Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Introit for the Fourth Sunday in Lent: Laetare Jerusalem ("Rejoice, O Jerusalem")

Here's a gorgeous video of this Introit, sung (with drone) by Discantus; the Gregorian chant score is just below it:




Here's JogueChant's mp3 version, along with their translation:
Rejoice, O Jerusalem; and gather round, all you who love her; rejoice in gladness, after having been in sorrow; exult and be replenished with the consolation flowing from her motherly bosom. I rejoiced when it was said unto me: "Let us go to the house of the Lord."

The texts come from Isaiah 66:10-11 and Psalm 122:1:
10 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice greatly with her,
all you who mourn over her.
11 For you will nurse and be satisfied
at her comforting breasts;
you will drink deeply
and delight in her overflowing abundance.”

1 I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”

This Sunday is called "Laetare," in fact, because of the incipit of this Introit. New Advent has this to say about that (I put in the paragraphs):
The fourth, or middle, Sunday of Lent, so called from the first words of the Introit at Mass, "Laetare Jerusalem" — "Rejoice, O Jerusalem". During the first six or seven centuries the season of Lent commenced on the Sunday following Quinquagesima, and thus comprised only thirty-six fasting days. To these were afterwards added the four days preceding the first Sunday, in order to make up the forty days' fast, and one of the earliest liturgical notices of these extra days occurs in the special Gospels assigned to them in a Toulon manuscript of 714.

Strictly speaking, the Thursday before Laetare Sunday is the middle day of Lent, and it was at one time observed as such, but afterwards the special signs of joy permitted on this day, intended to encourage the faithful in their course through the season of penance, were transferred to the Sunday following. They consist of (like those of Gaudete Sunday in Advent) in the use of flowers on the altar, and of the organ at Mass and Vespers; rose-coloured vestments also allowed instead of purple, and the deacon and subdeacon wear dalmatics, instead of folded chasubles as on the other Sundays of Lent.

The contrast between Laetare and the other Sundays is thus emphasized, and is emblematical of the joys of this life, restrained rejoicing mingled with a certain amount of sadness. The station at Rome was on this day made at the church of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, one of the seven chief basilicas; the Golden Rose, sent by the popes to Catholic sovereigns, used to be blessed at this time, and for this reason the day was sometimes called "Dominicade Rosa".

Other names applied to it were Refreshment Sunday, or the Sunday of the Five Loaves, from a miracle recorded in the Gospel; Mid-Lent, mi-carême, or mediana; and Mothering Sunday, in allusion to the Epistle, which indicates our right to be called the sons of God as the source of all our joy, and also because formerly the faithful used to make their offerings in the cathedral or mother-church on this day. This latter name is still kept up in some remote parts of England, though the reason for it has ceased to exist.

The day has been called "Laetare" for a long time, although I haven't actually been able to determine exactly how long.

Here's a version of the Introit in English:



There exists an icon representing Laetare Sunday - and it is a depiction of the miracle of the Five Loaves, as mentioned above:


And the Collect for today is a perfect fit with that Gospel story:
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Here's Hatchett on that one:
The Gregorian collect (no. 256) which had been appointed for this Sunday beseeches relief from deserved punishment. It is replaced by a revised version of a collect written by F.B. McNutt. The new collect is more appropriate for this Sunday, for it echoes the lections and reinforces the traditional custom of this days as "mothering Sunday" or Refreshment Sunday. When Lent began, as it originally did, on the Monday after the first Sunday in Lent (rather than on Ash Wednesday), this day marked the half-way point in the season and was observed with feasting. In some places it was customary on this day to visit the mother church of the diocese and make offerings there. In others servants and apprentices often visited their parents on this Sunday, carrying with them a present which commonly took the form of a "mothering cake."

Full Homely Divinity has something about "Mothering Sunday" - including a few recipes for Simnel Cake!

Our reading for this Sunday, though, is this great one from John:
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes, saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, "Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?" Some were saying, "It is he." Others were saying, "No, but it is someone like him." He kept saying, "I am the man." But they kept asking him, "Then how were your eyes opened?" He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, `Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received my sight." They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know."

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see." Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He is a prophet."

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself." His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, "He is of age; ask him."

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, "Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner." He answered, "I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see." They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?" Then they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from." The man answered, "Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." They answered him, "You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?" And they drove him out.

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered, "And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him." Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he." He said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped him. Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind." Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not blind, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, `We see,' your sin remains."

I was surprised to find no polyphonic pieces that use "Laetare" as a text!   I can offer you, though, the very wonderful "I Was Glad" by C.H.H. Parry, based in Psalm 122.  I've had the privilege and pleasure of singing this wonderful piece of bombast, I will add - and I'd love to do it again, anytime.  Just ask.



Coverdale, of course!
1 I was glad when they said unto me *
We will go into the house of the Lord.
2 Our feet shall stand in thy gates *
O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is built as a city *
that is at unity in itself.
4 For thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord *
to testify unto Israel, to give thanks unto the Name of the Lord.
5 For there is the seat of judgement *
even the seat of the house of David.
6 O pray for the peace of Jerusalem *
they shall prosper that love thee.
7 Peace be within thy walls *
and plenteousness within thy palaces.
8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes *
I will wish thee prosperity.
9 Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God *
I will seek to do thee good.

Not too bad a theme for a day of Rejoicing, eh?


ChristusRex.org offers a complete list of today's propers sung by the Sao Paolo Benedictines; note that the Offertory and Communio vary, depending on the Gospel for the day.
Hebdomada quarta quadragesimæ  Dominica
Introitus: Cf. Is. 66, 10.11; Ps. 121 Lætare Ierusalem (3m46.5s - 3540 kb) chant score
Graduale: Ps. 121, 1. V. 7 Lætatus sum (1m58.9s - 1858 kb) chant score
Tractus: Ps. 124, 1.2 Qui confidunt (3m13.4s - 3024 kb) chant score
Offertorium: Ps. 134, 3.6 Laudate Dominum (1m37.4s - 1524 kb) chant score
                 quando legitur Evangelium de filio prodigo:
                  Ps. 12, 4.5 Illumina oculos meos (1m33.8s - 1468 kb) chant score
Communio:  Ps. 121, 3.4 Ierusalem, quæ ædificatur chant score (1m09.7s - 1092 kb)

                 quando legitur Evangelium de cæco nato:
                  Io. 9, 6.11.38 Lutum fecit (39.3s - 616 kb)

                 quando legitur Evangelium de filio prodigo:
                  Lc. 15, 32 Oportet te (28.9s - 454 kb)


The old set of propers is, for the most part, just the same; the only changes are the additions for switching chants depending on the Gospel reading - which is in turn dependent upon the 3-year lectionary - a practice that wasn't adopted until the 1970s.

Other Chantblog articles about the propers for the day include:

4 comments:

aredstatemystic said...

Oh, I do love the Parry -- even the "Vivat Regina" insertions. Makes me wish we had a Monarch in the States just so we can sing it.

If you get a group together, let me know. I sing Tenor, am a good sight-reader and don't eat too much. :)

bls said...

Oh, a tenor - you're worth your weight in gold to any local choir. Just present yourself at the door and the choirmaster will roll out the red carpet.

Actually my thought these days is to start a chant group. You only need a few folks for that - whereas the Parry really cries out for a cast of thousands! (Well, dozens, anyway....)

;-)

Death Bredon said...

Great post.

bls said...

Thanks much.

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