Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Advent II Gradual: Ex Sion

Ex Sion ("Out of Zion") is the Gradual for the second Sunday in Advent:

Here's an mp3 file of this piece; I was having some trouble getting the video above to appear, so this is a backup. Here's the chant score:

The text comes from Psalm 50; here's JoguesChant's translation:
Out of Zion his perfect beauty shines forth. God is coming in broad daylight. Summon before him the consecrated nation who made a covenant with him by sacrifice.
This was the same chant in the older, the older, "Extraordinary Form" of the mass propers. 
ReneGoupil  has posted a very pretty chants abreges (abbreviated chants) version as an mp3 file in addition to the full-length version above.

Jeffrey Tucker, writing at the MusicaSacra forum, explains about these chants abreges:
I've sung in scholas that accomplished the Introits, Offertories, and Communions with solid competence, fitting for the Holy Mass. And yet, when it comes to the Graduals and Alleluias, a different assessment is required. To put it bluntly, they are often botched, and sometimes horribly.

This is not surprising. As the most glorious treasures of the repertoire, these pieces can be far more difficult. Indeed, they require a level of mastery that we just don't have yet, not in the early stages of the revival of chant. We will need a few more years before we are prepared to sing these the way they should be sung, week after week.

For this reason, many scholas resort to the Psalm tone versions that are widely available. This is somehow tragic because these chants are the oldest and most beautiful of the repertoire. My goodness, we are talking about Psalms here, the first Christian song, the very musical link to our deepest heritage. There is something strange about doing the correct proper chants for other propers and then singing a disappointing tone on the Psalm itself!

So what is the work around? In the 1920s, Solesmes saw the need and produced the most useful and most overlooked book of this generation. It was called Chants Abrégés. It came out only in French but of course the music itself is the same all over the world.

What they did, and wisely, was reduce the Graduals, Tracts, and Alleluias to the level of difficulty along the lines of the Introit or Communio, so they are approachable. This makes this book invaluable for scholas without decades of experience. It includes chants for the entire liturgical year. The original is in French, as are the titles, but the index is complete so you can easily find the chant you need to sing. The typeface is flawless.

You can download the book and print it a page at a time, or just get the print edition for the schola to have on hand right in the choir loft. I strongly recommend this book for parishes using the Graduals for the ordinary form and especially for Extraordinary Form parishes. 

And Solesmes had a great idea there!  I hadn't heard of chants abreges before, either.   Here's the chant score to this version, with translation at bottom:

 The collect for the day is this one, which sets the imminent coming of the Messiah firmly within the entire prophet tradition and the salvation history of Israel:
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 
And these are the terrific readings for the day, in both the BCP Lectionary and in the RCL; note the "Jerusalem" theme in these as well, and the first appearance of John the Baptist:
Baruch 5:1-9
Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God.
Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God;
put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting;
for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven.
For God will give you evermore the name,
"Righteous Peace, Godly Glory."
Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height;
look toward the east,
and see your children gathered from west and east
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that God has remembered them.
For they went out from you on foot,
led away by their enemies;
but God will bring them back to you,
carried in glory, as on a royal throne.
For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low
and the valleys filled up, to make level ground,
so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.
The woods and every fragrant tree
have shaded Israel at God's command.
For God will lead Israel with joy,
in the light of his glory,
with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.
Malachi 3:1-4

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight-- indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.

Canticle 16  Page 92, BCP:  The Song of Zechariah
Benedictus Dominus Deus
Luke 1: 68-79
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear, *
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

Philippians 1:3-11
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God's grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Luke 3:1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
"The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"

Here are all the propers for today, from and sung by the monks of St. Benedict's Monastery, Sao Paulo, Brazil:

Hebdomada secunda adventus
Introitus: Cf. Is. 30, 19.30; Ps. 79 Populus Sion (3m15.8s - 3061 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 40, 2.3. V. 5 Ex Sion (2m50.7s - 2675 kb) score
Alleluia: Ps. 121, 1 Lætatus sum (2m11.2s - 2057 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 84, 7.8 Deus, tu convertens (2m01.6s - 1901 kb) score
Communio: Bar. 5, 5; 4, 36 Ierusalem, surge cum Ps. 147, 12.13 (1m56.7s - 1825 kb) score

Here are posts on Chantblog for today's Propers:

Here's Nicolas Poussin's "St. John the Baptist Baptizes the People," from around 1635:

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