Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Communio for the Feast of the Transfiguration: Visiónem quam vidístis ("The Vision you have seen")

The Communio for the August 6 Feast of the Transfiguration is the lovely Visiónem quam vidístis:

This beautiful chant is also the Communion song for the second Sunday of Lent; at one time the Transfiguration was celebrated on that day.  The August 6 Feast is relatively recent in the West.

The text comes from Matthew 17:9. a passage that immediately follows the story of the Transfiguration on the Mountain in that Gospel:
Visionem quam vidistis, nemini dixeritis,
donec a mortuis resurgat filius Hominis.

Tell the vision you have seen to no man,
till the Son of man be risen from the dead.

 Here's the chant score:

Transfiguration has been celebrated at different times and dates throughout history, but in the West the August 6 date was fixed in 1456. Here's a bit from the Wikipedia article about the feast:
The Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus is celebrated by various Christian denominations. The origins of the feast are less than certain and may have derived from the dedication of three basilicas on Mount Tabor.[1] The feast was present in various forms by the 9th century, and in the Western Church was made a universal feast on August 6th by Pope Callixtus III to commemorate the raising of the Siege of Belgrade (1456).[2]
In the Syriac Orthodox, Indian Orthodox, Revised Julian calendars within Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, and Anglican churches, the Feast of the Transfiguration is observed on 6 August. In those Orthodox churches which continue to follow the Julian Calendar, August 6 falls on August 19 of the Gregorian Calendar. The Transfiguration is considered a major feast, numbered among the twelve Great Feasts in Orthodoxy. In all these churches, if the feast falls on a Sunday, its liturgy is not combined with the Sunday liturgy, but completely replaces it.
Here's the section about Transfiguration's significance in the East, from the same page:
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Transfiguration falls during the Dormition Fast, but in recognition of the feast the fast is relaxed somewhat and the consumption of fish, wine and oil is allowed on this day.

In the Orthodox view the Transfiguration is not only a feast in honor of Jesus, but a feast of the Holy Trinity, for all three Persons of the Trinity are interpreted as being present at that moment: God the Father spoke from heaven; God the Son was the one being transfigured, and God the Holy Spirit was present in the form of a cloud. In this sense, the transfiguration is also considered the "Small Epiphany" (the "Great Epiphany" being the Baptism of Jesus, when the Holy Trinity appeared in a similar pattern).

The Transfiguration is ranked as one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox liturgical calendar, and is celebrated with an All-Night Vigil beginning on the eve of the Feast.

Grapes are traditionally brought to church to be blessed after the Divine Liturgy on the day of the Transfiguration. If grapes are not available in the area, apples or some other fruit may be brought. This begins the "Blessing of First Fruits" for the year.

The Transfiguration is the second of the "Three Feasts of the Saviour in August", the other two being the Procession of the Cross on August 1 and the Icon of Christ Not Made by Hand on August 16. The Transfiguration is preceded by a one-day Forefeast and is followed by an Afterfeast of eight days, ending the day before the Forefeast of the Dormition.

In Eastern Orthodox theology, the Tabor Light is the light revealed on Mount Tabor at the Transfiguration of Jesus, identified with the light seen by Paul on the road to Damascus.

The article also notes that Transfiguration is one of the "Luminous mysteries" of the rosary, chosen as such by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

And from another Transfiguration page:
The theology of the Transfiguration received the attention of the Church Fathers since the very early days. In the 2nd century, Saint Irenaeus was fascinated by the Transfiguration and wrote: "the glory of God is a live human being and a truly human life is the vision of God".[25]

Origen's theology of the Transfiguration influenced the patristic tradition and became a basis for theological writings by others.[26] Among other issues, given the instruction to the apostles to keep silent about what they had seen until the Resurrection, Origen commented that the glorified states of the Transfiguration and the Resurrection must be related.[26]

The Desert Fathers emphasized the light of the ascetic experience, and related it to the light of the Transfiguration – a theme developed further by Evagrius Ponticus in the 4th century.[26] Around the same time Saint Gregory of Nyssa and later Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite were developing a "theology of light" which then influenced Byzantine meditative and mystical traditions such as the Tabor light and theoria.[26] The iconography of the Transfiguration continued to develop in this time period, and there is a sixth-century symbolic representation in the apse of the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe and a well known depiction at Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt.[27]

Byzantine Fathers often relied on highly visual metaphors in their writings, indicating that they may have been influenced by the established iconography.[28] The extensive writings of Maximus the Confessor may have been shaped by his contemplations on the katholikon at Saint Catherine's Monastery – not a unique case of a theological idea appearing in icons long before it appears in writings.[28]

In the 7th century, Saint Maximus the Confessor said that the senses of the apostles were transfigured to enable them to perceive the true glory of Christ.[29] In the same vein, building on 2 Corinthians 3:18, by the end of the 13th century the concept of "transfiguration of the believer" had stabilized and Saint Gregory Palamas considered "true knowledge of God" to be a transfiguration of man by the Spirit of God.[30] The spiritual transfiguration of the believer then continued to remain a theme for achieving a closer union with God.[18][31]

One of the generalizations of Christian belief has been that the Eastern Church emphasizes the Transfiguration while the Western Church focuses on the Crucifixion – however, in practice both branches continue to attach significance to both events, although specific nuances continue to persist.[32] An example of such a nuance is the saintly signs of the Imitation of Christ. Unlike Catholic saints such as Padre Pio or Francis (who considered stigmata a sign of the imitation of Christ) Eastern Orthodox saints have never reported stigmata, but saints such as Seraphim and Silouan have reported being transfigured by an inward light of grace.

August 6 is also the anniversary of the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II - a sad commentary on the human condition, indeed.  (And as noted above, the Feast itself was made universal as a commemoration of a victory in battle.)

Here are all the chants for the day, from

In Transfiguratione Domini

Introitus: Ps. 26, 8.9 et 1 Tibi dixit cor meum (cum Gloria Patri) (2m59.6s - 2808 kb)
Graduale: Ps. 44, 3 et 2 Speciosus forma (4m20.2s - 4068 kb) score
Alleluia: Sap. 7, 26 Candor est lucis æternæ (2m36.223s - 1223 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 8, 6.7 Gloria et honore (1m22.047s - 643 kb) score
Communio: Mt. 17, 9 Visionem (2m36.4s - 2446 kb) score

Here are posts about chant propers for this day on Chantblog:

This icon comes from the Novgorod school, 15th century (see this page).

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...