Saturday, March 28, 2009
This Psalter is apparently very famous for its depictions of "ordinary life" in medieval England - and some of the illustrations are indeed pretty great. You can zoom in and out of many of these images, too, and see them very close, if you like.
Here are a couple of examples of the illustrations, from Wikimedia Commons:
What a great thing; I'm sure there are other manuscripts at this site worth exploring. Go to this page, for instance, and you'll see a link to the Sherborne Missal, which looks to be interesting; it's a Flash movie, and you can hold a little Flash magnifying glass over the pages to see them closer. Gotta love it! And the Lindisfarne Gospels can be found here.
There's also an entire website devoted to the Luttrell Psalter, as well as a "Luttrell family" genealogy site with a Psalter section.
Busy, busy, busy!
In the middle of Lent, this season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, this season of self-examination, repentance, and renewal, this season of exile in the wilderness and hope for the restoration of Jerusalem--in this season of all seasons, the angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary, and to us. The angel tells us not to be afraid, because we are afraid: afraid of the vision and afraid of its implications. The angel tells us of a great hope that is about to be fulfilled, but at considerable cost: a modest virgin's honor will be besmirched, individual lives will be altered in unexpected and possibly unwanted ways, earthly kingdoms will be overthrown, and things that are impossible will be done by the God for whom nothing is impossible, even the remaking of the world and the crushing of the serpent who started our troubles so long ago.
Unquestionably, this is a day that is rich in meaning. And yet, remarkably, there are few specific customs associated with it. In England alone there are more than two thousand churches dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. England itself was known as "Mary's Dowry" in the Middle Ages and there were major shrines with annual pilgrimages honoring her at Glastonbury and Walsingham, to name only two of the most important. But on this day, the day known as "Lady Day," the only widely practiced customs were the payment of rents and other legal obligations because March 25th was designated as one of the quarter days when obligations of this sort always fell due. As mentioned before, it was also the day when the year turned, but that would have been a matter of concern only for clerks and lawyers and historians who kept track of such things of necessity.
This should not prevent us from keeping the day with due festivity. It is, after all, the beginning of all that is important to us spiritually. The poet T.S. Eliot wrote, "In my beginning is my end." (Four Quartets: East Coker) He did not invent the phrase but his reflection on the phrase might be an appropriate way to spend part of the day. It should certainly be a day to suspend the severity of Lent, both with festal services in church and feasting at home. Hymns and prayers from Mary's great August festival may properly be incorporated into today's festivities. Her own hymn of praise, the Magnificat, will be sung as usual at Evensong. It could also be sung as an anthem at the Eucharist and, where resources allow, special settings should certainly be used.
The article also includes a link to this John Donne poem, "written to commemorate the concurrence of Good Friday and Lady Day in 1608":
Upon the Annunciation and
Passion Falling upon One Day.
Tamely, frail body, abstain today; today
My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.
She sees Him man, so like God made in this,
That of them both a circle emblem is,
Whose first and last concur; this doubtful day
Of feast or fast, Christ came and went away;
She sees Him nothing twice at once, who’s all;
She sees a Cedar plant itself and fall,
Her Maker put to making, and the head
Of life at once not yet alive yet dead;
She sees at once the virgin mother stay
Reclused at home, public at Golgotha;
Sad and rejoiced she’s seen at once, and seen
At almost fifty and at scarce fifteen;
At once a Son is promised her, and gone;
Gabriel gives Christ to her, He her to John;
Not fully a mother, she’s in orbity,
At once receiver and the legacy;
All this, and all between, this day hath shown,
The abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one
(As in plain maps, the furthest west is east)
Of the Angels’ Ave and Consummatum est.
How well the Church, God’s court of faculties,
Deals in some times and seldom joining these!
As by the self-fixed Pole we never do
Direct our course, but the next star thereto,
Which shows where the other is and which we say
(Because it strays not far) doth never stray,
So God by His Church, nearest to Him, we know
And stand firm, if we by her motion go;
His Spirit, as His fiery pillar doth
Lead, and His Church, as cloud, to one end both.
This Church, by letting these days join, hath shown
Death and conception in mankind is one:
Or ‘twas in Him the same humility
That He would be a man and leave to be:
Or as creation He had made, as God,
With the last judgment but one period,
His imitating Spouse would join in one
Manhood’s extremes: He shall come, He is gone:
Or as though the least of His pains, deeds, or words,
Would busy a life, she all this day affords;
This treasure then, in gross, my soul uplay,
And in my life retail it every day.
– John Donne
The page includes this note:
In 2005, Good Friday fell on March 25th, which is ordinarily the Feast of the Annunciation. This symbolically rich concurrence is relatively rare, occurring only three times in the 20th century (1910, 1921, and 1932), and twice in the 21st century (2005 and 2016). After 2016, it will not occur again for more than a century.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Vatican newspaper highlights work of scholarly singing nun
March 25, 2009
The March 25 edition of L’Osservatore Romano includes an interview with Sister Marie Keyrouz, founder and president of the International Institute of Sacred Chant in Paris. Sister Keyrouz, who was raised a Maronite Catholic, is a member of the Congregation of the Basilian Couetires, a Melkite Greek Catholic religious order. She performs Gregorian, Byzantine, and other Eastern rite chants and received her doctorate in religious musicology and anthropology from Sorbonne University in Paris.
Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.
Audi filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam: quia concupivit Rex speciem tuam. Vultum tuum deprecabuntur omnes divites plebis: filiae regum in honore tuo. Adducentur Regi virgines post eam: proximae ejus afferentur tibi. Afferentur in laetitia, et exsultatione: adducentur in templum Regis.
Hearken, O daughter, and behold, and incline your ear: for the king desires your beauty. All the rich among the people will implore your countenance: your maids of honor are the daughters of kings. Virgins will be brought to the king in her retinue; her companions will be taken to you. They will be brought with gladness and rejoicing: they shall be brought into the temple of the king.
This is from Psalm 45. Here's the mp3, along with all the other chant propers from this mass from the Benedictines of Brazil. I'll try to find a sound file that's a little clearer than this one (although the flavor of it is there) and post it, if I do.
EDIT: I did just find this mp3 at my new resource, JoguesChant.org, listed there as the "Chant after 1st Reading" for the August 15 Feast of the Assumption. Definitely the same words, but not the same tune. Very, very beautiful, though.
Here's the chant score for the Annunciation tract:
Here's the mp3 of the Introit, Rorate cæli desuper (also sung as the Introit at Advent 4); here's the chant score:
Here's another version of Rorate cæli desuper sung at Advent (i.e., "The Advent Prose"); here's Giovanni Vianini's version of that one:
The Annunciation Office is here.
Here's the "Gallery of Annunciation in Art" from Wikipedia, from which comes this lovely image - "tempera on wood" from Simone Martini (14th Century):
Sunday, March 22, 2009
10 “ Rejoice with Jerusalem,
And be glad with her, all you who love her;
Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;
11 That you may feed and be satisfied
With the consolation of her bosom,
That you may drink deeply and be delighted
With the abundance of her glory.”
1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the LORD.”
2 Our feet have been standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem!
3 Jerusalem is built
As a city that is compact together,
4 Where the tribes go up,
The tribes of the LORD,
To the Testimony of Israel,
To give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5 For thrones are set there for judgment,
The thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
7 Peace be within your walls,
Prosperity within your palaces.”
8 For the sake of my brethren and companions,
I will now say, “Peace be within you.”
9 Because of the house of the LORD our God
I will seek your good.
It is a "lighter" mood in the middle of Lent, and today in some parishes rose vestments, not purple ones, are used.
I've found two recordings of the introit. The first is an mp3 from the Benedictines of Brazil, who also offer the chant score in square notes:
The second is from JoguesChant.org, a new resource on the web, and a nice one. The mp3 is here, and is hosted at musicasacra.org; not sure what the connection is. They also offer a nice PDF of the chant score. The mp3s are much clearer on this site, and they offer all the chant propers for each Sunday, it looks like, just as the Benedictines do. Very nice.
St. Clement's Philadelphia has a photos page where you can see an example of the rose vestements; click the images labeled "Altar."
I wanted to write more about today's Lætare theme; what was its origin, for instance, and did it come from the readings out of one of the historical lectionaries? Well, I will do that at some point, but first wanted to link to something I found while searching: a site called Historic Lectionary: Preaching, insights and notes on the traditional one-year lectionary of the Western Church. It does look interesting, and it's something I've had a curiosity about for awhile now, while trying to understand how the chant propers came to be what they are.
So there are two interesting new resources. Will write more about Lætare later, if I can.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
All of Mozart's Missa Solemnis in C, for Corpus Christi is there, too, along with Elgar's Ave Verum and O Salutaris Hostia, a lovely piece I've never heard before.
You can subscribe to the podcast on that page, too.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
A sample is below; there are 7 images in total.
Monday, March 09, 2009
It may be the case that the choir sings The Lent Prose at all Evensongs during Lent - or it may be only on Sunday, I can't quite remember. In any case Evensong is always worth listening to, so nothing's lost if you tune in to find out.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
For each day of Lent, and also for the Sundays which technically are not "of" Lent but "in" Lent and do not count in the forty days of Lent, we provide an idea for reflection and/or action--hopefully with one leading to the other. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, self-examination and repentance, and reading and meditating on God's Word, provide the general structure of a Lenten rule and we have set aside particular days of the week to ensure that all of these are addressed regularly throughout Lent. Wednesdays will be days of fasting and freedom. On Thursdays, we will look to the examples of the saints. Fridays are the days of darkness, anticipating the darkness of Good Friday. Saturday is the Sabbath, a day for quiet contemplation and prayer. Sundays are never days of fasting, so Lenten foods will be our theme. On Mondays, almsgiving will be our focus. And the Tuesday theme will be reconciliation.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
The Sunday which heads the Lenten season takes its theme from the paradigm of all Christian fasting: Jesus’ forty-day fast in the desert and his temptation by the devil there. In tempting Jesus to show his divinity by casting himself down from the parapet of the temple, the devil quoted Psalm 90, “He hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone.” This quotation is such a powerful memory of the event of the temptation that the psalm is the source of all the Propers of the Mass for this Sunday. Rarely are Mass Propers so unified; moreover, the place of this psalm is even more emphasized by the fact that the tract for the day comprises most of the verses of the psalm.
The tract is direct psalmody—the singing of successive verses of a psalm without refrain, and it is sung in alternation by two halves of the choir. By replacing the alleluia sung in the normal seasons, it represents a kind of fasting from the wordless jubilation of the alleluia. While the tract normally comprises three to five verses of a psalm, the tract for this day has thirteen verses. Only two other days have these long tracts: Palm Sunday and Good Friday. On these days, the Passions are sung, and the tract serves as a long preparation for these extended Gospels. Today, however, the long tract simply stands by itself, and its function could be seen as an intense entry into the Lenten Season, a turning to God as refuge and protector. Throughout the Lenten season, the tracts can be the point of recollection in the liturgy and a meditative preparation for the hearing of the Gospel.
Here's the sung proper, from ReneGoupil, with the full score below (and it's a whopper!):
Lent - First Sunday: Tract from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.
And here's an mp3 of the tract (along with all the other chant propers for Lent 1), from the Benedictines of Brazil; as you will see, the mp3 provides only about the first third of what's in that score.
Here, BTW, is an English translation of the tract above; it comes from another document at MusicaSacra, "The Propers of the Mass" (a PDF file, see p. 55 - and thanks to "Anhaga," a poster on this thread at MusicaSacra) - published by the Gregorian Institute of Guam!:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High shall abide in the protection of the God of heaven. Vs. He shall say to the Lord, "You are my support and my refuge; my God, in You I trust." For he has rescued me from the snare of the hunter and from the blade of the sword. With his shoulders He will cover you, and under his wings you shall find refuge. His truth shall surround you with a shield ; you shall not fear the terror of the night. Nor the arrow put in flight by day; nor the plague that roams in darkness, neither invasion nor the noonday evil. Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, it shall not come near you. For he has given his angels charge over you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the asp and the basilisk, and you shall trample under foot the lion and the dragon. Because he has hoped in me, I will deliver him, because he has confessed my name. He shall call upon me, and I will hear him; I will be with him in distress. I will deliver him and glorify him; I will satisfy him with length of days and show him my salvation.
That is Psalm 91 for Episcopalians, and a Compline Psalm. EDIT: A friend adds an interesting note:
[The English translation above is] the Vulgate and therefore a translation of the LXX rather than the Hebrew. Thus what is translated above as "noonday evil" is actual "the noonday demon"--which takes on quite specific notion when placed in connection with the Matthew 4 temptation of Jesus by Satan as the Gospel!
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Daily Reading for March 4 • David, Bishop of Menevia, Wales, c. 544 (transferred from March 1)
Pilgrim, faint and tempest-beaten,
Lift thy gaze, behold and know
Christ the Lamb, our Mediator,
Robed in vestments trailing low;
Faithfulness his golden girdle;
Bells upon his garments ring
Free salvation for the sinner
Through his priceless offering.
Think on this when to your ankles
Scarce the healing waters rise—
Numberless shall be the cubits
Measured to you in the skies.
Children of the resurrection,
They alone can venture here;
Yet they find no shore, no bottom
To Bethesda’s waters clear.
O the deeps of our salvation!
Mystery of godliness!
He, the God of gods, appearing
In our fleshly human dress;
He it is who bore God’s anger,
In our place atonement made,
Until Justice cried ‘Release him,
Now the debt if fully paid’.
Blessed hour of rest eternal,
Home at last, all labours o’er;
Sea of wonders never sounded,
Sea where none can find a shore;
Access free to dwell for ever
Yonder with the One in Three;
Deeps no foot of man can traverse—
God and Man in unity.
A hymn by Ann Griffiths, eighteenth-century Welsh Methodist mystic and poet, quoted in Songs to Her God: Spirituality of Ann Griffiths by A. M. Allchin (Cowley Publications, 1987).
I don't know the tune - or if even there is a tune - that goes with this hymn. You can't go wrong if you sing the hymns for Bishops and Pastors, though.