GOSPEL COMMUNION: Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

January 20 : Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Although the narrative of the marriage feast at Cana, with its first revelation of Jesus’s glory at the request of his blessed mother, might seem to be the primary focus of today’s scriptures, taking a look at the 1st reading from Isaiah 62 shows that the Gospel story can be seen as an allegory for Isaiah’s theme of God, the Bridegroom of the nation of Israel, prefiguring Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church.

The Psallite composers opted to place that theme in prominence in this Communion antiphon, coupling the antiphon with the Isaiah passage but starting earlier at chapter 61:10, which presents the theme of the bridegroom in a context of praise and thanksgiving that has strong overtones of Mary’s Magnificat.

Taking their cue from that, the antiphon is given a descant with a text from near the beginning of the Magnificat. (This is why the setting can also be used as the Song of the Day on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, where the focus is on the bride rather than the bridegroom.) Thus, the communion procession becomes a wedding procession where all are invited to believe that God takes the kind of joy in us that newlyweds take in each other.

This setting also makes use of one of the Collegeville Composers Group’s techniques for revivifying the antiphon+psalm form: in this case, the second half of the antiphon is used as a “mini-refrain” at the end of the even-numbered verse lines.

2 comments

  1. This series is very timely! We started using these antiphon+psalm settings at Epiphany and I mean to persevere with them in the hope that our people will eventually “get” them and actually sing the antiphons as they process to Communion.

    Friends in other UK parishes attest to how well the Psallite settings are received. They are certainly of the right order of difficulty for our voluntary choir—and these weekly commentaries will support their learning—plus, the first few outings have elicited appreciative remarks from assembly members. Now, if only they would join in…

    1. Alan,

      I don’t know if you are using a cantor/songleader in addition to the choir. In my experience this can make quite a difference as people become used to this form of chant, especially when mini-refrains are involved.

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