10 May 2020, 5th Sunday of Easter (Year A)

10 May 2020, 5th Sunday of Easter (Year A)

Introit: Cantate Domino

Offertory: Ye choirs of new Jerusalem, p. 250

Communion (Year A): Tanto tempore

Recessional: Be joyful Mary, p. 248

Dismissal from Mass I, as in Paschaltide apart from the Octave and Pentecost, PBC, p. 48.

Mass I (Lux et origo) PBC, p. 46ff. Credo III, PBC, p. 77ff.


The Introit antiphon has three phrases:

  1. Cantate Domino canticum novum, alleluia

  2. quia mirabilia fecit Dominus, alleluia

  3. ante conspectum gentium revelavit justitiam suam, alleluia, alleluia

The melody expands steadily. The first part of the first phrase has a range of a fourth, the second of a fifth; the second and third phrases have a range of a sixth. And there are many similarities with the Introit for Low Sunday, Quasimodo. Both have the same mode and the same range; the close of the first phrase and almost the entire second phrase show great similarity. The motif of Cantate Domino recurs over fecit Dominus and the following alleluia, recalling sine dolo. Compare: (novum) alleluia: quia mirabilia fecit Dominus, alleluia, and (infantes) alleluia: rationabiles, sine dolo. The small variant seen here shows the refined sense the ancients had for forming endings. The formula over sine dolo has its final torculus a third below the tonic, thus facilitating immediate continuance of the melody over lac. The alleluia after Dominus, however, brings the entire second phrase to a close; for this reason the final torculus, suggestive of pleasant rest, is placed a fourth below the tonic. This also provides a contrast to the endings of the first and third phrases.


The third phrase begins with a sort of inversion of the preceding motif, vigorously stresses revelavit, and accords still greater prominence to justitiam suam. According to melodic sense, the second last alleluia finds its fulfillment in the resolved major chord of the subdominant. The last alleluia is almost the same as the one which ends the first phrase. From the obvious similarity of this chant with the Introit Quasimodo, and from its restricted range, we can readily infer that it is not intended as a powerful song of victory, but rather a heartfelt song of thanksgiving for the wonder of wonders which the Father has wrought in the resurrection of His Son. The resurrection must also be ascribed to Christ Himself. For He indeed has the power to lay down His life and the power to take it up again. On the cross His right hand was cruelly pierced by a nail and His sacred arm was most painfully wrenched out of place. But by His own strength He overcame everything: sin, suffering, and death.


(Year A) The Communion antiphon has three phrases:

  1. Tanto tempore vobiscum sum, et non cognovistis me

  2. Philippe, qui videt me, videt et Patrem meum, alleluia

  3. Non credis, quia ego in Patre, et Pater in me est? alleluia, alleluia.

In year A, we sing this Communion taken from the formulary for the feast of Sts. Phillip and James because we hear the Gospel pericope from which the text is taken. The first part is tinged with the sadness which the Saviour must have felt when speaking these words. The melodic figure over tempore recurs over Philippe and that over cognovistis me again over (Pa)-trem, alle- (luia).

The above selection serves also as a Great Responsory for Matins (OF=Office of Readings). This is at times mirrored in the responsorial character of the melody. Peter Wagner considers that the chant has three musical periods, the first of which closes with the word credis. The second, which has an energetic upward tendency, begins with quia ego on low d. The preceding musical period should then, if we consider the need and rules for contrast when combining phrases, close with e f. This is actually the case in the present instance with credis. The same reason might explain the notation over est which immediately precedes the first word of the third musical period. In this case, however, the interrogatory form of the sentence which closes with an upward inflection, should also be given due consideration. The two alleluia which form the third musical period in many Responsories include the most important motives.

The ascent of the melody in the third phrase is similar to that of the Communion antiphon Pater, cum essem cum eis, sung on the Sunday after the Ascension, and reminds us of the Ascension of our Lord to His heavenly Father. [We don’t usually sing this Mass as the Solemnity of the Ascension is moved to the Sunday here.] Taken as a whole, there is something about the melody that demands respect and reverence, at the same time filling us with holy astonishment. How well, then, can we apply to ourselves the gentle reproof and urgent exhortation to a more faithful imitation, as the first phrase of the Communion indicates!


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