2nd February 2020, Presentation of the Lord (OF) Candlemas Day

2nd February 2020, Presentation of the Lord (OF) Candlemas Day

The celebrant and ministers come down from the sacristy to the entrance of the Church where everyone is gathered around the table of candles to be blessed. All hold a processional candle. When everyone is present, the candles for the procession are lit while this antiphon is sung.

Blessing: Ant: Ecce Dominus

The celebrant then gives the initial greeting and prays the blessing prayer for the candles. He then puts incense in the thurible, and intones the Procedamus in pace. We respond In nomine Christi. Amen., and the procession begins.

Procession: Lumen ad revelationem + Nunc Dimittis, in PBC, p. 140 and p. 165

Schola sing antiphon; all repeat. Schola sing verses of the Nunc Dimittis; all repeat antiphon after each verse and after GP. As we come back up the main aisle toward the altar, we begin the Introit. After the celebrant finishes incensing the altar and arrives at the chair, he intones the Gloria immediately; there is no penitential rite or Kyrie. After that, the Mass continues as on as any other Sunday.


Introit: Suscepimus

Offertory: Antiphon: Adorna thalamum tuum

Communion: Responsum accepit

Recessional: The God whom earth and sea and sky, V2H, p. 368

Mass VIII, PBC, p. 52ff. (No Kyrie, as above)


The Introit antiphon has three phrases. The first and second we'll break into two, but we need to keep intact the melodic link of 2b and 3. (Cf. notes below.)

  1. (a) Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam
    (b) in medio templi tui:

  2. (a) secundum nomen tuum, Deus
    (b) ita et laus tua in fines terrae:

  3. justitia plena est dextera tua

Saulnier, among others, has noted that when Mode 1 chants linger on to high do as a recitation note, as we have here, it becames triumphant, similar to mode 5. Certainly we have that sense of triumph here, when we acknowledge that we receive the mercy of God incarnate in the Temple. The sacred name, the awe-some praise, and the righteousness of God are become flesh and blood that will flow from the Temple to the ends of the earth. Our echo of that praise is the instrument God uses to promote His righteousness in our own world now.


Two special remarks about the rhythm:

a) On the salicus of (Sus-)ce(-pimus) we will observe the vertical episema on the second note, as indicated by the manuscripts. That means a slight hold on the second note (not the length of a full note, however.) And we will sing the ti as ti-b, as printed in the Gregorian Missal.

b) In the modern print editions of the chant, a curved line under the text tells us that the composer wants the singers to keep together the words and ideas in the phrases before and after the point where this line occurs, ignoring the usual effect of a full bar line. So we do not break the flow of the chant at that point, but smoothly put a renewed emphasis on the entry into the phrase following the line. Einsiedeln 121 and some other manuscripts insert at this point 'st' (=statim, at once) which in modern music corresponds to an attaca subito. As always, singing long phrases means we'll have to take turns stealing a breath at other points—just not all at the same time, please. As we've noted before, this antiphon is among the most beloved of Mass chants, and volumes of commentary have grown up around it.


The Communion antiphon is actually a single phrase, but we'll break it into two parts.

  1. Responsum accepit Simeon a Spiritu Sancto,

  2. non visurum se mortem, nisi videret Christum Domini.

As is often the case when the text comes from the Gospels (Luke here), the melody is a narrative (appropriately, in declarative Mode 8) and is defined by the word-accents of the text. The antiphon gives us the reason for Simeon's proclaiming of the Nunc dimittis, the canticle we sang during the procession—a rare instance of singing that canticle in Mode 8—linking us to this antiphon as well. So we end as we began: God's promise of salvation is fulfilled in the person of Christ, the light of the world.


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