Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Beginning of Advent

A beautiful day, materially and spiritually: for this evening marks the beginning of Advent. At the parish OF Vigil Mass, it was good to sing "Wake, awake, for night is flying", one of those hymns without which Advent Sunday seems incomplete; and I listened a little time ago to another one, "Lo! he comes with clouds descending", which I have enjoyed singing at this time of year in the past. After Mass, I went to another Advent necessity, a performance of The Messiah

(Unfortunately the choir, harpsichordist, trumpeter and bass soloist were not of the highest standard: the last-named lost his place most embarrassingly in "The people that walked in darkness", the second-last named did not do much of a job of his part in "The trumpet shall [or rather, should] sound", the harpsichordist was inaccurate, and the choir didn't keep in time with each other in "His yoke is easy". I would have to say, it was the worst performance of Handel's masterpiece I've attended; even the booklet hadn't been proofread, both omitting parts sung, and including parts not sung. I hope they improve for next year, otherwise I will offer them 80% of the ticket price, and not waste 20% of my money as I did this year.)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Cistercian Elevation Chants

UPDATE: I have made a more accurate transcription of all three elevation chants.

The Cistercian Rite retained down to the liturgical changes of the 1960's the mediæval practice of singing an elevation motet after the elevation of the Host; and presumably all EF Masses in the Cistercian Rite still retain this laudable and pious custom. At Mass, after the chanted Sanctus, but before the Benedictus, the O salutaris Hostia is sung after the elevation; however, if it be Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin, the Sanctus and Benedictus are sung first, and then the Ave verum after the elevation. The Cistercian version of the Ave verum includes a slight change in wording (fudit aquam cum, not fluxit aquam et), an additional last phrase (Tu nobis miserere, set to the same notes as fili Mariæ) and a few minor variants in the assignment of notes to syllables (for in exa- and …li Mari…).

At Requiem Masses, the Sanctus and Benedictus are sung first, then the Pie Jesu after the elevation. This last chant is particularly interesting, as it is clearly based on a variant tune for the last lines of the Sequence Dies iræ, which is not sung in the Cistercian liturgy. The invocation Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem is sung thrice, then sempiternam (from the Agnus Dei melody) is appended, with a final Amen. 

Herewith, the Cistercian O salutaris Hostia (whose melody is a slightly more elaborate variant of the Roman), Ave verum, and Pie Jesu:

At present, I like to silently pray these three in succession after the Elevation, during the silent Canon of the Mass.