Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas Office

From Hymn melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service-books:
On Christmas Day:
1st Evensong: Veni, Redemptor gentium ... ... ... 25
Matins: Christe, Redemptor omnium, De ... ... 26
Lauds & 2nd Evensong: A solis ortus cardine ... ... ... 27

If you'd like to follow along with the entire office - Psalms, antiphons, Chapter readings, hymns, and responses - for Christmas, you can do it here, at Breviary Offices, from Lauds to Compline Inclusive (Society of St. Margaret, Boston, 1885).  I'll link-in via iFrame at the bottom of the page, too.


Here's the score to Hymn 25, listed as the song for First Evensong of the Feast of the Nativity, Veni, Redemptor Gentium:





LLPB offers this mp3 for Veni, Redemptor Gentium, which it calls "The first hymn for the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord." The translation from Oremus is by J.M. Neale:
Come, thou Redeemer of the earth,
and manifest thy virgin birth:
let every age adoring fall;
such birth befits the God of all.

Begotten of no human will,
but of the Spirit, thou art still
the Word of God in flesh arrayed,
the promised fruit to man displayed.

The virgin womb that burden gained
with virgin honor all unstained;
the banners there of virtue glow;
God in his temple dwells below.

Forth from his chamber goeth he,
that royal home of purity,
a giant in twofold substance one,
rejoicing now his course to run.

From God the Father he proceeds,
to God the Father back he speeds;
his course he runs to death and hell,
returning on God's throne to dwell.

O equal to thy Father, thou!
Gird on thy fleshly mantle now;
the weakness of our mortal state
with deathless might invigorate.

Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
and darkness breathe a newer light,
where endless faith shall shine serene,
and twilight never intervene.

All laud to God the Father be,
all praise, eternal Son, to thee;
all glory, as is ever meet,
to God the Holy Paraclete.


TPL says this about Veni, Redemptor Gentium:
Veni, redemptor gentium was composed by St. Ambrose of Milan (340-397). The current form of the hymn actually begins with Ambrose' second stanza. The original opening verse was "Intende, qui regis Israel".

The evidence in favor of St. Ambrose' authorship is, in part, due to a passing mention of it by St. Augustine. St. Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose and was a good friend of his. St. Augustine both specifically mentions and quotes three of St. Ambrose' canonical hymns: "Aeterne rerum Conditor", "Deus Creator omnium", and "Iam surgit hora tertia". St. Augustine then goes on to mention "Veni, redemptor gentium" indirectly. Instead of giving the full title, he only gives a brief quote from the middle of the hymn, which matches that of the Veni, redemptor gentium. The hymn is also mentioned by other authors of the period as being by St. Ambrose. Pope Celestine mentions it in a sermon against the Nestorians, which he preached before a synod at Rome in 430. The Pope attributes it to St. Ambrose. Likewise Bishop Faustus of Riez (A. D. 455) and Cassiodorus (died 575) also quote it and attribute it to St. Ambrose.

The hymn is not used in the Breviarium Romanum, but does appear in the Liturgia Horarum. It is used as the Advent hymn for the Office of the Readings for the octave before Christmas.



Here's the score to Hymn 26, listed here as the tune for the Matins hymn, Christe, Redemptor omnium, De:





LLPB provides an mp3 that matches this tune; it's called "Jesus, the Father's Only Son," and is listed as a "Hymn for the first Vespers of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord." Here are the words used here (Words: Latin, sixth century; trans. John Mason Neale):
Jesus, the Father's only Son,
whose death for all redemption won;
before the worlds, of God most high
begotten all ineffably.

The Father's light and splendor thou,
their endless hope to thee that bow;
accept the prayers and praise today
that through the world thy servants pay.

Salvation's author, call to mind
how, taking form of humankind,
born of a Virgin undefiled,
thou in a man's flesh becam'st a child.

Thus testifies the present day,
through every year in long array,
that thou, salvation's source alone,
proceedest from the Father's throne.

Whence sky, and stars, and sea's abyss,
and earth, and all that therein is,
shall still, with laud and carol meet,
the Author of thine advent greet.

And we who, by thy precious blood
from sin redeemed, are marked for God,
on this the day that saw thy birth,
sing the new song of ransomed earth:

for that thine advent glory be,
O Jesus, Virgin-born, to thee;
with Father, and with Holy Ghost,
from men and from the heavenly host.


Here's the score to Hymn 27, listed above as the hymn Lauds & 2nd Evensong: A solis ortus cardine:





LLPB has this one, too, and calls it "From East to West, from shore to shore" (mp3). Here are the words, from Oremus Hymnal (Words: Caelius Sedulius (fifth century); trans. John Ellerton, 1889):
From east to west, from shore to shore,
let every heart awake and sing
the holy child whom Mary bore,
the Christ, the everlasting King.

Behold, the world's Creator wears
the form and fashion of a slave;
our very flesh our Maker shares,
his fallen creature, man, to save.

For this how wondrously he wrought!
A maiden, in her lowly place,
became, in ways beyond all thought,
the chosen vessel of his grace.

She bowed her to the angel's word
declaring what the Father willed,
and suddenly the promised Lord
that pure and hallowed temple filled.

He shrank not from the oxen's stall,
he lay within the manger-bed,
and he, whose bounty feedeth all,
at Mary's breast himself was fed.

And while the angels in the sky
sang praise above the silent field,
to shepherds poor the Lord Most High,

the one great Shepherd, was revealed.

All glory for this blessed morn
to God the Father ever be;
all praise to thee, O Virgin-born,
all praise, O Holy Ghost, to thee.


Here's a very pretty Latin version of A solis ortus cardine, sung to melody #27:





LLPB also offers this "versicle for the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord" (mp3) The text is from the Prologue of John, and is for Christmas Day.

Here's that peek-in to the SSM Breviary:





Hodie Christus Natus Est - "Today Christ Is Born" - is the antiphon upon Magnificat at Vespers of Christmas Day. Here it is, sung by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey at Ganagobie.



Hodie Christus natus est:
Hodie Salvator apparuit:
Hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
laetantur Archangeli
Hodie exsultant justi, dicentes:
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Alleluia.

Today Christ is born:
Today the Savior appeared:
Today on Earth the Angels sing,
Archangels rejoice:
Today the righteous rejoice, saying:
Glory to God in the highest.
Alleluia.


Here's the chant score from the Liber Usualis:



And here's an mp3, from the Brazilian Benedictines.

There are also lots of  composed settings of Hodie Christus Natus Est to listen to at YouTube.

Here's one from Argentina, a Heinrich Schütz version:



Here's a Poulenc:



My favorite, though, is still Benjamin Britten's setting, from A Ceremony of Carols, sung here by the Westminster Cathedral choir.   It's based on the Gregorian tune; there are two other songs on this video, as well:



A blessed Christmas to all. O Magnum Mysterium.



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