10 November 2019, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Introit: Intret oratio mea
[Years B & C] Alleluia: Qui posuit
Offertory: Jesus my Lord my God my all, p. 324
Communion: Dominus regit me
Recessional: O Jesus Christ, remember, p. 303,
Mass XI, PBC p. 58. Credo III, PBC p. 77
The Introit antiphon is taken from a Lenten formulary, the Saturday Ember Day (Week I) in the EF. It has two phrases:
Intret oratio mea in conspectu tuo
inclina aurem tuam ad precem meam Domine
Psalm 87 stands alone in all the Psalter for the unrelieved gloom, the hopeless sorrow of its tone. Even the very saddest of the other psalms, and also the Lamentations, admit some strains of hopefulness; here all is only darkness, right to the close. Many believe this psalm was composed in the immediate aftermath of the Exile, when hope of Israel's return to Temple worship and reuniting of scattered families seemed impossible; others think it was a prayer for someone in the throes of a final illness. The Fathers saw it as the prayer of Jesus in His passion.
So when we find the opening lines of the psalm set here with a rather 'upbeat' Mode 3 melody, that doesn't seem to fit the mood of the text. The resolution to this apparent contradiction is that the melody we have in the Vatican edition is almost certainly not the original. At some point, the original form of most Mode 3 melodies was modified, moving the dominant from b to c, giving it the very declamatory form, similar to Mode 8. If we look at this melody in the Graduale Novum, we find the b restored, and the tone is completely different. It has much more of the mystical dimension that the ancient authors attributed to this mode. The restored melody and psalm tone bring out the passionate, plaintive, pleading undertones of the text. In the current (Vatican) version, that comes through only at the final cadence of the antiphon.
The Communion antiphon is also taken from a Lenten formulary, Saturday Week IV in the EF. It has two long phrases, which the melody actually divides as follows:
Dominus regit me et nihil me deerit
in loco pascuae ibi me collocavit
super aquam refectionis educavit me
The text is from the famous and beloved psalm 22 (23), The Lord is my Shepherd. In its EF setting, it is part of a formulary that includes texts from Deutero-Isaiah, (cc. 40-55, aka the 'Book of Consolation') to frame Jesus's declaration while teaching in the Temple that He is the Light of the world. So the promise of joy, imperfect in this world and complete is the world to come, is the underlying meaning of the consoling image of God as Shepherd-King. David was the ultimate type, yet he was only an imperfect pre-figurement of the true Shepherd-King, our Divine Lord Himself. The melody is in a rather plaintive Mode II, as befits its original Lenten setting. It is chosen primarilly for Year C, with its readings about the resurrection. But it's also very apt for this year's reading about Elijah being fed by the widow of Zarepath. God does indeed provide us with what we need, and most wonderfully in the Holy Eucharist.