Friday, February 02, 2018

An Epiphany Responsory: Illuminare, illuminare Jerusalem ("Shine, shine Jerusalem")

While we're still in Epiphany season - one of my favorite seasons of the year - I wanted to post another Epiphany chant.  This is the first responsory of Epiphany Day Matins in the Sarum Breviary; it's the fourth Responsory in the Roman Breviary.  It's  sung here beautifully by the Schola Gregoriana Assisiensis:

Here are the Latin and English words, from Divinum Officium:
R. Illuminare, illuminare Jerusalem, quia venit lux tua:
* Et gloria Domini super te orta est.
V. Et ambulabunt Gentes in lumine tuo, et reges in splendore ortus tui.
R. Et gloria Domini super te orta est.

R. Shine, shine, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come
* And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
V. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising.
R. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

This is taken from Isaiah 60:1-3; here are those passages in the Douay-Rheims translation:

1 Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

2 For behold darkness shall cover the earth, and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

3 And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising.

Interestingly, most translations do not include the word "Jerusalem" - except The Message  (and a few others)!   According to the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, "The name 'Jerusalem' is inserted by the LXX., Targ[um]. and Vulg[ate]., but the addition is unnecessary (cf. Isaiah 54:1)."  I'm taking this to mean that it's not in the original Hebrew.

It's also interesting to me that the chant-writers chose to repeat the word "Illuminare," rather than using the direct translation itself:  "Surge, illuminare" (i.e., "Arise, shine").   I suppose we'll never know what the idea here was, but it does go to emphasize Epiphany as "the season of light."

Here is the chant score from the Sarum breviary; both text and melody are identical, as far as I can tell.

Palestrina and Byrd both set the text as taken directly from Scripture as "Surge, Illuminare," including only Isaiah 60:1-2.  Here's Palestrina's setting:

The website of the Schola Assisiensis says this about the ensemble:
The “Schola Gregoriana Assisiensis” is a vocal ensemble, consisting of only male voices, dedicated to the study and liturgical and concert execution of monodic liturgical repertoires of Christian medieval Europe (Gregorian chant, Ambrosian chant, antique Roman chant) and of polyphonic repertoires of the same period (especially Ars Antiqua), then expanding to Renaissance polyphony, again performed by only male voices. The group consists, in the most part, of professionals from different musical environments: they include Gregorianists, singers, choir directors, composers, organists, both lay and religious.

Its members, together with their own musical activity, in recent years have matured an experience of study and passion for sacred and liturgical medieval vocal repertoires, dedicating themselves to an ever greater understanding of execution praxis even based on recent semiological and scientific studies. Founded in Assisi, the “Schola Gregoriana Assisiensis” is based at the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, which has always been entrusted to the care of the Friars Minor of the Seraphic Province of Umbria.


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