Saturday, February 25, 2012

Josquin des Prez: Qui habitat

A double dip for Lent I. The tract for this day is Qui habitat, about which I posted a few years ago. I just now, though, came across this stunning des Prez setting of the text, and couldn't not post it; it's sublime:

From the YouTube page:
Josquin des Prez (c. 1450 to 1455 August 27, 1521), often referred to simply as Josquin, was a Franco-Flemish composer of the Renaissance. He is also known as Josquin Desprez, a French rendering of Dutch "Josken van de Velde", diminutive of "Joseph van de Velde" ("of the fields"), and Latinized as Josquinus Pratensis, alternatively Jodocus Pratensis. He was the most famous European composer between Guillaume Dufay and Palestrina, and is usually considered to be the central figure of the Franco-Flemish School. Josquin is widely considered by music scholars to be the first master of the high Renaissance style of polyphonic vocal music that was emerging during his life


"Qui habitat"
Original text and translations may be found at Psalm 91.. The text set by Josquin is the first eight verses of the Latin Vulgate (which is numbered as Psalm 90).

Latin text
Psalmus 90, 18 (Vulgate)

90:1 Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi, in protectione Dei cæli commorabitur. 2 Dicet Domino: Susceptor meus es tu et refugium meum; Deus meus, sperabo in eum. 3 Quoniam ipse liberavit me de laqueo venantium, et a verbo aspero. 4 Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi, et sub pennis ejus sperabis. 5 Scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus: non timebis a timore nocturno; 6 a sagitta volante in die, a negotio perambulante in tenebris, ab incursu, et dæmonio meridiano. 7 Cadent a latere tuo mille, et decem millia a dextris tuis; ad te autem non appropinquabit. 8 Verumtamen oculis tuis considerabis et retributionem peccatorum videbis.

English translation
Psalm 91, 18 (King James Version)

91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Performed : Huelgas Ensemble
Dir : Paul Van Nevel

(Here's the chant version, from ReneGoupil:

Lent - First Sunday: Tract from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.


Here are the propers for for Lent I, from the Brazilian Benedictines:

Hebdomada prima quadragesimæ
Introitus: Ps. 90, 15.16 et 1 Invocabit me (cum Gloria Patri) (4m21.1s - 4083 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 90, 11-12 Angelis suis (4m03.3s - 3805 kb) score
Tractus: Ps. 90, 1-7 et 11-16 Qui habitat (2m59.0s - 2801 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 90, 4-5 Scapulis suis (1m04.4s - 1011 kb) score
Communio: Ps. 90, 4-5 Scapulis suis (4m32.5s - 4261 kb) score

Here are posts on Chantblog about the propers for the First Sunday in Lent:

Angelis suis: the Lent I gradual

Angelis suis - "His angels" - is the gradual for the first Sunday of Lent; it's a beautiful chant, as sung here by Giovanni Vianini:

Here's the chant score:

As noted last year, all the chants for this first Sunday in Lent come from Psalm 91; this text is from verses 11-12.
To his Angels he has given a commandment concerning you, to keep you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Here are the propers for for Lent I, from the Brazilian Benedictines:

Hebdomada prima quadragesimæ
Introitus: Ps. 90, 15.16 et 1 Invocabit me (cum Gloria Patri) (4m21.1s - 4083 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 90, 11-12 Angelis suis (4m03.3s - 3805 kb) score
Tractus: Ps. 90, 1-7 et 11-16 Qui habitat (2m59.0s - 2801 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 90, 4-5 Scapulis suis (1m04.4s - 1011 kb) score
Communio: Ps. 90, 4-5 Scapulis suis (4m32.5s - 4261 kb) score

Here are posts on Chantblog about the propers for the First Sunday in Lent:

"Memory and Hope"

From Stephen Gerth, in St. Mary the Virgin's The Angelus this week:

I've just discovered a book that I'm pretty sure would have influenced a lot of the thinking and writing I have done over the last decade or so if I had read it earlier. The book, Between Memory and Hope: Readings on the Liturgical Year (2000), was edited by Notre Dame Professor Maxwell Johnson. It is a collection of essays by fourteen liturgists and theologians from different denominations. Johnson takes his title from an essay in the book by the late Thomas Talley (1924-2005), who for many years was professor of liturgics at the General Theological Seminary. As Christians we live with the memory of Christ's saving work and the hope for Christ's coming at the end of time.

I bought the book because of a reference to one of those essays in another book, Johnson's and Paul Bradshaw's The Origins of Feast, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity (2011). The essay, "The Three Days and the Forty Days," was written by Patrick Regan who now teaches at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome. Between Memory and Hope arrived on Ash Wednesday. That title is itself a meditation, a proclamation, about the way we who believe in Jesus Christ are called to live.

So far, I have looked briefly at Regan's article-how to count the "Three Days" of the Easter or "Paschal" Triduum-the name, as well as the counting, are worth reviewing at another time; and I have also read Johnson's introduction. He writes about Easter and Lent:

Easter and Pentecost are about our death and resurrection in Christ today, our passover from death to life in his passover, through water and the Holy Spirit in baptism. Lent is about our annual retreat, our annual re-entry into the catechumenate and order of penitents in order to reflect on, affirm, remember and re-claim that baptism.
(page xii)

I haven't made a study of the classic texts for the admission of unbaptized adults to the historic formation program known as the catechumenate. The Episcopal Church's version is found in The Book of Occasional Services 2003. The rite begins with one question to those who are coming to faith, "What do you seek?" The answer is "Life in Christ" (page 117).

I far prefer the questions now used by the Roman Church for the beginning of the rite-why we use different questions and answers I suspect is more than a matter of translation, but I really don't know why they are different. Their rite begins with the celebrant asking each person, "What is your name?" Then, the celebrant asks, "What do you ask of God's Church?" The answer is, "Faith." Then, "What does faith offer you?" The answer, "Eternal life" (The Rites of the Catholic Church [1976], 41).

Saint Paul writes, "Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life" (Romans 6:22). The Greek word for 'end,' telos, carries the meaning both of 'end of time' and the 'goal toward which we move.' In the words "faith" and "hope," the Church remembers Jesus' promise that the end of all things (in both senses of telos) is in him, when he will be "all in all" (Ephesians 1:23). The journey to death and resurrection is God's plan for all human life; we make it our own through Christ with memory and with hope.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Hymn from the Feast of Transfiguration"

I wanted to post this beautiful hymn in Syriac and figured I could do it now, since the Transfiguration gets celebrated twice during the church year! The feast day itself is on August 6 - but the event itself occurs just before Palm Sunday and gets celebrated each year on the last Sunday before Lent begins (last week).

The link at the YouTube page points to the (quite beautiful) syrianorthodox website.  This comes from the Transfiguration page:

Qurbana Hymn after the reading of the Gospel

കീപ്പായും യോഹന്നാനും യാക്കോബും ചേര്‍ന്നു
താബോര്‍മല കര്‍ത്താവേറി മൂശായേ നീബോ
മലയില്‍നിന്നും - നിബിയേലീയായേ
വാനില്‍നിന്നും - ചെയ്താനാഹ്വാനം
ദൈവാത്മജമുഖകാന്തിയഹോ - ഭാവം മാറുകയും
ശോഭനമായൊരു മേഘം വന്നവരേ വേഗത്തില്‍
ഹാലേലുയ്യാ - ചൂടുകയം ചെയ്തു.

I'm sorry to say I don't have a translation of the text itself. Working on it!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Exaltabo Te, Domine

Here's an mp3 from JoguesChant of the Ash Wednesday Offertory, Exaltabo Te, Domine; below is the chant score.
The text comes from Psalm 30; here's JoguesChant's translation:
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and have not allowed my enemies to rejoice over me; O Lord, I called out unto you, and you healed me.
Here's another version, from the Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis:

The Collect for the day echoes the portion of Wisdom in today's Introit:

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Scarlatti (1685–1757) composed a setting of this text; here's one version of that:

Here's something really gorgeous, though! It's another version of Exaltabo Te from Psalm 30 (although not this text precisely; I'm trying to find the text itself and will come back and post it when I do) by Michel-Richard Delalande (1657-1726), in the glorious Grands Motets style:

And there's a Taizé version of Exaltabo Te, too; the Coral Corpus Christi, of the church of Corpus Christi de Málaga, sings this one:

Here's the last part of Eliot's poem, Ash Wednesday; I've loved this particular section since I first read it when I was 18 years old (and many years from joining the church):

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated
And let my cry come unto Thee.

Here are all the propers for Ash Wednesday, from the Sao Paulo Benedictines:
Tempus quadragesimæ
Feria quarta cinerum
Ad ritus initiales et liturgiam verbi
Introitus: Sap. 11, 24-25.27; Ps. 56 Misereris omnium (3m44.9s - 3516 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 56, 2. V. 4 Miserere mei, Deus (3m15.9s - 3064 kb) score
Tractus: Ps. 102, 10 et 78, 8 et 9 Domine, non secundum peccata nostra (3m27.7s - 3248 kb) score

Ad benedictionem et impositionem cinerum
Antiphona: Cf. Ioel 2, 13 Immutemur habitu (1m21.5s - 1276 kb) score
Responsorium: Cf. Bar. 3,2. V. Ps. 78,9 Emendemus in melius (2m24.7s - 2264 kb) score

Ad liturgiam eucharisticam
Offertorium: Ps. 29, 2.3 Exaltabo te (1m37.7s - 1528 kb) score
Communio: Ps. 1, 2b.3b Qui meditabitur (45.3s - 710 kb) score

Here are posts on this site about the propers on the day:
The Ash Wednesday Introit: Misereris omnium
Ash Wednesday: Miserere Mei Deus (The Gradual)
Ash Wednesday:  Domine, non secundum (The Tract)
Ash Wednesday: Immutemur habitu and Emendemus in melius (antiphons sung during the imposition of ashes)
Exaltabo Te, Domine (The Offertory)
The Ash Wednesday Communion Song: Qui meditabitur

A holy Lent to all.

"Ash Wednesday: 'it is by this that the Church on earth stands'"

From catholicity and covenant today:
In the order of the Creed, after the mention of the Holy Church is placed the remission of sins. For it is by this that the Church on earth stands: it is through this that what had been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again. For, setting aside the grace of baptism, which is given as an antidote to original sin, so that what our birth imposes upon us, our new birth relieves us from (this grace, however, takes away all the actual sins also that have been committed in thought, word, and deed): setting aside, then, this great act of favor, whence commences man's restoration, and in which all our guilt, both original and actual, is washed away, the rest of our life from the time that we have the use of reason provides constant occasion for the remission of sins, however great may be our advance in righteousness. For the sons of God, as long as they live in this body of death, are in conflict with death. And although it is truly said of them, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God", yet they are led by the Spirit of God, and as the sons of God advance towards God under this drawback, that they are led also by their own spirit, weighted as it is by the corruptible body; and that, as the sons of men, under the influence of human affections, they fall back to their old level, and so sin ...

Even crimes themselves, however great, may be remitted in the Holy Church; and the mercy of God is never to be despaired of by men who truly repent, each according to the measure of his sin. And in the act of repentance, where a crime has been committed of such a nature as to cut off the sinner from the body of Christ, we are not to take account so much of the measure of time as of the measure of sorrow; for a broken and a contrite heart God does not despise. But as the grief of one heart is frequently hid from another, and is not made known to others by words or other signs, when it is manifest to Him of whom it is said, "My groaning is not hid from You", those who govern the Church have rightly appointed times of penitence, that the Church in which the sins are remitted may be satisfied.

From St. Augustine's Enchiridion (64-65).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Valletta celebrates Feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck"

From yesterday's

The feast of St Paul's Shipwreck is currently being celebrated in Valletta and a mass held this morning was attended by President George Abela, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat as well as other fellow MPs.

The feast of St Paul’s Shipwreck is one of the most attended feasts in Malta by locals and tourists alike. It is a time for many to celebrate their Catholic faith which is considered for many to be a crucial factor in their Maltese identity.

A number of feast goers congregated in the street outside the church because people filled the aisles and flowed out of the front entrances.

After attending the church service, Gonzi and his wife Catherine were surrounded by well-wishers wanting to shake hands. “It’s an occasion where the Maltese can come together and share a common identity. The beauty of this feast is that it is part and parcel of the Maltese identity and was mentioned and recorded 2000 years ago in the bible. This celebration is a moment for happiness for all and we can celebrate our identity as one,” Gonzi told MaltaToday.

Although considered to be one of the most important feasts in Malta, three British tourists happening on the congregation outside the church said that it should be promoted much more in tourist brochures.

“It’s wonderful! We didn’t even know about it until we arrived in Malta,” Joyce Millard said.

“It is a shame that the Maltese don’t publicise this feast in brochures. I only found out about it when reading a magazine article on the plane. They could entice people to come just for this feast,” Pam Hanson said.

“We were a bit worried about getting lost in the crowd but everyone seems to be so happy and friendly, we just feel like we’re fitting right in and can’t wait to see the inside of the church,” Margaret Mills said.

Candelas Leal, a Spanish tourist, and her partner came across the feast while walking through the city and decided to stay to observe: “We were surprised at the number of people just gather for a feast. This never happens in Spain! It’s also funny that there is so much security here but they don’t seem worried at all about something happening!”

Flickr PhotoSet here. I am now on the hunt for the chant propers and will post whatever I find. I'm thinking I might have to write them myself, though....

Saturday, February 04, 2012

"Apostates for Evensong"

From the Sydney Morning Herald; HT Sed Angli.
The St Paul's Cathedral Choir at Evensong. On Thursday, the choir celebrates 120 years since its formation.

The St Paul's Cathedral Choir at Evensong. On Thursday, the choir celebrates 120 years since its formation. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

There are many crimes that one would flay the Anglican Church for.  The heinous felony that concerns me today is an appalling sin of omission.  I accuse the Anglican Synod of concealment.

The secret of which I speak is Evensong.  Daily in Anglican Cathedrals around the world, observant Anglicans sing and chant their way out of the working day in a short but outstandingly beautiful ceremony known as Evensong.  It is a quotidian calming.  It is an opportunity for rest and reflection at the end of a day's travails.   It would move the iciest atheistic soul as it indeed moves mine.   In fact, I am a bit of an Evensong junkie having gravitated these Evensong ceremonies in the great choral centres of Anglicanism.

More accessible than the Sistine Chapel, more inspiring than the Western Wall, more easily reached than the Dome of the Rock, sung Evensong represents at once the most rousing and soothing aspects of faith.

In my home town of Melbourne, Evensong is celebrated at St Paul's Cathedral at 5.10 (during school term) frequently to an almost empty house.  St Paul's is the sort of place that can look empty even when it is full. On occasions, the only attendees at Evensong might be the choir and other functionaries.  This is an abomination.  It is criminal PR neglect. And the risk is that if no one goes, it might be canned. That would be a disaster – a financially rational disaster but a disaster nonetheless.  Evensong is practised less regularly in other cathedrals for example Sydney's is on Thursday at St Andrews.  Perth's St George has one on Sunday.

Evensong also has costumes, solemnity and parading.  In the capital city cathedrals, there will be a wonderful choir.  In Melbourne, the choir is competent at times verging on sublime.  Originally formed in 1888, the choir today consists of 20 boys (on scholarships) and 16 men.  It must cost a fortune to fund.

When I sit in the cathedral, I see history, music and architecture paraded before me.  One of the great duties of faith is to be the carrier of culture.  Religions are the repository of our wonderful liturgical music and the majestic language of the King James Bible.  The soaring architecture evokes images of both the Medieval roots of our European history and the Victorian English who, whether we like it or not, shaped much of the Australian persona.  The art and painting, while less than genius, are the greatest of religious art (unfortunately to be found in other places).  And the music is, for aficionados, deeply moving.  It is the total package.

One can sit there at the end of the day and drain your brain of all earthly distractions and let it recover in this precious anachronism.  The cavernous acoustics carry the peerless multilayered choral offerings to you and through you.

The irony is that when I speak to some Christians about Evensong they sort of pooh pooh it, arguing that such ceremony is about form not substance.  They are Bible-centric believers for whom the archaic liturgy is a distraction from the text.  I demur.  Part of the power of faith is the excellent methods they have of helping the congregation transcend the daily grind.  Music and architecture can be a legitimate method for reaching an emotional rather than logical state.

One of my most touching Evensong experiences was in King's College Chapel in Cambridge.  It was packed and I was stuck in the back.  In front of me were two women — a mother and daughter. The daughter cried throughout.  Clearly some trauma had assailed her and she and her mum had repaired to Evensong for sustenance.  Parental love twinned with Evensong was the chosen balm.  I hope it worked – her heaving sobs trouble me to this day.

If you go, you can think spiritual thoughts, or like I do, think secular thoughts about the history of Australians who carried the culture to this land, struggled to build mighty edifices and bothered to preserve this timeless liturgy.  And even the costs of our culture are manifest with the war memorabilia and token nods to indigenous culture.  It is a complete picture of a part of Australia that is disappearing down the drain.  For all this sacrifice and achievement, the modern Australian ignores it.  The poor old demoralised Anglican Church lavishes this jewel with institutional neglect.  And we are in danger of losing what we don't appreciate.

Well I am sick of it.  I believe we need to support this glory box even though it goes right against my godless ways.  I propose that we have a society, Atheists and Apostates for Evensong.  And I further suggest that we gather and attend sung Evensong in every city that it is sung.  None of us should let this atrophy continue.

Please blog me now on what gives you feelings of transcendence.

What gives you a sense of the non-logical, the spiritual and the numinous?

Is the search for mystical highs a noble one or merely a distraction from biblical truths?

Is it bad for Evensong that an incorrigible atheist loves it?

What rocks your spiritual world?

Over to you

By the way the choir's 120th birthday bash is on Thursday September 15.


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