16 July 2017, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
Introit: Dum clamarem
Offertory: Jesus my Lord my God my all, p. 324
Communion: Passer invenit
Recessional: Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates, p. 211
Mass XI, PBC p. 58. Credo III, PBC p. 77
The Introit antiphon is long enough that we do not need to separate the psalm verse and the GP. It has three phrases:
- Dum clamarem ad Dominum, exaudivit vocem meam ab his qui appropinquant mihi
- et humiliavit eos qui est ante saecula manet in aeternum
- jacta cogitatum tuum in Domino, et ipse te enutriet.
Each of the three phrases closes with the same melodic formula, and the first and second phrase also have the preceding neums in common over (appropin)-quant mihi and aeternum. In general, a close relation exists between these two phrases, even exteriorly, since both are made up of three members, while the third phrase has only two; and their interior relation is still more intimate. The first phrase speaks of the fruits of prayer; the second of the manner in which prayer is heard.
Hence, these two preliminary statements may serve as two premises, from which the third follows as a conclusion; therefore "cast thy care upon the Lord!" The first phrase with its upward striving expresses both an earnest petition and the tension of soul which accompanies it. Then comes a thankful, brilliant exaudivit: I have been heard. The second phrase several times extends beyond the highest note of the first. In the small phrase qui est ante saecula we twice hear the fourth g-c, and once the fourth a-d. We get some inkling of the eternity of God, which is without beginning, from the large intervals. Some purely syllabic passages occur in the third phrase. Its melodic line is the symbol and expression of a certain effort, a conquering of the difficulties which present themselves to wavering, doubting, short-sighted human beings who ought to live entirely by faith and throw all their care upon the Lord. If this is done —how quiet and sure is the tone of the seconds over et ipse te—then He will nourish and sustain us with paternal affection and will royally reward all our hopes and expectations. Even today we shall see the fulfillment of these words in the sacrificial Banquet. This Introit is also sung on the Thursday after Ash Wednesday.
This famous Communion antiphon we also sing on the third Sunday of Lent. It has three phrases:
- Passer invenit sibi domum, et turtur nidum, ubi reponat pullos suos:
- altaria tua Domine virtutum, Rex meus, et Deus meus:
- beati qui habitant in domo tua, in saeculum saeculi laudabant te.
This antiphon is an interesting instance of Gregorian modes, which we hope to examine a bit at a future chant workshop. The Vatican edition classes it as Mode I, but it's certainly not typical. It closes on a, showing that it is transposed. But instead of fourth lower, it's moved upward a fifth. Since there is a full step and a minor third over the closing note, a fourth lower would result in e f# g e e; but f# was not possible in chant notation. A fifth lower, however, it becomes d e f d d—the closing formula of the first mode. But for the melody of pullos, a fifth lower would leaves us with f e♭ g f f g d d. Again, ancient chant notation found it impossible to write e♭, but could quite easily transpose a fifth higher to b♭. So that's what we have.
Second, the third and first modes are intertwined. The intonation of passer and the melody over virtutum point to the third mode. The closing cadence of the third mode, ccc a c b a, corresponds to c b a over (vir)-tutum. From Deus meus on the piece moves in the first mode. Rex meus contracts its interval over (De)-us meus. Here follows a modulation to the full tone below the tonic, much affected by the first mode. We actually find a several modulations in the antiphonal chants for the third Sunday of Lent. The Introit in the seventh mode modulated to the full tone below the finale after the f over miserere mei, and in the Tract of the eighth mode after the f over nostrum. The Communion of the first mode also modulates to the full tone below the finale over Deus meus, and the Offertory, really in the sixth mode, modulates to the fourth below the finale over favum. Each time the modulation agrees with a break in the text, therefore in the thought. Proclamation of the text drives the melodic variances.
The three phrases of this piece present vivid images of nature, Temple worship, and our eternal joy. The first describes the birds and the nests in which they harbour their young. The composer may have intended the numerous podatus forms to depict the fluttering of birds or the cooing of doves, as we saw last summer. In the second, we see Temple worship as a foretaste of the eternal dwelling with the Lord of hosts to which we aspire. In the third, we sing of that house of God where we will sing His praises for all eternity. There the chants of today are fulfilled. God has snatched us from evil (evellet of the Introit); our soul has escaped like a bird from the snares of the fowler and is safe forever in its true nest. Our praying and singing in the house of God is a preparation for that song of eternity.