1 November 2018, All Saints, OF, 7.00pm
Since this feast was not definitively introduced into the universal calendar until the 9th century, we don't see references to it in the most ancient chant manuscripts. Some chants have been borrowed from older feasts; and some, like the Alleluia and the Communion, have been composed in the classical style of plainsong. It is the feast of All Saints. Scarcely another feast brings out the truth so forcibly, that God is the Sun from which emanate all those rays of light we admire in the saints, as we sing in the Invitatory antiphon: 'Come, let us adore God who is glorified in the company of the saints.'
Offertory: From all Thy saints in warfare, p. 262, sung to tune Aurelia
Communion: Beati mundo
Recessional: For all the saints, p. 263, all verses
Mass VIII, PBC p. 52. Credo III, PBC p. 77
This Introit is a well known and often sung antiphon, adapted for various feasts 'sub honore ______'. For the commentary, cf. music notes for the Assumption (15 August) and/or Our Lady of the Rosary (7 October). It has two phrases, both of which are subdivided:
(b) diem festum celebrantes sub honore Sanctorum omnium:
(b) et collaudant Filium Dei.
As we've noted before, this melody was originally composed for a Greek text on the feast of St. Agatha. It soon became a popular chant and was adapted for a number of feasts. Text and melody have two phrases. The first phrase summons the entire Church militant to rejoice in the Lord, for 'it is a festival day in honor of N.' (In this instance, the blessed Virgin Mary.) The second phrase depicts the reason for the triumphant joy of the Church. (In this instance, the victory of Mary over death.)
Each phrase has two members, each of which in turn has two sub-members. Both major members of the first phrase close on a high pitch: Domino, Virginis. The second phrase repeats over Assumptione and collaudent the ascending musical line of the first part. The melody here develops according to the declamatory accents that intelligent rendition would demand. The development and division of the piece might be pictured graphically as follows:
Gaudeamus omnes in Domino,
Diem f. c. s. honore Mariae Virginis:
d. c. Assumptione gaudent Angeli,
et collaudant Filium Dei.
The two motifs run through the entire Introit. The first occurs over sub honore, Assumptione, and with a variation, over collaudant and in Domino. It begins with the interval f-g and ascends by means of a lively torculus (once by means of a pes subbipunctis) to c, thus recalling Gaudeamus. The second motif with its quiet seconds occurs over Dei, again a full tone higher over (An)-geli, and finally a fourth higher over (Do)-mino.
The high points of the melody are not reserved only to the accented syllables. The significant in Domino—'in the Lord'—for instance, is very prominent, and rightly so, since even the most solemn feast of the Blessed Virgin is a feast of our Divine Lord also. This thought is the invitatory antiphon of today's Office (in both OF & EF): Venite adoremus Regem regum, cujus hodie ad aethereum Virgo Mater assumpta est caelum. The same thought recurs in the second phrase of the Introit—the angels glorify God because He has honored, crowned, and transfigured His Blessed Mother.
The first phrase begins as solemn and festal, the stress of voice increasing gradually up to the word Domino over which a and b are given special emphasis. Soft accents mark the words di-(em) fe-(stum) ce-(le)-bran-(tes), the thrice recurring double f especially being sung very lightly. This entire member should be rendered fluently. The member following is characterized by a progressive ascent and a gradual swell of the melody up to Virginis, which has a refreshing b. The double c over (Mari)-ae, the only mention of the name of Mary in the entire piece, should be rendered with warmth rather than with volume.
In the second phrase, a minor accent is placed over the second syllable of (As)-sump-(tione). The porrectus over Ange-(li) carry the melody and should be somewhat emphasized. The dynamic high point of the phrase centers over collaudant. A further secondary accent stresses the third note over Fi-(lium).
The Communion antiphon is taken from the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount and the four phrases follow the text of St Matthew's Gospel:
The first and last phrases have an identical musical rhythm, while the other two, written a third higher, have practically the same rhythm. This melodic correspondence may serve to remind us that basically all the beatitudes are but the fulfillment of this word of God: 'I am. . .your exceedingly great reward' (Gen. 15: 1). Special attention should be given the threefold beati. The first, as if sung by angels' voices, sets in on the dominant of the mode, transcending the misery of sin. The descending movement which follows brings, as it were, the purity of heaven down to earth. The beatitude embraces here the range of a fourth. Peace and simplicity characterize the second phrase, which ranges within a minor third. To be a harbinger of peace is the quiet yet blessed work of the 'children of God.'
The third beati has an entirely different ring. It proclaims that even when you must undergo persecution, when you must bring sacrifice to be just and to uphold what is right, when you must suffer to protect and defend the Church, then also are you blessed, for the kingdom of heaven awaits you. This third beati the Church wishes to be deeply engraven on the soul. No persecution, however vehement, can drown its triumphant ring. It seems to encourage us with the words of Tertullian: 'One Christian is greater than the whole world.' Even though c a, c g, a g, a g over persecutionem patiuntur may sound like the strokes of a scourge, like the striking of stone against stone, still the heart of the martyr is hopeful and happy as he sings: beati. In Holy Communion we were allowed to contemplate God, we were privileged to receive the King of peace into our hearts, and with Him the kingdom of heaven: He it is who gives us strength for sacrifice and for persecution. And He will remain with us until He can endow us with His entire blessedness for all eternity, until, united with all the saints, we can render Him our thanks without ceasing.