Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Epiphany Communion Song: Vidimus Stellam ("We have seen the star")


COMMUNION • Epiphany from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.


The translation for this chant is built right in to the video above, as you can see:  "We have seen his star in the East, and we have come with our gifts, to worship the Lord."

Here's the chant score by itself:



The modern form of today's chant propers is exactly like the historical (1962 Missal/Tridentine) form; all of the chants have been retained.  These are the chants for Epiphany; the sound files were recorded at St. Benedict's Monastery in São Paulo (Brazil):
In Epiphania Domini
Introitus: Cf. Mal. 3, 1; I Chron. 29, 12; Ps. 71, 1.10.11 Ecce advenit (4m21.1s - 1786 kb) score
Graduale: Is. 6, 60. V. 1 Omnes de Saba venient (2m31.0s - 1033 kb) score
Alleluia: Cf. Mt. 2, 2 Vidimus stellam (2m17.2s - 939 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 71, 10.11 Reges Tharsis (1m59.0s - 814 kb) score
Communio: Cf. Mt. 2, 2 Vidimus stellam (39.6s - 272 kb) score

As you can see, the Alleluia for today is also Vidimus stellam (We have seen his star), and uses the same text.

Other posts on Chantblog for the propers on this feast day are:

This is the beautiful Epiphany collect:
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son
to the Peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by
faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to
face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Here's a very nice polyphonic setting of this text by the rather  obscure Polish composer Mikolaj Zielenski:



From the link above:
Mikołaj Zieleński (Zelenscius, birth and death dates unknown) was a Polish composer, organist and Kapellmeister to the primate Baranowski, Archbishop of Gniezno.

Zieleński's only known surviving works are two 1611 liturgical cycles of polychoral works, the Offertoria/Communes totius anni. These were dedicated to the Archbishop of Gniezno, Wojciech Baranowski. The whole comprises eight part-books and a ninth book, the Partitura pro organo, which constitutes the organ accompaniment. This publication contains in all 131 pieces written for various vocal and also vocal and instrumental ensembles, all with organ accompaniment.


I always like to mention the fact that Epiphany has, over the centuries, celebrated several "manifestations" of Christ: the Visitation of the Wise Men; Christ's baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist; and Christ's first miracle at the wedding at Cana.  (In fact, the Nativity itself was once celebrated at Epiphany, before it became its own feast.)

Tribus miraculis, the antiphon upon Magnificat for second vespers of the Epiphany, is a clear enunciation of the more ancient way of understanding this feast.  Here it is sung by Giovanni Viannini:



Tribus miraculis ornatum, diem sanctum colimus:
Hodie stella Magos duxit ad praesepium:
Hodie vinum ex aqua factum est ad nuptias:
Hodie in Jordane a Joanne Christus baptizari voluit,
ut salvaret nos, Alleluia.
Three are the miracles we celebrate this day:
On this day by a star the wise men were led to the manger;
On this day wine out of water was brought forth for the wedding feast;
On this day in Jordan's waters by Saint John's hand Jesus chose to be baptized,
That he might save us. Alleluia.

Here's the chant score:




Here's Gentile da Fabriano's amazing 1423 "Adoration of the Magi":


This is from the entry there:
The Adoration of the Magi is a painting by the Italian artist Gentile da Fabriano. The work, housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, is considered his finest work, and has been described as "the culminating work of International Gothic painting".[1]

The painting was commissioned by the Florentine literate and patron of the arts Palla Strozzi, at the arrival of the artist in the city in 1420. Palla paid 30,000 florins for the altarpiece,[2] or about six times the annual salary of a skilled laborer.[3] According to Baldwin[4] both Palla Strozzi and his father, Onofrio, appear in the painting − Palla as the man in the red hat in the forefront of the painting, and Onofrio as the falcon trainer situated behind the youngest king. According to other opinions, the falcon trainer depicts the commissioner Palla Strozzi with his eldest son Lorenzo to his right.[5][6] Finished in 1423, the painting was placed in the new chapel of the church of Santa Trinita which Lorenzo Ghiberti was executing in these years.

Scene of the Nativity in the predella.
The works shows both the international and Sienese schools' influences on Gentile's art, combined with the Renaissance novelties he knew in Florence. The panel portrays the path of the three Magi, in several scenes which start from the upper left corner (the voyage and the entrance into Bethlehem) and continue clockwise, to the larger meeting with the Virgin Mary and the newborn Jesus which occupies the lowest part of the picture. All the figures wear splendid Renaissance costumes, brocades richly decorated with real gold and precious stones inserted in the panel. Gentile's typical attention for detail is also evident in the exotic animals, such as a leopard, a dromedary, some apes and a lion, as well as the magnificent horses and a hound.

The frame is also a work of art, characterized by three cusps with tondoes portraying Christ Blessing (centre) and the Annunciation (with the Archangel Gabriel on the left and the Madonna on the right). The predella has three rectangular paintings with scenes of Jesus' childhood: the Nativity, the Flight into Egypt and the Presentation at the Temple (the latter a copy, the original being in the Louvre in Paris).

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