Friday, May 20, 2011

The Introit for the Fifth Sunday of Easter: Cantate Domino ("Sing to the Lord")

The text for this Introit comes from Psalm 98, verses 1-2; here's an mp3 from JoguesChant, and their translation:
Sing to the Lord a new song, alleluia; for the Lord has accomplished wondrous deeds, alleluia; he has revealed his justice in the sight of the Gentiles, alleluia, alleluia. His right hand and his holy arm have given him victory.

Here's the Liber Usualis chant score:


The Gospel reading for today is from John 14:1-14:

Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."

Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it."

Stephen Gerth, the rector of St. Mary the Virgin in Times Sq., was just writing about the extended readings from John during the Sundays after Easter in the new RCL Lectionary. While he has criticisms of other aspects of the new Lectionary, he praises it for this and for several other things:
I think it matters that for 1500 years no ordinary Sunday congregation in the West ever heard the accounts of Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well (John 4:5-42), the Healing of the Man Born Blind (John 9:1-38), or the Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-44). Even now, they are appointed for use only once every three years. And let me give recognition to this good thing in the new lectionary: there is no longer permission to shorten these lessons. I certainly appreciate the real pastoral need for Sunday services to be a manageable length. But there are some things that can’t be shortened. (Interestingly, the permission to shorten the gospels for the Sunday of the Passion was retained, but the permission to shorten the passion on Good Friday is also gone.)

I’m thinking about all of this because I realized a couple of weeks ago that the lectionary of the 1979 Prayer Book (and the new lectionary) has us reading on the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Sundays of Easter, in every year, from John’s account of the supper before the Passover – the longest passage in any of the gospels. In the old Prayer Book, we had a passage from this part of John on Pentecost and a moving passage (John 16:16-22) on a Sunday after Easter Day about the joy that will be with his disciples after their sorrow. Now, many more riches of this account will be read and preached every year.

This is the Collect for this day:
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Hatchett's Commentary says, about this collect, that:
This is a revision of a collect formerly appointed for the feast day of Saint Philip and Saint James. It was composed for the 1549 Book and the result clause added in 1662. It has a particular allusion to the Gospel for Year A but is appropriate for readings of the other years as well. The prayer is that we may know Christ who is truth and follow Him who is the way that we may be led to Him who is the source of eternal life.

I'm sorry to say that I can't resist posting this beautiful Hassler Cantate Domino, even though the text comes from that other Psalm:



And as long as I'm going there, why not post the Monteverdi version, too, sung by those amazing BYU singers?  (This one does include bits of Psalm 98.)



As always, I can't resist Arvo Part, either:



And at that point, how can I leave out the Taize chant?



To go along with the Gospel reading - part of the discourse at the Last Supper from John - here's a fresco by Domenico Ghirlandaio, (400 x 880 cm) at Ognissanti (All Saints), Florence (where, BTW, Sandro Botticelli is buried):



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