Thursday, May 5, 2011

Progression in Easter Introits

I've long but struck by the long wave of sensibilities that emerge in the Easter season, as seen in its entrance chants. The season emerges slowly and systematically, in a way consistent with real human emotions. First we experience awe and shock. Then humbly recognize our dependence on God by reference to newborn infants. We observe that the Resurrection is a global event and that his mercy is universal. Then we shout. We sing. And then we are driven to share the news with the world.

The full outpouring of all of this takes six weeks, and each theme is reflected in the music, as you can hear in the links below. Are we still celebrating Easter? In the Gregorian chant, applicable to both ordinary and extraordinary forms, we certainly are, and this will continue until the Ascension. In the seventh Sunday, we ask that the Lord not turn his face from us. Then comes Pentecost.

It's a beautiful drama, one that emerges from the propers of the Mass and the chant that gives them voice. We are missing so much if we don't not sing these, and missing nearly the whole story if we ignore the propers altogether. There is no need for this neglect.

1st week: Resurrexi Et Adhu:I am risen, and I am always with you, alleluia; you have placed your hand upon me, alleluia; your wisdom has been shown to be most wonderful, alleluia, alleluia. O Lord, you have searched me and known me; you know when I sit down and when I rise up.

2nd week: Quasi Modo:As newborn babes, alleluia, long for pure spiritual milk, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Rejoice in honour of God our helper; shout for joy to the God of Jacob.

3rd week: Misericordia Domini: The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord, alleluia; by the word of the Lord, the heavens were established, alleluia, alleluia. Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! Praising befits those who are upright.

4th week: Jubilate Deo: Shout joyfully to God, all the earth, alleluia; sing a psalm to his name, alleluia; praise him with magnificence, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Say to God: "How awesome are your deeds, O Lord! In the greatness of your power, your enemies will be convicted of
lying to you".

5th week: Cantate Domino: Sing to the Lord a new song, alleluia; for the Lord has accomplished wondrous deeds, alleluia; he has revealed his justice in the sight of the Gentiles, alleluia, alleluia. His right hand and his holy arm have given him victory.

6th week: Vocem Jucunditatis: Spread the news with a voice of joy; let it be heard, alleluia; speak it out to the very ends of the earth; the Lord has liberated his people, alleluia, alleluia. Shout joyfully
to God all the earth; sing a psalm to his name; praise him with magnificence.

7th week: Exaudi Domine: Hearken, O Lord, unto my voice which has called out to you, alleluia; my heart declared to you: "Your countenance have I sought; I shall ever seek your countenance, O Lord; do not turn your face from me, alleluia, alleluia." The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?