Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Tract for Maundy Thursday: Ab ortu solis ("From the rising of the sun")

Here's a video of a very interesting Mozarabic-ish take on this amazing tract, sung by Countertenor Eric de Fontenay.

As you can see, he's labeled the video "XIème siècle" -  i.e., "11th Century"; I'm assuming this means he's found a date for the chant's origin, although I can't confirm this myself.  In point of fact, there apparently was no tract in the Tridentine Maundy Thursday mass, according to

It's important to remember that there are many possible styles in which chants can be sung; this video is a great demonstration of this.   

CCWatershed provides the Latin and English texts (along with its own recording; see below), which are taken from, they say, Malachi 1: 11 and Proverbs 9: 5.
Ab ortu solis usque ad occásum, magnum est nomen meum in géntibus.
Vs. Et in omni loco sacrificátur, et offértur nómini meo oblátio munda: quia magnum est nomen meum in géntibus.
Vs. Veníte, comédite panem meum: et bíbite vinum, quod míscui vobis.

From the place where the sun rises to the place of its setting, my name is great among the nations.
Vs. And in every place, a sacrifice is offered to my name, a pure offering, for my name is truly great among the nations.
Vs. Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine I have prepared for you.

I suspect that Malachi is citing Psalm (112/)113 here.  Here's Malachi 11 in its entirety:
For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 

And here's Psalm 113, verse 3:
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised!

Isaiah used this terminology, too, in Chapter 45 v. 6; (and lo and behold, there in verse 8 we have the Advent antiphon, the Rorate Coeli!)
1 Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
    whose right hand I have grasped,
to subdue nations before him
    and to loose the belts of kings,
to open doors before him
    that gates may not be closed:
2 “I will go before you
    and level the exalted places,[a]
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze
    and cut through the bars of iron,
3 I will give you the treasures of darkness
    and the hoards in secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
    the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
4 For the sake of my servant Jacob,
    and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
    I name you, though you do not know me.
5 I am the Lord, and there is no other,
    besides me there is no God;
    I equip you, though you do not know me,
6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun
    and from the west, that there is none besides me;
    I am the Lord, and there is no other.

7 I form light and create darkness,
    I make well-being and create calamity,
    I am the Lord, who does all these things.

8 “Shower, O heavens, from above,
    and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
    let the earth cause them both to sprout;
    I the Lord have created it.

And the citation from Proverbs is also fascinating!  It comes from this section of Proverbs 9:
1 Wisdom has built her house;
    she has hewn her seven pillars.
2 She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
    she has also set her table.
3 She has sent out her young women to call
    from the highest places in the town,
4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
    To him who lacks sense she says,
5 “Come, eat of my bread
    and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 Leave your simple ways, and live,
    and walk in the way of insight.”

Remember that in John's Gospel, Christ is the logos - the divine reason of creation.  And that Wisdom in Scripture - particularly in the Apocrypha - is also "the divine reason of creation," fashioned into a  kind of persona, a (feminine) aspect of God. 

Clearly, this citation refers to the Eucharist - but it does so from a really fascinating perspective.

William Byrd set this text as a motet;  CPDL calls it a "Tract for Votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament."  Clearly, the chant itself existed in his time - the motet was written in 1607 - but it was not used at Maundy Thursday, evidently; there was no tract at all for the day.   But neither was there an alleluia in the old form, it seems.   Maundy Thursday is an unusual day; there's no other quite like it on the Calendar.   Here, Derek writes about that.

The Liber Usualis 1961 (big file!  115.5MB!) does list this chant, as - yes - the tract for a Votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament to be sung "After Septuagesima" in place of the Alleluia; see p. 1282 in that document.

Here's the full chant score for this Tract:

CCWatershed offers a more straightforward rendition of the tract:

Tract Ab ortu solis usque ad occásum from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

All the chants for today are listed at, as follows:

Missa Vespertina in Cena Domini
Ad liturgiam verbi
Introitus: Cf. Gal. 6,14; Ps. 66 Nos autem gloriari (4m37.3s - 4337 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 144,15. V. 16 Oculi omnium (2m58.5s - 2793 kb) score
Tractus: Mal. 1,11 et Prov. 9,5 Ab ortu solis (2m33.8s - 2409 kb) score

Ad lotionem pedum

Antiphona: Cf. Io. 13, 4.5.15 Postquam surrexit Dominus (43.3s - 681 kb) score
Antiphona: Io. 13, 2.13.15 Dominus Iesus (1m02.4s - 979 kb) score
Antiphona: Io. 13, 6.7.8 Domine, tu mihi lavas pedes (1m16.0s - 1191 kb) score
Antiphona: Cf. Io. 13, 14 Si ego Dominus (37.2s - 583 kb) score
Antiphona: Io. 13, 35 In hoc cognoscent omnes (45.5s - 713 kb) score
Antiphona: Io. 13, 34 Mandatum novum (15.8s - 248 kb) score
Antiphona: I Cor. 13, 13 Maneant in vobis (56.2s - 876 kb) score

Ad liturgiam eucharisticam

Offertorium: Ubi caritas (2m16.3s - 2132 kb) score
Communio: I Cor. 11, 24.25  Hoc corpus (2m51.7s - 2684 kb) score

Ad translationem SS.mi Sacramenti

O salutaris Hostia I (52.2s - 818 kb) score, Panis angelicus I (1m15.5s - 1182 kb) score, Adoro te devote (2m26.0s - 2282 kb) score, Ecce panis (1m33.2s - 1458 kb) score, Pange lingua, Tantum ergo (3m06.5s - 2916 kb) score

Here are other posts on Chantblog for some of the propers:

This is part of an altarpiece, the "Passionsaltar, linker Flügel außen: Fußwaschung" (i.e. "Passion, left wing outside: Washing of the Feet"), by the "Master of the Housebook (fl. between  and ):

This is "The Last Supper," by Jacopo Bassano (1510–1592):

This is "Christ washing the feet of the Apostles," an "Icon of Pskov school."  It comes from the 16th Century also:

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