9 November 2013, Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (OF)

9 November 2013, Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (OF)

(Basilica of our Holy Saviour and St John Baptist and St John Evangelist)

[Replaces 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time]

In the earliest manuscripts the chants of the Mass of the dedication of a church are found before the feast of Christ's Ascension, because at Rome the dedication of the Pantheon as a Christian Church under the title of Sancta Maria ad Martyres, in the year 607, three years after the death of St. Gregory the Great, was celebrated on May 13. (BTW, the same day on which St. Mary of Victories was consecrated. Now you know why that date was chosen.) Celebrating it again each year we re-experience what was consummated at the time when our parish church and our mother church (metropolis), the cathedral of our diocese, received its solemn consecration at the hands of the bishop. In this way every church is again intimately united in a special manner to the 'Mother and Mistress of all churches throughout the world,' the cathedral church of the Pope, St. John Lateran in Rome. That is why the entire Catholic world commemorates the consecration of this church on 9 November. (On 18 November in the EF, we again unite ourselves to Rome when we commemorate the consecration of the churches of SS. Peter and Paul.)

Introit: Deus in loco, begin on B (as do)[Gregorian Missal, p. 525]

Offertory Hymn: Urbs Jerusalem beata, begin on F (as sol) Cantus Selecti, p. 107*, vv. 1-5 & 9

Communion: Jerusalem quae aedificatur, begin on E (as mi) [Gregorian Missal, p. 285]

Recessional: Christ is made the sure foundation, p. 306, begin on B.

Mass VIII, PBC p. 58, Credo III, PBC p.77

The Introit antiphon we also sing on 17th Sunday of the Year. It has three phrases:

  1. Deus in loco sancto suo:
  2. Deus qui inhabitare facit unanimes in domo:
  3. 3.(a) ipse dabit virtutem, et fortitudinem
    (b) plebi suae.

The melody faithfully observes the division of the phrases. The first and third phrases tend upwards, while the second tends downward. Hence we have here the form ABA. This contrast is based on purely musical grounds, since the text offers no reason for it. The text has three ideas: (1) God abides in His holy places: in heaven, in the Church, in the heart of him who has the life of grace. We owe Him reverence and adoration. (2) God wishes to unite all those who enter His house into one family, into one heart. (3) If the mystery of strength already abides in this unity, then God provides special power (Exsurgat in the Ps verse) for the struggle against His foes, who are at the same time ours.

            Like the Introit Ecce Deus (OF: 16th Sunday Per Annum; EF: Ninth Sunday after Pentecost) the first phrase also begins immediately on the dominant, with a descending line to the tonic. Give emphasis to the word Deus, and take care to not prolong the doubled notes more than their alloted pulses require. The rest of the phrase is solemn and reverential. Each of the disyllabic words has the accented syllable lengthened, so that the whole sounds like a succession of solemn spondees—Deus, loco, sancto suo. The final clivisover (lo)-co corresponds to that over (sanc)-to. They must not be made too abrupt.

            The second phrase has the more interesting melody. Here again the word Deus is marked by its accent and melodic independence; and just as the first phrase properly begins only with in loco, so does the second with inhabitare. This second Deus is more tender and quiet than the first, as this phrase speak of God's goodness rather than His majesty. Both word-accents in each of the two members, inhabitare and unanimes, have a correspondingly important musical accent. The second porrectus should be sung more lightly than the first, and then we have a steady crescendo to the musical climax, which speaks of the workings of divine mercy with the word facit. Without cutting short the clivis of (fa)-cit, we should keep facit and unanimes together without a pause. (If needed, steal a breath before facit.) The cadence on domo has no long pause; it moves urgently toward completion.

            Melodically speaking, the third phrase has two members. The first bears some resemblance to the first phrase of the antiphon, with the same spirit of solemn affirmation. Happy trust in God is suggested by the accented dominant and the fourth. A sharp, clear pronunciation of the consonant ‘t’ before the ‘v’ will contribute much to bring out the symmetry between dabit and virtutem. This part moves in the four-note range a-d, emphasizing the c, while the following et fortitudinem, employing a similar range (f-b), stresses a and for the first time strikes b. The cadence closes a part of a phrase, but not the entire piece, and therefore no considerable pause is allowed after it. The second member, plebi suae, reminds us of qui inhabitare in the first phrase with its upward movement. The principal accent on ple-(bi) occurs with its highest neum, bc. A very event and deliberate reading should be given to the cadence-like torculus over su-(ae).

The Communion antiphon has two phrases:

  1. Jerusalem, quae aedificatur ut civitas, cujus participate ejus in idipsum:
  2. illuc enim ascenderunt tribus, tribus Domini, ad confitendum nomini tuo, Domine.

The key word for this antiphon is obviously Jerusalem. The climax comes at the words illic enim ascenderunt tribus with a harmonic melody and an excellent expansion of the motifs of ejus in idipsum. This is intentional. In medieval Rome, one commentator notes, 'even the ascent to today's station church “in Jerusalem” was a reality, since it went from the Lateran down into a valley, then higher up again. Even today, despite the filling in of the lower parts of this valley, this is still discernible from the course of the old city walls which are found at that place.' The purpose of the rising melody, however, is not only to portray a melodic image of ascent. It is an echo of the joyful songs that the Israelites, dressed for the solemn occasion, sang on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and an anticipation of the songs of the catechumens, when, at the Easter vigil, vested in their white robes, they went up to the altar from the baptistry in order to take part in the Eucharist (participatio). It is truly a foretaste of that heavenly Jerusalem, to which we are all ascending in pilgrimage.

            As the commentator quoted above alluded, the Roman stational church for the original use of this antiphon is that of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. The other notable time the Roman church gathers in that building will be on Good Friday, to ascend the hill of Calvary and honor the holy cross and the wounds of our Saviour.