January 1, 2020: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
On January 1, the Roman Missal antiphon runs “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.” Despite the Marian nature of the feast, it is entirely fitting that at the “hinge” between an old calendar year and a new one we should focus on the Son of God as the unchanging center of our lives. The antiphon was rendered more poetically and with greater theological “punch” in the 1998 ICEL Antiphonal as “Jesus Christ is the same today / as yesterday and for evermore” — which the Psallite composers adapted slightly for musical reasons. The antiphon could, in fact, be sung over and over again as an ostinato, symbolizing the “eternity” aspect of the text, aided by the continuously oscillating false relation between a B flat in the accompaniment and descant to measure 2 and a B natural in the melody of measure 4.
The 2012 Antiphonary of the Roman Missal provides the Lucan Magnificat text for verses to go with this antiphon, citing the Graduale Romanum where, however, it is linked with the Marian antiphon “Rejoice, Daughter of Sion”. The Psallite composers preferred one of the other options in the 1998 Antiphonal: Colossians 1:12-20, which really complements the antiphon and additionally has strong resonances of the opening of John’s Gospel, recently heard at Christmas.