Chants of the Church Year

This weekly video series offers reflections on a variety of chants as they occur throughout the Church year. It is designed to help you deepen your appreciation for Gregorian Chant in general, while also providing material for meditation in preparation for the liturgy of the coming Sunday. Enjoy delving into the rich heritage of the Chant of Mother Church, by which she nourishes her children week after week.


Low Sunday - Introit: Quasimodo

Mother Church addresses her neophytes - those newly baptized - through this Introit. She is urging them to seek and desire the fruit of her own body, which is the Eucharist.

Easter Sunday - Introit: Resurrexi

This unique Introit invites us to listen in on a "private" conversation between the Father and the Son, a conversation which draws us into the deepest source of Love: the Heart of the Trinity. Hearing this conversation - the love and care expressed in it for humanity - we are moved to unite our hearts to the shouts of Alleluia.

Easter Vigil - Lumen Christi & Alleluia

The Church gives free expression to her unbounded joy on this "night of nights." The triple proclamation of "The Light of Christ" shows how an abundant harvest springs up in each of the three places where the wood of the Cross was planted. The return of the Alleluia, in triplet, shows Mother Church in adoration and thanksgiving for the new life born from the womb of the baptismal font.

Good Friday - Ecce Lignum

Ecce Lignum - Behold the Wood. This triple exclamation, in adoration the instrument of our salvation, will mirror the triple exclamation heard at the great Easter Vigil.

Palm Sunday/Holy Week

This chant, which is taken from one of the most ancient Christian hymns as recorded by St. Paul, reflects the entire Paschal Mystery: Christ's suffering, death and resurrection.

5th Sunday of Lent/Passion Sunday, Introit, Iudica me Deus

The mode of the Introit perfectly mirrors the text from Ps 42: a prayer for deliverance from evil, made with the quiet serenity of one who has complete confidence in God.

Lent 4 - Introit, Laetare

The word Laetare (rejoice) calls to mind mother Church, rejoicing in the Catechumens, soon to be reborn from the womb of her baptismal font. The notes from this Introit echo the Song of Gladness that will ring out again at the Great Easter Vigil.

Lent 3 - Introit, Oculi Mei

As the Catechumens receive special prayers of exorcism as part of their first scrutiny on this Sunday, so the Introit speaks a prayer of deliverance for them from the snares of the enemy. The words oculi (eyes) and respice (gaze) call to two lovers looking into each others' eyes.

Lent 2 - Offertory: Meditabor

Love is the theme of this offertory chant - flowing from the Gospel, as if one who catches sight of the glory of the Transfiguration is moved to desire conformity and union with that vision, which entails “listening to Him.”

Lent 1 - Introit: Invocabit me

Mother Church opens the 1st Sunday of Lent with the joyful proclamation from Ps. 90 - those who call on the Lord will be rescued from the enemy and will be granted fullness of life.

6th Sunday of the year/Quinquagesima - Communion Antiphon:Manducaverunt

Psalm 77, used for the communion antiphon, recalls the manner in which God cared for His people while they journeyed through the desert: providing food to fulfill their desire. May the Eucharist be the food that sustains us during the Lenten journey, and may we never take His gifts for granted.

5th Sunday of the year/Sexagesima Feb 5th - Offertory: Perfice

The Offertory antiphon teaches us that every action of our day should be done in a manner worthy of being offered at the altar.

Septuagesima - Tract: De Profundis

The Tract replaces the Alleluia as we begin to enter the penitential season.

3rd Sunday of the year/Epiphany - Offertory: Dextera Domini

The Offertory Chant is often a prayer directed toward Eucharistic worship. The text, from Psalm 117, is part of the Hallel Psalms, which, as an important part of the Jewish liturgy, may have been used at the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.

2nd Sunday of the Year/Epiphany - Alleluia

“Alleluia” expresses in its original Hebrew the deepest aspirations and purpose of our Christian existence: to “Praise the Lord.”

The Baptism of Our Lord - Communion: Omnes

The Communion Antiphon connects the Feast we celebrate with our reception of the Sacrament of Sacraments. Through baptism - the gateway to all the sacraments - we are “clothed with Christ” and now are privileged to be fed by Him in the Sacrament of His love.

Epiphany - Introit: Ecce advenit

“Ecce” - Behold, and look deeply at a mystery surpassing our limited sensory perception. On this Feast, the Introit emphasizes that there is more to this Babe than meets the eye.

Mary Mother of God/The Circumcision of Our Lord - Alleluia: Multifarie

As a prism gives expression to the many colors contained within white light, so the beautiful brilliance of the Alleluia - Praise the Lord - is refracted in the verse that follows. Each word of that verse draws out a particular way we “Praise the Lord” and the similar melodic structures used between the Alleluia and its verse serve to emphasize this connection.

Holy Family (Ordinary Form) - Gradual: Unam petti

The Gradual is unique among the various chant propers of the Mass. Although each proper is shaped to accompany a liturgical action, the Gradual, which follows the proclamation from Scripture, flows without any contemporaneous movements in the sanctuary. The Gradual stands as a reminder that quiet meditation on Scripture is, of itself, a vital form of participation in the liturgy.

Sunday in the Octave of Christmas (Extraordinary Form): Introit: Dum medium

Just as the Word leaps down from heaven in the silence of the night, so also Gregorian Chant helps to calm and quiet our spirits, making them more receptive to receive the Word fruitfully.

Christmas Day - Introit: Puer Natus Est

“A boy is born for us.” Meet the tristropha in this introit - a musical figure which holds our joyous song in moderation as it gives a brief pause in the flow of the melody. Echoes in the melody also serve to draw theological connections within the text.

Advent 4 - Introit: Rorate

The image of dew appearing on earth leads this first chant. Moisture gives life to what would otherwise become a barren desert. Just as manna was given in the desert after dew appeared on the ground, so the Son of God, the True Bread from Heaven, appears through the dew of grace, giving life to our otherwise barren souls.

Advent 3 - Introit: Gaudete

Gaudete - The melody of this introit chant, from which the 3rd Sunday of Advent receives its popular title, gives color and meaning to the simple mandate to "rejoice" on this day. This chant clothes the sacred text in the simple texture of the swaddling clothes, which will soon clothe our Eucharistic King.

Advent 2 - Communion: Jerusalem surge

Each proper chanted is crafted to accompany and illuminate the liturgical action. The communion antiphon for this Sunday exemplifies this harmony between word and action, helping our minds to grasp more fully the great Mystery we receive.

Advent 1 - Introit Ad Te levavi

Explore the “text painting” of the introit for this first Sunday of the Church year. The melodies of Gregorian Chant are always at the service of the meaning of the sacred text. At the beginning of the Church year, Mother Church bids us, in words and melody, to lift our minds and hearts, with confident expectation, to God and to the true home He has prepared for us in heaven.



 

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