Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Corpus Christi Alleluia: Caro mea ("My flesh")

Here's the beautiful Corpus Christi Alleluia, sung at "Mass in the Cathedral of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, City of Westminster, 18 September 2010."

Here are Latin and English words, from Chapter 6 of John's Gospel:
Caro mea vere est cibus: et sanguis meus vere est potus.
Qui manducat meam carnem et bibit meum sanguinem in me manet, et ego in illo[eo].

My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

 Here's the full chant score:

This was the Tridentine Alleluia for this feast day as well. 

Dom Dominic Johner, in Chants of the Vatican Gradual, writes, about this Alleluia (as he compares it to various other chant Alleluia propers during the church year):
With what earnestness the disciples on the way to Emmaus besought the Lord to remain with them, for the night was approaching!  Here our Saviour not only gives us the assurance that He will remain  with us, but that He will remain in us when we are united with Him in  Holy Communion. Thus the indefectible Light itself, the Light which  can never be dimmed, is within us! Our souls will be the house where  Truth dwells, where falsehood can never intrude. We shall be filled with  the life and strength from which all the saints, whom we rightly admire, have drawn. Hence He truly is what our hungering and thirsting  soul needs in life and still more in death. Our present song expresses  thanks for these many graces.

Alleluia with its jubilus has the form abc; no inner relationship  exists between it and the melody of the verse. Several times during the  year we meet this melody: first, on Corpus Christi; second, on the feast  of the Transfiguration; third, on the feast of St. Lawrence; fourth, on  the feast of St. Michael (second Alleluia); and fifth, on the feast of the  Holy Rosary. In the most ancient manuscripts it is found with the text  Laetabitur Justus: 'The just shall rejoice in the Lord, and shall hope in  Him: and all the upright in heart shall be praised." The melody is entirely begotten of the text, an energetic song of exultation, which leaves  this earth far below it and soars up to the ethereal blue—describing the  joy and the delight of the singer. The original, unfortunately, is no  longer sung. In it the beauty and clarity of the structure, which is psalmodic in character, is better revealed. Two phrases begin with an intonation and then have a florid middle cadence. In the first phrase there  follows not a mere recitation on the tenor, but a very ornate melisma  with a repetition; finally comes the closing cadence. The melody of  alleluia with its jubilus is joined to the last words of the verse to form  the third phrase. In the first part of the original an independent thought  is expressed: "The just shall rejoice in the Lord," thus fully justifying  the pause on the dominant after the middle cadence. But b towers above the two a parts. A brief survey will show the relation between the original composition and the adaptations mentioned and numbered above.

1. Caro mea
2. Candor est
3. Levita
4. Concussum
5. Solemnitas

vere est cibus
est mare

  Middle Cadence
in Domino
et sanguis meus
bonum opus
et contremuit
Florid Melisma
                           Et spera-
1. vere est potus, qui manducat
2. et speculum sine ma-
3. opera-
4. terra
5. Mariae ex semine

Closing Cadence
-bit in eo
meam carnem
-tus est
[without closing cadence]

     et lauda-
1. et bibit
2. et
3. qui per signum
4. [irregular]
5. ortae

Middle Cadence
ubi Archangelus
de tribu

Closing Cadence
Michael descende-

    recti corde
1. in me manet et ego in eo.
2. illius.
3. illuminavit.
4. -bat de caelo.
5. clara ex stirpe David.

The structure is clearest in the verse Laetabitur. Of the others, verse  2, that is, that of the feast of the Transfiguration, bears the closest resemblance. The third also is good. In 1, a new thought begins with the melisma that is repeated, thus handicapping the effectiveness of the  melody; for its upward surge, about which there can be no doubt in this  type of Alleluia, is thereby weakened. The third part, whose melody is  formed somewhat differently, does not give the feeling of a finished  organic whole in which all parts are attuned to one another.

See this post on Chantblog, to compare:  The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, August 6: Candor est lucis æternæ.  I have not posted any of the others as of yet, but you can always check Gregorian Chant to find out more about the ones I haven't worked on yet.

Here are all the chant propers for Corpus Christi, from the ChristusRex website:

Ss.mi Corporis et Sanguinis Christi
Introitus: Ps. 80, 17 et 2.3.11 Cibavit eos (2m34.2s - 904 kb) Score
Graduale: Ps. 144, 15 V 16 Oculi omnium (3m11.5s - 1124 kb) Score
Alleluia: Io. 6, 56.57 Caro mea (2m21.5s - 830 kb) Score
Sequentia: Lauda, Sion (5m49.8s - 2052 kb) Score
Offertorium: Ps. 77, 23.24.25 Portas cæli (1m35.1s - 576 kb) Score
             Qui manducat (38s - 270 kb) (with fan noises) Score
                (anno C) 1 Cor. 11, 24.25 Hoc corpus (1m02.9s - 370 kb) Score

Corpus Christi is not an official feast on the Anglican Calendar, but it is observed by many Anglicans.  For instance, here are some photo albumss from Corpus Christi services - including the procession - at the Flickr page of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, NYC.

And here are photos from this year's observance (on May 29) at their Facebook page.  Here are two photos from that collection:

Censing the Sacrament



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