Chant from the Abbey: Ash Wednesday, I Lent

INTROIT (Entrance Antiphon) – ASH WEDNESDAY

Here is an (unprofessional, locally made) audio file of the Ash Wednesday Introit from the Abbey-Campus Ministry liturgy at St. John’s last week.

Misereris omnium, Domine,
et nihil odisti eorum quæ fecisti,
dissimulans peccata hominum
propter pænitentiam,
et parcens illis;
quia tu es Dominus Deus noster.

You are merciful to all, O Lord,
and you hate nothing of what you have made,
you look away from the sins of humankind
for the sake of repentance,
and you spare them;
for you are the Lord our God.

– Wisdom 11:24-25, Psalm 57; Mode I

Here is the introit of I Lent, “Invocavit me.”

Invocabit me, et ego exaudiam eum;
eripiam eum, et glorificabo eum;
longitudine dierum adimplebo eum.

He will call upon me, and I will hear him;
I will rescue him, and glorify him
with length of days I will fill him.

– Psalm 91:15, 16:1, Mode VIII

Here is the communio of I Lent, “Scapulis.”

Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi, et sub pennis eius sperabis;
scuto circumdabit te veritas eius.

With his wings he will overshadow you, and under his wings you’ll find hope;
like a shield his true faithfulness will surround you.

Psalm 91:4,Mode III

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11 comments

  1. Fr. Ruff,

    I’m curious about the performance practice (especially the lombardic rhythmic figures at times). I have not heard chant done that way before, and it seemed to give it a lot of color in performance. Is this a particular school of thought that you can refer me to an article or book on?

    1. Jared – it’s semiology, based on Fr. Cardine who taught at Pontifical Institute in Rome beginning in the 50s and founded the whole field of semiology. It’s based on approaching the original rhythms as suggested by the earliest lineless neumes. This approach now dominates throughout Europe, and it is behind the revisions to the official notation first introduced in the 1983 Liber Hymnarius (foreshadowed in the 1981 Psalterium Monasticum). The notation in the official chant books now gives things like augmented liquescent (slight lengthening on final consonant of syllable), initio debilis (weak and quicker first note of some note groups), and so forth.
      Come take my summer chant courses in Collegeville!
      awr

  2. Um, is there supposed to be some relation between the chant and the bizarre light show. If there is, it escapes me totally. Why do we have these grotesque impositions instead of some sensible view(s) of the chapel and choir and liturgy?

    Otherwise, I commend the application of semiology to the chant of these students. They are certainly on the right side of chant scholarship! I only wonder that there seems not to be an attempt at blend, unity in diction and vowel production, and, in general a seeming lack of attention towards refinement of tone and choral aesthesis. Otherwise, it’s too wonderful for words that these young people are revelling in chant. Kudos to Fr Ruff!

    1. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #3:

      Since I’m in charge of liturgical music for another campus ministry (that of Columbia University Catholic MInistry), your citing “a seeming lack of attention towards refinement of tone and choral aesthesis” makes me wonder how much time any presumably volunteer campus choir has for such “refinement.” I’m very proud of our choir, but efficiency and a sort of triage of which aspects are most important to refine are inherent in our weekly preparation. I salute the St. John’s people for the obvious seriousness of these efforts — and accomplishment!

      1. @Roger Evans – comment #8:
        I would not have said what I said had I not perceived potential for betterment. That is a compliment to Fr Ruff and his student schola, not the rebuff which you took it to be.

      2. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #9:
        Uhm, and it’s the first compliment I’ve ever gotten that said there seems not to be an attempt at blend or unity in diction or vowel production, and there is lack of attention to tone and choral aesthesis! Apart from that, I guess it wasn’t bad!
        🙂 Oh well.
        awr

  3. I enjoyed these recordings, it is always a treat to hear chant propers. This interpretation has a very festive sound which I quite like. My parish has a small amateur choir that does the Rossini propers, which are lovely in their own way, but not really the same.

    1. @Jack Wayne – comment #5:
      You are so right! The joy in the singing of these students is palpable. It is a joy to hear them, even as it is a non-joy to realise that such music making is not at all standard fare amongst Catholic youth. Has Fr Ruff thought of dressing these performances up somewhat and making a CD?

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