Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Gradual for the Feast of the Epiphany: Omnes de Saba ("All they of Saba")

This is the lovely Gradual for The Feast of the Epiphany. The text is from Isaiah 60:6:
Omnes de Saba venient
aurum et thus deferentes
et laudem Domino annuntiantes.

All they from Saba will come,
bringing gold and frankincense,
and announcing the praise of the Lord.

Here's Vianini's version, very nicely chanted:

Here, the Schola des Moines de Montserrat sing it:

Someone named Joseph von Eybler wrote a later polyphonic piece using this text, and the North Carolina Boys' Choir gives it a go here:

Not my thing, though; I prefer the di Lassus version:

But really, the plainchant (or maybe not-so-plain chant) is the best, I think; it's gorgeous. A little clip of an Anonymous 4 version - an antiphon - is on this page; I once heard Ruth Cunningham sing the gradual in the context of the Epiphany mass, and it was really stunning. Just her thing, anyway; she's so good at that "Eastern" feel, and this chant is trying for that already.

Wikipedia says this about Saba (Sheba):
Sheba (Arabic: سبأ, Sabaʼ, Hebrew: שבא, Sh'va, Ge'ez, Amharic, Tigrinya: ሳባ, Saba) was a kingdom mentioned in the Jewish scriptures (Old Testament) and the Qur'an. The actual location of the historical kingdom is disputed, with modern evidence tending toward Yemen in southern Arabia, but other scholars argue for a location in either present-day Eritrea or Ethiopia.

No Sheba or camels here, but there's a terrific El Greco of the Baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan:

The modern form of today's propers is exactly like the historical (1962 Missal/Tridentine) form; all of the chants have been retained.  These are the chant propers for this feast; the sound files were recorded at St. Benedict's Monastery in São Paulo (Brazil):
In Epiphania Domini
Introitus: Cf. Mal. 3, 1; I Chron. 29, 12; Ps. 71, 1.10.11 Ecce advenit (4m21.1s - 1786 kb) score
Graduale: Is. 6, 60. V. 1 Omnes de Saba venient (2m31.0s - 1033 kb) score
Alleluia: Cf. Mt. 2, 2 Vidimus stellam (2m17.2s - 939 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 71, 10.11 Reges Tharsis (1m59.0s - 814 kb) score
Communio: Cf. Mt. 2, 2 Vidimus stellam (39.6s - 272 kb) score

Other posts on Chantblog for the propers on this feast day are:
And here's a camel saddle, from southern Lybia.

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