Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Marian Antiphons: Regina Caeli

The four Marian Antiphons have traditionally been sung at the end of Compline - each one during a particular season of the Church Year.  Regina Caeli is sung from Easter Eve until Pentecost. 

Here's the antiphon sung to the Simple Tone by the Benedictine monks of Santo Domingo de Silos. Chant score from the Liber Usualis (1961), p.278.    (English translation below.)

Here's the chant score of the Simple Tone version, from the Liber Usualis:

Here it is sung to the Solemn Tone, by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint Maurice et Saint Maur de Clervaux. (Chant score from the Liber Usualis (1961), p. 275.)

Here's the chant score of the Solemn Tone version, from the Liber Usualis:

This is from "Singing the Four Seasonal Marian Anthems," by Lucy Carroll, published in Adoremus; it includes an English translation of the antiphon:
Regina Caeli

Regina Caeli is perhaps the second-most familiar of the four texts, having been set to music by so many composers over the centuries, and frequently heard at Easter Vigil Mass. It is sung from Easter Vigil through Pentecost Sunday.

The text first appeared about the year 1200, and is often credited to Pope Gregory V (+998); the chant melody probably dates from the 14th century.
Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia; quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia; resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia; ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

(A note on the Latin: caeli is sometimes spelled coeli. The oe vowel format was integrated into Latin from the Greek, and the more accepted spelling today of this word for heaven is the fully Latinized ae version.)

This translation is by the Reverend Adrian Fortescue, 1913:
Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia; for He whom thou was chosen to bear, alleluia; has risen as He said, alleluia; pray for us to God, alleluia.

It is certainly indicative of the Easter season, this hymn, filled with alleluias after a Lent where no alleluia is sung.

Another form of this text is in Regina Caeli Jubilo, dating from the 17th century. Its English form survives in the hymn “Be Joyful Mary” (melody by Johann Leisentritt (1527-1586).

Here are links to posts about all four antiphons on Chantblog:

Here's a terrific Regina Caeli by Czech composer P. J. Vejvanovský (~1633-1693), in that Grands Motets style I like so much:

This comes from Wikipedia:
The Regina Cæli or Regina Cœli ("Queen of Heaven", pronounced [reˈdʒiːna ˈtʃɛːli] in ecclesiastical Latin), is an ancient Latin Marian Hymn of the Christian Church.
It is one of the four seasonal Marian antiphons of the Blessed Virgin Mary, prescribed to be sung or recited in the Liturgy of the Hours at the conclusion of the last of the hours to be prayed in common that day, typically night prayer (Compline or Vespers). The Regina Caeli is sung or recited in place of the Angelus during the Easter season, from Holy Saturday through Pentecost Sunday.
And this is from TPL:
The author of Regina Caeli is unknown, but by virtue of its presence (or absence) in manuscripts, it had to have been composed sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries. One possible author in that time period is Pope Gregory V (+998). Its original use appears to have been in Rome where it was used as an Antiphon for Vespers at Easter. Today the Regina Caeli is used as hymn of joy during the Easter Season (Easter Sunday until Trinity Sunday) when it is used in place of the Angelus and prescribed to be recited at Compline. (see Angelus).

Perhaps the most interesting legend surrounding the prayer has it being composed, in part, by St. Gregory the Great. The legend has it that in the year 596, during Easter time, a pestilence was ravaging Rome. St. Gregory the Great requested a procession be held to pray that the pestilence be stopped. On the appointed day of the procession he assembled with his clergy at dawn at the church of Ara Coeli. Holding in his hand the icon of our Lady that was said to have been painted by St. Luke, he and his clergy started out in procession to St. Peter's. As he passed the Castle of Hadrian, as it was called in those days, voices were heard from above singing the Regina Caeli. The astonished Pope, enraptured with the angelic singing, replied in a loud voice: "Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia!" At that moment an angel appeared in a glorious light, sheathed the sword of pestilence in its scabbard, and from that day the pestilence ceased. In honor of this miraculous event, the name of the castle was then changed to Sant' Angelo and the words of the angelic hymn were inscribed upon the roof of the Church of Ara Coeli.

The traditional concluding versicle and collect, which are not part of the original antiphon, are also given below.
REGINA, caeli, laetare, alleluia:
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
O QUEEN of heaven rejoice! alleluia:
For He whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia,
Hath arisen as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia,
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.
Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut, per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Let us pray
O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; grant, we beseech Thee, that through His Mother, the Virgin Mary, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Roman Breviary.

Here's Filippo Lippi's Madonna of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi:

This is from the Wikipedia link above:
The Madonna of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Filippo Lippi. It is housed in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi ofFlorence, central Italy.


Rear view.
The painting was found by art historian Giuseppe Poggi in 1907 in the psychiatric hospital of San Salvi in Florence. There are several theories about the provenance of the panel: Poggi assigned it to the Villa of Castelpulci, owned by the Riccardi family, who bought Palazzo Medici in 1655. According to another, the Madonna was instead part of the original decoration of the palace.
After having been acquired by the Italian state, it was moved to Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, where now is displayed in the Hall of the Triumphs and Arts in the first floor, near the gallery of Luca Giordano. It has been restored in 2001 by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure.


The model of the painting had been used by Lippi since as early as 1436: it portrays the Madonna's half-bust in a niche with a shell-shaped dome, holding the Child; in this case, he stands on a marble parapet. The style is however typical of his late career, not far from the frescoes in the Cathedral of Spoleto, and is thus generally considered on the of the artists' last panels.
The rear of the panel has a drawing with St. Jerome's head.

"Easter: something as new as the creation of the world"

Here's catholicity and covenant's lovely post for Easter Day:

Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, before any one had done a stroke of work or acquired a jot of merit, he rose from the sepulchre, bringing new life to his disciples. What then began had nothing to do with last week's work or last week's sins; they all seemed centuries away. The old world for Christ's disciples had ended in calamity, had gone down into a gulf of darkness; the earth had crumbled under their feet, they had nothing to stand upon. But here was something as new as the creation of the world where no world was; new life straight from the hands of the only living God.

From Austin Farrer's sermon "Early in the Morning" in Said or Sung.

(The painting is Georges Rouault Christ on the Road to Emmaus.)

Rise Up, My Love, My Fair One

Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.
For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear upon the earth.
The time of singing of birds is come.
Arise my love, my fair one, and come away.

Music:  Healey Willan; Text:  Song of Songs 2:10-12.  Sung quite wonderfully by "St. John's, Newfoundland based Innismara Vocal Ensemble." 

A blessed Easter to all.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Easter Vigil Offertory: Dextera Domini

Dextera Domini is now the Offertory for the Easter Vigil; it was previously the Offertory for Maundy Thursday (as labeled in the video); Ubi Caritas has taken that place in the current rite for Holy Thursday. The singers here are the Benedictine Nuns of Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation, Le Barroux.

This chant is very suited to the Vigil, though!  The text comes from Psalm 118, vv. 16-17:
The right hand of the LORD has triumphed! *
the right hand of the LORD is exalted!
the right hand of the LORD has triumphed!"

I shall not die, but live, *
and declare the works of the LORD.
Here's the full chant score:

Here's CCWatershed's video of the Simple English Propers version of this chant:

I need to do a little research about the Easter Vigil, I see now; I know it was "recovered" in the 1960s/1970s liturgical reforms, but don't know much about this.  I have a feeling - just a feeling so far - that the Vigil may have been celebrated all along in at least some monastic houses, even when it wasn't in parish churches and Cathedrals.   I'll certainly post on this when I learn more.

Right now I'm looking at the Academy of Gregorian Chant's page on this text, and finding it used in a variety of liturgical situations; for instance, here it is listed as the Offertory for Epiphany III, in the Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, Codex 121(1151):

The description of that manuscript, by the way, is pretty interesting:
This Codex comprises the oldest complete surviving neumed mass antiphonary; it includes assorted appendices (such as Alleluia verses, Antiphons and Psalm verses for the Communion Antiphons). Because the mass antiphonary is complete, the manuscript remains important to this day as a resource for Gregorian chant research. The second part of the codex contains the Libyer Ymnorum, the Sequences of Notker of St. Gall. Recent research has established that the codex was written in Einsiedeln itself (in about 960-970), most likely for the third abbot of the cloister, Gregor the Englishman. (lan)
Here's another example of its use for Epiphany III, from the "Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer Cod. Bodmer 74:

Here's a description of that manuscript:

This Gradual was produced in 1071 by the archpresbyter of the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere; it contains the musical scores for assorted liturgical songs. These melodies set down in written form make CB 74 the oldest record of Roman song.

I'm also seeing the text used in the "Graduale, Troparium et Prosarium ad usum Sancti Aredii. 1001-1400" (among quite a number of other places); I believe here, too, it is used for Epiphany III although this one's a bit harder to read. It's definitely in January, anyway.

There is more and more information these days about chant online; these chant manuscripts are really fascinating, and there seems to be a quite a lot of consistency of use in the chants - as well as a great deal of variety.  Interesting that both things can be true - but then, there are so many, many chants.  I'm having fun looking at all of this, I have to say - and very grateful for the publicly-available images and links.

And there is so much more music available now!  When I first started this blog, it was the Brazilian Benedictines, St. David's Compline Choir, the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood - and almost nothing else.  Thanks to them, for being there so long ago - and to everybody who's posting this stuff now, too.

Here is the Easter Vigil page on the Brazilians' website, and here are other Chantblog posts about the Easter Vigil propers:

Here, the Warsaw Boys' and Men's Choir, along with the AMFC Symphony Orchestra and the Pueri Cantores Plocenses Choir, sing Cesar Franck's beautiful setting of this text; nice job!

Josef Rheinberger set the text, too; here's his, sung by the Regensburger Domspatzen:

Wikipedia says that "The Regensburger Domspatzen is the official choir for the liturgical music at St Peter's Cathedral in Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany. The choir consists of boys and young men only."

Here's a "fragment" of Duccio's "Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene," from about 1311; gorgeous!  He's fast becoming one of my favorite artists ever.

"In the Hell of Life, Holy Saturday"

Another beautiful post today from Interrupting the Silence:

The Harrowing of Hell,
14th century (source)
“When one door closes another opens,” goes an old and popular saying. But what about that time in between, after one door closes but before another opens? What do we do then? As a friend of mine once said, “It’s hell when you are waiting in the hallway.” That’s where we are today. The door on Good Friday has closed. Jesus is dead. The door on Easter has not yet opened. The tomb is sealed and guarded.

This is Holy Saturday, in-between time, tomb time.

Many, perhaps most, will not remember or celebrate this day, but, at some point, we all live this day. We all come to the Holy Saturday of our life, the hell of our life, and it always involves a death of some kind: the death of loved one, the death of a relationship, the death of a dream. Regardless of how it comes about someone or something has died and all the doors remain closed.

Our reading from Lamentations describes this well. We have been “brought into darkness without any light.” We are “besieged and enveloped with bitterness and tribulation.” We are walled in and cannot escape. We call and cry for help but our prayer is shut out.

We are homeless. There is nothing but the tomb.

This day seems like anything but holy. Where is Jesus on Holy Saturday? Reread the Apostles’ Creed. Remind yourself that on this day “He descended to the dead” or as another translation says, “He descended into hell.” Holy Saturday is when Christ descends into the hell of our life, breaking the bonds of death, and setting the captives free. Holy Saturday is the day death and Hades tremble in fear, and regret ever having tried to take captive the author and creator of life.

It is tempting in the Holy Saturday of our lives to run away, to leave the tomb and just get to Easter. But the tomb is the birthplace of Easter, “the workshop of resurrection.” Tragedy, sorrow, and death do not simply go away or get replaced. They are transformed. In that holy workshop Christ transforms tragedy into triumph, sorrow into joy, and death into life. We must, therefore, remain present to the tomb of Holy Saturday. That’s what Mary Magdalene and the other Mary are doing.

They are “sitting opposite the tomb.” They do not say anything; there is not much to say on this day. They do not do anything; there is not much to do on this day. Holy Saturday is a time of patience. This is about more than just waiting or passing time. It is the willingness to trust that there is more going on than we see or understand. It is reminding ourselves that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end.” It is remaining present so that when another door opens, and it will, we will be there to walk through it.

Do you remember who were the first to see the open tomb of Christ? Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.
“By death He conquered death, and to those in the graves He granted life!”
This sermon is for Holy Saturday and is based on Matthew 27:57-66 and Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24.

"Holy Saturday: this stretch, this nakedness"

From catholicity and covenant today:
When he died, he did not wake from a bad dream, and find he was God.  He went lower yet; descended into hell, says our creed.  That is, he died, and he was dead.  For hell, in this formula of words, means simply this: whatever is the condition of the dead, when they have died.

And what condition is that?  What is it to have died, and to be dead?  If resurrection is unimaginable, how much more unimaginably unimaginable is death?  Resurrection will refashion us in the stuff of glory.  We shall not be flesh and blood, but we shall be ourselves, we shall be.  But death, what is death?  What is the tenuous thread which spans the abyss of not-being, to join our being what we were with what we shall become?  This stretch, this nakedness, what is it?  I do not know, but Christ knows; for he descended into hell.

From Austin's Farrer's sermon "Gates to the City" in A Celebration of Faith.

(The painting is Georges Rouault De Profundis, 1948.)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday: Stabat Mater

Stabat mater dolorosa
juxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta,
mater Unigeniti!

Quae moerebat et dolebat,
pia Mater, dum videbat
nati poenas inclyti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?

Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriendo desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amoris
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
poenas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.

Virgo virginum praeclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere.

Fac me plagis vulnerari,
fac me Cruce inebriari,
et cruore Filii.

Flammis ne urar succensus,
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die iudicii.

Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriae.

Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animae donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen.

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother's pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
be Thy Mother my defense,
be Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.

Translation by Edward Caswall
Lyra Catholica (1849)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae (The Holy Week Office): Tomás Luis de Victoria

This may or may not be a complete recording of Victoria's 16th-Century composition.

Victoria wrote this piece in or around 1585.   I believe these are the music credits for this recording:
Coro de monjes del Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos
Coro de voces blancas de Burgos
Concertador: Dom Felipe Fernández, O.S.B.
Director: Ismael Fernandez de la Cuesta.

Below is a  track list from another page; the first part is from Palm Sunday - and most of the rest comes from Matins of Maundy Thurday (In Coena Domini), Good Friday (Parasceve), and Holy Saturday (Sabbato Sancto).  I will have to listen to see if all this is included here or not.

In other words, the greatest part of this music was written for the Office of Tenebrae - Matins and Lauds of the great Three Days.   Included, too, are readings (including some from the Lamentations of Jeremiah), antiphons, responsories, hymns, and pieces from John's Passion and the Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday.

To follow along with the Matins sections, use Divinum Officium; enter the date at the top of the page, then click "Matutinum" at the bottom.  You can listen to St. Thomas' Tenebrae sung in plainsong here.

Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae- S.XVI. ( Integral)


Pueri Hebraeorum


In I Nocturno ( Lectiones I,II,III )
In II Nocturno ( Lectiones et Responsoria:
IV " Amicus meus",V " Judas mercator"
VI " Unus ex discipulis" )
Lector: Francisco Lara

In III Nocturno ( Lectiones et Responsoria:
VII " Eran quasi Agnus", VIII "Una Hora"
IX " Seniores populi "
Lector: Dom Pedro Alonso, O.S.B.
Benedictus Dominus
Lectores: Dom Baudilio López O.S.B. y
Francisco Lara ( Primer coro)- Dom Jose Luis Angulo, O.S.B.
y Dom Constancio del Alamo, O.S.B. ( segundo Coro)


In I Nocturno ( Lectiones I, II, III ).......
In II Nocturno ( Lectiones et Responsalia:
IV " Tamquam ad latronem", V " Tenebrae factae sunt", VI " Animam meam" )
Lector: Francisco Lara
In III Nocturno ( Lectiones y Responsoria:
VII " Tradiderunt me", VIII " Jesum tradidit",
IX " Caligaverunt" )
Lector: Dom Pedro Alonso, O.S.B.


Passio secundum Joannem ....
Sinagoga: Francisco Lara
Cronista y Jesucristo:
Ismael Fernández de la Cuesta
Improperia: " Popule meus"......
Soprano: Hermana Maria Begoña Martínez
Contralto: Hermana, Maria Lourdes Gabilondo
Tenor: Francisco Lara
Bajo: Dom Constancio del Alamo, O.S.B.


In I Nocturno ( Lectiones I, II, III )
In II Nocturno ( Lectiones et Responsoria:
IV " Recessit pastor nortes", V " O vos omnes",
VI " Ecce quomodo" )...........
In III Nocturno ( Lectiones et Responsoria:
VII " Astiterunt", VIII " Aestimatus sum",
IX " Sepulto Domino")...........
Miserere mei, Deus

Maundy Thursday: "Gregorian Chants from Assisi - Medieval Lauds"

Gregorianische Gesange aus Assisi, Gregorian Chants from Assisi - Laudes Antiquae Medieval Lauds, In Cena Domini de Missa Solemni Vespertina - Coro della Cappella Papale di San Francesco d 'Assisi, Padre Maestro Alfonso Del Ferraro. (1967)

In cena domini : de missa solemni vespertina = Plainsong melodies for the commemoration of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday.

De missa
1.Nos autem gloriari oportet
2. Christus factus est pro nobis obediens.

De lotione pedum:
3.Mandatum novum do vobis
4. Postquam surrexit Dominus
5. Dominus Jesus, postquam cenavit
6. Domine, tu mihi lavas pedes?
7. Si ego Dominus et Magister vester
8. In hoc cognoscent omnes
9. Maneant in vobis fides, spes, caritas
10. Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est

De missa:
11. Dextera Domini fecit virtutem
12. Sanctus

De solemni translatione ac repositione sacramenti:
13.Pange lingua gloriosi Corporis mysterium

Cantus Poenitentiae:
14.Parce Domine, parce populo tuo

In festo Corpore Christi:
15.Verbun supernum prodiens
16.Lauda Sion Salvatorem.

Maundy Thursday: "Partaking of the sacrificial body"

Again from catholicity and covenant:

Do the disciples understand the nature of the bond? Jesus has blessed his food, to be the body he will offer in his sacrifice; do they know that they are committed to membership in such a body as that?  A body flogged, broken, crucified - see, he crumbles the loaf before their eyes.  Do they perceive the new meaning in the ancient custom, the breaking of the bread?  Are they willing to be parts of such a body, are they willing that his body, with its sacrificial destiny, should be theirs?  The disciples were not yet fully willing, but they came to be, and so we all must; for if we do not want to be given and surrendered to God, why touch religion at all?  By partaking of the sacrificial body, we are to be made capable of sacrifice, taken up, as we are, into the sacrificial being of Christ.

From Austin Farrer's address "This is my Body", given at the 1958 Eucharistic Congress, in Said and Sung.

(The painting is Georges Rouault Christ and the Apostles.)

Maundy Thursday: "We must return every day into his death"

In catholicity and covenant today:
Take the Passion of Christ in S. Matthew or S. Luke, and merely look with all your eyes on one scene at a time.  Begin at the upper room;  see Jesus give himself away with his own hands to his Father and to his friends, in bread and wine that are his body and blood.  Go on to the garden, see him give himself again, and confirm his gift in the agony of prayer; see him, by standing to the truth of his mission, call death on his own head in Caiaphas's court and in Pilate's.  See him, half  flogged to death, wear that crown and that robe which assert the kingdom of God's will on earth through mockery and annihilation.  See him receive the cross on which he is to die, and see him die on it.  Then see if the overflowing mercy which unites you to him will not make something more of your giving yourself to God, if only for a day.  We must live one day at a time, but we cannot do that if we do not return every day into the life of Jesus, and above all into his death.

From Austin Farrer's sermon "Dying to Live" in Said or Sung.

(The painting is Georges Rouault Head of Christ, 1937.)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Messe des Rameaux

Palm Sunday mass, broadcast in French, from St. Peter's:

If you don't speak French, though, that voice-over narration might be kind of annoying.  Here's the straight-ahead stream, without narration; really beautiful:

Here's another one in French, from (perhaps?) Notre Dame:

The Gradual for Monday in Holy Week: Exsurge Domine

I found this video while looking for something else; after some searching, I learned that Exsurge Domine is the Gradual for Monday in Holy Week:

Here's a page from the St. Gall codex that contains this chant:

I found the chant text and a link to the codex above at the Académie de Chant grégorienThe text comes from Psalm 35:23:
Exsurge Domine,
et intende iudicium meum, Deus meus,
et Dominus meus, in causam meam.

Awake, and rise to my defense!
Contend for me, my God and my Lord.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sarum Compline for Ferias in Passion Week 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 Ferias in Passion Week."   (Linked from the "Annex" page.)   The image on the cover is certainly an El Greco, but I don't know which one.

"Palm Sunday Liturgy and Procession 03.24.13" from Trinity Wall Street

Here, including the sung Passion - not Gregorian, but their own composition - from Luke's Gospel.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

St Matthew Matthäus Passion, BWV 244

From the YouTube page:
St Matthew Passion - Matthäus-Passion BWV 244 | (Complete) (Full Concert) (J. S. Bach)

The St Matthew Passion, (also frequently St Matthew's Passion) BWV 244, (German: Matthäus-Passion), is a sacred oratorio from the Passions written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1727 for solo voices, double choir and double orchestra, with libretto by Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici). It sets chapters 26 and 27 of the Gospel of Matthew (in the German translation of Martin Luther) to music, with interspersed chorales and arias. It is widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of classical sacred music. The original Latin title Passio Domini Nostri J.C. Secundum Evangelistam Matthaeum translates to "The Passion of our Lord J[esus] C[hrist] according to the Evangelist Matthew."

Although Bach wrote four (or five) settings of the Passions only two have survived; the other is the St John Passion. The St Matthew Passion was probably first performed on Good Friday (11 April) 1727[1] in the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, where Bach was the Kantor of the School and Directoris Chori musici of Leipzig. He revised it by 1736, performing it again on 30 March 1736, this time including two organs in the instrumentation. He further revised and performed it again on 24 March 1742. Possibly due to the second organ being under repair, he switched the continuo instrument to harpsichord in Coro II, reinforced the continuo group in Coro II with a viola da gamba, and inserted a ripieno soprano in both movements 1 and 29. There is evidence of a further revision in 1743--1746, when the score as we know it originated, but no performance.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Palm Sunday: Gloria, laus et honor tibi ("All Glory, Laud, and Honor")

Gloria, laus is the Palm Sunday Hymnus ad Christum Regem ("Hymn to Christ the King") sung during the procession of the Liturgy of the Palms. It's a gorgeous chant:

TPL has the words:
GLORIA, laus et honor
tibi sit, Rex Christe, Redemptor:
Cui puerile decus prompsit
Hosanna pium.

R. Gloria, laus, etc.
ALL glory, praise, and honor
to Thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet Hosannas ring.

R. All glory, etc.

Israel es tu Rex, Davidis et
inclyta proles:
Nomine qui in Domini,
Rex benedicte, venis.

R. Gloria, laus, etc.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David's royal Son,
Who in the Lord's Name comest.
the King and blessed One.

R. All glory, etc.

Coetus in excelsis te laudat
caelicus omnis,
Et mortalis homo, et cuncta
creata simul.

R. Gloria, laus, etc.

The company of Angels
are praislng Thee on high,
and mortal men and all things
created make reply.

All glory, etc

Plebs Hebraea tibi cum palmis
obvia venit:
Cum prece, voto, hymnis,
adsumus ecce tibi.

R. Gloria, laus, etc.

The people of the Hebrews
with palms before Thee went;
our pralse and prayer and anthems
before Thee we present.

R. All glory, etc.

Hi tibi passuro solvebant
munia laudis:
Nos tibi regnanti pangimus
ecce melos

R. Gloria, laus, etc.

To Thee before Thy Passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to Thee now high exalted
our melody we raise.

R. All glory, etc.

Hi placuere tibi, placeat
devotio nostra:
Rex bone, Rex clemens, cui
bona cuncta placent.

R. Gloria, laus, etc.

Thou didst accept their praises,
accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.

R. All glory, etc.

From the Roman Missal. Translation by J. M. Neale (1818-1866).

More from TPL about this hymn:
Composed by Theodulph of Orleans (d. 821), this hymn is often used as a processional hymn for Palm Sunday. According to a pretty little legend surrounding the composition of this hymn, Theodolf had been imprisoned for political reasons in a monastery in Angers. While he was imprisoned he wrote the hymn and sang it from the window of his cell just as Louis the Pious, King of France, was passing beneath the window in the procession on Palm Sunday in 821. The hymn so moved the king that he immediately ordered the holy bishop to be freed and restored to his see. The legend is now generally discredited on historical grounds. For a scriptural background of the hymn, see Matt. 21, 1-16 & Ps. 117, 26.
Here's the chant score from

New Advent adds a bit more information about the hymn:
Gloria, Laus et honor

hymn composed by St. Theodulph of Orléans in 810, in Latin elegiacs, of which the Roman Missal takes the first six for the hymn following the procession on Palm Sunday (the use to which the hymn was always dedicated). The first couplet,
Gloria, laus et honor tibi sit Rex Christe, Redemptor,
Cui puerile decus prompsit hosanna pium,
is sung by chanters inside of the church (the door having been closed), and is repeated by the processional chorus outside of the church. The chanters then sing the second couplet, the chorus responding with the refrain of the first couplet, and so on for the remaining couplets until the subdeacon strikes the door with the staff of the cross, whereupon the door is opened, the hymn ceases, and the procession enters the church. The words of the refrain ("puerile decus") suggested the assignment of the hymn in the Middle Ages to boy chanters (thus at SalisburyYorkHerefordRouen, etc.). The hymn is founded on Psalm 23:7-10 (Vulgate); Psalm 117:26Matthew 21:1-16Luke 19:37-38.

There is of course a more recent hymn that uses the same text - English translation by J.M. Neale - and is  sung on the same occasion: "All Glory, Laud, and Honor." The video below was recorded at St. Bart's in Manhattan, on Palm Sunday 2011. It begins with the blessing of the palms; the choir then sings Hosanna to the Son of David (I think this is Weelkes' setting) and the Gospel for this part of the liturgy is read.   The hymn itself begins after that, at around 8:45.

Also from New Advent comes this bit of history, and a description of the Palm Sunday rite:
In the three oldest Roman Sacramentaries no mention is found of either the benediction of the palms or the procession. The earliest notice is in the "Gregorianum" used in France in the ninth and tenth centuries. In it is found among the prayers of the day one that pronounces a blessing on the bearers of the palms but not on the palms. The name Dominica in palmis, De passione Domini occurs in the "Gelasianum", but only as a superscription and Probst ("Sacramentarien und Ordines", Münster, 1892, 202) is probably correct in suspecting the first part to be an addition, and the De passione Domini the original inscription. It seems certain that the bearing of palms during services was the earlier practice, then came the procession, and later the benediction of the palms.

The principal ceremonies of the day are the benediction of the palms, the procession, the Mass, and during it the singing of the Passion. The blessing of the palms follows a ritual similar to that of Mass. On the altar branches of palms are placed between the candlesticks instead of flowers ordinarily used. The palms to be blessed are on a table at the Epistle side or in cathedral churches between the throne and the altar. The bishop performs the ceremony from the throne, the priest at the Epistle side of the altar. An antiphon "Hosanna to the Son of David" is followed by a prayer. The Epistle is read from Exodus 15:27-16:7, narrating the murmuring of the children of Israel in the desert of Sin, and sighing for the fleshpots of Egypt, and gives the promise of the manna to be sent as food from heaven. The Gradual contains the prophetic words uttered by the high-priest Caiphas, "That it was expedient that one man should die for the people"; and another the prayer of Christ in the Garden of Olives that the chalice might pass; also his admonition to the disciples to watch and pray. The Gospel, taken from St. Matthew, xvi, 1-9, describes the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem when the populace cut boughs from the trees and strewed them as He passed, crying, Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (In private Masses this Gospel is read at the end of Mass instead of that of St. John.) Then follow an oration, a preface, the Sanctus, and Benedictus.

In the five prayers which are then said the bishop or priest asks God to bless the branches of palm or olive, that they may be a protection to all places into which they may be brought, that the right hand of God may expel all adversity, bless and protect all who dwell in them, who have been redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ. The prayers make reference to the dove bringing back the olive branch to Noah's ark and to the multitude greeting Our Lord; they say that the branches of palms signify victory over the prince of death and the olive the advent of spiritual unction through Christ. The officiating clergyman sprinkles the palms with holy water, incenses them, and, after another prayer, distributes them. During the distribution the choir sings the "Pueri Hebræorum". The Hebrew children spread their garments in the way and cried out saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." Then follows the procession, of the clergy and of the people, carrying the blessed palms, the choir in the mean time singing the antiphons "Cum appropinquaret", "Cum audisset", and others. All march out of the church. On the return of the procession two or four chanters enter the church, close the door and sing the hymn "Gloria, laus", which is repeated by those outside. At the end of the hymn the subdeacon knocks at the door with the staff of the cross, the door is opened, and all enter singing "Ingrediente Domino". Mass is celebrated, the principal feature of which is the singing of the Passion according to St. Matthew, during which all hold the palms in their hands.

And in case you were curious, the Wikipedia page for "Latin elegiacs" says:
Elegiac refers either generally to compositions that are like elegies or specifically to Greek and Latin poetry composed in elegiac couplets, in which a line of dactylic hexameter is followed by a line of dactylic pentameter. Because the hexameter line is in the same meter as epic poetry and because the elegiac form was always considered lower style than epic, elegists frequently wrote with epic in mind and positioned themselves in relation to epic.

Classical poets
The first examples of elegiac poetry in writing come from classical Greece. The form dates back nearly as early as epic, with such authors as Archilocus and Simonides of Ceos from early in the history of Greece. The first great elegiac poet of the Hellenistic period was Philitas of Cos: Augustan poets identified his name with great elegiac writing.[1] One of the most influential elegiac writers was Philitas' rival Callimachus, who had an enormous impact on Roman poets, both elegists and non-elegists alike. He promulgated the idea that elegy, shorter and more compact than epic, could be even more beautiful and worthy of appreciation. Propertius linked him to his rival with the following well-known couplet:
Callimachi Manes et Coi sacra Philetae,
in vestrum, quaeso, me sinite ire nemus.[2]
Callimachus' spirit, and shrine of Philitas of Cos,
let me enter your sacred grove, I beseech you.
The 1st century AD rhetorician Quintilian ranked Philitas second only to Callimachus among the elegiac poets.[3]
The foremost elegiac writers of the Roman era were Catullus, Propertius, Tibullus, and Ovid. Catullus, a generation earlier than the other three, influenced his younger counterparts greatly. They all, particularly Propertius, drew influence from Callimachus, and they also clearly read each other and responded to each other's works. Notably, Catullus and Ovid wrote in non-elegiac meters as well, but Propertius and Tibullus did not.

English poets

The "elegy" was originally a classical form with few English examples. However, in 1751, Thomas Gray wrote "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard". That poem inspired numerous imitators, and soon both the revived Pindaric ode and "elegy" were commonplace. Gray used the term "elegy" for a poem of solitude and mourning, and not just for funereal (eulogy) verse. He also freed the elegy from the classical elegiac meter.
Afterward, Samuel Taylor Coleridge argued that the elegiac is the form "most natural to the reflective mind" and that it may be upon any subject, so long as it reflects on the poet himself. Coleridge was quite aware of the fact that his definition conflated the elegiac with the lyric, but he was emphasizing the recollected and reflective nature of the lyric he favored and referring to the sort of elegy that had been popularized by Gray. Similarly, William Wordsworth had said that poetry should come from "emotions recollected in tranquility" (Preface to Lyrical Ballads, emphasis added). After the Romantics, "elegiac" slowly returned to its narrower meaning of verse composed in memory of the dead.
In other examples of poetry such as Alfred Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott" an elegiac tone can be used, where the author is praising someone in a sombre tone. J. R. R. Tolkien in his essay, 'Beowulf: the Monsters and the Critics' argues that Beowulf is a heroic elegy. 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:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Palm Sunday Offertory: Improperium expectavit cor meum

Here's a video of the Palm Sunday Offertory, from last year's Palm Sunday mass at St. Peter's in Rome.  I'm very happy to have a video of the mass itself; it's so much better to be able to see how the chant fits in and works with what's going on in the liturgy.

Palm Sunday may be my favorite of all days on the Church calendar; it's so complex, and contains such an incredible range of events and emotions that it seems to me almost a comprehensive description of human life on earth - all encapsulated in a single day.   The mass begins with the joy of Hosanna, filio David, and the triumphant hymn Gloria, laus, et honor tibi - and then the Tract takes a 180-degree turn with the Psalm 22-based Deus, deus meus.  The rest of the chants for the day are pure mournfulness, the intimation of disaster everywhere.

This text, for instance, comes from the mourning Psalm (68)/69, vv. 20-21; here's my translation (with the help of Google Translate):
My heart hath expected reproach and misery; I looked for someone to grieve together with me, but there was none to comfort me;  I sought him, and found him not.   And they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

The Gradual continues the theme of mourning, with Christus factus est - the same Gradual sung on Good Friday.   Finally, the Communio has the very last word on the day, again anticipating the Passion:  "Father, if this cup cannot pass away, unless I drink it: your will be done."

Palestrina set the text of today's Offertory; it's here in the video below.  The YouTube page says it  comes from the same mass - Palm Sunday at St. Peter's, from last year - and it seems to be part of the Offertory rite as well.  I'm not sure why; cups seem to be carried to the altar in both videos, so it would seem that the two pieces were sung back-to-back. I suppose in such a large place and with so many people in attendance, you would need more music - so perhaps that's it.

And of course, Handel used this text in Messiah, as well, as "Thy Rebuke hath broken his heart": 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:

Here are a couple of files from Trinity Wall Street's Palm Sunday services last year; the first is the complete service, and the second is just the sung passion.  The latter is not Gregorian Chant, but (I believe) their own composition; it's really very beautiful.
I do have a version of the complete Gregorian sung Passion, but it's the one for Good Friday, from the gospel of John:
I'm still looking for a complete sung Gregorian Passion of any of the synoptic Gospels; this year it's Luke.  Haven't found anything yet, though.

Here's Duccio di Buoninsegna's Entry into Jerusalem, from sometime around 1310:

SSJE: "Praying Our Lives: Judgment"

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Lent 5 Offertory: Confitebor tibi, Domine

Here's a really interesting video of Confitebor tibi, Domine; it's got, according to the YouTube page, a hurdy-gurdy drone!  Not to mention the old chant notation above the square-notes:

Here's an mp3. of the same chant from Renegoupil; this is also the Offertory for Lent 5 in the Extraordinary Form.

The text comes from Psalm (118/)119, vv. 7,10,17, and 25; here are those four verses:
I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
Deal bountifully with your servant,
that I may live and keep your word.
My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!

The text itself rearranges and leaves out some of these words, though, which  comes out to this:
I will praise you, Lord, with my whole heart.
Give bountifully to your servant,
that I may live and keep your word;
Quicken me according to your word!

Here's the full score:

I quoted The Catholic Encyclopedia two years ago on this day, previously called "Passion Sunday."  Here's more about it, from Wikipedia:

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Until 1959, the fifth Sunday of Lent was known as Passion Sunday.[7] It marked the beginning of a two-week-long period known as Passiontide, which is still observed by various denominations in Protestantism and by some traditionalist Catholics. In 1960, Pope John XXIII's Code of Rubrics changed the name for that Sunday to "First Sunday of the Passion"[8] bringing the name into harmony with the name that Pope Pius XII gave, five years earlier, to the sixth Sunday of Lent, "Second Sunday of the Passion or Palm Sunday".

Pope Paul VI's revision in 1969 removed a distinction that existed (although with overlap) between Lent and Passiontide, which began with the fifth Sunday of Lent. The distinction, explicit in the 1960 Code of Rubrics,[9] predates it.[10] He removed from the fifth Sunday of Lent the reference to the Passion.

Although Passiontide as a distinct liturgical season was thus abolished, the Roman Rite liturgy continues to bring the Passion of Christ to mind, from Monday of the fifth week of Lent onward, through the choice of hymns, the use on the weekdays of the fifth week of Lent of Preface I of the Passion of the Lord, with Preface II of the Passion of the Lord being used on the first three weekdays of Holy Week, and the authorization of the practice of covering crosses and images from the fifth Sunday of Lent onward, if the Conference of Bishops so decides. Where this practice is followed, crucifixes remain covered until the end of the Good Friday celebration of the Lord's Passion; statues remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.[11]

Other names

The entrance antiphon of the Mass on the fifth Sunday of Lent begins with the word "Iudica" (older spelling, "Judica"). This provides another name for that Sunday: "Iudica Sunday" or "Judica Sunday", similar to the name "Laetare Sunday" for the fourth Sunday. Because of the custom of veiling crucifixes and statues in the church before Mass on the fifth Sunday of Lent, this Sunday was called Black Sunday in Germany, where the veils, which elsewhere were generally violet, were of black colour.

Passion Sunday is also known as Carlin or Carling Sunday in the north-east of England, when carlin peas are eaten.[12]

Those who continue to observe earlier forms of the Roman Rite or of liturgies modelled on it refer to the fifth Sunday of Lent by one or other of its previous names.

Anglican usage

In those Anglican churches which follow the Sarum Use, crimson vestments and hangings are pressed into service on the fifth Sunday of Lent – replacing the Lenten array (unbleached muslin cloth) – and vestments are crimson until (and including) Holy Saturday. Reflecting the recent playing down of Passiontide, the Church of England's Common Worship liturgical resources suggest red for Holy Week only (with the exception of the Maundy Thursday Eucharist).

The Gospel reading for today is John 12:1-8:
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me." provides the full complement of propers for today, here sung by the Sao Paulo Benedictines;  note that the Communio again depends on the Gospel for the day.  Since it's not either of the first two readings, the Communion Song for today is Qui mihi ministrat:
Hebdomada quinta quadragesimæ  Dominica
Introitus: Ps. 42, 1.2.3 Iudica me, Deus (3m09.1s - 1293 kb) chant score
Graduale: Ps. 142, 9.10. V. Ps. 17, 48.49 Eripe me, Domine (3m49.9s - 1572 kb) chant score
Tractus: Ps. 128, 1-4 Sæpe expugnaverunt (1m50.9s - 759 kb) chant score
Offertorium: Ps. 118, Confitebor tibi, Domine (1m41.8s - 697 kb) chant score
                 quando legitur Evangelium de Lazaro:
                 Io. 11, Videns Dominus (3m43.2s - 1526 kb)

                 quando legitur Evangelium de muliere adultera:
                 Io. 8, 10.11 Nemo te condemnavit (2m35.9s - 1213 kb)

                 quando legitur aliud Evangelium:
                 Io. 12, 26 Qui mihi ministrat(49.0s - 382 kb)

Here are posts on Chantblog about the other propers:

There are many, many polyphonic settings of "Confiteor tibi, Domine, in toto cor de meo" - but only a couple of them are taken from this text, since in fact, those words never actually appear in Psalm (118/)119!  They do appear in many other Psalms, however, beginning with Psalm 9.  The phrase is also found in Psalm (85/)86, Psalm (110/)111, and Psalm (137/)138.

Orlando di Lasso set this particular text - it's not online, alas - but most of the others have set Psalm 111.  Here's a beauty, from Michel-Richard Delalande (1657-1726):

Here's Monteverdi's (1567 - 1643):

The scene in today's Gospel is one of the many and various "woman-anoints-Jesus" in the Gospels.   This happens in various ways, and various women seem to be involved; what's interesting to me, though, is that it's not easy to find Western artists who accurately record that it was Mary of Bethany (or, in Luke, an unnamed "sinner") and not Mary Magdalene who did the anointing.

I found only one such piece (which actually isn't from John at all, but from either Matthew or Mark, since this happens at "Simon the Leper's" home); it's an oil by Dieric Bouts, from the 1440s.

All the other Western art I found created around the "anointing" theme misidentifies the woman as Mary Magdalene.   But there is quite a bit of confusion around this scene in any event; the Marys aren't the only one getting mixed together.  Here's an explanation at Wikipedia's "Simon the Leper" page:
Simon the Leper is a biblical figure mentioned by the Gospels according to Matthew (26:6-13) and Mark (14:3-9). These two books narrate how Jesus made a visit to the house of Simon the Leper at Bethany during the course of which a woman (this woman was Mary, Lazarus' sister John 11:1-2) anoints the head of Jesus with costly ointment. Bethany was the home of Simon the Leper as well as Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. The Gospel according to John (12:1-8) recounts that Mary, Martha and Lazarus attended a supper for Jesus Christ two days before the Passover and Crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus arrived to Bethany six days before the passover, but attended to the dinner two days before the Passover. Martha served and Lazarus sat at the table. According to John's Gospel, the feet of Jesus were also anointed by Mary. Comparing them suggests that Judas Iscariot and other disciples of Jesus also attended and protested the costly anointing of Jesus.

Simon the Leper is sometimes identified with Simon the Pharisee (see Shimon ben Gamliel), who is mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (7:36-50) as the host of a meal during which the feet of Jesus are anointed by a woman.[1] Because of these similarities, efforts have been made to reconcile the events and characters but some scholars have pointed out differences between the two events.[2]An alternative explanation for the similarities is that the Luke 7 anointing and the anointing at Bethany (Matthew 26:6Mark 14:3John 12:1) happened with some of the same participants, but several years apart.[3]

Simon the Leper is also sometimes identified as the same person as Lazarus of Bethany, or identified as his father or brother. This is because Matthew and Mark mention Simon, while John mentions Lazarus, but all four gospels assume one lodging at Bethany during the last week. Abbé Drioux identified all three as one: Lazarus of Bethany, Simon the Leper of Bethany, and the Lazarus of the parable, on the basis that in the parable Lazarus is depicted as a leper, and due to a perceived coincidence between Luke 16:30 and John 12:10 - where after the raising of Lazarus, Caiaphas and Annas tried to have him killed.[4]

The East seems to have had far less trouble with all this; the three women - Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, and the unnamed "sinner" - have never been conflated.  (I'm not sure about all the Simons and Lazarus, though!  There is definitely some built-in confusion about all this, due to the different tellings of the story in the Gospels.)

What's interesting to me - at least as far as I can tell so far - is that Eastern icons conflate all the events into one image.  That is, at the same time Jesus is raising Lazarus, Mary of Bethany is anointing his feet!  See this image, for instance:

It's hard for me to tell if this is what's actually happening, although clearly, something is going on with the feet.  It could be a more modern take on the older icons - that one's from, and I'm not sure how recent it is - and in almost all of them, the women in particular are huddled on the ground.  Perhaps some icon-writer decided that while Mary was down there anyway, she might as well be doing something!  Of course, in John, Mary "falls at Jesus' feet" in mourning, too - and that could be what's being shown here.  But what's she doing with the cloth wrapped around his feet?  If anybody knows, I'd be really happy to find out about this.

Here's another icon, apparently from the 12th Century:

And another, from the 16th:

This one's really stunning; it's a fresco by Lippo Memmi (14th Century), at the Duomo di San Gimignano. As you can see, one of the women - Mary? - is in the same lowered posture at Jesus' feet (but with no active anointing), while Martha, no doubt, is standing and pointing out to Jesus that Lazarus has been dead for four days and therefore stinketh.


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