30 November 2014, 1st Sunday of Advent (Year B)

30 November 2014, 1st Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Trope: Sanctissimus namque Gregorius, begin on F (as sol)

Introit: Ad te levavi, [it will begin on F (as sol), by continuing from the end of the trope]

Offertory: Savior of the nations come, V2H p. 228.

Communion: Dominus dabit, begin on F (as fa)

Recessional: Hark a herald voice is calling, V2H p. 227.

Ordinary from Mass XVII, PBC, p. 71. (In Gregorian Missal, Kyrie C.) Credo I, PBC, p. 75.

The well-known Introit antiphon gives this Sunday one of its popular names: Levavi Sunday. Its other popular name (in English) is 'Stir up' Sunday, because the first word of the Collect in the Roman Missal was Excita, which Cranmer translated as 'Stir up' in the Book of Common Prayer. The tradition arose that cooks, wives, and their servants would go to church, hear the words 'Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord...', and be reminded, by association of ideas, that it was about time to start stirring up the puddings for Christmas. [Here endeth the trivia lesson.] The antiphon has has three phrases in the Vatican edition:

  1. Ad te levavi animam meam: Deus meus in te confido, non erubescam:
  2. neque irrideant me inimici mei:
  3. etenim universi qui te exspectant, non confundentur.

We won't repeat the long antiphon between the psalm verse and the GP. Because of its long history and its position at the start of the Graduale, this powerful melody has been the subject of many volumes of analysis and commentary. Here are some highlights:

            Each phrase has the same range and stresses the full step below the tonic. The first and third phrases have almost the same closing cadence. (Meam and mei close on f). The most ancient reading, according to the German tradition of the Middle Ages, has this Introit rising from a low pitch (d c f g), like other Introits of the eighth mode, e.g., those of Palm Sunday and of Pentecost. Amen at the close of the psalm-verse has not the usual cadence, but g a d f f g, which acts as an introduction to the repetition of the antiphon. The fact that this cadence is given here indicates that in its original form this Introit began on low d, thus representing the lifting up of the soul to God in a more graphic manner. Animam depicts a reverent look at God, while meam is filled with childlike submission. After b-a in confido, non has a triumphant ring. The same spirit is retained in the following phrase, which sets in with an interval of a fourth and twice has a vibrating tristropha.

            Rhythmically the close over (inimi)-ci mei is related to (con)-fido. Now the song becomes more serene. The final phrase has no more large intervals, no more bistrophas or tristrophas. Characteristic of it are the thirds and the upward tendency of f a g, g b a, g a c, after b, c d, which should be sung with a powerful crescendo. Thus the Advent idea (exspectant) is brought luminously into the foreground, and with the conviction that the preceding petition will be granted, the chant comes to a close.

The Communion antiphon, which we hear again on the feast of St Ignatius Loyola (31 July), has two phrases:

  1. Dominus dabit benignitatem
  2. et terra nostra dabit fructrum

The first phrase has a range of a ninth; with (benigni)-tatem it lets the blessings drop gently from above. The second phrase, which treats of the fruits of the earth, does not extend above the dominant of the mode (f). Both phrases descend in a gentle line to low do and begin the following member with an interval of a fourth. A fluent and bright rendition should characterize the whole piece.