25 August 2013, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Solemnity of St Louis, King (Archdiocese of St Louis)
Introit: In virtute tua, begin on E (as sol)
Gradual: Justus ut palma, begin on D (as fa)
Offertory: Gaude mater Ecclesia, sung by schola, begin on C
Communion: Beatus servus, begin on D (as la)
Recessional: From all Thy saints in warfare, p. 262, vv. 1, 2, and 4, sung to tune Aurelia; begin on G.
The Introit has three phrases:
- In virtute tua Domine laetabitur rex
- et super salutare tuum exultabit vehementer
- desiderium animae eius tribuisti ei.
In Your strength, Lord, the king will rejoice; and he will greatly over his salvation. You have given him the desire of his soul. V. For you have gone before him with blessings of sweetness; you placed on his head a crown of previous stone.
The text and melody are taken from an Introit for the Common of one Martyr, based on verses of Ps 20. The melodic pattern is the straightforward Mode 7 scale with some elaboration. The high point is over laetabitur, as befits the joy the king experiences in drawing strength from the Lord. The king here represents a personification of the idealised righteous person, and in turn, of the idealised people Israel whose ultimate king is only God Himself. Our English word virtue comes from the Latin word virtus, and was a very important element of Roman civilization and culture. At least during the time of the Republic, one’s real strength came from the practice of virtue in one’s life. All of us, if we live lives of true virtue now, can find in that fidelity to God’s covenant a source of strength on the road toward that eternal salvation which is the fulfilment of our innermost desires. The intermediate cadence over justus should be sung in such a way that makes it clear there is more to come. We end with a reminder that this fulfilment of our desires is God’s gift, given despite our shortcomings.
The Gradual has three phrases in the corpus and two in the verse:
- Justus ut palma florebit:
- sicut cedrus Libani
- multiplicabitur in domo Domini.
- V. Ad annunciandum mane misericordiam tuam
- et veritatem tuam per noctem.
As we have noted on other occasions, this Gradual gives its name to a melody type found in many Mode 2 Graduals, i.a., Angelis suis on the 1st Sunday of Lent and Requiem aeternam in the Mass for the Dead. We just sang another one last Thursday, Exaltabit cor meum, for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Several scholars have done extensive analysis of the melodic structure; Dom Johner offers an overview of it in his commentary, which appear in the notes for other Mode 2 Graduals that we've sung.
The traditional Vespers hymn for the feast of St Louis is Gaude Mater Ecclesia.
Text and translation will be available at Mass on the Sunday.
The Communion has two phrases:
- 1.Beatus servus quem cum venerit Dominus invenerit vigilantem
- 2.Amen dico vobis super omnia bona sua constituet eum.
Happy the servant whom the Lord will find watching when he arrives. Amen I say to you, he will place him over all his goods.
Based on the punch line of a parable in St Matthew’s Gospel (c. 24), there is a twist in this text. The biblical text has dominus ejus (=his lord), while the liturgical text has Dominus (=the Lord). So the composer has added a level of interpretation to the parable, in line with the thrust of later chapters of this Gospel which devote much attention to a future coming in glory for judgement. The simple but ethereal Mode 3 (transposed) melody reached its high point over venerit, which stresses the connection with the Lord’s coming in glory; and it descends to a low point over vigilantem, as if looking down toward the watching servant.