GOSPEL COMMUNION: Baptism of the Lord

January 13: Baptism of the Lord

The link between today’s scriptures and the Psallite Communion Antiphon is to be found in the optional 2nd reading for Cycle C from chapter 2 and 3 of Paul’s letter to Titus:

            God’s grace has been revealed,
            and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race.
            …
            He did this so that we should be justified by his grace,
            to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.

Last week’s “private” epiphany to the kings is followed in the liturgical cycle by today’s public epiphany at the River Jordan. The composers reflected on God’s revelation of himself, preferring the implications of this word to the “appearance” that is found in the NAB version of the Titus reading. They were led to 1 John 4:9, which one of the composers had previously used for a Christmas setting:

            God’s love for us was revealed
            when he sent into the world his only Son,
            so that we might have life through him.

Paraphrasing this, and omitting the second line, produced the antiphon, which is also used for Communion at the feast of the Holy Family and as an alternate antiphon for the Song for the Word at Christmas. The “him” of the second phrase is Jesus Christ. The spirituality of this antiphon reveals that what God promised us in the 2nd reading is now available to us in Communion.

The musical form is unusual in the Psallite corpus, consisting of three phrases each repeated by the assembly after the cantor, so no learning by the assembly is required. There is an optional canonic coda with the antiphon in three parts imitating the effect of pealing bells.

The verses assigned by the composers repeat the joyful praise of the Lord who has made known his salvation and shown his justice to the nations, Ps 98 from Christmastide, adding Ephesians 1:3-4 for today’s feast following the example of the ICEL 1998 Antiphonal which specifies the entire Ephesians canticle as one of the options.

Psallite is a resource published by Liturgical Press. It offers refrains for entrance, responsorial psalm, and communion for every Sunday and feast day of the year.

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