INTROITUS: Visitation of St. Mary

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes sub honore Mariae Virginis: de cuius festivitate gaudent Angeli, et collaudant Filium Dei.

“Let us all be joyful in the Lord, celebrating this festive day in honor of the Virgin Mary, whose feast day the angels enjoy, and they praise the Son of God.”

Click here to listen to an audio of the chant.
Sung by Liborius Lumma, Innsbruck (Austria).

For historical reasons this is one of the most interesting introits in the Gregorian proper. In the first millennium it was only sung for Saint Agatha (Gaudeamus … in honore Agathae martyris, de cuius passione gaudent angeli…). Then something happened which was very rare when it comes to introit antiphons: The text was altered on several occasions, so that the very same chant could be sung on other days, especially for the Mother of God and – on November 1 – for all saints (…in honore omnium sanctorum, de cuius sollemnitate…).

Thus, this introit is a witness of an era when liturgists denied to create new compositions, but instead adopted existing chants for other occasions by altering the texts.

Eventually, Gaudeamus has become a signature of Saints’ days. Not only has it a very opulent and clear melody, it also combines three aspects that belong to a Saint’s liturgy: The person herself or himself, the heavenly world united with the Church – symbolized by the angels –, and Christ as the one to whom all this leads in the end.

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