Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ecce Virgo

The Communion song for Advent IV is Ecce Virgo; here is an mp3 of this chant, and below is the score (both from JoguesChant).

The text is, of course, the very famous Isaiah 7:14: "Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel."

Here's Giovanni Vianini's version:

Here again are links to all the Introits for Advent:

The polyphonic counterpart to this text is this equally-famous recitative/aria from Handel's Messiah (along with "O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion"):

The readings for the day are all focussed on the birth of Jesus. The Old Testament is from Isaiah, and contains the Ecce Virgo verse in today's Communio; the Epistle comes from Romans, in which Paul writes about "the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh...."; the Gospel is the Nativity story from Matthew.

The collect for the day is this one:
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Marion Hatchett's Commentary on the American Prayer Book says this about it:

This collect is a revised version of William Bright's translation of a Gelasian collect (no. 1127) found in Ancient Collects, p. 16. It is included in the Gregorian sacramentary under "Other Prayers for Advent" (no. 809), in the Missale Gallicanum vetus as the collect in the first of three Advent Masses (no. 40). The collect, provided for use in the season when the first advent is recalled and the second anticipated, reminds us of our Lord's entry into Jerusalem (Lk. 19:44), "you did not know the time of your visitation," and prays that our consciences may be purified by His "daily visitation." It prays that, in contrast to His first advent when there was no room for Him in the inn, "he may find in us a mansion prepared for himself." This collect is especially in accord with the Annunciation theme of the lections for the day.

Here's Gerard van Honthorst's "Adoration of the Shepherds," painted around 1622:


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