Saturday, February 05, 2011

The Introit for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany: Venite Adoremus ("Come, let us worship God")

The Introit for this Sunday, February 6 is based on the very famous text also used at Morning Prayer:  the  Venite, from Psalm 95.   Here's an mp3 of the introit (which uses verses 6-7), from that wonderful singer at JoguesChant.  JoguesChant gives us this translation:
Come, let us worship God and bow down before the Lord; let us shed tears before the Lord who made us, for he is the Lord our God. Come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise unto God our Saviour.

Here's the chant score, from the Brazilian Benedictines:


The singer's pseudonymn (I think) is "Mocquereau" - obviously a reference to Dom Andre Mocquereau, a monk of the 0.S.B., who lived at Solesmes in the latter part of the 19th Century and first part of the 20th. Here's a paper written by the original Mocquereau, posted at MusicaSacra; it's a translation of his "The Art of Gregorian Music." A footnote at MS says that it was "originally published by the Catholic Education Press with a view to making available in the English language scholarly and scientific works on Gregorian Chant which have hitherto been available to French readers only."

According to Wikipedia, the Psalm 95 is used in several ways in Jewish and Christian prayers:

In Judaism:
  • It is the opening paragraph of Kabbalat Shabbat.
  • It is recited on Shabbat Hagadol.
  • The first three verses are part of the psalm of the day for the Shir Shel Yom on Wednesday. This is the only day of the week in which the song of the day is composed on verses from multiple psalms. These verses are recited by most congregations because of their inspiring message.
In Christianity:

In the Latin Psalters used by the Roman liturgy it forms the invitatory which is sung daily before matins. It may be sung as a canticle in the Anglican liturgy of Morning Prayer, when it is referred to by its incipit as the Venite or Venite, exultemus Domino (also A Song of Triumph).

Shockingly, I cannot find an embeddable video of an Anglican Chant Venite anywhere on the web!  It's almost unbelievable, really. I did find this one solitary video, from St. John's in Detroit - but you'll have to go there to listen.

And I can't find any polyphony based on this text, either; naturally there are a lot reference to Christmasy songs (Venite Adoremus, anyone?) all over the place, though. And it looks like several composers did write music using Psalm 95 - with only Johann Kaspar Aiblinger using the particular text in question - but nobody's put any of these up on the web.

However, I did find this:  Madre, pietosa vergine, a song from Verdi's La Forza del destino, which includes a small portion of the Venite, sung by the Coro di Frati (the chorus of brothers, I guess: monks) in the background! Worth posting, I thought; it's Callas! And opera doesn't make its way into chant propers posts nearly often enough for my tastes - so here it is:



The words:
Madre, pietosa Vergine,
perdona al mio peccato.
Maita quellingrato
dal core a cancellar.
In queste solitudini
espierò lerrore.
Pietà di me, Signore,
Deh! non mabbandonar!
(Lorgano accompagna il canto mattutino dei frati.)
Ah! que sublimi cantici...
(Si leva.)
Dellorgano i concenti,
che come incenso ascendono
a Dio sui firmamenti,
inspirano a questalma fede,
conforto e calma!
CORO DI FRATI (intorno)
Venite, adoremus et procedamus ante Deum,
Ploremus, ploremus coram Domino, coram
Domino qui fecit nos.
LEONORA (savvia)
Al santo asil accorrasi.
E loserò a questora?
Alcun potria sorprendermi!
Oh, misera Leonora, tremi?
Il pio frate, accoglierti, no, non ricuserà.
Non mi lasciar, soccorrimi, pietà, Signor pietà,
Deh! non mabbandonar! ecc.
I FRATI
Ploremus, ploremus coram Domino qui fecit nos.

Unfortunately, I can't find an English translation of this aria online, but it's clear that Callas is pleading with the Virgin Mother for compassion and forgiveness. Will post the English if I find it.

There are some great readings this week, including this wonderful passage from Isaiah:
Isaiah 58:1-9a, (9b-12)

Thus says the high and lofty one
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people their rebellion,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
"Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?"
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

[If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.]

And this famous text, too:
1 Corinthians 2:1-12, (13-16)

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him" --

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. [And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny.

"For who has known the mind of the Lord
so as to instruct him?"

But we have the mind of Christ.]

The Collect for this Sunday is this one:
Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Hatchett's Commentary
says this:
This new collect was drafted by the Rev. Dr. Massey H. Shepherd, Jr. Scriptural allusions include Gal. 4:3-5; Rom. 8:15 and 8:19-21; Jn. 10:10; and Lk. 4:16-21.

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