Hymn Tune Introits for the Most Blessed Trinity and Corpus Christi

As mentioned here previously, the Hymn Tune Introits are a way to incorporate the proper texts of a Mass in the liturgies of parishes that are very much accustomed to singing hymns. I’ve taken the entrance antiphons for the next two Sundays and put them into verse form.

The Missal presents as the Entrance Antiphon for the Most Blessed Trinity: Blest be God the Father, and the Only Begotten Son of God, and also the Holy Spirit, for he has shown us his merciful love.

While my versification misses some important elements of this text, particularly regarding the Son, it is certainly closer than Holy God, We Praise Thy Name, or other beloved hymns  which might be chosen.

May God the Father blessed be,
And His one Son eternally,
And blest the Spirit from above:
For He has shown His gracious love.

The verse is in “Church meter” (Long Meter, Ambrosian meter), which has 4 lines of 8 syllables each, and which attempts to be, at least in the 2 and 4th feet of each line, iambic. Tunes such as Jesu Dulcis Memoria and Duke Street would be good matches.

For Corpus Christ, I have included Alleluias which are reflective of the abundant use of Alleluia in the proper introit, Cibavit eos.

He fed them with the finest wheat
And sated them, alleluia,
With honey from the rock to eat,
Alleluia, alleluia.

As a rather unusual option, perhaps a parish might consider singing this Corpus Christi antiphon to the tune Sweet Sacrament, and adding the refrain usually sung with Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All.

Hymn to St. Anne: Nocti succedit lucifer

This is my translation of the office hymn Nocti succedit lucifer, a hymn in honor of St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the patroness of Canada, as well as Detroit. The feast of St. Anne with her husband St. Joachim is celebrated on the universal calendar on July 26th.
One of the hymn’s strengths is its use of the imagery of light in the first two verses. In verse 1, we move forward in time as we move through the series of celestial images: first Anna, the morning star, then Mary, the dawn, then Christ, the Sun. (The forward motion is found in the popular hymn Mary the Dawn as well.) In verse two, the images work in reverse, perhaps in order of importance for salvation: Christ the Sun, Mary the dawn, and Anna, who warms the sky to a pre-dawn red–the “rosy fingered dawn” of Homer.
The third verse’s imagery is familar from the O Antiphon O radix Jesse, which draws from Isaiah 11:1, the messianic prophecy that numbers the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Where Mary the Dawn has a binary quality, this hymn is more of a waltz, in three. Working backwards from Christ, the evident Savior, we find His mother, and we study to understand who she must have been, to bear such fruit in her womb. Then we take one further step, and find her mother, not immaculately conceived, but the natural mother of the mother. Already in St. Anne, in whose womb the Immaculate Conception took place, we have reason to hope, that soon the Sun will shine.

The morning star is on the rise
And soon the dawn will fill the skies,
Foretelling of the coming Sun
Whose light will shine on everyone.

The Sun of justice, Christ, true Light,
And Mary, grace’s dawning bright,
And Anna, reddening the sky,
Have caused the night of Law to fly.

O mother Anna, fruitful root,
From you came your salvation’s shoot,
For you brought forth the flow’ring rod
That bore for us the Christ of God.

Christ’s mother’s mother, by the grace
Your daughter’s birth brought to our race,
And by her merits and her prayer
May we her favors come to share.

O Jesus, Virgin-born, to You
All glory is forever due.
To Father and the Spirit, praise
Be sung through everlasting days.

New Communio Collection by Richard Rice

English Anthems for Mixed Choir
on the Communion Chants
of the Modern
Graduale Romanum
Richard Rice’s new collection of Communion Chants begins a new chapter in the use of proper texts at the parish’s solemn Mass. Somewhere between simplicity and polyphony, with a difficulty level that is both accessible and challenging to the accomplished amateur choir, the Choral Communio provides a fresh new musical experience each week, with a new use of a traditional structure, that will become second nature over the course of the seasons.
Verses are provided to reflect upon the proper antiphons, and each verse concludes with the second half of the antiphon. This structure of liturgical chant is familiar from the Responsories of the Liturgy of the Hours, and from the Communion chant from the Requiem Mass, Lux Aeterna.
The antiphons are taken from the Graduale Romanum, and ordinarily use the translation from the Gregorian Missal. These are not “official” translations, and some have been modified to a more precise translation. The author’s rationale for these and other editorial decisions may be found in the Foreward to this volume, available here.
The ad libitum Communion chants, which may be sung throughout the year, are available on PDF for choirs who may wish to try the Choral Communio before committing to a full purchase, and may be downloaded from the author’s homepage here or from the MusicaSacra website here. (Just use your printer’s booklet setting and print in two-sided format along the short edge.)
It is so often said that we should be singing the Mass, rather than simply singing at Mass. Richard Rice’s Choral Communio provides an excellent resource for those who would like to sing the Mass, with an accomplished amateur choir, in English.

For more from Richard Rice, see RiceScores.com

Why Gregorian Chant?

At the Extraordinary Form Mass for Ascension Thursday in a nearby parish church, the Mass was nice, beautiful, fine–but not particularly engaging for me on a personal level. I was on a kind of autopilot at the end of a busy day with a lot going on.

And then, during the first Alleluia, something happened. Perhaps it was a moment when the unison voices found that sweet concordance that makes the overtones really shine, or when the timbres found a cooperative resonance, like the string section of an orchestra, or maybe it was a particular moment of off-rhythm, the 3s among the 2s, or the quilisma among the puncta, that simultaneously caused both frisson and quiet.

It was beauty, pure and simple and clean, so difficult to find in our busy world and so very nourishing. No instruments necessary, just a few dedicated human voices ready to proclaim the goodness of God, docile to the liturgical forms of the day and season.

He led captivity captive. He gave gifts to men.

In the Office of Readings for Ascension Thursday, the long Scripture reading, and its responsory, are taken from the Letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4:

When Christ ascended on high, he led captivity captive, he gave gifts to men.

Interestingly enough, the gifts Christ gave were charisms, or rather persons with charisms, “apostle, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers in roles of service.” According to Ephesians, it is these gifts of Christ’s that form us into Christ, “that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature.”

The Magnificat antiphon of the Ascension, the great O Rex Gloriae, is an epiclesis of the Holy Spirit. It is addressed, not to the Father, but to Christ.

O Victor King, Lord of power and might, today you have ascended in glory above the heavens. Do not leave us orphans, but send us the Father’s promised gift, the Spirit of truth, alleluia.

This is a subtle prayer. Addressed to Christ, it asks that He send us the Father’s promised gift. The gift of the Father, sent by the Son. The Spirit, sent by the Son, is thematic in the liturgy of these days. For example, the invitatory antiphon during this time, the Church’s original novena, is

Come, let us adore Christ the Lord who promised to send the Holy Spirit on His people, alleluia.

 Examples such as this abound, as a quick glance through the breviary shows. The Son sends the Spirit.

But, why was it necessary that He first ascend?