Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fourth Sunday of Advent

20 December 2009

Longing, Trusting (mtgf)
Penitential Rite
Kyrie Orbis Factor
Psalm 79
God of Hosts (mtgf)
Gospel Acclamation
Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of Gifts
Ave Maris Stella (Monteverdi arr. Washington)
Eucharistic Acclamations
Mass of Creation (Marty Haugen)
Lamb of God
Behold the Lamb (Iona)
No wind at the window (John Bell)
O come, O come Emmanuel

Psalm 79 mirrors the first reading and both are fulfilled in the Gospel. We are all called to believe that God's promises will be fulfilled, for Mary that promise is fulfilled through her response to God. I am often struck how different composers respond to and express the psalm text in a variety of ways. There are settings which are more gentle and pleading. This setting, which is a kind of chaconne with a walking bass, is more urgent and demanding.

As previously suggested we sang a version of Henry Washington's arrangement of the Monteverdi's Ave Maris Stella today. Washington's arrangement alternates the plainsong with a 4 part reduction of Monteverdi's settings. Our version uses the chant for first and last verse and alternates Monteverdi's choral setting with 2 solo verses.

A quick calculation was necessary to make sure that we at least sang the correct O Antiphon for 20 December — O clavis, O Key of David. I think there can be a tension between the Sunday and Weekday liturgy or more precisely between those for whom the primary continuity is to week to week rather day to day. This, I think, can be seen in Advent and Christmas period. The O antiphons are not found in the Sunday Lectionary, and they are recent additions to the Weekday Lectionary; their proper home is in the Office, the celebration of Evening Prayer. They would seem to make best sense where they are prayed daily and cumulatively. Within a Sunday context it would seem to make as much sense to say that they should not be sung at Sunday Mass as it does to say they should not be sung on a Sunday before 17 December. However one can be too much of a purist or a rigorist. I think one needs to separate the hymn from the liturgical antiphons and recognise that the hymn has a value, even a symbolic value, in its own right. It is for many, I guess, the primary Advent hymn - it would be strange not to have sung it. One possible sign that the hymn is a different text to the antiphons seems to me implicit in that the first of hymn seems always to have been Emmanuel i.e. the last antiphon.

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