Thursday, February 21, 2013

Meditabor in mandatis tuis: The Offertory for Lent 2

Meditabor in mandatis tuis is the Offertory for the second Sunday in Lent. Here it is sung by The Choir of St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church (NY); turn up your sound to hear it better:



From the YouTube page:
Mar 7, 2012
The Choir of St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church (Douglas Keilitz, Organist & Choirmaster), New York City, sings the Gregorian chant Offertory for The Second Sunday in Lent as part of the weekly celebration of Solemn Mass.
St. Ignatius is a beautiful church!  Take a look at some of the photos on their website here.

Here's another version of the chant, with the score (and now turn down your sound!):



Here's the full chant score:


This text comes from Psalm (118/)119 vv. 47-48; here's the original Latin and a translation from CPDL:
Meditabor in mandatis tuis, quae dilexi valde:
et levabo manus meas ad mandata tua, quae dilexi.


I will meditate on thy commandments, which I have loved exceedingly:
and I will lift up my hands to thy commandments, which I have loved.

Psalm 119 - that's the 1979 US BCP version - is a very interesting Psalm, in many ways.  First, it's the longest Psalm in the Psalter, by far, with 176 verses.  It's an acrostic, too; the Psalm is divided into 22 stanzas, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and each verse in that stanza begins with that letter, too.  The Psalm uses a synonym for the Torah ("law," "commandments," "testimonies," "statutes," "promises," "precepts," "ordinances," "word," etc. - but in Hebrew, of course) in nearly every verse.  From Wikipedia:
Employed in almost (but not quite) every verse of the psalm is a synonym for the Torah, such as dabar ("word, promise") mishpatim ("rulings"), etc.

The acrostic form and the use of the Torah words constitute the framework for an elaborate prayer. The grounds for the prayer are established in the first two stanzas (alef and beth): the Torah is held up as a source of blessing and right conduct, and the psalmist pledges to dedicate himself to the law. The prayer proper begins in the third stanza (gimel, v. 17). Like many other psalms, this prayer includes both dramatic lament (e.g. verses 81–88) joyous praise (e.g., verses 45–48) and prayers for life, deliverance and vindication (e.g., verses 132–134). What makes Psalm 119 unique is the way that these requests are continually and explicitly grounded in the gift of the Torah and the psalmist's loyalty to it.

The first and fifth verse often state the same theme in a stanza followed by a statement of opposition, affliction of conflict and the final (eighth) verse in each stanza tends to be a transition introducing the next stanza. Several dozen prayers are incorporated into the Psalm. "Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law" Themes include opposition by man, affliction, delight in the law and the goodness of God, which sometimes run into each other. "I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me." in verse 75. Or "If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction." in verse 92. The Psalmist at times seems to appeal to God sovereignty "inclining his heart to the law" in stunning contrast with the Psalmist saying "I incline my heart." It ends with an appeal to God to seek his servant who strayed.
Verse 164 is the famous "Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments" - which is, according to Chapter 16 of his Rule, where Benedict of Nursia drew his inspiration for the Liturgy of the Hours.   He assigned Psalm 119 (referred to at the OSB site as "Psalm 118," in the Vulgate numbering) to be read at Prime and the Little Hours - Terce, Sext, and None - on Sunday and Monday; today a stanza may often be read at the Little Hours throughout the week.  The 1979 BCP assigns "one or more sections" (as one of several options) for Noonday Prayer.

Here's a Hebrew-English concordance of the full Psalmrom Chabad.org; Rashi's commentary is included at the click of a button!
The Gospel for Lent 2 is from Luke:
Luke 13:31-35

Some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you." He said to them, "Go and tell that fox for me, 'Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.' Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'"
The Collect for the day is:
O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Hatchett's Commentary has this on the topic of this collect: 
This collect has links to one of the Good Friday solemn collects in the Missale Gallicanum vetus (no. 107), the Gelasian sacramentary (no. 413), and the Gregorian sacramentary (no. 351). In these books it follows a bidding to pray for heretics and schismatics that they may be delivered from their errors and recalled to the catholic and apostolic church. In its new context as a Sunday collect it refers to those who have abandoned the practice of Christian faith.
Palestrina set this text; here it is sung at the "Holy Mass for the New Evangelization; Vatican Basilica, 16 October 2011":



De Lassus set it, too; unfortunately, no video of that is available online at the moment.


Here are all of today's chant propers, sung by the Sao Paulo Benedictines:

Hebdomada secunda quadragesimæ
Dominica
Introitus: Ps. 26, 8.9 et 1 Tibi dixit cor meum (cum Gloria Patri) (2m59.6s - 2808 kb)
Graduale: Ps. 82, 19. V. 14 Sciant gentes (3m00.8s - 2828 kb) score
Tractus: Ps. 59, 4.6 Commovisti (2m18.1s - 2160 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 118, 47.48 Meditabor (1m16.1s - 1192 kb) score
Communio: Mt. 17, 9 Visionem (2m36.4s - 2446 kb) score

Here are links to Chantblog articles about some of these:

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