INTROITUS: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Si iniquitates observaveris Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit? Quia apud te propitiatio est, Deus Israel.

“If you observe iniquities, Lord, Lord, who will stand? For there is forgiveness with you, God (of) Israel.” (Ps 130(129):3–4)

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

This introit is clearly divided into two parts: The first sentence expresses anxiety and restlessness – the melody start to shiver around the half-tone and bursts like in panic. The second sentence finds peace and safety and calmness.

Different from the Hebrew version of Ps 130(129), the words Deus Israel are added at the end. God is directly addressed in an expression of relation to certain humans – the people of Israel (which also means the church, especially in its liturgical use). My impression is that Domine in the first sentence expresses distance and aloofness, while Deus Israel expresses tenderness and trust. On the Hebrew background (where the word for Domine in Ps 130(129):3 is God’s very own personal name) this interpretation is not evident, but maybe it is what the Latin composers felt.

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