Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Communion Song for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: Per signum crucis ("By the sign of the cross")

Per signum crucis is the Communion song for this day; it's short but quite beautiful:   

TPL says this about the text:
From the Roman Breviary. It recalls Phil. 3:18, "For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. "

PER signum Crucis de inimicis nostris libera nos, Deus noster. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

BY the sign of the cross deliver us from our enemies, O our God. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I'm not so sure about that Philemon reference, but here's an mp3 of the chant, too, from  Fairly sure it's the same audio file as that in the video above.

And here's the chant score:

That "T.P. alleluia" note stands for Tempus Paschale - i.e., Easter season, because this chant was also used for the Feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross, May 3 (a feast that's no longer on the calendar).  The Alleluia was added for years when Invention occurred within Eastertide.   (This page at Cantus Database lists all occurrences of this text; almost every such occurrence is listed as either "Inventio Crucis" (i.e., The Invention of the Holy Cross) or "Exaltatio Crucis" (this feast, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14).  There is also a third category:  "Suff. Crucis," that is to say, "Memorial chants for the Holy Cross."   That is interesting, and I'll be looking further into it at some point.)

Francesco Durante set this text, expertly rendered here during a live concert at Bari, Italy, by convivium musicum mainz:

My favorite obscure Polish composer, Mikołaj Zieleński, also set this one; it's sung here beautifully by Chór WUM (that's Chóru Warszawskiego Uniwersytetu Medycznego w Warszawie, for short):

More about Zieleński, from Wikipedia:
Mikołaj Zieleński (Zelenscius, birth and death dates unknown) was a Polish composer, organist and Kapellmeister to the primate Baranowski, Archbishop of Gniezno.

Zieleński's only known surviving works are two 1611 liturgical cycles of polychoral works, the Offertoria/Communes totius anni. These were dedicated to the Archbishop of Gniezno, Wojciech Baranowski. The whole comprises eight part-books and a ninth book, the Partitura pro organo, which constitutes the organ accompaniment. This publication contains in all 131 pieces written for various vocal and also vocal and instrumental ensembles, all with organ accompaniment.

The Venetian publication does not only comprise the offertories and communions; we find there also over a dozen other pieces, such as hymns, antiphons, a magnificat, and even three instrumental fantasias. In his compositions Zieleński relies on his own creative invention and does not, in general, make use of the cantus firmi. The few pieces which a pre-existent melody may be traced out are based not on a plainsong melody but on the melodies of Polish songs. The sets consist of large-scale double- and triple-choir antiphons, as well as some monodic works typical of the Seconda pratica style of early Monteverdi. Zieleński's music is the first known Polish music set in the style of the Baroque.

You can also get Free scores by Mikołaj Zieleński from the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki).

Here are all the propers for today, from; the singers are the Benedictine monks of Sao Paolo, Brazil:
    Die 14 septembris In Exaltatione Sanctæ Crucis
Introitus: Cf. Gal. 6,14; Ps. 66 Nos autem gloriari (4m37.3s - 4337 kb) score
Graduale: Phil. 2, 8. V. 9 Christus factus est (2m19.3s - 2178 kb) score
Alleluia:  Dulce lignum, dulces clavos (2m27.5s - 2307 kb) score
Offertorium: Protege, Domine (2m09.9s - 2031 kb) score
Communio: Per signum crucis (40.4s - 633 kb) score

According to Divinum Officum, these propers have been used on this day at least since Trent.  The Introit, Nos autem gloriari, has also been used since that era as Maundy Thursday's introit; the Graduale, Christus factus est, was also used at Maundy Thursday in the Tridentine rite.  (Today, however, the Maundy Thursday Gradual is Oculi omnium - and Christus factus est is used as the Gradual for Palm Sunday.)

About  the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, from Wikipedia's "Feast of the Cross" entry:
This feast is called in Greek Ὕψωσις τοῦ Τιμίου καὶ Ζωοποιοῦ Σταυροῦ[1] ("Raising Aloft of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross") and in Latin Exaltatio Sanctae Crucis. In English, it is called The Exaltation of the Holy Cross in the official translation of the Roman Missal, while the 1973 translation called it The Triumph of the Cross. In some parts of the Anglican Communion the feast is called Holy Cross Day, a name also used by Lutherans. The celebration is also sometimes called Feast of the Glorious Cross.[2]
According to legends that spread widely, the True Cross was discovered in 326 by Saint Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, during a pilgrimage she made to Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine. The church was dedicated nine years later, with a portion of the cross[note 1] placed inside it. Other legends explain that in 614, that portion of the cross was carried away from the church by the Persians, and remained missing until it was recaptured by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628. Initially taken to Constantinople, the cross was returned to the church the following year.

The date of the feast marks the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335.[3] This was a two-day festival: although the actual consecration of the church was on September 13, the cross itself was brought outside the church on September 14 so that the clergy and faithful could pray before the True Cross, and all could come forward to venerate it.

Western practices

Exaltation of the Cross from
the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
(Musée Condé, Chantilly)
In Roman Catholic liturgical observance, red vestments are worn at church services conducted on this day, and if the day falls on a Sunday, its Mass readings[note 2] are used instead of that for the occurring Sunday in Ordinary Time. The lectionary of the Church of England (and other Anglican churches) also stipulates red as the liturgical colour for 'Holy Cross Day'.[4]
Until 1969, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the calendar week after the one in which 14 September falls were designated as one of each year's four sets of Ember days by the Church in the West. Organization of these celebrations is now left to the decision of episcopal conferences in view of local conditions and customs.

September 14 is the titular feast of the Congregation of Holy Cross, The Companions of the Cross and the Episcopal Church's Order of the Holy Cross. This date also marked the beginning of the period of fasting, except on Sundays and ending on Easter Sunday, that was stipulated for Carmelites in the Carmelite Rule of St. Albert of 1247.[5] The Rule of St. Benedict also prescribes this day as the beginning of monastic winter (i.e., the period when there are three nocturns of psalms and readings at Matins) which also ends at Easter.

Eastern Orthodox practice

Orthodox Cross set for special veneration on
the feast of The Universal Exaltation of
the Precious and Life Giving Cross.
In Byzantine liturgical observance, the Universal Exaltation (also called Elevation in Greek Churches) of the Precious and Life-creating Cross commemorates both the finding of the True Cross in 326 and its recovery from the Persians in 628, and is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the church year. September 14 is always a fast day and the eating of meat, dairy products and fish is prohibited. The Feast of the Exaltation has a one-day Forefeast and an eight-day Afterfeast. The Saturday and Sunday before[note 3] and after[6] September 14 are also commemorated with special Epistle and Gospel readings[note 4] about the Cross at the Divine Liturgy.

On the eve of the feast before small vespers the priest, having prepared a tray with the cross placed on a bed of fresh basil leaves or flowers, covered with an aër (liturgical veil), places it on the table of prothesis; after that service, the priest carries the tray on his head preceded by lighted candles and the deacon censing the cross, processing to the holy table (altar), in the center whereof laying the tray, in the place of the Gospel Book, the latter being set upright at the back of the altar.[7] Those portions of the vespers and matins which in sundry local customs take place before the Icon of the Feast (e.g.,the chanting of the Polyeleos and the Matins Gospel[note 5]) instead take place in front of the Holy Table.[8] The bringing out of the cross and the exaltation ceremony occur at matins.[7]

The cross remains in the center of the temple throughout the afterfeast, and the faithful venerate it whenever they enter or leave the church. Finally, on the leave-taking (apodosis) of the feast, the priest and deacon will cense around the cross, there will be a final veneration of the cross, and then they will solemnly bring the cross back into the sanctuary through the Holy Doors. This same pattern of bringing out the cross, veneration, and returning the cross at the end of the celebration is repeated at a number of the lesser Feasts of the Cross mentioned below.[9]

Full Homely Divinity - soon to garner its 1 millionth visitor, BTW! - has what I believe to be to be a new entry for this day, too.  Here are a couple of excerpts, including some very interesting legends about the wood of the cross:
One of the loveliest of these legends tells how basil plants sprang up from the ground under the Cross where drops of the Savior's blood fell. A related tradition says that Helena was aided in her search for the True Cross by a bed of basil that was growing over the very place where the Cross had been buried. Another tradition says that a sprig of basil which growing out of the wood of the Cross itself. The name of the herb comes from the same root as the Greek word for "king," basileus, thus it is an herb made for a king. In Orthodox churches, the cross that is exalted liturgically on this feast, traditionally rests on a bed of basil during the Liturgy. Basil may be blessed and distributed to the faithful on Holy Cross Day, and it would be appropriate to prepare and eat dishes that include basil, such as pesto, as part of the home celebration of the feast.

Here is a Prayer for the blessing of basil.
Almighty and merciful God: Bless, we beseech thee, this royal herb of basil. As its aroma and taste delight our senses, may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King and the power of his blessed Passion and precious Death to purify and preserve us from evil; so that, planted beneath his Cross, we may flourish to thy glory and spread abroad the fragrance of his sacrifice; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

There are two different traditions about the origins of the wood of the Cross. The more familiar, Western, tradition relates that as Adam lay dying he instructed his son Seth to go the gate of Garden of Eden and to ask the cherubim guarding the entrance for a seed from the Tree of Life. This seed was placed in Adam's mouth after he died and was buried with Adam. The seed germinated and grew into a great tree which gave shelter to creatures of all kinds. In time, the origin of the tree and even the fact that it had grown over the grave of the first human being was forgotten. When the time came for Solomon to build the Temple in Jerusalem, wood was needed and he directed that this great, sturdy tree be cut down to be used in the construction. This was done. However, the wood from the tree was never suitable for the places it was needed. A board was either too short or too long, no matter how carefully it was measured. At last, the wood was discarded. A few years later, a bridge was being built for one of the approaches to Jerusalem and the discarded wood was incorporated into the project. When the Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon, it was necessary for her to cross this bridge. As she did, she heard a voice with a message which she reported to her host. She told Solomon that the wood of this bridge would be the means by which a new kingdom and a new order would be established in Jerusalem. Fearing that he would be overthrown and his kingdom taken from him, Solomon had the bridge torn down and the wood thrown into a cistern outside the wall of Jerusalem. There it lay for nearly a thousand years until it was once again put into service in the making of a cross for the execution of a man who claimed to be King of the Jews and became again what it had always been: the Tree of Life.

The Eastern tradition of the origins of the wood of the Cross is much simpler and rests on the interpretation of a prophecy in the Book of Isaiah: "The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious." (Isaiah 60:13) According to this tradition, after Lot fled from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, his uncle Abraham gave him a triple seedling, consisting of a cypress, a plane, and a pine. Lot took the seedling and planted it in the wilderness, where the three trees continued to grow together. Lot, badgered by the devil who wished to prevent the tree from growing, traveled back and forth to the Jordan River to get water for the tree. Many years later, when Solomon was building the Temple (here the legends converge for a brief moment), the tree was cut down and the wood was used in the construction. When Herod was rebuilding the Temple, this wood was taken out and discarded, and was later taken up again to be used for the Cross of Jesus. The first part of the verse from Isaiah refers to the three different woods being used in the building of the Temple. The interpretation of the final phrase, "I will make the place of my feet glorious," is that it is a reference to the footrest to which Jesus' feet were nailed on the Cross. Tradition says that the place where the tree grew was outside of the city of Jerusalem. A monastery has stood on that site since the 5th century. A series of icons, which can be seen on this website, depicts this version of the legend, though it omits the portion of the legend about the Temple.

Here are some Chantblog posts about the propers for this feast day:

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Bogoroditse Devo (Sergey Khvoshchinsky)

Here's a simply stunning Bogoroditse Devo; the choir is "From Age to Age," and they are quite wonderful here.

Bogoroditse Devo is the Eastern version of the Ave Maria; here's the original language with transliteration, plus an English translation:
Church Slavonic text:
Богородице Дево, радуйся,
Благодатная Марие, Господь с Тобою;
Благословена Ты в женах
и благословен плод чрева Твоего,
яко Спаса родила еси душ наших.

Bogoroditse Devo, raduisya,
Blagodatnaya Mariye, Gospod s Toboyu.
Blagoslovenna Ty v zhenakh,
i blagosloven plod chreva Tvoyego,
yako Spasa rodila esi dush nashikh.

English translation
Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos,
Mary full of grace, the Lord is with Thee.
Blessed art Thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb,
for Thou hast borne the Savior of our souls.

Here's an article from Minnesota Public Radio about the composer, Sergey Khovoshinsky.

And this is the text on the YouTube page:
Cutting-edge interpretations and superb ensemble singing are trademarks of From Age To Age. Founded by Artistic Director Andrew Miller in January 2007, From Age To Age has quickly made a name for itself in the upper Midwest. The ensemble performed as an auditioned professional ensemble at the 2010 MN ACDA convention, and shortly after was invited to perform as a premier professional ensemble at the 2011 ICDA Summer Symposium. From Age to Age was highlighted as a "Regional Spotlight" group on Minnesota Public Radio in 2010 and will be featured on the Classical Minnesota Public Radio Holiday CD "A Taste of the Holidays", vol. II coming this December. The CD is a joint collaboration with the nationally syndicated radio show "The Splendid Table". The ensemble has collaborated with several high school, honors, collegiate, and semi-professional ensembles including Kantorei, The Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota, The Duluth East Choralaires, Bismark State College Choirs, and the Brainerd High School Chamber Singers.

The members of From Age to Age come from all areas of Minnesota and North Dakota,
brought together with a common passion for performing top quality a cappella music. They strive to share their talents with areas typically under-served in the choral arts. The ensemble makes it part of their mission to regularly perform at nursing and senior centers in the regions that they visit.

About Andrew Miller, Artistic Director
Andrew Miller, founder and artistic director of  From Age to Age, is an accomplished choral conductor, published composer/arranger,  vocalist,and educator. Miller graduated from Brainerd High School in 2001 under the musical direction and inspiration of Dr. Michael Smith. Andrew holds a degree in vocal music education from Bemidji State University, and a masters degree in choral conducting from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Miller taught K-12 vocal music in the Long Prairie/Grey Eagle school district 2007-2008. Andrew has been invited as a guest clinician to the Minnesota Music Educators Association (MMEA) student convention in Mankato, MN, 2009, and to the Iowa Choral Directors Association (ICDA) Summer Symposium, July, 2011. Andrew is currently serving as Director of Choral Activities at Bismarck State College where he conducts the BSC Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, and Women's Chamber Ensemble, and teaches choral conducting, music theory, aural skills, and music appreciation.

From Age To Age was founded at the turn of the new year, January, 2007. Initially, several singers from the former Hannah/Brokering Sacred Ensemble helped form the foundation. Singers from all areas of the state eventually joined the ensemble to create the group as it is today: a chamber ensemble of highly trained vocal artists that come together throughout the year in different areas of the upper Midwest. From Age to Age focuses not only on performance, but also on outreach and educational  programming. The ensemble has expanded its touring area with each successive season.
2010-2011 started with an additional focus on the Twin Cities metro area, and expanded into North Dakota and Iowa..

From Age to Age has an active educational outreach program. The ensemble visits high
schools and colleges across the upper Midwest, conducting focused educational workshops for both students and directors. In 2011, From Age to Age conducted workshops/collaborative performances with students at Bismarck State College (Bismarck, ND), St. Clair High School, and Lanesboro Senior and Junior High School. From Age to Age is currently accepting workshop inquiries for the 2011-2012 season. For more information, please contact

HT @andrewford.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Mass of the Assumption: Fontgombault"

In honor of the August 15 Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, here's another very pretty recording from Fontgombault (a  daughter-abbey of Solesmes); this video contains the Introit, Kyrie IX, the Alleluia, and the Communio. 

Here are the words to the Introit, the Alleluia, and the Communio; chant scores in Latin along with English translations:
The Introit, Signum Magnum

A great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. -- Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: because He hath done wonderful things. V.: Glory be to the Father . . . -- A great sign appeared in heaven . . . (From Revelation 12)

The Alleluia, Assumpta est

Alleluia, Alleluia. Mary has been taken up into heaven; the host of Angels rejoices. Alleluia.

The Communio, Beatam me dicent

All generations shall call me blessed, because He that is mighty hath done great things for me. (From The Magnificat, in Luke 1.)

Here's a listing of all the mass chant propers for this feast, from; the links go to mp3 files and chant scores.
Die 15 augusti
In Assumptione
B. Mariæ Virginis
Introitus: Apoc. 12, 1; Ps. 97 Signum magnum (cum gloria Patri) (4m11.0s - 1471 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 44, 11.12 V. 5 Audi, filia (3m18.3s - 1163 kb) score
Alleluia: Assumpta est (2m09.7s - 761 kb) score
Offertorium: Assumpta est (1m43.2s - 606 kb)
Communio: Luc. 1, 48.49 Beatam me dicent (47.9s - 281 kb) score

From the YouTube page:
+J.M.J.+ Gregorian Chant for the Mass of the Assumption - Monastic Choir of the Abbey of Notre- Dame de Fontgombault. The Introit, Alleluia, and Holy Communion sung Propers, and Kyrie IX are part of a High Mass of the Assumption. Chanted by the Monastic Choir of the Abbey Notre-Dame de Fontgombault, France. Originally recorded and released in 1973, by Jean Allard. Arranged for CD in 1997 by Jean-Yves Martineau.

To buy the original full version of "Fons Amoris" on DVD go to:

To buy the full version music CD, and other Gregorian Chant CDs recorded at the Abbey of Notre Dame de Fontgombault, visit this website:

Click this link for the Introit, Alleluia, and Holy Communion translations:
The Kyrie is taken from Mass IX (9), and translates from Greek as: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.

Friday, August 08, 2014

O Frondens Virga (Hildegard von Bingen 1098-1179)

Chanticleer shared this video on their socmed feeds this past week:

Here are the Latin words of the antiphon:
O frondens virga,
In tua nobilitate stans,
sicut aurora procedit.
Nunc gaude et laetare et nos debiles dignare
a mala consuetudine liberare,
atque manum tuam porrige ad erigendum nos. 

Here's one English translation of this (link is a PDF):
O branch, coming into leaf,
standing in your nobility
just as dawn advances:
now rejoice and be glad
and deem us, helpless ones, worthy;
free us from evil habits
and even reach out your hand
to lift us.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Introit for the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6): Tibi dixit cor meum ("My heart declared unto you")

I've written a bit about this Introit, Tibi dixit cor meum quaesivi vultum tuum, before, but here's a full post about it.   This is one of the few instances of the duplication of an Introit; this is also the Introit for the Second Sunday in Lent.

The Lent connection isn't crazy; the Transfiguration comes chronologically just before Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, before his arrest and Crucifixion.  In any case, it seems that Matthew's gospel story of the Transfiguration is read on Lent 2 in the Catholic Church, so putting the Introit here makes complete sense.

Here's the Introit score, from JoguesChant, which gives the translation as:
My heart declared to you: "Your countenance have I sought; I shall ever seek your countenance, O Lord; do not turn your face from me."  The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The São Paulo Benedictines note that this text comes from Psalm 27, vv 8-9, and 1:
8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

The Introit in former times (i.e., in the Tridentine Rite) was Illuxerunt coruscationes:
Illuxerunt coruscationes tuae orbi terrae: commota est, et contremuit terra. * Quam dilecta tabernacula tua, Domine virtutum! concupiscit et deficit anima mea in atria Domini.

Your lightening illumined the world; the earth quivered and quaked.
How lovely is Your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts! My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord.

(Psalm 76:19 and 83:2-3)
Cannot find a recording of this anywhere, but here's the chant score:

The readings for today are here.  They are:

The Exodus readings is the "transfiguration of Moses"":  "As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God."   

This comes from the 2 Peter reading:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

The Gospel, of course, is the Transfiguration story itself, from Luke.

The Collect is this beautiful one:
O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Stephen Gerth, the Rector at St. Mary the Virgin, NY, writes this week about Transfiguration, and includes a really interesting take on how it might relate to a section of Mark that comes just before the Transfiguration story - a passage that gives some people trouble:
When I was in seminary the standard thinking about the transfiguration, recounted in Mark, Matthew and Luke, was that it was a post-resurrection appearance that had come to be a part of the pre-passion narrative in the telling of the story of Jesus. It turns out that while I was learning one thing the scholarship was heading in a new direction, more faithful to the text and more convincing.

In 1981 Enrique Nardoni (1924–2002), Roman Catholic priest and biblical scholar, surveying the history of interpretation, changed the direction of the debate with an analysis of Mark (9:1-13). He was able to show that the story was very much a part of Mark’s ongoing narrative of the Good News (“A Redactional Interpretation of Mark 9:1,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 43 [1981] 265-384).

In Mark, the story of the transfiguration follows Peter’s answer to Jesus’ question to the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responds, “You are the Christ.” Peter doesn’t like what follows: Jesus’ prediction of his suffering, death, and resurrection. He responds by taking Jesus aside and “rebuking” him. The other disciples are close. Jesus turns so that all can hear him say, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men” (Mark 8:27-33).

Before the next story, the transfiguration, Mark’s narrative addresses directly the situation of Christians when he was writing. It was a time of persecution. Jesus said,

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself or herself, take up his or her cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his or her life will lose it, but whoever loses his or her life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his or her life? What could one give in exchange for his or her life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)

Then, comes the difficult verse that causes so much debate, “He also said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power’” (Mark 9:1). The Risen Jesus did not return to establish the complete reign of God over creation. The word we have come to use for this return is “parousia.” It’s English for the Greek word παρουσία which Paul uses for the return of Jesus at the end of time in his First Letter to the Thessalonians, the oldest New Testament writing. (It’s also used in nine other New Testament books).

By the time Mark wrote almost certainly most, if not all of the disciples who heard Jesus speak these words, had died. With the story of Jesus revealing his heavenly glory one can say Peter, James and John saw this glory. In the private, personal center of our lives, where Christ has made himself known to us, one might say that we too have seen, each of us in his or her own way, the glory of God.

The subject of just these few verses is a large one. My own study will continue. More can certainly be said—and I have other material for my sermon for the feast, Wednesday, August 6 (Sung Masses at 12:10 PM and 6:00 PM).

When Jesus and the three others came down from the mountain, their journey to glory continued, as does ours in the days God has made for us.—Stephen Gerth

Here are all the chants for the day, from
In Transfiguratione Domini

Introitus: Ps. 26, 8.9 et 1 Tibi dixit cor meum (cum Gloria Patri) (2m59.6s - 2808 kb)
Graduale: Ps. 44, 3 et 2 Speciosus forma (4m20.2s - 4068 kb) score
Alleluia: Sap. 7, 26 Candor est lucis æternæ (2m36.223s - 1223 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 8, 6.7 Gloria et honore (1m22.047s - 643 kb) score
Communio: Mt. 17, 9 Visionem (2m36.4s - 2446 kb) score

Here are posts about chant propers for this day on Chantblog:

This is a "mosaic on stucco, portable icon with the Transfiguration of Christ, Byzantine artwork," circa 1200.  It's in the Louvre - in "Moyen-Age, room 1: Charlemagne."  Photo is by Marie-Lan Nguyen.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Cluny: La Transfiguration - Chants de Pierre le Venerable

In anticipation of the upcoming Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6), here is a beautiful collection of 12th-century chants for the day.  (Here's the page for this CD.)

Some explanation from the Amazon page:
Pierre the Venerable was one of the most remarkable men in 12th-century Europe: he was abbot of Cluny (France), the most influential monastery of its day; he sheltered Peter Abelard after the Pope condemned Abelard's teachings; he had the Koran translated into Latin; he defended Jews from persecution. On top of all this, he was a fine composer. The enterprising French ensemble Venance Fortunat performs here Pierre's hymns for the Feast of the Transfiguration. Director Anne-Marie Deschamps uses only unaccompanied voices, generally solo or in unison (occasionally with a drone), without rhythmic pulse but with careful attention paid to long-versus-short note values--in effect, the long notes of basic chant melodies are embellished with Pierre's quick, almost improvisatory ornaments. The impression created by the music and text (and magnified by the extraordinary "Clunisian" acoustic in which the recording was made) is one of intense, rhapsodic devotion--somewhat reminiscent of Hildegard of Bingen, though without her extravagant metaphor and wide vocal ranges. Deschamps and her musicians deserve high praise for finding this music and performing it so sympathetically. -- Matthew Westphal

Amazon offers the track list below; most or all of these pieces are standard Transfiguration chants - like O Nata Lux (the Transfiguration hymn for Lauds) - that have been set to new music.   I will try to find some lyrics to them and post them;  eventually; meantime here is the complete list:
1. Ecce Nubes Lucida
2. Assumens Ihesus
3. Invitatoire
4. Assumptis Hodie
5. Coram Tribus Discipulis
6. Primo Genitus
7. Ihesus Ad Discipulos
8. O Nata Lux De Lumine
9. Antienne: Ton 1. Visionem Quam Vidistis
10. Antienne: Ton 2. Accessit Ihesus
11. Antienne: Ton 3. Ut Testimonium Haberet
12. Antienne: Ton 4. Lex Per Moysen
13. Antienne: Ton 5. Descendentibus Illis
14. Antienne: Ton 6. Celi Aperti Sunt
15. Antienne: Ton 7. Tribus Discipulis
16. Antienne: Ton 8. Celi Aperti Sunt
17. Claruit Magnitudo Dei
18. Hodie In Monte
19. Discipuli Christi
20. Sicut Unius Dei Trinitas
21. Videns Petrus
22. Ave Stella Matutina

"Hail, Star of the Morning"!  Very beautiful stuff here, and now I want to learn more about Pierre le Venerable, too....

Friday, July 25, 2014

Compline: The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge

From the YouTube page:
A service of Compline, sung live by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, directed by Graham Ross

Recorded in Chapel of Clare College, Cambridge, UK

Introit: Robert White (1538-1574): 'Christe qui lux es et dies'

Christe qui lux es et dies,
Noctis tenebras detegis,
Lucisque lumen crederis,
Lumen beatum praedicans.

Precamur sancte domine,
Defende nos in hac nocte,
Sit nobis in te requies,
Quietam noctem tribue.

Ne gravis somnus irruat,
Nec hostis nos surripiat,
Nec caro illi consentiens,
Nos tibi reos statuat.

Oculi somnum capiant,
Cor ad te semper vigilet,
Dextera tua protegat
Famulos qui te diligunt.

Defensor noster aspice,
Insidiantes reprime,
Guberna tuos famulos,
Quos sanguine mercatus es.

Memento nostri domine
In gravi isto corpore,
Qui es defensor animae,
Adesto nobis domine.

Deo patri sit gloria,
Ejusque soli filio,
Cum spiritu paraclyto,
Et nunc et in perpetuum. Amen.

Christ, who art the light and day,
You drive away the darkness of night,
You are called the light of light,
For you proclaim the blessed light.

We beseech you, Holy Lord,
Protect us this night.
Let us take our rest in you;
Grant us a tranquil night.

Let our sleep be free from care;
Let not the enemy snatch us away,
Nor flesh conspire within him,
And make us guilty in your sight.

Though our eyes be filled with sleep,
Keep our hearts forever awake to you.
May your right hand protect
Your willing servants.

You who are our shield, behold;
Restrain those that lie in wait.
And guide your servants whom
You have ransomed with your blood.

Remember us, O Lord,
Who bear the burden of this mortal form;
You who are the defender of the soul,
Be near us, O Lord.

Glory be to God the Father,
And to his only Son,
With the Spirit, Comforter,
Both now and evermore. Amen.

Anthem: Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901): 'Abendlied'

Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, und der Tag hat sich geneiget

Bide with us, for evening shadows darken, and the day will soon be over.

Friday, July 18, 2014

"Psalms 91/121, Prayer of Severus, Praise of Cherubim"

These are some very nice chants posted by "Malankara Syriac Orthodox" at YouTube; this one is actually part of a 22-video playlist, which is well worth listening to all the way through.   The YouTuber writes that these are "Three prayers during the evening prayer."  You can hear the Kyrie at the opening - then the Compline Psalm 91 begins: 

Another YouTuber writes that this is "Sung by Fr. Aju Philip Mathews and Tenny Thomas. © Copyright 2012 Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church."

Here are the texts of the Compline Psalms and the Prayer of Severus, from the website of the Northeast American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church:
Psalm 91
You, that sit in the shelter of the Most High, and abide in glory, in the shadow of God.
Say to the Lord: 'My trust and my refuge; the God in whom I confide.'
For He shall deliver you from the snare of stumbling, and from idle talk.
He shall keep you under His feathers, and by His wings, you shall be covered; and His truth shall encompass you like an armor.
You shall not fear from the terror by night, and from the arrow that flies by the day:
And from the voice that travels in the darkness, and from the devastating wind in the noon.
Thousands shall fall at your side, and ten thousands at your right side. They shall not come near to you, but with your eyes you shall see only; You shall see the revenge of the wicked.
(Since you have said), 'Thou art the Lord, my trust, who hast placed Thy abode in the heights.'
There shall no evil come near to you; neither shall any plague draw near to your dwelling place.
For He shall give His angels command concerning you, who shall protect you in all your ways.
And they shall bear you up in their hands, lest your foot stumble.
You shall tread upon the adder and the basilisk; and you shall trample down the lion and the dragon.
(For the Lord has said): 'Since he has sought me, I will deliver him and strengthen him;'
'Since he has known my name he shall call upon me, and I will answer him, and be with him in affliction.' I will strengthen him and honor him. With long life, will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.

Psalm 121
I will lift up my eyes to the mountain, from whence comes my helper.
My help is from the Lord who has made the heaven and the earth.
He will not suffer your foot to tremble; Your keeper shall not slumber:
For neither slumbers, nor sleeps the keeper of Israel.
The Lord is your keeper. The Lord shall overshadow you with His right hand.
The sun shall not smite you by day; nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall take care of you from all evil; the Lord shall take care of your life.
He shall watch over your exit and your entrance, henceforth forever.
And to You belongs the praise O God. Barekmor.
Glory be to the Father...Halleluiah, Halleluiah, Halleluiah now and always and forever Amen.

Prayer of St. Severus
O Lord who sittest in the secret place of the Most High, shelter us beneath the shadow of the wings of Thy mercy, and have compassion upon us.
Thou, who hearest all things, in Thy loving kindness, hearken to the supplications of Thy servants.
Grant us, O Messiah; our Savior; a peaceful evening and a sinless night, for Thou art a glorious king, and unto Thee, are our eyes lifted up.
Forgive our debts and our sins; have mercy upon us, both in this world and in that to come.
May Thy loving kindness shelter us O Lord, and Thy grace be upon our faces. May Thy cross protect us from the evil one and his hosts.
Let Thy right hand overshadow us all the days of our lives, and Thy peace reign among us, do Thou give hope and salvation to the souls that pray to Thee.
By the prayers of St. Mary, Thy Mother, and of all Thy Saints, O God, forgive us our debts, and have mercy upon us. Amen.

Praise of the Cherubim
† Blessed is the Glory of the Lord, from His place forever;
† Blessed is the Glory of the Lord, from His place forever;
† Blessed is the Glory of the Lord; from His place forever and ever.
Holy and glorious Trinity, have mercy upon us;
Holy and glorious Trinity, have mercy upon us;
Holy and glorious Trinity, have compassion and mercy upon us.
Holy art Thou, and glorious forever,
Holy art Thou, and glorious forever,
Holy art Thou, and blessed is Thy Name forever and ever.
Glory be to Thee, O Lord,
Glory be to Thee, O Lord,
Glory be to Thee, ever our hope, Barekmor.

Our Father who art in Heaven ...

Hail Mary, full of grace ...

Barekmor is apparently Syriac for "Bless me, O Lord."

I've posted video from this YouTuber before; s/he points at the YouTube page to the GoogleSite syrianorthodox.

"Malankara" is a designation applied to the Indian Orthodox Church; the connection with the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch is explained in this article:
The Malankara Church is the church of the Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala, India, with particular emphasis on the part of the community that joined Archdeacon Mar Thoma in swearing to resist the authority of the Portuguese Padroado in 1653. This faction soon entered into a relationship with the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, and was thereafter often known as the Malankara Syrian Church[1] (Malayalam: Malankara Suriyani Sabha).

As part of the Saint Thomas Christian community, the church traced its origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century.[2] As an independent faction, it originated in the first major split within the Saint Thomas Christian community. Historically, the Thomas Christians had been united in leadership and liturgy, and were part of the Church of the East, based in Persia. However, the collapse of the Church of the East's hierarchy in Asia left the province of India effectively isolated, and through the 16th century, the Portuguese, recently established in Goa, forcefully drew the Thomas Christians into Latin Rite Catholicism. Resentment of these measures led the majority of the community to join the archdeacon, Thoma, in swearing never to submit to the Portuguese in the Coonan Cross Oath. Several months later Thoma was ordained as the first indigenous Metropolitan of Malankara.

I'm assuming that "Severus" is St. Severus of Antioch.

Beautiful chant.....


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