Chant: April 2007 Archives

Spes Mea

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Monday of Holy Week

Isaiah 42:1-7
Psalm 26:1, 2, 3, 13-14 (R. v. 1a)
John12:1-11

But After I Shall Be Risen

The bright eighth mode intervals of last evening’s Magnificat Antiphon still echo in our hearts: “It is therefore written: I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed; but after I shall be risen, I will go before you into Galilee. There you shall see me, says Lord.” Over the words, postquam autem resurrexero — “but after I shall be risen” the melody leaped upward in an uncontainable burst of paschal triumph, ringing out an irrepressible joy.

You Shall See Me

Yesterday, we were in Jerusalem, the holy city of the sufferings of Christ, but the Magnificat antiphon at Second Vespers already promised us a reunion with the risen Lord in Galilee. “There you shall see me.” Through the text and melody of the antiphon one hears that other promise of the Lord in Saint John’s gospel: “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22).

Says the Lord

The cadence over the words, dicit Dominus — “says the Lord,” is strong and full of hope, leaving us utterly certain of the outcome of this Great Week’s bitter agony and sufferings. “This is our comfort,” writes Dame Aemiliana, “we shall see Him again. First Judea and Jerusalem, judgment, death, the tomb. Then Galilee, life and sight. . . . Life hangs on the issue of death; whoever goes with the Lord to die, goes with Him to live and rule; whoever dares to go the way to Jerusalem will not miss the way to Galilee.”

Pascha Est Cor Liturgiae

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The Pasch of the Lord: Heart of the Liturgy

The heart of the liturgy is the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s death, Resurrection and Ascension, accomplished once and for all in Christ the Head and extended by means of the liturgy to all His members throughout history. All Christian worship is but a continuous celebration of the Pasch of the Lord: the sun, dawning each day, draws in its course an uninterrupted train of Eucharists; every celebration of Holy Mass makes present the Paschal Sacrifice of the Lamb. Each day of the liturgical year, and within each day, every instant of the Church’s sleepless vigil, continues and renews the Pasch of Christ.

The Heart of Theology and of Piety

In repeating the enactment of the liturgy, the Church has access to the “unique, unrepeatable mystery of Christ”; day after day, week after week and year after year, the Church is caught up in the transforming glory of the Paschal Mystery. Through the sacred liturgy, the Paschal Mystery irrigates and transforms all of human life, healing those who partake of the sacraments and drawing the Church, already here and now, into the communion of the risen and ascended Christ with the Father in the Holy Spirit. Because it is the heart of the liturgy, the Pasch of the Lord is the heart of theology, and the heart of Christian piety as well.

The Sacred Triduum

The annual celebration of “the most sacred triduum of the crucified, buried and risen Lord” is the liturgical, theological and spiritual center of the Church’s life and “the culmination of the entire liturgical year.” The Paschal Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday, continues through the Friday of the Lord’s Passion, reaches its summit in the Solemn Paschal Vigil, and comes to a close with Sunday Vespers of the Lord’s Resurrection.

Gregorian Chant

As an integral element of the Sacred Triduum, Gregorian Chant takes its place in the complexus of sacred signs by which the Paschal Mystery is rendered present to the Church and the Church drawn into the Paschal Mystery. The chant of the Church is thus essentially related to the Paschal Mystery and to the new life which it imparts. The transcendant value of liturgical chant, especially during the annual celebration of the Paschal Triduum, is properly theological and spiritual. The chants of the Paschal Triduum constitute therefore a point of reconciliation and unity “between theology and liturgy, liturgy and spirituality.” What Father Alexander Schmemann wrote concerning the Paschal Triduum of the Byzantine liturgy and its hymnography is also true, mutatis mutandis, of the liturgy of the Roman Rite and of its proper chants:

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory

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