Monday, December 29, 2008


An ageless music of beauty from the Dominican Liturgy: the Christmas, Epiphany and Presentation Sequence Lætabundus:

Attentive listeners will note that the Dominican chant melody as sung above doesn't quite match the chant extract below! Note that each full verse ends with the letter -a, since the Sequence is historically a development of the long melisma, the jubilus, on the last syllable of Alleluia, founded upon setting a syllable to each note; and note further that in the modern Dominican books (but not on the recording!) some words supposedly overly critical of the Jews have been modified, such as electa for misera in the last verse.

Faithful people,
Sweeten all your song with gladness.
Matchless maiden
Bringeth forth the Prince of princes:
O! the marvel.

Virgin compasseth a man,
Yea, the angel of the plan:
Star the Dayspring.
Day that sunset shall not close,
Star that light on all bestows,
Ever cloudless.

As the star, light crystalline,
Mary hath a Son divine
In her likeness.
Star that shining grows not dim,
Nor his Mother, bearing him,
Less a maiden.

The great tree of Lebanon
Hyssop's lowliness puts on
In our valley;
And the Word of God Most High
Self-imprisoned doth lie
In our body.

So Isaias sang of old,
So the Synagogue doth hold,
But the sunrise finds her cold
Hard and blinded.

Of her own she will not mark,
Let her to the gentiles hark;
For the Sybil's verses dark
Tell of these things.

Make haste, O luckless one,
Give ear to the saints bygone:
Why perish utterly,
O race undone?

He whom thy seers foretell
Born is in Israel:
Mary's little Son,
O mark him well.

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