Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Palm Sunday Gradual: Christus factus est

The Gradual for Passion (or Palm) Sunday is sung just before the Passion itself. Here, the monastic choir at Solesmes chants it:

This is a really interesting and beautiful rendition of this chant, sung solo by countertenor Eric de Fontenay:

The text is Philippians 2:8-9:
Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis. Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum et dedit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen.

Christ became obedient for our sakes unto death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name.

Here's the full chant score:

In truth, this text is beautiful, and so is the chant melody. Many composers have written anthems and motets to this text as well; you can understand why, given its powerful poignancy. Here's the gorgeous Bruckner version, for instance, "performed by Britten Sinfonia conductor: Stephen Layton":

This one's by Felice Anerio (1560-1614), and sung by The Westminster Cathedral Choir:

All the chant propers on the day are here
, at the Brazilian Benedictines' site. The Palm Sunday entrance song is really lovely, and how wonderful to sing it (in English, BTW) with hundreds of others as the mass begins at St. Mary's: Hosanna, Filio David. Here's Giovanni Vianini's video of this:

The lyrics to the entrance song are these:
Hosanna Filio David
Benedictus qui venit
In nomine Domini
Rex Israel
Hosanna in excelsis

Hosanna to the Son of David
Blessed is He that cometh
In the name of the Lord
King of Israel
Hosanna in the highest

(I looked for these words at CPDL, but the Victoria version doesn't use the "Rex Israel" section. I ended up getting them from a page of Sinead O'Connor song lyrics, believe it or not!)

Two of the others on the day are very powerful as well: the Offertory, for one, is Improperium exspectavit cor meum (mp3), the text of which is from Isaiah:
Improperium exspectavit cor meum, et miseriam: et sustinui, qui simul mecum contristaretur, et non fuit: consolantem me quaesivi, et non inveni: et dederunt in escam meam fel, et in siti mea potaverunt me aceto, potaverunt me aceto.

Insult has broken My heart, and I am weak: I looked for sympathy and there was none, for comforters, and I found none; rather they put gall in My food and in My thirst, they gave Me vinegar to drink.

The Communion hymn, Pater, si non potest (mp3) is short and sad:
Pater, si non potest hic calix transire, nisi bibam illum: fiat voluntas tua.

Father, if this cup cannot pass away, unless I drink it: your will be done. has all the chant propers for today, sung by the Sao Paolo Benedictines:

Hebdomada SanctaDominica in Palmis de Passione Domini

Antiphona: Hosanna filio David (34.9s - 548 kb) score

Ad processionem
Procedamus (8.3s - 133 kb) score
Antiphona: Pueri... portantes (2m24.9s - 2266 kb) score
Antiphona: Pueri... vestimenta (1m18.4s - 1228 kb) score
Hymnus ad Christum Regem: Gloria, laus (2m43.7s - 2558 kb) score
Responsorium: Ingrediente Domino (3m34.2s - 3350 kb) score

Ad Missam

Tractus: Ps. 21, 2- Deus, Deus meus (1m54.7s - 1794 kb) score
Graduale: Phil. 2, 8. V. 9 Christus factus est (2m19.3s - 2178 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 68, 21.22 Improperium... et dederunt (2m40.2s - 2504 kb) score
Communio: Mt. 26, 42 Pater, si non potest (3m28.0s - 3252 kb) score

And here are Chantblog posts on some of these:

Below is a piece of a fresco by Pietro Lorenzetti: "Entry of Christ into Jerusalem. Detail. c. 1320-30. Fresco. Trancept of the Lower Church, San Francesco, Assisi, Italy."

This painting is by Francisco de Zurbarán, from 1627:

And this is by Cimabue, from around the year 1270; I think it's one of the most affecting of all crucifixes:

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