8 March 2020, 2nd Sunday of Lent (Year A)

8 March 2020, 2nd Sunday of Lent (Year A)

The station today is one of Rome's older churches, Sancta Maria in Domnica.


Introit: Tibi dixit

Gospel Acclamation: L6, V2H, p. 3. Verse from CC Watershed.

Offertory: O kind Creator, bow thine ear, p. 352,

Communion: Visionem

Recessional: All ye who seek a comfort sure, p. 345

Ordinary from Mass XVII, PBC, p. 71. Credo I, PBC, p. 75


As we said in some earlier music notes, the liturgies of Saturday of Ember Week in Lent were once very long, and in early centuries, the night vigil carried over into Sunday morning. Hence, the formulary of this Sunday's Mass was composed later than the rest of the Lenten Sundays, sometime in the late 5th (or early 6th?) century. Everything but the Tract was taken from the prior Wednesday. The 1974 Graduale does the same. The Gospel is (still) that of the Transfiguration, so the 1974 Graduale takes our Introit and Communion antiphons from the Feast of the Transfiguration (6 August). The Introit is also found now in various common and proper sanctoral formularies, notably that of the Feast of St Mary Magdalen (22 July). The antiphon has two phrases; we'll break in the middle of the second one:

  1. Tibi dixit cor meum; quaesivi vultum tuum

  2. (a) vultum tuum, Domine, requiram
    (b) ne avertas faciem tuam a me.

No one can see God and live, Ex 33:20 warns. Yet the melody here immediately confirms what the text makes plain: the high point of this antiphon is vultum tuum, the face of God that our hearts so earnestly seek. In fact, to behold the face of God is our life's goal. 'Our hearts are made for You alone, and will not rest until they rest in You,' as St Augustine put it so well. A frighteningly impossible task, except for the fact that we know God's grace goes before us and makes it possible for us to behold the face of God in the person of Jesus. This is why the Tranfiguration accounts are such a high point in the public ministry of Jesus, and prepare for its culmination in his death and resurrection. The upward arcs of the melody and the long tristrophas over dixit and vultum tuum, with c/do rather than b/ti as the high note of recitation, connect the longing of our hearts and the rest we find in beholding the divine presence. We only descend again when we beg God not to turn away from us.

The Communion antiphon is, as we've seen before, a Gospel text with a melody taken from the Divine Office. It is the Magnificat antiphon at 1st and 2nd Vespers in the EF, and for 2nd Vespers in Year A in the OF. So it is almost entirely syllabic. It is a single phrase, with a break in the middle:

Visionem quam vidistis, nemini dixeritis / donec a mortuis resurgat Filius hominis.


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