Saturday, January 13, 2018

The sung Gospel at Christmas Matins: Liber Generationis ("The book of generations")

In doing some reading after posting my last post, The sung Gospel at Epiphany Matins: Factum Est Autem ("Now it came to pass"), I found that the corresponding genealogy from Matthew is sung at the end of Matins on Christmas.    So this one comes first in the liturgical year, and may be the older custom; see below for more on this.  This is sung here by the medieval music group Sequentia.

Here is the text, taken from a parallel reading of the Vulgate and King James Versions of the Bible; I added some punctuation to the Latin:
Dominus vobiscum.
R/.  Et cum spiritu tuo.
Initium sancti evangelii secundum Mattheum.
R/.  Gloria tibi, Domine.

Liber generationis Iesu Christi filii David filii Abraham; 

Abraham genuit Isaac; Isaac autem genuit Iacob; Iacob autem genuit Iudam et fratres eius;  Iudas autem genuit Phares et Zara de Thamar; Phares autem genuit Esrom; Esrom autem genuit Aram;  Aram autem genuit Aminadab; Aminadab autem genuit Naasson; Naasson autem genuit Salmon;  Salmon autem genuit Booz de Rachab; Booz autem genuit Obed ex Ruth; Obed autem genuit Iesse; Iesse autem genuit David regem;  David autem rex genuit Salomonem ex ea quae fuit Uriae;  Salomon autem genuit Roboam; Roboam autem genuit Abiam; Abia autem genuit Asa;  Asa autem genuit Iosaphat; Iosaphat autem genuit Ioram; Ioram autem genuit Oziam;  Ozias autem genuit Ioatham; Ioatham autem genuit Achaz; Achaz autem genuit Ezechiam;  Ezechias autem genuit Manassen; Manasses autem genuit Amon; Amon autem genuit Iosiam;  Iosias autem genuit Iechoniam et fratres eius in transmigratione Babylonis;  et post transmigrationem Babylonis Iechonias genuit Salathihel; Salathihel autem genuit Zorobabel;  Zorobabel autem genuit Abiud; Abiud autem genuit Eliachim; Eliachim autem genuit Azor;  Azor autem genuit Saddoc; Saddoc autem genuit Achim; Achim autem genuit Eliud;  Eliud autem genuit Eleazar; Eleazar autem genuit Matthan; Matthan autem genuit Iacob;  Iacob autem genuit Ioseph virum Mariae, de qua natus est Iesus qui vocatur Christus.

The Lord be with you.
R/.  And with your spirit.
The beginning of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
R/.  Glory to you, Lord.

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 

Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren;  And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram;  And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon;  And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse;  And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;  And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa;  And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias;  And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias;  And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias;  And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:  And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;  And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor;  And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud;  And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob;  And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

Here's the Latin Sarum Christmas office from McMaster; you can find the chant score beginning on page 312 of that PDF document; the English-language version of this Office is here.  

While the melody on the Sequentia video above does not match the score in the Sarum Breviary, you can listen to the McMaster mp3 recording of Liber Generationis here, which does match up, of course, with the chant score they provide.

The melody on the video, though, is somewhat similar to the melody on the video I posted for Luke's genealogy sung at Epiphany.  I am very curious where this melody comes from and will continue to search it out, if I can. 

Once again, there is an instruction that introduces this chant after the ninth and final responsory; in English, it's:
While this final R. together with its V. and Gloria Patri. are sung, let the Deacon proceed with the Subdeacon and the Thurifer and the Taperer and the Acolyte bearing the Cross, all solemnly vested in preparation to cense the Altar. And, having received a Blessing from the Officiant in the midst of the Choir, let him approach the Pulpit for the singing of the following Gospel.
And the Te Deum is sung after the genealogy, to end the Office.

Divinum Officium does not list either of these two genealogies as part of Christmas or Epiphany Matins in its 1570 Trident versions - but the Matthew genealogy (Matt 1:1-16) is there in the "Pre-Trident Monastic" Matins of Christmas, sung after the Te Deum.   It's labeled "Initium Sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum" ("The beginning of the HOly Gospel according to Matthew").

In DO's "Pre-Trident Monastic" Matins of Epiphany, it's Matthew 2:1-12 that follows the Te Deum at the very end of the Office; it's labeled "Sequentia Sancti Evangelii secundum Matthaeum" ("Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew").

On its versions page, the creator of Divinum Officium wrote, about the "Pre-Trident Monastc" version:
The pre-Tridentine Monastic version is an attempt to illustrate the Benedictine Breviary, as it is described in the Regula of St. Benedict, with the exception that, for lack of resources, only 9 lessons are included for Sundays and Feasts, instead of 12 lessons. See details below.
(In his note below, just for your information (although not really relevant to this post!), is this:
Implemented pre-Tridentine Monastic changes:
  • Matins starts with Domine labia and Psalm 3
    • First Nocturn is always 6 psalms.
    • First Nocturn has 3 lessons with responsories from Scriptures from November to Low Sunday, with one short lesson in summertime
    • Second Nocturn is always 6 psalms.
    • Except for Sundays and Feasts (Duplex majus, 2nd class, 1st class), the second nocturn has a scriptural capitulum with responsory only, and there is no third nocturn.
    • For Sundays and Feasts (for lack of resources, only 3 * 3 instead of 3 * 4 lessons) there are three nocturns. The third nocturn has Old Testament canticles under one antiphon.
    • There is also a responsory after the last lesson, followed by the Te Deum, the reading of the full passage of Gospel, and the short hymn "Te decet".
  • Lauds starts with Psalm 66
    • Lauds has 3 psalms, a canticle and psalms 148-149-150 as one unit. Responsory is added to Capitulum.
  • Prime has 4 or 3 psalms (parts). Preces, reading of the Regula and Commemoration of the dead (which was not part of Prime) is added to the office.
  • Minor Hours have a psalm scheme only for Sunday, Monday and the rest of days. Capitulum is followed only by Verse.
  • Vespers has 4 psalms, Responsory is added to Capitulum.
  • Compline has always the same psalms without antiphons; also without Nunc dimittis)

I will check the Regula to see if this genealogy and the following verses from Matthew are in fact prescribed for Christmas and Epiphany.  Will return here to report what I find.

I did find, though, in reading about the Epiphany genealogy Factum Est Autem, these two notes:
* The Gospel from the first chapter of St. Matthew. “The Book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham." It was solemnly sung after the ninth lesson at Matins before the midnight Mass on Christmas, the Gospels being processionally carried with lights on either side to the pulpit or the steps of the chancel. The ceremony is still carried out in many of the churches in France. The chant of the Genealogy is one of the most beautiful in the liturgy.

1‘ The “Factum est autem” is a gospel from St. Luke iii. 21. “ Now it came to pass when all the people was baptized." It was sung after the manner of the Genealogy after the ninth lesson of Matins on the night of the eve of Epiphany, and before the Te Damn.
So apparently this custom was not limited to the Sarum Office, but was also practiced in France.  This may be the source of the melody on the videos, but I still haven't found either of these genealogies listed in any of the usual chant databases.  Still looking for manuscripts and sources there, too.

The genealogies are really quite a wonderful addition to the Christmas and Epiphany Offices; I really like the way they are bookended at Christmas and Epiphany, too.   Would love to know more about the history of this, and hopeful to find out!

Here's a video of one polyphonic setting of this Gospel, without an obvious attribution.  Will try to find out more about this, too.


Anonymous said...

The chanting of both genealogies (at Matins of Christmas and Epiphany) is also part of the Dominican Rite, and both have a lovely elaborate tone.

bls said...

Thanks very much for the information, Anon. I will have to check and see if I can find audio or video of that, or more information of any kind. Much appreciated!


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