Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Offertory for Easter Day: Terra Tremuit ("The Earth Trembled")

Here's an interesting and beautiful chant for Easter Day:

The text comes from Psalm (75/)76, vv (9-10/)8-9:
The earth trembled and was still, when God arose in judgment, Alleluia.

Here's the chant score for Terra Tremuit:

Interestingly, only the Douay-Rheims and the NIV translate this verse as "the earth trembled and was still." Just about every other translation says it's "the earth feared and was still."  But, clearly, we need "trembled" to evoke Matthew's earthquake (which we had as the Gospel tonight at the Vigil!):
Matthew 28

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.  And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.  But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”  So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

This is the "Simple English Propers" version of this chant:

Matthew alone gives us earthquakes during the periods of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ; one happens at the Crucifixion and this other one as above, as the stone is rolled aside.

Interestingly, though:  the historic-lectionary Gospel for Easter Day was apparently Mark's account of the empty tomb, in Chapter 16, v. 1-10.  The Easter Dawn reading was from John 20, the meeting of Mary Magdalene with the "gardener" (which passage is another option for our current Year A Easter Day reading).

The 1928 BCP (and the 1662, for that matter) prescribes the passage from John on Easter Day, too - except that it's just John 20:1-10, which doesn't include the meeting of Jesus and Mary.  (In those books, the reading for "Easter Even" was the story from Matthew about Joseph of Arimatheia taking the body of Jesus down from the cross and moving it to his burial site.  Clearly the Easter Vigil was not celebrated in those days).

And Terra Tremuit is the Offertory in the Extraordinary (i.e., "historic") Form, too - which is very interesting, since Matthew's Gospel seems never to have been read at Easter!   (Matthew's Gospel does get some play at Morning Prayer, though; Et ecce terræmótus  - "And behold there was a great earthquake" - is the second Psalm antiphon at Lauds on Easter Day.   See Easter Lauds: Et ecce terræmótus  for more on that, and on Brumel's stunning mass of the same name.)

In fact, all of the mass propers today are identical to the historic (EF) ones.  Here's the full list of the current propers for Easter Day at

Dominica Paschæ in Resurrectione Domini

Ad Missam in Die
Introitus: Ps. 138, 18.5.6 et 1-2 Resurrexi (cum Gloria Patri)(5m29.3s - 5148 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 117, 24 et 1 Hæc dies... V. Confitemini (2m58.6s - 2794 kb) score
Alleluia: 1 Cor. 5, 7 Pascha nostrum (1m59.3s - 1866 kb) score
Sequentia: Victimæ paschali laudes (1m36.6s - 1510 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 75, 9.10 Terra tremuit (1m21.9s - 1282 kb) score
Communio: 1 Cor. 5, 7.8 Pascha nostrum (1m25.2s - 1334 kb) score
ad dimitendum populum: Ite, Missa est (28.7s - 451 kb) score

And here are posts for most of these on Chantblog:

Here's a fantastic Old Roman Chant version:

This is William Byrd's setting; the artists, it says at YouTube, are "Amici Cantores, Giovanni Barzaghi, Amici Cantores, Giovanni Barzaghi":

Here's a bit of earthquake-like Easter action, from the Chora Church/Kariye Camii, Istanbul.  Blessed Easter to all!


Nathaniel M. Campbell said...

The Mass of Easter Even in the Anglican Missal (as opposed to the Prayer Book) does follow "the Latin Rite" by using Matthew 28:1-7 as the Gospel. (See the version at , on p. 434/1610 = B128-129.) In my People's Anglican Missal in the American Edition, both the BCP (Matt. 27 on the deposition and burial by Nicodemus) and the Latin Rite options are given (A197-198).

bls said...

Thanks, Nathaniel; that's a very interesting link.

I'm trying to get ahold of how and where the Easter Vigil has been celebrated in the West between Trent (and before it) and Vatican II. This is proving to be harder than it might seem!

The Vigil is listed in the 1961 Liber Usualis, too, so it was at least on the schedule - but I don't think it was often celebrated in the parish churches. It's been my suspicion for a long time that Easter Vigil has been continuously celebrated in monasteries, even when it was gone from parish churches, though.

Some of the local monasteries celebrate the Vigil beginning at dawn - clearly distinct from the Orthodox celebration that begins just before midnight. Not sure if this is an old custom or a new one, though, which is what I'm trying to find out now....


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