INTROITUS: 2nd Sunday of Lent

Tibi dixit cor meum, quaesivi vultum tuum, vultum tuum Domine requiram: ne avertas faciem tuam a me.

“My heart says to you: I seek your face. I need your face, Lord, do not turn away your face away from me.” (Ps 27(26):8–9)

When we confront ourselves with the conduct of our lives in Lent, we might face problems we cannot solve: irreparable mistakes. Everyone knows times of despair, without any hope. In those times, we can learn a lot about God: He is the one who is still there when everything else is gone.

It can be tough to speak with God when there is no one else left.

Today’s introit knows this and makes us experience it by repeating the note of di-xit seven times. This is not – as Gregorian Chant used to be sung for a long time – a single tone of septupled length. These are actually seven single sounds with the one in the middle being longer than the other ones. Singers as well as listeners must endure this moment when you might think that there is nothing more to come.

2 comments

  1. I’d just like to comment here that this series as a whole has been a gem at Pray Tell and one that I appreciate even though we don’t use these chants at my church.

    Each of these reflections is thought-provoking and a prod to spiritual deepening that I especially have appreciated during Lent. I feel as though I am being brought into contact with the spirituality of these chants in an affecting way.

    I have a friend who is a music director. He uses mostly contemporary music, not chant, but he said something to me recently that bears on what this series exemplifies: the exercise of what we might call a “spiritual exegesis” or “pastoral exegesis” of the music. He said “Whenever I feel that the choir is just barking out notes, I ask them to stop and I lead them in a reflection on what the text means. Then I ask them to imagine who needs to hear this, and then to sing it as if they are singing it to them. It changes how they sing.” How true, perhaps especially when “the person who needs to hear this” is one’s self.

    Comments rarely appear in this series. Perhaps that is because the best response is simply to take it in and savor the insight. It does not require discussion. But I do feel the need to say, at least once in a while, thank you. Thank you for making us stop and think about what these texts mean and how the music “says” what it means in a unique, non-verbal way.

    1. I agree. I do wish the introits were more regularly included in the rotation of what is ritually deployed in regular parishes; I appreciate when we don’t treat their absence as a natural default, which I consider an unnecessary impoverishment.

      As a side note to that seven-note “xit”: others may have had different training, but I recall the direction with such prolonged notation to very very very discreetly elevate the pitch over the course of it (because the pitch of prolonged notes otherwise sags, as it goes flat). It’s something more subtle than in my experience with instrumental musical practice, as it were.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *