Gustate et Videte

Gustate et Videte is this Sunday’s communion chant. It has one of the more familiar and notable openings of all the communion chants, something that is unmistakable for anyone with a knowledge of Gregorian music. It begins with great excitement suitable to the text: taste and see that the Lord is sweet. And note how the double tristopha has a penetrating quality, a transforming effect. The remainder of the chant might be seen as a rhapsodic description of the results of the opening line.

Dom Johner comments: “This is the oldest Communion song to be found with its psalm in all the liturgies, oriental as well as occidental. How heartfelt it must have sounded, coming from the lips of those who were returning from the altar with the sweetest and most savory of foods in their hearts! What longing it must have awakened in the souls of the faithful who were still on the way to receive Holy Communion! Whoever loves the Eucharistic Saviour will not only gladly and frequently carry this exhortation into effect, but will also, as far as he is able, make others partakers of this same great joy.”

Here is a performance.

2 Replies to “Gustate et Videte”

  1. Indeed, "Taste and See" was the antiphon regularly used with the rest of Psalm 33 during the communion "procession" throughout the Church year for a long time both East and West until Proper communion chants for each Sunday and feast were composed by the 7-8th centuries at Rome. The melody that we have today (above) likely had undergone changes during the 10th century in which the tenor (Si), as in many mode 3 compositions, was raised to Ut. Fr Saulnier in his "The Gregorian Modes" has an interesting restored version (#150) where the melody begins with Si as the reciting note and then finally goes to Ut on the "de" of Videte, highlighting that word. Be this as it may, this antiphon may be a good one to start with for a choir that is just beginning to sing the Gregorian Communion antiphons as its text is suitable for use throughout the year; new ones could be added to the repertoire according to the choir's abilities.

  2. Well said, Ted. This is also one of the seven "communio ad libitum" options in the 1974 Graduale, along with Ego sum vitis vera, Hoc corpus, Manducaverunt, Panem de caelo, Panis quem ego dedero, and Qui manducat. What a great selection of propers to begin with for a schola venturing into the Gregorian proper!

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