INTROITUS: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ecce Deus adiuvat me, et Dominus susceptor est animae meae: averte mala inimicis meis, in veritate tua disperde illos, protector meus Domine.

“Behold, God helps me, and the Lord is the succor of my soul. Turn the bad upon my enemies, destroy them in trueness, Lord, my protector.” (cf. Ps 54(53) et 59(58))

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

Just to make this clear: When psalms mention enemies, they speak from the viewpoint of a weak, hunted, and suppressed person. They never give us permission to destroy anyone once we have the power to do so; and they always leave the judgement to God alone. They do not express bloodlust, but despair and neediness against bad power. When we pray like this in our liturgy, we should not imagine humans whom we wish to destroy, but rather powers in ourselves and in the world that threaten lives, peace, nature, and future for all of us.

Now a look at this introit: I like the first half line very much. As typical for the fifth Gregorian mode, this introit starts with the notes of a major chord: c (do) – a (la) – f (fa). This sounds self-confident, and it seems that medieval ears and hearts felt the same, when they heard that chord. “Behold, the Lord..,” expressed with conviction and courage. But then the half-tone gets into the melody: “The Lord … helped me.” This single note gives the chant a completely different mood. Pride and humility are so close to each other. That is what Christianity is always like: Pride to have a relation with God, humility that this relation is an undeserved gift.

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