Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Advent III Gradual: Qui Sedes, Domine

Here's a video of the Gradual for Advent III, sung by the Congregation of St. Lazarus Autun:



The texts of two of the propers for today - this one and the Alleluia - use the famous "Stir up your power" citation from Psalm (79/)80; here's a translation of Qui Sedes, Domine from CC Watershed:
O Lord, who are enthroned upon the Cherubim, stir up your might and come forth. O Shepherd of Israel, hear us, you who lead Joseph like a flock.
It's a beautiful chant.  The text comes from Psalm (79/)80, verses 2-3; here's the full score:


Although "stir up" - exita - does show up in several propers today, I'd say the real focus is actually the word veni -"Come."  We are, by this time in Advent, very close to the Great "O" Antiphons - they begin this very afternoon, in fact - and Veni - "Come" - is certainly the central theme there.  This is the time of real longing for deliverance.

The collect for today - which was at one time, in a different form - the collect for "the Sunday next before Advent," uses "stir up" language, too:
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Here again is what Marion Hatchett has to say about the collect in his Commentary on the American Prayer Book:
The Gelasian sacramentary is the source for this collect which is included in the first of the propers for Advent (no. 1121), and is addressed to the Son. In the Gregorian it is changed to a prayer addressed to the Father in a proper for a Sunday, included after the provisions for a winter ember vigil (no. 805). The Gallican Bobbio missal provides it as a second prayer in the first of the three Masses for Advent (no. 38). In the Sarum missal it was appointed for the fourth Sunday in Advent. Cranmer retained it in that version with slight changes, adding the phrase "among us" and, at the end of the petition, "through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord." Revisers in 1662 added the phrase "in running the race that is set before us," and expanded "deliver us" to "help and deliver us." Cranmer's second phrase was deleted in the 1928 revision and the first of the additions of the 1662 edition has been dropped in the present revision, thus restoring the prayer to a form close to its original. The prayer echoes Psalm 80:2 and Hebrews 12:1. The one remnant of a series of four prayers which began with "excita" (stir up) used on four of the last five Sundays before Christmas in the Sarum missal, this prayer sets forth better than the others the themes of the two advents: the first in which He came in humility, and the second in which He comes in power; the first in which He came to save, and the second in which He comes to help and relieve.

The rubric following is a reminder that the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of this week are the traditional winter ember days, though these may now be transferred to a time related to local or diocesan occasions for ordination.

 Full Homely Divinity has quite a bit about Advent, including something about (the former) "Stir Up Sunday" customs:
Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The traditional Collect for the Sunday next before Advent was echoed in a popular rhyme on the way home from church:

Stir up, we beseech thee, the pudding in the pot;
And when we get home, we'll eat the lot.

...though, technically, the agenda for the day was not eating the pudding, but making it. On the Sunday before the beginning of Advent, it has always been customary to make the Christmas pudding (a type of fruit cake) so that the flavors could blend and age properly for the pudding to be at its best when eaten at Christmas dinner. Everyone shares in the making of the pudding, taking turns stirring it (east to west, the direction the wise men traveled) and each person making a wish while taking her or his turn at stirring. Often the cake also has tokens baked into it: a coin to signify that the finder would have a prosperous year, a ring to foretell a coming marriage or a button or thimble to predict another year of bachelorhood or spinsterhood. In the full homeliest manner, the making of the pudding renews a sense that the presence and purposes of God are never far removed from quotidian life. The sweetness of the pudding is a sign that God always desires the peace and happiness of his people. The contents of the pudding are a subtle reminder of a principal object of the Christian life: the fruit of good works, referred to in the collect. Sadly, the traditional collect has been replaced in many revisions of the Book of Common Prayer, but in the Church of England it has found new life as the prayer after Communion.

With or without the traditional collect in the Church's liturgy, there is no reason why Christian families cannot continue this tradition and use the old collect at home. After all, the Christmas pudding does need to be prepared in advance if it is to rise to the occasion on which it is eaten. The traditional English Christmas pudding is a steamed plum pudding. Click here for a website with a typical recipe. The American fruit cake is a variation on the same theme. We note that fruit cake has gotten a bad reputation, due to poorly made commercial versions that are dry and tasteless. When made in advance (to a good recipe, of course) and cured with regular infusions of quality spirits (wine, brandy, or bourbon are all suitable), a fruit cake is, in our humble opinion, one of the noblest confections ever created, and easily on a par with the best plum puddings.

FHD has a nice Advent calendar, too - and some other Advent pages as well:


Here are other posts about the propers for this day:

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