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:

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