Thursday, January 07, 2016

Tria sunt munera at Cologne Cathedral

The YouTube header says "Pontifical Mass for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time."  Scott brought this to my attention in a comment on my previous post, Epiphany Matins: Tria sunt munera ("Three are the gifts").   There's apparently a famous reliquary at Cologne said to contain the bones, along with other relics, of the three Magi, and Scott tells us that Tria sunt munera is chanted in procession by the girls' choir there on various important occasions (a Pontifical Mass would qualify) and whenever there's a procession.  (It may be done more frequently; will try to find out more about this.)

It's pretty wonderful, and a great example of how the Divine Office made its way into the life of the parish and cathedral churches.  The chant begins at about 1:20 on the video.




Follow along with the singers using the chant score, which comes from the wonderful McMaster University Sarum Chant site:



This again is the text in Latin, with an English translation, from Divinum Officium:
R. Tria sunt munera pretiosa, quae obtulerunt Magi Domino in die ista, et habent in se divina mysteria:
* In auro, ut ostendatur Regis potentia: in thure, Sacerdotem magnum considera: et in myrrha, Dominicam sepulturam.
V. Salutis nostrae auctorem Magi venerati sunt in cunjibulis, et de thesauris suis mysticas ei munerum species obtulerunt.
R. In auro, ut ostendatur Regis potentia: in thure, Sacerodtem magnum considera: et in myrrha, Dominicam sepulturam.


R. There are three precious gifts which the wise men offered unto the Lord on this day, and they speak a mystery of the things of God,
* Gold, to show His kingly power; frankincense, for our Great High Priest; and myrrh, against the Lord's burying.
V. The wise men worshipped the Captain of our Salvation, as He lay in the manger, and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him mystic gifts.
R. Gold, to show His kingly power; frankincense, for our Great High Priest; and myrrh, against the Lord's burying.
 

Read more about Cologne's "Shrine of the Three Kings" here.  Here's a short citation from that article, plus one of the images (credit: Welleschik) from that site:
The Shrine of the Three Kings (German Dreikönigsschrein) is a reliquary said to contain the bones of the Biblical Magi, also known as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men. The shrine is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral. It is considered the high point of Mosan art and the largest reliquary in the western world.
Legend recounts that the "relics of the Magi" were originally situated at Constantinople, but brought to Milan in an oxcart by Eustorgius I, the city's bishop, to whom they were entrusted by the Emperor Constantine in 314.[1] The relics of the Magi were taken from Milan by Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick Barbarossa and given to the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald of Dassel, eight centuries later, in 1164. The Three Kings have since attracted a constant stream of pilgrims to Cologne.
"In the days of Philipp of Heinsberg the shrine of the three magi was built. This was told to me by some eyewitnesses who were present when the three magi were put into the shrine." — Vita Eustorgii[2]
Parts of the shrine were designed by the famous medieval goldsmith Nicholas of Verdun, who began work on it in 1180 or 1181. It has elaborate gold sculptures of the prophets and apostles, and scenes from the life of Christ. The shrine was completed circa 1225.



Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Epiphany Matins: Tria sunt munera ("Three are the gifts")

Tria sunt munera ("Three are the gifts") is the 6th Responsory of Mattins of Epiphany in the Sarum Breviary; it is also sung as a Responsory at Vespers.   



This is the text in Latin, with an English translation, from Divinum Officium:
R. Tria sunt munera pretiosa, quae obtulerunt Magi Domino in die ista, et habent in se divina mysteria:
* In auro, ut ostendatur Regis potentia: in thure, Sacerdotem magnum considera: et in myrrha, Dominicam sepulturam.
V. Salutis nostrae auctorem Magi venerati sunt in cunjibulis, et de thesauris suis mysticas ei munerum species obtulerunt.
R. In auro, ut ostendatur Regis potentia: in thure, Sacerodtem magnum considera: et in myrrha, Dominicam sepulturam.


R. There are three precious gifts which the wise men offered unto the Lord on this day, and they speak a mystery of the things of God,
* Gold, to show His kingly power; frankincense, for our Great High Priest; and myrrh, against the Lord's burying.
V. The wise men worshipped the Captain of our Salvation, as He lay in the manger, and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him mystic gifts.
R. Gold, to show His kingly power; frankincense, for our Great High Priest; and myrrh, against the Lord's burying.
 

Here's the score, from the wonderful McMaster University Sarum Chant site:



As you can see from the Latin / English text above, I also found this Responsory used on Epiphany at Divinum Officium - but only in the early, "pre-Trident monastic" listing for Epiphany Mattins and not in any other version.  (It was not, seemingly, used at Vespers in the pre-Trident Breviary, either.)  The Responsory apparently disappeared after Trent, and it would be interesting to compare the various versions to see what happened at that point.  Perhaps some other emphasis became more important at the Feast of the Epiphany; I will see what I can find in that regard.

Here's a video of Juan Esquivel Barahona's (ca.1563 — after 1613) setting of a much shorter section of the text; it's only the first section of the first line, ending with the word "Domino."  The excellent singers are the Ensemble Corund.




I'm interested, too, in the idea of the three "mystic gifts" as symbols, an idea found explicitly stated in the Responsory:  "Gold, to show His kingly power; frankincense, for our Great High Priest; and myrrh, against the Lord's burying."  This, too, is obviously an old idea - one whose lineage I'd like to trace!  Will give a try, and will come back to edit this depending on what I find.

You find this idea expressed in the hymn "We Three Kings," of course, although less explicitly - and  I'd never really understood those words anyway.   Perhaps the song was too familiar - or perhaps nobody ever sang the "myrrh" verse!  Then a few years ago I heard Peter Warlock's Christmas carol, "Bethlehem Down," where it's much more explicit, and I was really struck by the thought.   Here's that one, sung by The Choir of Westminster Cathedral:



The text:

"When He is King we will give Him the King's gifts:
Myrrh for its sweetness, and gold for a crown,
Beautiful robes," said the young girl to Joseph,
Fair with her first-born on Bethlehem Down.

Bethlehem Down is full of the starlight,
Winds for the spices, and stars for the gold,
Mary for sleep, and for lullaby music,
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem fold.

When He is King, they will clothe Him in grave-sheets,
Myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown,
He that lies now in the white arms of Mary,
Sleeping so lightly on Bethlehem Down.

Here He has peace and a short while for dreaming,
Close-huddled oxen to keep him from cold,
Mary for love, and for lullaby music,
Songs of a shepherd by Bethlehem Down.


Here's something pretty interesting that I've never seen before.  It's labeled "Adoration of the Magi. Panel from a Roman sarcophagus, 4th century CE. From the cemetery of St. Agnes in Rome."  (Photo credit: Jastrow.)



Reminds me quite a lot of this later work, labeled 'Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy: The Three Wise Men" (named Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar). Detail from: "Mary and Child, surrounded by angels", mosaic of a Ravennate italian-byzantine workshop, completed within 526 AD by the so-called "Master of Sant'Apollinare".'  (Photo credit:  Nina-no.)


Blessed Feast of the Epiphany.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

A Lauds antiphon for the Vigil of the Epiphany: O Admirabile Commercium ("O Wondrous Exchange")

This is a recording of the single - in the Sarum breviary, anyway - Psalm antiphon at Lauds of the Vigil of Epiphany, which is today.  It's very beautiful, and sung here by the Schola Gregoriana Del Coro Paer:




The text, from CPDL, is this:
O admirabile commercium!
Creator generis humani,
animatum corpus sumens,
de Virgine nasci dignatus est:
et procedens homo sine semine,
largitus est nobis suam Deitatem.


O wondrous exchange:
the Creator of humankind,
taking upon him a living body,
vouchsafed to be born of a Virgin
and, without seed, becoming a man,
hath made us partakers of his Divinity.

Here's the chant score:



The Psalm sung on the recording is not the one for Lauds of the Vigil of Epiphany; it's instead the first Psalm at 2nd Vespers of the Circumcision: Psalm 110, Dixit Dominus.  That's because this antiphon is used on that day for that Psalm in the Roman Breviary.  In the Sarum, however, the Psalm prescribed to follow this antiphon is Psalm 93, Dominus Regnavit ("The Lord is King").

Many of the days of the Twelve Days of Christmas are also feasts in their own right:  December 26 is St. Stephen; December 27th is Holy Innocents; December 28th is St. John Evangelist, and so on.   As a result, there are numerous Octave days within the Twelve Days as well - and sometimes the Octave Days are feasts in their own right, too!  For example. Circumcision (also called Holy Name) is the Octave of Christmas - a big day.  (Octave days are the days eight days after a major feast, counting inclusively the first and last days, and bring that feast's eight-day "season" or celebration to a close.)

So there are numerous overlaps and recapitulations going on in the Breviary; chants are often repeated on the octave days of their feasts, and there are many intertwining themes happening in this period.   The Vigil of Epiphany seems to be celebrated as kind of a mini-octave of Circumcision in the Sarum Breviary.  For instance, the first three Matins Responsories on Circumcision are repeated at the Vigil of Epiphany, but at the tail end of Matins (in, more or less, the last three spots).

And this antiphon, and its Psalm, are sung exactly in the same way at Lauds of Circumcision.

This is very interesting to me, and at some point I'll have to go through the Breviary to see exactly where the duplications occur - there are many! - and see what patterns may exist.

Meantime, here is Thomas Stolzer's (c.1480–1526) gorgeous setting of the chant text; I'd never heard it before today.   It's sung expertly and beautifully by the choir of Christ Church, New Haven CT.




Epiphany tomorrow!  Here's Full Homely Divinity's Epiphany page, which you really should not miss:  20 + C + M + B + 16.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Seventh Day of Christmas: "King Jesus Hath a Garden"

This is one of my favorite carols of all.   It makes it into the Christmas pantheon on account of the Bethlehem reference - and the joyous, celebratory melody and text - but it's more than a simple Christmas carol, too.  It was originally a Dutch traditional carol, Heer Jesus heeft een Hofken.




English words from this page:
1. King Jesus hath a garden, full of divers flowers,
Where I go culling posies gay, all times and hours.
Refrain:
There naught is heard but Paradise bird,
Harp, dulcimer, lute,
With cymbal, trump and tymbal,
And the tender, soothing flute.
2. The Lily, white in blossom there, is Chastity:
The Violet, with sweet perfume, [Humility]. Refrain

3. The bonny Damask-rose is known as Patience:
The blithe and thrifty Marygold, Obedience. Refrain

4. The Crown Imperial bloometh too in yonder place,
'Tis Charity, of stock divine, the flower of grace. Refrain

5. Yet, 'mid the brave, the bravest prize of all may claim
The Star of Bethlem-Jesus-bless'd be his Name! Refrain

6. Ah! Jesu Lord, my heal and weal, my bliss complete,
Make thou my heart thy garden-plot, fair, trim and neat. Refrain

The notes on that same page about the carol say this:
Traditional Dutch from Geestlijcke Harmonie, Emmerich, 1633
Translation by Rev. George R. Woodward (1848-1934)
Source: George Radcliffe Woodward, ed., Songs of Syon (London: Schott & Co., Third Edition, 1908), # 430

Quite nice for such a lovely, colorful hymn to speak about virtues (or "Fruits of the Spirit"), and in such a beautiful way.

Posting this for pure enjoyment for the time being, but I'm going to see if I can find out more about the text at some point, too.....

Friday, December 25, 2015

Chistmas Day Matins: Sancta et immaculata virginitas ("Holy and spotless Virgin")

Sancta et immaculata virginitas is the sixth responsory of Christmas Matins, but as CPDL notes, it is "frequently used for Marian feasts as well."  It's sung here by Ensemble Officium:



Here's the text in Latin and English, from Divinum Officium:

R. Sancta et immaculata virginitas, quibus te laudibus efferam nescio:
* Quia quem coeli capere non poterant, tuo gremio contulisti.
V. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui.
R. Quia quem coeli capere non poterant, tuo gremio contulisti.

V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Quia quem coeli capere non poterant, tuo gremio contulisti.
R. O Mary, how holy and how spotless is thy virginity! I am too dull to praise thee!
* For thou hast borne in thy breast Him Whom the heavens cannot contain.
V. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
R. For thou hast borne in thy breast Him Whom the heavens cannot contain.

V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. For thou hast borne in thy breast Him Whom the heavens cannot contain.

See it here, too, in the Bute translation-Winter edition of the Roman Breviary (1908).

And sure enough, you find the same text as the Responsory after the first reading of "Matins of the Virgin," at medirvalist.net's Hypertext Book of Hours.

Here's the chant score, from the Liber Usualis 1961:



This Responsory contains one of those rare extra-Biblical citations; I'm trying to find the origin of the notion that "The highest heavens cannot contain God whom you carried in your womb"; that is an old idea.  But I haven't been able to pin down the coiner of that phrase so far; will return to edit this when I do.  It's a quite beautiful thought, and one of the reasons I wanted to post on this chant today. 

[EDIT
:  This cite may belong to Augustine, who said in Sermon 184, on the Nativity:  “He who sustains the world lay in a manger, a wordless Child, yet the Word of God. Him whom the heavens do not contain the bosom of one woman bore.  She ruled our King; she carried Him in whom we exist; she fed our Bread.” And in fact, it's not totally extra-biblical anyway;  Auggie was clearly riffing on 1 Kings 8:27 (or its clone, 2 Chronicles 6:18):  "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you...." ]

Several other composers have set this text; here's Gabrieli's:




A blessed Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December 16: O Sapientia ("O Wisdom")

O Sapientia is the Antiphon upon Magnificat on December 16 (in the English Church; it's December 17 elsewhere), and the first of the eight Great "O" Antiphons sung during the week before Christmas. These antiphons are sung before and after the Magnificat at Evensong.

The antiphon is sung here in English by the Salisbury Cathedral Choir; a reading from Isaiah 9 follows:



The text for this antiphon comes from Sirach 24:
O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.
Here's a version in Latin, sung I believe by the Blackfriars:



December 16 is explicitly designated "O Sapientia" in the Church Calendar of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The texts for the Great "O"s come mostly from the Prophets and from the Wisdom literature, and become mystical  proclamations, made daily during those eight days, of the coming of Christ.  The antiphons themselves are over a thousand years old.

This is an "O Antiphon" page from the Poissy Antiphonal (1335-45); it's got "O Sapientia," "O Adonai," and "O Radix Jesse" - the first three "O"s:




Sing the Magnificat, too, if you wish; here's the Latin version:




The text of the Magnificat comes from Luke 1;  here are the words to the original Latin and the modern English (US BCP 1979) versions of this beautiful canticle, so that you can sing along if you wish.

Magnificat: anima mea Dominum.
Et exultavit spiritus meus: in Deo salutari meo.
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae:
ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est:
et sanctum nomen eius.
Et misericordia eius, a progenie et progenies:
timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo:
dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede:
et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis:
et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum:
recordatus misericordiae suae.
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros:
Abraham, et semini eius in saecula.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.


My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him *
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, *
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

This article, written in around 1914 by A.C.A. Hall, the Episcopal Bishop of Vermont, contains quite a bit more about the Great "O"s.

Here are links on this blog to posts on all the Great Os.  If you'd like to pray the whole office of Vespers, you can do it at St. Bede's Breviary; choose "Amplified Prayer Book" under "Style" to get the "O's".

Here, in addition, is a good longish article about these antiphons, and some other related ones - and this article contains a bit more historical information about the Great "O"s. 

A blessed Sapientia-tide.

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