Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day"

This is labeled "Lessons and Carols from St George's Cathedral, Perth Western Australia 2009."   I've really fallen in love with this song and its earthy mysticism;  it seems often to be sung at the Christmas Eve service, which emphasizes the "tomorrow" aspect.  Thought I'd post it now, before the Christmas/Epiphany season officially ends on Saturday with Candelmas.

Wikipedia provides a full set of words here; there's one rather typical-for-the-time, scolding anti-Judaic (if not anti-Semitic) verse among them.  The first four verses - below - are the ones used here, in John Gardner's arrangement of this folk tune.
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance;

Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love.

Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man's nature
To call my true love to my dance.


In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance.


Then afterwards baptized I was;
The Holy Ghost on me did glance,
My Father’s voice heard I from above,
To call my true love to my dance.

Here's more from the Wikipedia entry:
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day is an English carol usually attributed as 'traditional'; its first written appearance is in William B. Sandys' Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern of 1833. It is most well known in John Gardner's adaptation, but numerous other composers have made original settings of it or arranged the traditional tune, including Gustav Holst, Igor Stravinsky, David Willcocks, John Rutter, Ronald Corp, Philip Stopford, and Andrew Carter.

The verses of the hymn progress through the story of Jesus told in his own voice. An innovative feature of the telling is that Jesus' life is repeatedly characterized as a dance. This device was later used in the modern hymn "Lord of the Dance".


Thomas Cahill in his book Mysteries of the Middle Ages (Doubleday, 2006) presents this song as an English carol in which Christ speaks of his incarnation, his "dancing day." Cahill writes that the carol can be found on extant broadsides, which makes it certainly as old as early printing, still impossible to date. He goes on to suggest that the phrase "the legend of my play" appears to be an allusion to a mystery play, and that the song might well have been sung at the beginning of one of those dramas. That, he writes, would place it in the later Middle Ages, perhaps the fourteenth century.

The King's College Choir sings it, too.

I really do love this tune and this arrangement! 

This seems to be the original melody;  Hymns and Carols of Christmas says this is sheet music from an 1833 book.

So it seems this Willcocks arrangement of the carol - not nearly as wonderful, to me - is based on the original tune:

The Office of the Dead (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913)

Here's the full entry.  It's a full description of the Office as it existed, and was understood, in 1913 in the Roman Catholic Church.    I'll be interested to learn if anything further has been discovered since then; I'd guess not much, but you never know.  I'm also interested in finding out more about it from an Anglican perspective, and will post what I find.

This office, as it now exists in the Roman Liturgy, is composed of First Vespers, Mass, Matins, and Lauds. The Vespers comprise psalms, cxiv, cxix, cxx, cxxix, cxxxvii, with the Magnificat and the preces. The Matins, composed like those of feast days, have three nocturns, each consisting of three psalms and three lessons; the Lauds, as usual, have three psalms (Ps. lxii and lxvi united are counted as one) and a canticle (that of Ezechias), the three psalms Laudate, and the Benedictus. We shall speak presently of the Mass. The office differs in important points from the other offices of the Roman Liturgy. It has not the Little Hours, the Second Vespers, or the Complin. In this respect it resembles the ancient vigils, which began at eventide (First Vespers), continued during the night (Matins), and ended at the dawn (Lauds); Mass followed and terminated the vigil of the feast. The absence of the introduction, "Deus in adjutorium", of the hymns, absolution, blessings, and of the doxology in the psalms also recall ancient times, when these additions had not yet been made. The psalms are chosen not in their serial order, as in the Sunday Office or the Roman ferial Office, but because certain verses, which serve as antiphons, seem to allude to the state of the dead. The use of some of these psalms in the funeral service is of high antiquity, as appears from passages in St. Augustine and other writers of the fourth and fifth centuries. The lessons from Job, so suitable for the Office of the Dead, were also read in very early days at funeral services. The responses, too, deserve notice, especially the response "Libera me, Domine, de viis inferni qui portas æreas confregisti et visitasti inferum et dedisti eis lumen . . . qui erant in poenis . . . advenisti redemptor noster" etc. This is one of the few texts in the Roman Liturgy alluding to Christ's descent into hell. It is also a very ancient composition (see Cabrol, "La descente du Christ aux enfers" in "Rassegna Gregor.", May and June, 1909).

The "Libera me de morte æterna", which is found more complete in the ancient manuscripts, dates also from an early period (see Cabrol in "Dict. d'archéol. et de liturgie", s. v. Absoute). Mgr Batiffol remarks that it is not of Roman origin, but it is very ancient (Hist. du brév., 148). The distinctive character of the Mass, its various epistles, its tract, its offertory in the form of a prayer, the communion (like the offertory) with versicles, according to the ancient custom, and the sequence "Dies Iræ" (q.v.; concerning its author see also BURIAL), it is impossible to dwell upon here. The omission of the Alleluia, and the kiss of peace is also characteristic of this mass. There was a time when the Alleluia was one of the chants customary at funeral services (see Dict. d'archéol. et de liturgie, s. v. Alleluia, I, 1235). Later it was looked upon exclusively as a song of joy, and was omitted on days of penance (e.g. Lent and ember week), sometimes in Advent, and at all funeral ceremonies. It is replaced to-day by a tract. A treatise of the eighth-ninth century published by Muratori (Liturg. Rom. vet., II, 391) shows that the Alleluia was then suppressed. The omission of the kiss of peace at the Mass is probably due to the fact that that ceremony preceded the distribution of the Eucharist to the faithful and was a preparation for it, so, as communion is not given at the Mass for the Dead, the kiss of peace was suppressed.
Not to speak of the variety of ceremonies of the Mozarabic, Ambrosian, or Oriental liturgies, even in countries where the Roman liturgy prevailed, there were many variations. The lessons, the responses, and other formulæ were borrowed from various sources; certain Churches included in this office the Second Vespers and Complin; in other places, instead of the lessons of our Roman Ritual, they read St. Augustine, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiasticus, Osee, Isaiah, Daniel, etc. The responses varied likewise; many examples may be found in Martène and the writers cited below in the bibliography. It is fortunate that the Roman Church preserved carefully and without notable change this office, which, like that of Holy Week, has retained for us in its archaic forms the memory and the atmosphere of a very ancient liturgy. The Mozarabic Liturgy possesses a very rich funeral ritual. Dom Férotin in his "Liber Ordinum" (pp. 107 sqq.) has published a ritual (probably the oldest extant), dating back possibly to the seventh century. He has also published a large number of votive masses of the dead. For the Ambrosian Liturgy, see Magistretti, "Manuale Ambrosianum", I (Milan, 1905), 67; for the Greek Ritual, see Burial, pp. 77-8.


The Office of the Dead has been attributed at times to St. Isidore, to St. Augustine, to St. Ambrose, and even to Origen. There is no foundation for these assertions. In its present form, while it has some very ancient characteristics, it cannot be older than the seventh or even eighth century. Its authorship is discussed at length in the dissertation of Horatius de Turre, mentioned in the bibliography. Some writers attribute it to Amalarius, others to Alcuin (see Batiffol, "Hist. du Brév.", 181-92; and for the opposing view, Bäumer-Biron, "Hist. du Brév.", II, 37). These opinions are more probable, but are not as yet very solidly established. Amalarius speaks of the Office of the Dead, but seems to imply that it existed before his time ("De Eccles. officiis", IV, xlii, in P. L., CV, 1238). He alludes to the "Agenda Mortuorum" contained in a sacramentary, but nothing leads us to believe that he was its author. Alcuin is also known for his activity in liturgical matters, and we owe certain liturgical compositions to him; but there is no reason for considering him the author of this office (see Cabrol in "Dict. d'archéol. et de liturgie", s. v. Alcuin). In the Gregorian Antiphonary we do find a mass and an office in agenda mortuorum, but it is admitted that this part is an addition; a fortiori this applies to the Gelasian. The Maurist editors of St. Gregory are inclined to attribute their composition to Albinus and Etienne of Liège (Microl., lx). But if it is impossible to trace the office and the mass in their actual form beyond the ninth or eighth century, it is notwithstanding certain that the prayers and a service for the dead existed long before that time. We find them in the fifth, fourth, and even in the third and second century. Pseudo-Dionysius, Sts. Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome, and Augustine, Tertullian, and the inscriptions in the catacombs afford a proof of this (see Burial, III, 76; PRAYERS FOR THE DEAD; Cabrol, "La prière pour les morts" in "Rev. d'apologétique", 15 Sept., 1909, pp. 881-93).


The Office of the Dead was composed originally to satisfy private devotion to the dead, and at first had no official character. Even in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries, it was recited chiefly by the religious orders (the Cluniacs, Cistercians, Carthusians), like the Office of Our Lady (see Guyet, loc. cit., 465). Later it was prescribed for all clerics and became obligatory whenever a ferial office was celebrated. It has even been said that it was to remove the obligation of reciting it that the feasts of double and semi-double rite were multiplied, for it could be omitted on such days (Bäumer-Biron, op. cit., II, 198). The reformed Breviary of St. Pius V assigned the recitation of the Office of the Dead to the first free day in the month, the Mondays of Advent and Lent, to some vigils, and ember days. Even then it was not obligatory, for the Bull "Quod a nobis" of the same pope merely recommends it earnestly, like the Office of Our Lady and the Penitential Psalms, without imposing it as a duty (Van der Stappen, "Sacra Liturgia", I, Malines, 1898, p. 115). At the present time, it is obligatory on the clergy only on the feast of All Souls and in certain mortuary services. Some religious orders (Carthusians, Cistercians etc.) have preserved the custom of reciting it in choir on the days assigned by the Bull "Quod a nobis".


Apostolic Constitutions, VI, xxx; VIII, xl; PS.-DIONYS., De hierarch. eccl., vii, n. 2; AMALARIUS in P. L., CV, 1239 (De eccles. officiis, III, xlix; IV, xlii); DURANDUS, Rationale, VII, xxxv; BELETH, Rationale in P. L., CII, 156, 161; RAOUL DE TONGRES, De observantia canonum, prop. xx; PITTONUS, Tractatus de octavis festorum (1739), I (towards end), Brevis tract. de commem. omnium fidel. defunct.; HORATIUS A TURRE, De mortuorum officio dissertatio postuma in Collectio Calogiera, Raccolta d'opuscoli, XXVII (Venice, 1742), 409-429; GAVANTI, Thesaur. rituum, II, 175 sqq.; MARTÈNE, De antiq. ecclesioeritibus, II (1788), 366-411; THOMASSIN, De disciplina eccles., I-II, lxxxvi, 9; ZACCARIA, Bibl. ritualis, II, 417-8; IDEM, Onomasticon, I, 110, s. v. Defuncti; BONA, Rerum liturg., I, xvii, §§ 6-7; HITTORP, De div. cathol. eccles. officiis, 1329; GUYET, Heortologia, 462-73 (on the rubrics to be observed in the office of the dead); CATALANUS, Rituale Romanum, I (1757), 408, 416 etc.; CERIANAI, Circa obligationem officii defunctorum; BÄUMER-BIRON,Hist. du Brév., II, 30, 37, 131 etc.; BATIFFOL, Hist. du Brév., 181-92; PLAINE, La piété envers les morts in Rev. du clergé français, IV (1895), 365 sqq.; La fête des mortsibid., VIII (1896), 432 sqq.; La messe des mortsibid., XVI (1898), 196; EBNER, Quellen u. Forschungen zur Gesch. des Missale Romanum, 44, 53 etc.; THALHOFER, Handbuch der kathol. Liturgik, II (Freiburg, 1893), 502-08; KEFERLOHER, Das Todtenofficium der röm. Kirche (Munich, 1873); HOEYNEK, Officium defunctorum (Kempten, 1892); IDEM, Zur Gesch. des Officium defunctorum in Katholik., II (1893), 329. See also the literature of the article BURIAL and other articles cited above, CEMETERY, CREMATION etc.


Here's a copy in Latin - the book was published in 1722 - of the Office of the Dead (Officium Defunctorum: Sancta & Salubris est cogitatio, pro Defunctis exorare, ut a peccatis solvantur ("The Office of the Dead: Holy and wholesome to think and pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.")).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Missa pro defunctis: In Paradisum

In Paradisum is the final chant of the Requiem mass, an antiphon sung as the body is being carried out of the church to be buried.  Here it's sung by the Alfred Deller Consort.

Here's the text:
In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.
May angels lead you into paradise; upon your arrival, may the martyrs receive you and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem. May the ranks of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, once a poor man, may you have eternal rest.
Here's the full  chant score:

More about In Paradisum:
The Gregorian melody for In paradisum is in the Mixolydian mode. The special nature of this mode — with its lowered seventh degree, which makes it different from the modern major mode — is heard twice in this melody at cadences on the words Chorus Angelorum and quondam paupere. The melodic highpoint of In paradisum comes on the name of Lazarus, the poor beggar in the Bible who went to heaven while a rich man went to hell.

Here's the In Paradisum from Gabriel Fauré's Requiem, sung on All Souls' Day 2011 at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Times Sq. NY:

Here are links to posts on this blog, for all the movements of the Requiem mass:

Missa pro Defunctis: Libera Me

This is the Gregorian Responsory Libera Me, here sung by the Schola Bellarmina:

Libera me is sung at both the Office of the Dead and at the absolution of the dead after the Requiem mass, before the burial.  Here's the text:
Líbera me, Dómine, de morte ætérna, in die illa treménda:
Quando cœli movéndi sunt et terra.
Dum véneris iudicáre sæculum per ignem.
Tremens factus sum ego, et tímeo, dum discússio vénerit, atque ventúra ira.
Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.
Dies illa, dies iræ, calamitátis et misériæ, dies magna et amára valde.
Dum véneris iudicáre sæculum per ignem.
Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine: et lux perpétua lúceat eis.

Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal on that fearful day,
When the heavens and the earth shall be moved,
When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
I am made to tremble, and I fear, till the judgment be upon us, and the coming wrath,
When the heavens and the earth shall be moved.
That day, day of wrath, calamity, and misery, day of great and exceeding bitterness,
When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon them.

Here's the chant score, courtesy of MusicaSacra:

Here's more about Libera Me:
Libera Me is begun by a cantor, who sings the versicles alone, and the responses are sung by the choir. The text is written in the first person singular, "Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death on that fearful day," a dramatic substitution in which the choir speaks for the dead person.
In the traditional Office, Libera Me is also said on All Souls' Day (2 November) and whenever all three nocturns of Matins of the Dead are recited. On other occasions, the ninth responsory of Matins for the Dead begins with "Libera me", but continues with a different text (Domine, de viis inferni, etc.).

Here's the Libera Me from Gabriel Fauré's Requiem, sung on All Souls' Day 2011 at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Times Sq. NY:

Here are links to posts on this blog, for all the movements of the Requiem mass:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Laetabundus: The Sequence Hymn for Christmas and Candlemas

Here sung very well by "I Cantori Gregoriani - dirige il Maestro Fulvio Rampi - Cremona Chiesa di Sant'Abbondio."

This Sequence is also used at Second Vespers in the Sarum Office for Candlemas (although not in Septuagesima, which is in fact where we are this year!). This page says that "The Sequence Laetabundus, for the mass of Christmas, is not found in the Tridentine Roman Missal. It was found in all the Gallican Missals, including those of France, and the English Sarum Usage; and is also in the Dominican and Carmelite Missals."

Here's the score, from Hymn Melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service-books:

seem to be the Latin words; the source quotes Dom Gueranger's The Liturgical Year:   "... a sequence, which is to be found in all the Roman-French missals.  For a long time, it was thought to have been written by St. Bernard: but, we have seen it in a Manuscript of the 11th century, and, consequently, it must have been written earlier than the date usually assigned to it."
exsultet fidelis chorus.

Regem regum
intactae profudit thorus:
res mirranda.

Angelus consilii
natus est de virgine:
sol de stella.

Sol occasum nesciens,

stella semper rutilans,
semper clara.

Sicut sidus radium,
profert Virgo Filium,
pari forma.

Neque sidus radio,
neque mater filio,
fit corrupta.

Cedrus alta Libani
conformatur hyssopo,
valle nostra;

Verbum ens Altissimi
corporari passum est,
carne sumpta.

Isaias cecinit,
Synagoga meminit,
numquam tamen desinit
esse caeca.

Si non suis vatibus,
credat vel gentilibus;
Sibyllinis versibus
haec praedicta.

Infelix, propera,
crede vel vetera:
cur damnaberis,
gens misera?

Quem docet littera,
natum considera:
ipsum genuit puerpera.

This Sequence contains some language that's a bit discomforting:  "Though Esais had forshown, though the synagogue had known; yet the truth she will not own; blind remaining.  If her prophets speak in vain, let her heed a Gentile strain; and from mystic Sybil gain; light in darkness."  This doesn't seem angry or accusing, merely hopeful that things will change - in the way Paul writes about the same topic in Romans.  In fact, the text seems to refer directly to Romans 9-11, and to Paul's references to Isaiah - and his stated desire to "make my fellow Jews jealous," per this section of Romans 11:
11 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham,[h] a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4 But what is God's reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that would not see
    and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”
9 And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
    and bend their backs forever.”
11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion[i] mean!

13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Still, it's a bit disconcerting, given what's happened in history, to see this in the middle of a beautiful Sequence hymn!  Perhaps it's good to have it there, though - as a stark reminder of how damaging misinterpretations of the Bible - and bad religion - can be and have been.  "Penitence" applies to the church, too.

You can listen to the mass chants for Candlemas - including what looks like four antiphons used in the opening procession - at the Brazilian Benedictines' site.  I will certainly work on some posts about these in the future.

Candlemas/Presentation is a celebration of the events recounted in Luke 2:22-40; as you can see in the citation below, the Nunc Dimittis, the famous Evensong/Compline canticle (the first line of which in English is "Lord, now lettest thou Thy servant depart in peace"), comes from this story.
22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant[d] depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.[e] She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

Simeon and Anna are often said to represent "the Law and the Prophets" (as, later at Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah would) - and Jesus as the fulfillment of them.

Rembrandt did at least three paintings of Simeon - and sometimes Anna - in the Temple.   This one is from 1627 or 1628:

This one - called "Simeon's song of praise" -  was painted in 1631:

And this - my favorite - was done in 1669:

Meanwhile, here's a bit about the Cremona Church of Sant'Abbondio, from Visual Italy, the place where the video above was recorded:
The Church of Sant’Abbondio in Cremona was built with the purpose of reconstructing a previous chapel by the religious order of the Humiliated, which came after the Benedictines in 1288. In the 15th and 16th centuries the ceiling wooden framework was replaced by a masonry vault and the single nave was restricted, so as to leave space to a series of side chapels embellished by beautiful stucco statues. Worth mentioning is the remarkable cycle of frescoes by Giulio Campi, Orazio Sammachini and the Malosso, with the Glories of the Virgin Mary. The Romanesque bell tower with terracotta conic covering stands out magnificently outside. The bell tower has pairs of walled ogival windows on each side and a triple-lanced window for the belfry. In 1624, following the will of Count Conte Giovanni Pietro Ala, a perfect copy of the Holy House of Loreto, containing a worshipped statue of the Black Madonna inside, was built inside the Church. The Lauretano Museum on the upper floor of the old apartment of the prior of the Humiliated displays memories and evidence of the devotion of Loreto, which is related to the Holy House, as well as of the events of the history of the Church of St. Abbondio. Worth mentioning is the annexed cloister in Bramante style, with terracotta decorations and elegant duotone effects.

Here's an image of the cloisters at the church, from; beautiful:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sarum Compline for Ordinary Time has posted English Compline for several seasons:
We are pleased to host on this site beautifully prepared editions of the Sarum Office of Compline in contemporary English.  Thanks go to Emil Salim for assembling these booklets, which cover the following seasons:
   Compline 1: Advent.
   Compline 5: The Octave of Epiphany.
   Compline 6: Ordinary Time.
   Compline 7: The Third Sunday of Lent.
   Compline 9: Ferias in Passion Week.
   Compline 14: From Low Sunday to the Vigil of the Ascension.
Here's a PDF file of "Compline for Ordinary Time."   (Linked from the "Annex" page.)   The image on the cover is Rembrandt's "Simeon and Anna in the Temple," celebrating the February 2 Feast of the Presentation (AKA "Candlemas" and "Purification").

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Adorate Deum: The Introit for the Third Sunday after Epiphany

Wow, this is a beautiful introit, and here's a great rendering of it:

Here's a translation of the text, which comes from Psalm (96/)97, verses 7-8 and then verse 1; the chant score is below:
Worship God, all you angels: Sion has heard and is glad.  The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice: let the many coastlands be glad.

Easter is very early this year - it's on March 31 - and this Sunday is already Septuagesima (the third Sunday before Ash Wednesday).   The Extraordinary Form uses a completely different set of propers for these last weeks before Lent begins; you can listen to the Introit for Septuagesima Sunday at that last link.

But I'm happy to highlight the modern Introit here - it's beautiful!  This is the Introit only for Year C, according to the Brazilian Benedictines. The Year C Gospel is Luke's story of Jesus' announcement in the synagogue that he himself is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy:
Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
This story comes immediately after Luke's version of Jesus' temptation in the wildnerness.

Years A and B actually have their own Introit: Dominus secus mare ("The Lord by the sea"), the text of which comes from Matthew. Here's that one, sung by the "Schola Antiqua (Juan Carlos Asensio Palacios)":

Dominus secus mare Galilææ vidit duos fratres,
Petrum et Andream, et vocavit eos:
Venite post me: faciam vos fieri piscatores hominum.

Coeli enarrant gloriam Dei:
et opera manuum ejus annuntiat firmamentum.

The Lord saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, by the seaside of Galilee, and He called them; Come ye after Me, I will make you to be fishers of men.

The Heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the works of His hands .

Also very pretty.   The Gospel reading for Year A does contain the story from Matthew that makes up the first part of the Introit; the Year B Gospel is the same story from Mark.  I'm not sure, though, why some Sundays have alternating propers like this; something else to find out about, then.

The Collect for this week is this new one:
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Hatchett's Commentary notes that the Collect  contains references to all three different Gospel readings for today:
The Rev. Dr. Massey H. Shepherd, Jr. drafted this collect which recalls phrases from the collect for the feast day of Saint Andrew, the story of whose calling by Christ is the Gospel of Years A and B.  The Gospel for Year C is the story of our Lord's sermon at Nazareth which is also echoed by the collect.  We pray that we may not only answer His call but also proclaim the Good News, and that "we and all the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works."
Which does again echo Epiphany's "universal" theme.  Interestingly,  Hatchett notes on that same page that "many of the post-Epiphany collects ... [relate] to the Gospel of the day."  And that, too, is a way to drive home the "universal" theme - that the Gospel - the "manifestation" of Christ in his Incarnation - is for all the world.

As, of course, is the "many coastlines" of the Adorate Deum Introit itself.  I suppose, in fact, that the great theme in all three Gospels is that these are some of the opening notes of Christ's ministry.

Interestingly, the Gospel in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (and also in the original 1662 BCP) told the stories of the healing of the leper, and the healing of the Centurion's servant, from Matthew 8.  (It was the same reading in the pre-1970 Roman Catholic Lectionary, too, according to this site - although the Septuagesima reading is Matthew 20:1-16, the parable of the workers in the vineyard.  One of these days I'm really going to try to compare and contrast some of the various lectionary systems to see what's been going on for the past 2,000 years!)

Here's a wonderful tempera with gold leaf of the calling of Peter and Andrew, from Duccio di Buoninsegna, from about 1310:

Monday, January 21, 2013

An English Martyrology

From the Annex, (which they call an "Overflow site for"); the link below opens a 1.25MB PDF file.

There appears to be no extant Sarum Martirology stemming directly from Salisbury. However several MS Latin Martirologies, such as that in British Museum Harl. MS 2785. appears to be of Sarum Use.

The English Martirology available here is an edition of that prepared by Richard Whytford and printed by Wynken de Worde in 1526. Contractions have been spelled out and punctuation modernized, but the orthography follows the original.

Readers may also wish to refer to the edition of the same Martirology issued by the Henry Bradshaw Society in 1893, which contains an informative introduction as well as comparative notes.

We hope to make a Latin Sarum Martirology available in due course.

The Martirology is read daily after the Office of Prime.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Introit for the Second Sunday after Epiphany: Omnis terra

This is a video labeled "Dominica II post Epiphaniam 3," from the Institute St. Philipp Neri in Berlin, and includes the singing of this introit.  (They are singing the beautiful Missa de Angelis at this mass, and the Kyrie is also included here.)

Here's a translation of this Introit, with the chant score below.
Let all the earth adore Thee, O God, and sing to Thee: let it sing a psalmto Thy name, O most High. * Shout with joy to God, all the earth, sing ye a psalm to His name: give glory to His praise.

The text comes from Psalm (65/)66, verse 4 and then verses 1-2.

(I'm not sure exactly what's going on here, I confess - why the Introit doesn't show up until the 3rd video!  It appears as if they may do the sprinkling rite, Asperges Me, before singing the introit - or else the videos are out of order - but I'll have to go through the clips to see.

Interestingly, in this video of the Asperges Me, it sounds like the whole congregation is singing; I hope that's true!

I'd like to learn more about the Philipp Neri Institute, and will post what I find.)

Over the years, I've realized with more and more clarity that a central theme - if not the central theme - of Epiphany and its season is exactly summed up by the incipit of this Introit: Omnis terra adóret te - "let the whole earth adore you."

This "universal" theme runs through everything during Epiphany season, from the themes of the Epiphany itself (especially that of the Magi, who come from afar - far outside Israel - to worship the new King); to the Epiphany propers (i.e., Reges Tharsis - "Kings of Tarshish and Saba" come to worship from the ends of the earth); to the Epiphany Collect (which begins "O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy only-begotten Son to the peoples of the earth...."); and in propers throughout the season (i.e., the Offertory for today is Iubilate Deo, universa terra).

The New Testament reading on Epiphany is from Ephesians 3, and starts out "This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles...."   The Old Testament is this supremely beautiful passage from Isaiah 60:
1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.

3 And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.

4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.

5 Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,[a]
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

6 A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
And now each week we sing Canticle 11, Surge, illuminare ("The Third Song of Isaiah") - taken from the first few verses in the passage above, along with these:
11 Your gates shall be open continually;
day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
with their kings led in procession.

18 Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.

19 The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;[b]
but the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.[c]
And there you have the other Epiphany theme:  light.   What a beautiful, mystical season this is!

Here's Palestrina's Surge, illuminare, sung by the Tallis Singers:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dilexisti iustitiam: The Introit for The Baptism of Our Lord

Dilexisti iustitiam is the Introit for The Baptism of Our Lord - the First Sunday after Epiphany. The singers here are the Solesmes monks:

The text for the Introit comes from Psalm (44/)45, verse 8 and then verse 2. Here's a translation from CPDL:
Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness.

Here's a nice mp3 of the Introit from the website of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Hildegard (yes, that St. Hildegard), in Eibingen, Germany.

Here's the chant score:

Here's the full complement of today's propers, including links to chant scores and audio files, from the Brazilian Benedictines. 
In Baptismate Domini
Introitus: Ps. 44, 8 et 2 Dilexisti iustitiam (2m43.2s - 1117 kb) score
Ad aspersionem aquæ benedictæ (In dominicis extra tempus paschale): 
                                Ps. 50, 9 et 3 Asperges me (I) (1m31.0s - 623 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 71, 18. V. 3 Benedictus Dominus (3m48.5s - 1563 kb) score

                         vel Ps. 44, 8 Dilexisti iustitiam (not yet available)
Alleluia: Ps. 117, 26 Benedictus qui venit (2m19.2s - 952 kb)

                      vel Ps. 88, 21 Inveni David servum meum (not yet available)
Offertorium: Ps. 117, 26.27 Benedictus qui venit (2m01.2s - 830 kb) score
Communio: Gal. 3, 27 Omnes qui in Christo baptizati estis (47.4s - 325 kb) score

I'm not sure why they are making a point to include the Asperges Me here; it seems to me to be no different from the usual "Outside of Paschal Time" sprinkling-of-water chant (and is labeled that way besides).  Perhaps the idea is that this is to be done on this particular day, even in parishes that don't ordinarily do the Asperges?   I guess I should check the rubrics (although I'm not sure how to do it for the Catholic Church!).

I'm also not sure why the score includes the "T.P. Alleluia alleluia"  measures (not sung here).  I'm assuming "T.P." is Tempus Paschale - Easter time, which explains the Alleluias;  to me this implies that this chant is used again during Easter season at some point.  I'll have to check that.

Psalm (44/)45 is a love song (the note to the choirmaster - not in the BCP version below - says "To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Maskil[a] of the Sons of Korah; a love song."), and one of my favorites; I especially always like that reference to "cloth-of-gold."
Psalm 45 Eructavit cor meum


My heart is stirring with a noble song;
let me recite what I have fashioned for the king; *
my tongue shall be the pen of a skilled writer.


You are the fairest of men; *
grace flows from your lips,
because God has blessed you for ever.


Strap your sword upon your thigh, O mighty warrior, *
in your pride and in your majesty.


Ride out and conquer in the cause of truth *
and for the sake of justice.


Your right hand will show you marvelous things; *
your arrows are very sharp, O mighty warrior.


The peoples are falling at your feet, *
and the king's enemies are losing heart.


Your throne, O God, endures for ever and ever, *
a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of your kingdom;
you love righteousness and hate iniquity.


Therefore God, your God, has anointed you *
with the oil of gladness above your fellows.


All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes, and cassia, *
and the music of strings from ivory palaces makes you glad.


Kings' daughters stand among the ladies of the court; *
on your right hand is the queen,
adorned with the gold of Ophir.


"Hear, O daughter; consider and listen closely; *
forget your people and your father's house.


The king will have pleasure in your beauty; *
he is your master; therefore do him honor.


The people of Tyre are here with a gift; *
the rich among the people seek your favor."


All glorious is the princess as she enters; *
her gown is cloth-of-gold.


In embroidered apparel she is brought to the king; *
after her the bridesmaids follow in procession.


With joy and gladness they are brought, *
and enter into the palace of the king.


"In place of fathers, O king, you shall have sons; *
you shall make them princes over all the earth.


I will make your name to be remembered
from one generation to another; *
therefore nations will praise you for ever and ever."

Of course, the Gospel for today is Christ's baptism in the Jordan by John the Forerunner - this year from Luke:
3:15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,

3:16 John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

3:17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,

3:22 and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

Interesting, too, that the reading from Isaiah includes this verse:
43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
It seems to me that what John says in Luke's gospel about fire and water may hearken back directly to Isaiah; will be looking at this.

This is the collect:
Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

I couldn't find a Baptism image I liked, but here's a good one of John pointing out Christ to Andrew: "San giovanni che indica il Cristo a Sant'Andrea."  This is Ottavio Vannini, who painted it sometime in the first half of the 17th Century.  Dramatic - and a great John and Andrew.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Sarum Compline for the Octave of Epiphany has posted English Compline for several seasons:
We are pleased to host on this site beautifully prepared editions of the Sarum Office of Compline in contemporary English.  Thanks go to Emil Salim for assembling these booklets, which cover the following seasons:
   Compline 1: Advent.
   Compline 5: The Octave of Epiphany.
   Compline 6: Ordinary Time.
   Compline 7: The Third Sunday of Lent.
   Compline 9: Ferias in Passion Week.
   Compline 14: From Low Sunday to the Vigil of the Ascension.
Here's a PDF file of "Compline for the Octave of Epiphany."   (Linked from the "Annex" page.)

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Epiphany Hymn: "The growing limbs of God the Son"

Here's a wonderful hymn - that's a page with just a sample of it, since the video I had posted here previously is no longer online.  It's one I've never heard before, and another aspect of the historical celebration of Epiphany: Christ's youth.  This theme doesn't figure in to the day much these days, but should.   Beautiful!

These words come from Hymns and Carols of Christmas; the text is by George B. Timms.  
1. The growing limbs of God the Son,
The Father’s sole begotten One,
Prepare him for his work on earth,
Who for mankind took human birth

2. In wisdom and in grace he grows,
Each step of human life he knows,
In all save sin, like us was made,
To be a fallen people’s aid.

3. His Father’s house he enters in,
Where rabbis teach their cure for sin,
While in his heart he hears the call
Which through his cross won life for all.

4. And he who rules angelic bands,
Who high in heavenly glory stands,
Now yeilds him to his mother’s will,
A boy’s obedience to fulfil.

5. He all his radiant splendour hides,
And he who made the stars abides
With Joseph and the Mother blest,
In form of servant manifest.

6. To him, the Father’s only Son,
Let praise and honour now be done,
Who by the Holy Spirit’s grace
Took flesh to save our human race.

Friday, January 04, 2013

The Offertory for the Feast of the Epiphany: Reges Tharsis ("Kings of Tharsis")

Reges Tharsis ("The Kings of Tarshish") is the lovely Offertory for the Feast of the Epiphany.   Here's a video version (sung by "the Schola des Moines de Montserrat") with an embedded chant score:

The text comes from Psalm 72:
Reges Tharsis
et insulae munera offerent:
reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent:
et adorabunt eum omnes reges terrae,
omnes gentest servient ei.

The kings of Tarshish
and the islands shall pay tribute;
the kings of Arabia and of Saba offer gifts;
all the kings of the earth shall bow down before him,
all nations shall do him service.

Here's the full score:

(It strikes me, after listening to this numerous times, that it seems to have definite echoes, in parts of the melody, of the Christmas Midnight Introit,  Dominus Dixit Ad Me.)

Tarshish may have been Carthage (now Tunis) or Tartessos (an ancient harbor city in southern Spain, near present-day Cádiz); this is still, as far as I know, unclear.  But Derek has pointed out that:
Saba [Sheba] was ... used colloquilly in combination with Tarshish to refer to the two ends of the earth. Tarshish was as far west as you could go; Saba as far east.
And that is probably the most important idea here.

The modern form of today's propers is exactly like the historical (1962 Missal/Tridentine) form; all of the chants have been retained.  These are the chant propers for this feast; the sound files were recorded at St. Benedict's Monastery in São Paulo (Brazil):
In Epiphania Domini
Introitus: Cf. Mal. 3, 1; I Chron. 29, 12; Ps. 71, 1.10.11 Ecce advenit (4m21.1s - 1786 kb) score
Graduale: Is. 6, 60. V. 1 Omnes de Saba venient (2m31.0s - 1033 kb) score
Alleluia: Cf. Mt. 2, 2 Vidimus stellam (2m17.2s - 939 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 71, 10.11 Reges Tharsis (1m59.0s - 814 kb) score
Communio: Cf. Mt. 2, 2 Vidimus stellam (39.6s - 272 kb) score

Other posts on Chantblog for the propers on this feast day are:

The Feast of the Epiphany is one of the most beautiful of the Great Church Year, in my view - and has one of the most interesting backgrounds.  It's known that Easter and Pentecost were just about universally celebrated very early on by the Church - by the mid-2nd century and early 3rd century, respectively - but Epiphany wasn't established until sometime in the 4th century, after Nicea and possibly around the same time Christmas entered the Calendar.

The feast is now and has always been called Theophany in the East - originally (apparently) a celebration of John's baptism of Christ in the Jordan, although other events became part of it too.  A theophany, in Christian terms, is a "Manifestation of God that is tangible to the human senses." 
This observance commemorates Christ's baptism by John the Forerunner in the River Jordan, and the beginning of Christ's earthly ministry. The Feast of Theophany is the culmination of the Christmas Season, which starts on December 25 and ends on January 6. In mystic commemoration of this event, the Great Blessing of Water is performed on this day, and the holy water so blessed is used by the local priest to bless the homes of the faithful.

The feast is called Theophany because at the baptism of Christ the Holy Trinity appeared clearly to mankind for the first time—the Father's voice is heard from Heaven, the Son of God is incarnate and standing physically in the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descends on Him in the form of a dove.


Originally, there was just one Christian feast of the shining forth of God to the world in the human form of Jesus of Nazareth. It included the celebration of Christ's birth, the adoration of the wise men, and all of the childhood events of Christ such as his circumcision and presentation to the temple as well as his baptism by John in the Jordan. There seems to be little doubt that this feast, like Pascha and Pentecost, was understood as the fulfillment of a previous Jewish festival, in this case the Feast of Lights. 

In fact, this feast has always been multi-faceted and somewhat in flux; it's commemorated a variety of occasions in the life of Christ, from the Nativity to the visitation of the Magi to events in Jesus' childhood to his baptism in the Jordon to the wedding at Cana - and often several of these at once.  Even in the West, Epiphany has been a multifaceted celebration; as the Office hymns and antiphons (e.g., Tribus miraculis - "three miracles" - at Vespers) on the day make plain, it has celebrated the visitation of the Magi, the baptism in the Jordan, and Christ's first miracle at Cana.   (The Epiphany hymn Hostis Herodites impie, which elaborates upon these three events, is part of of Caelius Sedulius's 5th-Century poem, Paean alphabeticus de Cristo and has been cited in Swiss manuscripts from the 9th century - so the three-part observance has been around for a long, long time.)

It's certainly among the most mystical of the great feasts of the year, and so offers much food for contemplation.   And its movements and variations over time are interesting, too, I think; this allows for a variety of strands of thought to emerge and be considered.

The feast has also been an historical celebration of the Kingship of Christ, as the Introit - "Behold, the Lord, the Ruler, Is Come" - makes plain (and as Fr. Stephen Gerth often points out when the Feast of Christ the King comes around in November).   But that is, interestingly, actually an inference drawn from the resonances surrounding the feast; it doesn't necessarily follow from the actual history.

Full Homely Divinity has a nice page on Epiphany; it includes poems by T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden - and this section about "The Blessing of Chalk" and "The Hallowing of Homes."
St. Matthew tells us that when the wise men arrived in Bethlehem to visit Jesus, they found him and his mother in a house, not the stable where they had found their first temporary shelter. This is a cue to us that our Epiphany celebration should focus on our own houses and it is a very old custom to bless houses on Epiphany. In the East, in particular, it is the custom for the parish priest to go through the parish blessing houses. This is not the elaborate blessing of a new home, but a special blessing that is also often given at Easter, a renewal of the homes in which the people of God dwell and live out the mystery of faith day by day. In recent years, this custom has been revived in some places in the West. The Book of Occasional Services of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. provides forms for this blessing. However, there is another way of blessing homes at Epiphany that begins in church, but does not require the priest to go from house to house--something that would be quite impossible in many non-geographical parishes in the modern world. This custom involves chalk that is blessed by the priest and taken home by families to mark the doors of their homes.

The Blessing of Chalk

Priest:  Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
People:  The maker of heaven and earth.
Priest:  The Lord be with you.
People:  And also with you.
Priest:  Let us pray.

Bless, O Lord, this chalk that it may be an effective sign of your blessing upon the homes of your people.  Watch over our going out and our coming in and grant that the love of Christ and the wonder of his grace may be bestowed on every inhabitant and every guest. We pray that, like the wise men of old, we may serve him as our only King, worship him as the one true God, and honor him with lives of sacrifice and praise, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Hallowing of Homes

The blessing of the house begins with all members of the household standing outside of the main entrance of the home. It is not necessary for a priest to perform this blessing. Rather, the head of the household is usual, though any member of the household may be designated. In some families, the person who finds the bean or token in the Twelfth Cake or the King Cake has the privilege of presiding at this blessing.
Leader:  Peace be to this house.
People:  And to all who enter here.
Leader:  Wise men came to Bethlehem to honor the Savior and offered him gifts:
People:  Gold for a great king.
Leader:  Incense to the true God.
People:  And myrrh for his body, for he would suffer and die.
 The initials of the legendary names of the wise men are written with blessed chalk on the door or the lintel of the house, framed by the numbers of the new year, in this way:

Everyone then enters the house. In some places it is customary to cross the threshold with the right foot first, thus starting the year out "on the right foot." Once inside, everyone may gather in the vestibule or another room for the blessing of the house.
Leader:  The Lord be with you.
People:  And also with you.
Leader:  Let us pray.
 Send your blessing, O Lord, upon this house and on all who shelter under its roof. Inspire us as you inspired the wise men of old who sought your Son: give us courage on the journey, discernment to find the right way, and whatever we may need to complete the tasks to which he calls us. And, at the last, may we find our rest and fulfilment in his presence in the home he has prepared for us in your heavenly kingdom, where he now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
 If water has also been blessed at church (see below), it is appropriate to go through the house sprinkling each room with it. Incense could also be used. It would be appropriate to sing a hymn while this is being done. The familiar carol, "We three kings of Orient are," would be a good, and very Anglican choice (see below). In some churches, gold, frankincense, and myrrh are blessed on this day. With or without these symbolic gifts, the house blessing should end at the family crèche with the collect for the feast.

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The text and tune for "We three kings" were written in 1857 by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., son of the first Bishop of Vermont and the first instructor in church music at the General Theological Seminary in New York. While he never married, he was uncle to a large brood of nephews and nieces, and they expected him to bring a new hymn to the family Christmas gatherings each year at the bishop's house at Rock Point, in Burlington, Vermont. Several of these survive in various publications, including "Gather around the Christmas Tree," which is found here. Sources say that "We three kings" was written for a pageant Hopkins helped to stage at the seminary. In the text, as originally set out by Hopkins, the kings were each assigned a different line in the music: Gaspard the treble, Melchior the alto, and Balthazar the bass.

Here's the icon "Revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus Christ, Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos (1774) at Kondopoga.

And here's Boris Kustodiev's painting "The consecration of water on the Theophany" (1921).

Finally, here is the New Advent (1913) entry for this feast; one of the great things about writing about church music and church traditions is that you can cite something from a century ago with fairly good confidence!  There may, of course, have been further developments in the understanding of the origins of the Feast of the Epiphany, but most likely a great deal of what's there still works.

I may as well quote the page in its entirety, since this is all rather complicated and the pieces all refer to one another:


Known also under the following names: (1) ta epiphania, or he epiphanios, sc. hemera (rarely he epiphaneia: though, e.g. in Athanasius, he somatike epiphaneia occurs); theophaneia: dies epiphaniarum; festivitas declarationis, manifestationis; apparitio; acceptio. (2)hemera ton photon: dies luminum; dies lavacri. (3) phagiphania, Bethphania; etc. (4) Festum trium regum: whence the Dutch Drie-koningendag Danish Hellig-tre-kongersdag, etc. (5) Twelfth Day, Swedish Trettondedag;, etc. — The meaning of these names will be explained below. The feast was called among the Syrians denho (up-going), a name to be connected with the notion of rising light expressed in Luke. I, 78. The name Epiphania survives in Befana, the great fair held at that season in Rome; it is difficult to say how closely the practice then observed of buying all sorts of earthenware images, combined with whistles, and representing some type ofRoman life, is to be connected with the rather similar custom in vogue during the December feast of the Saturnalia. For the earthenware or pastry sigillaria then sold all over Rome, see Macrobius; s. I, x, xxiv; II, xlix; and Brand, "Pop. Ant.", 180, 183.


As its name suggests, the Epiphany had its origin in the Eastern Church. There exists indeed a homily of Hippolytus to which (in one manuscript only) is affixed the lemma ieis ta hagia theophaneia [not epiphaneia: Kellner]; it is throughout addressed to one about to be baptized, and deals only with the Sacrament of Baptism. It was edited by Bonwetsch and Achelis (Leipzig, 1897); Achelis and others consider it spurious. The first reference about which we can feel certain is in Clement (Stromata I.21.45), who writes: "There are those, too, who over-curiously assign to the Birth of Our Saviour not only its year but its day, which they say to be on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus. But the followers of Basilides celebrate the day of His Baptism too, spending the previous night in readings. And they say that it was the 15th of the month Tybi of the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar. And some say that it was observed the 11th of the same month." Now, 11 and 15 Tybi are 6 and 10 January, respectively. The question at once arises; did these Basilidians celebrate Christ's Nativity and also His Baptism on 6 and 10 January, or did they merely keep His Baptism on these days, as well as His Nativity on another date? The evidence, if not Clement's actual words, suggests the former. It is certain that the Epiphany festival in the East very early admitted a more or less marked commemoration of the Nativity, or at least of the Angeli ad Pastores, the most striking "manifestation" of Christ's glory on that occasion. Moreover, the first actual reference to the ecclesiastical feast of the Epiphany (Ammianus Marcellinus, XXI, ii), in 361, appears to be doubled in Zonaras (XIII, xi) by a reference to the same festival as that of Christ's Nativity. Moreover, Epiphanius (Haer., li, 27, in P.G., XLI, 936) says that the sixth of January is hemera genethlion toutestin epiphanion,Christ's Birthday, i.e. His Epiphany. Indeed, he assigns the Baptism to 12 Athyr, i.e. 6 November. Again in chapters xxviii and xxix (P.G., XLI, 940 sq.) he asserts that Christ's Birth, i.e. Theophany, occurred on 6 January, as did the miracle at Cana, in consequence of which water, in various places (Cibyra, for instance), was then yearly by a miracle turned into wine, of which he had himself drunk. It will be noticed, first, if Clement does not expressly deny that the Church celebrated the Epiphany in his time at Alexandria, he at least implies that she did not. Still less can we think that 6 January was then observed by the Church as holy. Moreover, Origen, in his list of festivals(Against Celsus VIII.22), makes no mention of it.

Owing no doubt to the vagueness of the name Epiphany, very different manifestations of Christ's glory and Divinity were celebrated in thisfeast quite early in its history, especially the Baptism, the miracle at Cana, the Nativity, and the visit of the Magi. But we cannot for a moment suppose that in the first instance a festival of manifestations in general was established, into which popular local devotion read specified meaning as circumstances dictated. It seems fairly clear hat the Baptism was the event predominantly commemorated. The Apostolic Constitutions (VIII, xxxiii; cf. V, xii) mention it. Kellner quotes (cf. Selden, de Synedriis, III, xv, 204, 220) the oldest CopticCalendar for the name Dies baptismi sanctificati, and the later for that of Immersio Domini as applied to this feast. Gregory of Nazianzusidentifies, indeed, ta theophania with he hagia tou Christou gennesis, but this sermon (Orat. xxxviii in P.G., XXXVI. 312) was probably preached 25 Dec., 380; and after referring to Christ's Birth, he assures his hearers (P.G., 329) that they shall shortly see Christ baptized. On 6 and 7 Jan., he preached orations xxxix and xl (P.G., loc. cit.) and there declared (col. 349) that the Birth of Christ and the leading of the Magi by a star having been already celebrated, the commemoration of His Baptism would now take place. The first of these two sermons is headed eis ta hagia phota, referring to the lights carried on that day to symbolize the spiritual illumination of baptism, and the day must carefully be distinguished from the Feast of the Purification, also called Festum luminum for a wholly different reason.Chrysostom, however, in 386 (see CHRISTMAS) preached "Hom. vi in B: Philogonium" where (P.G., XLVIII, 752) he calls the Nativity theparent of festivals, for, had not Christ been born, neither would He have been baptized, hoper esti ta theophania. This shows how loosely this title was used. (Cf. Chrys., "Hom. in Bapt. Chr.", c. ii, in P.G., XLIX, 363; A.D. 387). Cassian (Coll., X, 2, in P.L., XLIX; 820) says that even in his time (418-427) the Egyptian monasteries still celebrated the Nativity and Baptism on 6 January.

At Jerusalem the feast had a special reference to the Nativity owing to the neighbourhood of Bethlehem. The account left to us by Etheria (Silvia) is mutilated at the beginning. The title of the subsequent feast, Quadragesimae de Epiphania (Perigrin. Silviae, ed. Geyer, c.xxvi), leaves us, however, in no doubt as to what she is describing. On the vigil of the feast (5 Jan.) a procession left Jerusalem for Bethlehem and returned the following morning. At the second hour the services were held in the splendidly decorated Golgotha church, after which that of the Anastasis was visited. On the second and third days this ceremony was repeated; on the fourth the service wasoffered on Mount Olivet; on the fifth at the grave of Lazarus at Bethany; on the sixth on Sion; on the seventh in the church of theAnastasia, on the eighth in that of the Holy Cross.  The procession to Bethlehem was nightly repeated. It will be seen, accordingly, that this Epiphany octave had throughout so strong a Nativity colouring as to lead to the exclusion of the commemoration of the Baptism in the year 385 at any rate. It is, however, by way of actual baptism on this day that the West seems to enter into connection with theEast. St. Chrysostom (Hom. in Bapt. Chr. in P.G., XLIX, 363) tells us how the Antiochians used to take home baptismal water consecratedon the night of the festival, and that it remained for a year without corruption. To this day, the blessing of the waters by the dipping into river, sea, or lake of a crucifix, and by other complicated ritual, is a most popular ceremony. A vivid account is quoted by Neale ("HolyEastern Church", Introduction, p. 754; cf. the Greek, Syriac, Coptic, and Russian versions, edited or translated from the original texts byJohn, Marquess of Bute, and A. Wallis Budge). The people consider that all ailments, spiritual and physical, can be cured by the application of the blessed water. The custom would seem, however, to be originally connected rather with the miracle of Cana than with the Baptism. That baptism on this day was quite usual in the West is proved, however, by the complaint of Bishop Himerius of Tarragonato Pope Damasus (d. 384), that baptisms were being celebrated on the feast of the Epiphany. Pope Siricius, who answered him (P.L., XIII, 1134) identifies the feasts of Natalitia Christi and of his Apparitio, and is very indignant at the extension of the period for baptisms beyond that of Easter and that of Pentecost. Pope Leo I ("Ep. xvi ad Sicil. episcopos", c. i, in P.L., LIV, 701; cf. 696) denounces the practice as an irrationabilis novitas; yet the Council of Gerona (can. iv) condemned it in 517, and Victor Vitensis alludes to it as the regular practice of the (Roman-) African Church (De Persec. Vandal., II, xvii, in P.L., LVIII, 216). St. Gregory of Tours, moreover (De gloriâ martyrum in P.L., LXXI, 783; cf. cc. xvii, xix), relates that those who lived near the Jordan bathed in it that day, and that miracles were then wont to take place. St. Jerome (Comm. in Ez., I, i, on verse 3 in P.L., XXV, 18) definitely asserts that it is for the baptism and opening of the heavens that the dies Epiphaniorum is still venerable and not for the Nativity of Christ in the flesh, for then absconditus est, et non apparuit — "He was hidden, and did not appear."

That the Epiphany was of later introduction in the West than the Christmas festival of 25 December, has been made clear in the article CHRISTMAS. It is not contained in the Philocalian Calendar, while it seems most likely that 25 December was celebrated at Rome before the sermon of Pope Liberius (in St. Ambrose, De virg., iii, I, in P.L., XVI, 231) which many assign to 25 Dec., 354. St. Augustine clearly observes Oriental associations in the Epiphany feasts: "Rightly", says he (Serm. ccii, 2, in Epiph. Domini, 4, in P, L., XXXVIII, 1033), "have refused to celebrate this day with us; for neither do they love unity, nor are they in communion with the Eastern Church, where at last the star appeared." St. Philastrius (Haer., c. cxl, in P.L., XII, 1273) adds that certain heretics refuse to celebrate the Epiphany, regarding it, apparently, as a needless duplication of the Nativity feast, though, adds the saint, it was only after twelve days that Christ "appeared to the Magi in the Temple". The dies epiphaniorum, he says (P.L., XII, 1274), is by some thought to be "the day of the Baptism, or of the Transformation which occurred on the mountain". Finally, an unknown Syrian annotator of Barsalibi (Assemani, Bibl. Orient., II, 163) boldly writes: "The Lord was born in the month of January on the same day on which we celebrate the Epiphany; for of old the feasts of the Nativity and Epiphany were kept on one and the same day, because on the same day He was born and baptized. The reason why our fathers changed the solemnity celebrated on 6 January, and transferred it to 25 December follows: it was the custom of the heathens to celebrate the birthday of the sun on this very day, 25 December, and on it they lit lights on account of the feast. In these solemnities and festivities the Christians too participated. When, therefore, the teachers observed that the Christians were inclined to this festival, they took counsel and decided that the true birth-feast be kept on this day, and on 6 Jan., the feast of the Epiphanies. Simultaneously, therefore, with this appointment the custom prevailed of burning lights until the sixth day."

It is simpler to say that, about the time of the diffusion of the December celebration in the East, the West took up the Oriental January feast, retaining all its chief characteristics, though attaching overwhelming importance, as time went on, to the apparition of the Magi.  Epiphanius indeed had said (loc. cit.) that not only did water in many places turn into wine on 6 Jan., but that whole rivers, and probably the Nile, experienced a similar miracle; nothing of this sort is noted in the West. The Leonine Sacramentary is defective here; but Leo'seight homilies on the Theophania (in P.L., LIV, Serm. xxxi, col. 234, to Serm. xxxviii, col. 263) bear almost wholly on the Magi, while in Serm. xxxv, col. 249, he definitely asserts their visit to be the commemoration for which the feast was instituted. Fulgentius (Serm. iv in P.L., LXV, 732) speaks only of the Magi and the Innocents. Augustine's sermons (cxcix-cciv in P.L., XXXVIII) deal almost exclusively with this manifestation; and the Gelasian Sacramentary (P.L., LXXIV, 1062) exclusively, both on the vigil and the feast. The Gregorian Sacramentary makes great use of Psalm 72:10 and mentions the three great apparitions in the Canon only. The Ambrosian, however, refers to all three manifestations in the vigil-preface, and in the feast-preface to baptism alone. The "Missale Vesontiense" (Neale and Forbes, The Anc. Liturgies of the Gallican Church, p. 228) speaks, in the prayer, of Illuminatio, Manifestatio, Declaratio, and compares its Gospel of Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:22; and John 2:1-11, where the Baptism and Cana are dwelt upon. The Magi are referred to on the Circumcision. The Gothic Missal (Neale and Forbes, op. cit., p. 52) mentions the Magi on the vigil, saying that the Nativity, Baptism, and Cana make Christ's Illustratio. All the manifestations are, however, referred to, including (casually) the feeding of the 5000, a popular allusion in the East, whence the name phagiphania. Augustine (Serm. suppl. cxxxvi, 1, in P.L., XXXIX, 2013) speaks of the raising of Lazarus (cf. day 5 of the Jerusalem ritual) as on an equality with the other manifestations, whence in the East the name Bethphania occurs. Maximus of Turin admits the day to be of three miracles, and speculates (Hom. vii, in epiph., in P.L., LVII, 273) on the historical connection of date and events. Polemius Silvanus, Paulinus of Nola (Poem. xxvii; Natal., v, 47, in P.L., LXI) and Sedulius (in P.L., LXXII) all insist on the three manifestations. The Mozarabic Missal refers mainly to the Magi, using of their welcome by Christ the word Acceptio, a term of "initiation" common to Mithraists and Christians. In 381, the Council of Sargossa (can. iv), read together with the Mozarabic Missal's Mass in jejunio epiphaniae, makes it clear that a fast at this season was not uncommon even among the orthodox. "Cod. Theod." (II, viii, 20; XXV, v, 2) forbids the circus on this day in the year 400; "Cod. Justi." (III, xii, 6) makes it a day of obligation. In 380 it is already marked by cessation of legal business in Spain; in Thrace (if we can trust the "Passio S. Philippi" in Ruinart, "Acta", 440, 2) it was kept as early as 304. Kellner quotes the "Testamentum Jesu Christi" (Mainz, 1899) as citing it twice (I, 28; IV, 67, 101) as a high festival together with Easter and Pentecost.

In the present Office, Crudelis Herodes alludes to the three manifestations; in Nocturn i, the first response for the day, the octave, and the Sunday within the octave, deals with the Baptism, as does the second response; the third response, as all those of Nocturns i and iii, is on the Magi. The antiphon to the Benedictus runs: "Today the Church is joined to her celestial spouse, because in Jordan Christ doth wash her sins; the Magi hasten with gifts to the royal marriage-feast, and the guests exult in the water turned to wine." O Sola refers to the Magi only. The Magnificat antiphon of Second Vespers reads: "We keep our Holy Day adored with three miracles: today a star led theMagi to the crib, today wine was made from water at the marriage, today in Jordan Christ willed to be baptized by John to save us." On the Epiphany it was a very general custom to announce the date of Easter, and even of other festivals, a practice ordered by many councils, e.g. that of Orléans in 541 (can. i); Auxerre in 578 and 585 (can. ii), and still observed (Kellner) at Turin, etc. Gelasius finally tells us (Ep. ad episc. Lucan., c. xii, in P.L., LIX, 52) that the dedication of virgins occurred especially on that day.


The reason for the fixing of this date it is impossible to discover. The only tolerable solution is that of Mgr. Duchesne (Orig. Chr., 262), who explains simultaneously the celebration of 6 January and of 25 December by a backward reckoning from 6 April and 25 March respectively. The Pepyzitae, or Phrygian Montanists, says Sozomen (Church History VII.18), kept Easter on 6 April; hence (reckoning an exact number of years to the Divine life) Christ's birthday would have fallen on 6 January. But, it may be urged, the first notice we have of the observance of this date, refers to Christ's Baptism. But this (if we may assume the Basilidians, too, to have argued from 6 April) will have fallen on the exact anniversary of the Birth. But why preeminently celebrate the Baptism? Can it be that the celebration started with those, of whatever sect, who held that at the Baptism the Godhead descended upon Christ? On this uncertain territory we had better risk no footstep till fresh evidence, if such there be, be furnished us. Nor is this the place to discuss the legends of the Three Kings, which will be found in the article MAGI. Kellner, Heortologie (Freiburg im Br., 1906); Funk in Kraus, Real-Encyclopädie, s.v. Feste; Bingham,Antiquities of the Christian Church (London, 1708-22), Bk. XX, c. iv; Usener, Religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen (Bonn, 1889). I.Cyril Martindale.
I think I will write more about Epiphany in a separate post; I do like this feast.


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