30 January 2015, St Martina, Virgin and Martyr
EF Missa Cantata, 8am
Propers found in Graduale Romanum 1961, pp. ff.
Introit: Loquebar, begin on D (as fa)
Gradual: Dilexisti justitiam, begin on B♭ (as do)
Alleluia: Adducentur regi, begin on E (as mi)
Offertory: Afferentur regi virgines, begin D (as re)
Communion: Confundantur superbi, begin on F (as fa)
Recessional: Alma redemptoris Mater, PBC, p. 119, begin on C (as do)
Mass XII, PBC, pp. 61ff (or Graduale Romanum 1961, p. 42*f). Ambrosian Gloria, no Credo.
The Introit has two phrases:
- Loquebar de testimoniis tuis is conspectu regum et non confundebar
- et meditabar in mandatis tuis quae dilexi nimis.
This strong Mode 5 melody has all the strength of character and brilliant joy that this Mode can bestow. The prominent position of the dominant c clearly presents to us the enormous strength of character that St Cecilia and the other virgin martyrs displayed in the face of fierce persecution and the pain of unspeakable physical and psychological torture. The high point is over in conspectu regum, because that marks the climax in the drama of their appearance before the Roman judge who would sentence them for their fidelity to their only Bridegroom. They stood bravely and confidently as they embraced their martyrdom, ready to give their lives rather than betray that fidelity. They knew absolutely that walking in the way of the commandments of God's law would be the source of their ultimate victory. Loving them was loving their Lord.
The short Gradual has one phrase in the corpus and one in the verse
Dilexisti justitiam, et odisti iniquitatem
V. Propterea unxit te Deus, Deus tuus, oleo laetitiae
Here, as also in the Alleluia, the text is directed to the saint of the day. Not only does the Church accord praise, but Christ Himself glorifies her. Simple though the life of St. Martina may have been, she nevertheless accomplished the work of self-sanctification and had the courage and resoluteness to giver her life ‘to love righteousness,’ and out of love to practice this in accepting a martyr’s death. She could does this, however, only with that help of God's grace. We also were anointed with God's grace in holy Baptism and in Confirmation so that we might likewise love justice and hate iniquity. And he who co-operates with this grace, will in the end be anointed with the oil of everlasting, imperishable gladness.
The melody has a pleasant gradation: Dilexisti c-g, justitiam c-c, odisti f-d, propterea f-e. The introductory melody reminds us of Dirigatur from the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The melody over -tatem recurs over Deus, that of propterea over laetitia. An intervening quiet undulation in the close about the tonic g is reminiscent of the peace of God.
The Communion antiphon has three phrases:
- Confudantur superbi quia injuste iniquitatem fecerunt in me
- ego autem is mandatis tuis exercebor
- is tuis justificationibus ut non confundar
This melody has been assigned to the feast of St. Cecilia since the very early manuscripts, but you may recognise it from its adaptation for the Communion Florete flores that we sing for our patronal feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on 7 October. The first phrase treats of the godless ones, the superbi, who should be confounded, and closes with the melody over fecerunt in me. Injuste expresses just anger over the wrong that has been perpetrated on the saint by her persecutors. Out of this dark and somber background rises the beautiful figure of a Virgin Martyr with the words ego autem. The saint rises above all that is earthly, takes as it were her flight to heaven, and pledges immutable fidelity to the Lord's commandments, whence the high point over in mandatis. The group of neumes in the conclusion gives an especially affirmative and strong sense of the final victory that St Cecilia has over her captors and persecutors. The shame belong to those who acted injuste; she, however, is rewarded with the ultimate crown.