Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Easter Vigil Offertory: Dextera Domini

Dextera Domini is now the Offertory for the Easter Vigil; it was previously the Offertory for Maundy Thursday (as labeled in the video); Ubi Caritas has taken that place in the current rite for Holy Thursday. The singers here are the Benedictine Nuns of Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation, Le Barroux.

This chant is very suited to the Vigil, though!  The text comes from Psalm 118, vv. 16-17:
The right hand of the LORD has triumphed! *
the right hand of the LORD is exalted!
the right hand of the LORD has triumphed!"

I shall not die, but live, *
and declare the works of the LORD.
Here's the full chant score:

Here's CCWatershed's video of the Simple English Propers version of this chant:

I need to do a little research about the Easter Vigil, I see now; I know it was "recovered" in the 1960s/1970s liturgical reforms, but don't know much about this.  I have a feeling - just a feeling so far - that the Vigil may have been celebrated all along in at least some monastic houses, even when it wasn't in parish churches and Cathedrals.   I'll certainly post on this when I learn more.

Right now I'm looking at the Academy of Gregorian Chant's page on this text, and finding it used in a variety of liturgical situations; for instance, here it is listed as the Offertory for Epiphany III, in the Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, Codex 121(1151):

The description of that manuscript, by the way, is pretty interesting:
This Codex comprises the oldest complete surviving neumed mass antiphonary; it includes assorted appendices (such as Alleluia verses, Antiphons and Psalm verses for the Communion Antiphons). Because the mass antiphonary is complete, the manuscript remains important to this day as a resource for Gregorian chant research. The second part of the codex contains the Libyer Ymnorum, the Sequences of Notker of St. Gall. Recent research has established that the codex was written in Einsiedeln itself (in about 960-970), most likely for the third abbot of the cloister, Gregor the Englishman. (lan)
Here's another example of its use for Epiphany III, from the "Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer Cod. Bodmer 74:

Here's a description of that manuscript:

This Gradual was produced in 1071 by the archpresbyter of the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere; it contains the musical scores for assorted liturgical songs. These melodies set down in written form make CB 74 the oldest record of Roman song.

I'm also seeing the text used in the "Graduale, Troparium et Prosarium ad usum Sancti Aredii. 1001-1400" (among quite a number of other places); I believe here, too, it is used for Epiphany III although this one's a bit harder to read. It's definitely in January, anyway.

There is more and more information these days about chant online; these chant manuscripts are really fascinating, and there seems to be a quite a lot of consistency of use in the chants - as well as a great deal of variety.  Interesting that both things can be true - but then, there are so many, many chants.  I'm having fun looking at all of this, I have to say - and very grateful for the publicly-available images and links.

And there is so much more music available now!  When I first started this blog, it was the Brazilian Benedictines, St. David's Compline Choir, the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood - and almost nothing else.  Thanks to them, for being there so long ago - and to everybody who's posting this stuff now, too.

Here is the Easter Vigil page on the Brazilians' website, and here are other Chantblog posts about the Easter Vigil propers:

Here, the Warsaw Boys' and Men's Choir, along with the AMFC Symphony Orchestra and the Pueri Cantores Plocenses Choir, sing Cesar Franck's beautiful setting of this text; nice job!

Josef Rheinberger set the text, too; here's his, sung by the Regensburger Domspatzen:

Wikipedia says that "The Regensburger Domspatzen is the official choir for the liturgical music at St Peter's Cathedral in Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany. The choir consists of boys and young men only."

Here's a "fragment" of Duccio's "Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene," from about 1311; gorgeous!  He's fast becoming one of my favorite artists ever.

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