GOSPEL COMMUNION: Presentation of the Lord

February 2: Presentation of the Lord (C)

Another example of the Psallite composers’ use of a half-refrain at the end of every even-numbered line of the psalm verses to engage the assembly.

The antiphon on this day is a reprise of the same antiphon used for the gathering and kindling of the candles, and for the procession into the church. There it is coupled with Luke 2 (“At last, all-powerful Master, / you give leave to your servant…”) and Ps 122 (“I rejoiced when I heard them say: / ‘Let us go to God’s house…”); for the Communion procession, Ps 145 was selected (“I will give you glory, O God my king…”).

Ps 145, the only “song of praise” properly so-designated in the psalter (Robert Alter), is presented in its entirety and makes a splendid procession text, not just for its explicit mention of how God feeds everyone—right on time, lavishly, according to the desire of every living thing (mentioned twice in the psalm)—but for the psalm’s overall emphasis on how good, faithful, compassionate, and attentive God is. What a comfort to the elderly and the adolescent, the single parent and the orphan . . . and all of us!

The choice of antiphon may seem strange at first, but in fact it is a free paraphrase of the Latin antiphon Lumen ad revelationem gentium, one of the antiphons specified for the procession into the church, but importantly clarifying that it is Christ who is the subject (a fairly frequent misconception is that “a light to enlighten the gentiles” refers to the star of Bethlehem!). The composers wanted to provide music that would cheer the assembly on this feast, and using the same music for three different parts of the rite — gathering, procession, Communion — would help familiarization and promote a joy-filled procession.

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