in the Introit Dominus illuminatio mea, Dominum in the Offertory Expectans expectavi, Domine in the Offertory Domine in auxilium, and Domino in the Communion Vovete et reddite.

            The second phrase augments the initial motif of the first phrase: acdf becomes cdfg over melle; and, as further development, dgffga. Rightly does saturavit mark the summit of the piece. Before the melody reaches it, however, there is a retarding motif, like dolo on Low Sunday, downward bent, making the development of saturavit all the more brilliant. This second phrase speaks of the sweet consolation which the Holy Eucharist brings to us; of the spiritual fullness which strengthens us against all the allurements of the world.

            The three alleluia are an independent phrase. Here the ascending fourth over saturavit is answered by a descending fourth. The second alleluia closes on c, like eos above; on account of its e it can very effectively modulate to a full tone below the tonic. Joy reigns supreme!

The Sequence is the work of St. Thomas Aquinas. Its superb language eloquently expounds the dogma of the Holy Eucharist. Its accompanying melody was composed by Adam of St. Victor (+ ca. 1192). In its original form it was a hymn to the cross, for which the Alleluia Dulce lignum (14 September) supplies the initial motif (egagcbag). In the double strophe Dogma datur and quod non capis this motif returns a fourth higher (egagcbag = dcdcfedc). All the strophes close on the tonic and most of them with the formula ag fg g. Occasionally this is preceded by a b or c b. Less often we have c ag fg g or ga fg g. The individual verses close on the dominant or on c. Toward the end the closings on the dominant increase; the final double strophe has it thrice. Despite its length, this entire Sequence should be sung in about six minutes if sung at a proper tempo.

The Communion antiphon has three phrases:

1.      Hoc corpus, quod pro vobis tradetur:

2.      hic calix novi testamenti est in meo sanguine, dicit Dominus

3.      hoc facite, quotiescumque sumitis, in meam commemorationem

This chant takes us into the midst of the Last Supper, at its most solemn moment. In the OF, it is also sung on Holy Thursday. Some of the melody's peculiarities may well derive from its use in the Ambrosian Liturgy, but its Gregorian form is much more effective. The frequent succession of three full tones, f g a b (tritone), ascending over vobis traditur and over calix novi, and descending over meo sanguine and meam commemorationem, imparts to the song harsh, painful features. Our Saviour's pain is present throughout. The words vobis tradetur seem to ascend with difficulty, as if with a need to rest and recover strength after each full tone. The annotated manuscripts here have three neums with broad markings.

            One can distinguish the three phrases by the similar closing formulas over tradetur, Dominus, and commemorationem. The first phrase supports itself on g and only once extends to b. By its emphasis on b, the second phrase wishes to state the fact that a new covenant has been called into being. In this phrase we hear a single c. A new division begins with hoc facite. Emphatically the melody ascends to c and lets it resound. Manuscript 121 of Einsiedeln has here not only an episema for the first neum, but also "t" (tenete). Here the melody grows in warmth and solemnity, especially over quotiescumque with its protracted high e. Over meam the same form returns a fourth lower. The harsh ending tells us that Communion is the fruit of Christ's sacrificial death.