15 March 2020, 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A)

15 March 2020, 3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A)

Station at St Lawrence outside the walls

Introit: Oculi mei

Kyrie XVIII with tropes, PBC, p. 72. (English translation of tropes below.)

Offertory: Attende Domine, PBC, p. 141, begin on C

Communion (Year A): Qui biberit aquam

Recessional: Lord who throughout these forty days, p. 240

Kyrie XVIII, PBC, p. 72, with tropes sung by schola. Sanctus & Agnus Dei from Mass XVII, PBC, p. 71. Credo I, PBC, p. 75

Dom Johner's comments on today's formulary are extensive; so what follows is an edited version of those with a few minor clarifications from subsequent studies and commentary.


The stational church today is the Church of St. Lawrence (Outside the Walls), patron of the catechumens. This was—and now is again—the Sunday of the scrutinies, when those to be baptized were/are examined about the doctrine they had studied, and an inquiry was/is made into their way of life from the faithful who were there with them. Prayers were said over them and the first exorcism performed to destroy the power of the devil in their souls. With this in mind, the composer of this Introit wanted the antiphon to be dominated by one word: evellet—He liberates me, plucks my foot from the snare, frees me. My eyes are always fixed on Christ, who will conquer Satan and his minions and free me from their power.


The Introit has two phrases, each of which is divided into two parts:

  1. (a) Oculi mei semper ad Dominum,
    (b) quia ipse evellet de laqueo pedes meos:

  2. (a) respice in me, et miserere mei,
    (b) quia unicus et pauper sum ego.

Text and melody exhibit a pleasing, symmetric construction. In the first phrase we look up to God; in the second we ask Him to take us into His tender mercy. Each phrase, in its second part, gives a reason for the first part. 'My eyes are towards the Lord,' quia. 'for He shall pluck my feet out of the snare;' in the second phrase: 'look Thou upon me,' quoniam. 'for I am alone and poor.' In the first phrase, the melody moves upward, following the text: Oculi mei...and especially evellet. In the second phrase the four descending fourths over the petition, 'Look upon me' reflect the images of a loving Father looking down on his child. The Introit for the third Mass of Christmas has links with our Introit today. The opening fifth here of Oculi links there to Puer. The melody over me also occurs there over the word nobis. And the close here, sum ego, sounds like that of the Christmas Angelus. And like imperium in the Christmas melody, evellet ascends to high f, though our Introit here is more ornate, and the accents with the frequent pressus forms are more energetic. The singer's gaze upward to God is fixed and steady. This is shown not only by the protracted dominant, but especially by the annotations in the manuscripts. Reaching back at least as far as the tenth century, these demand a broad rendition of all the notes over semper. The cadence of Dominum is repeated over unicus, and in a somewhat extended form over (miserere) mei.

The second phrase, respice—"look upon me"—is melodically more tender, more fervent, more suppliant, but its range is a bit less extended. Although respice still has a range of a sixth (g-e); the subsequent members of the phrase, however, confine themselves to a fifth (f-c). The harsh tritone over pauper agrees well with the subdued feeling of the word.


(Year A) The Communion antiphon has two phrases:

  1. Qui biberit aquam quam ego dabo ei dicit dominus

  2. fiet in eo fons aquae salientis in vitam aeternam.

Reflecting the pericope of the Samaritan woman at the well, this well known quote of Jesus captures the heart of the story and speaks to those who are preparing for baptism, as well as to those of us who are reflecting on our own baptismal promises as we prepare to renew them at Easter. The older Mode VII melody, more akin to an Office antiphon, uses the very brief intonation to take us immediately to its high point on aquam. We reach the high point again at Sam-aritanae, eo, and sali-en-tis. The clear intent of these melodic points is to underline the gospel message that Jesus wants the saving water he gives to flow out from him to the woman and to all who will drink of it. This water flows over us at our baptism, and offers us eternal life, peace, and contentment, expressed in the neumatic cadence.

Tropes for Kyrie XVIII

1. Deus Genitor alme. Kyrie eleison.
God, loving Father.

2. Supplicamus te omnes. Kyrie eleison.
We all beseech You.

3. Nostra delicta parce. Kyrie eleison.
Forgive our sins.

4. Jesu Christe Redemptor. Christe eleison.
Jesus Christ, Redeemer.

5. Benignus nobis adesto. Christe eleison.
Kindly be beside us.

6. Ut semper laudemus te digne. Christe eleison.
That we might fittingly praise you.

7. Reple nos Spiritu Sancto. Kyrie eleison.

Fill us with the Holy Spirit.

8. Deus bone, semper. Kyrie eleison.

Always, good God.

9. Quo tibi laeti canamus, eleison. Kyrie eleison.

So that we might be happy as we sing to you, have mercy.


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