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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Carolingian Chorus from the Rock

Today the College celebrated the election of Benedict XVI at the 10:00 Sunday Mass. It was a Mass to remember. The bells started ringing and students in their Sunday best began flooding into the chapel. As the priests and deacons and acolytes processed in, we sang "Long Live the Pope!", that deliciously triumphalistic hymn. They really need to update it though. It's "a thousand million," not "three hundred million voices," hymn people. Sheesh. Get with the times. ^_^

There were blazing candles and blue arabesques of incense... gold fiddlebacks... the usual row of altar... guys? holding up red lamps on poles at the Consecration. The choir and schola sang from the loft and everyone in the pews bellowed the Missa de Angelis Credo and Sanctus, shattering (as we do every Sunday) the notion that Catholics can't sing. (I keep wanting to quote The Quiet Man: "Now, I want you all to cheer like Protestants!") The Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus Dei were from Byrd's Mass for Four Voices, there were Gregorian propers, and a few other polyphonic pieces here and there including O Sacrum Convivium, by I don't know who. The sermon went over the Holy Father's sermon today, especially these words:

The pastor must be inspired by Christ’s holy zeal: for him it is not a matter of indifference that so many people are living in the desert. And there are so many kinds of desert. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God’s darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.

Of course I couldn't help thinking of TS Eliot and Choruses from the Rock:

You neglect and belittle the desert.
The desert is not remote in southern tropics
The desert is not only around the corner,
The desert is squeezed in the tube-train next to you,
The desert is in the heart of your brother.

And then there is the answer:

Let me show you the work of the humble. Listen.
In the vacant places
We will build with new bricks
Where the bricks are fallen
We will build with new stone
Where the beams are rotten
We will build with new timbers
Where the word is unspoken
We will build with new speech
There is work together
A Church for all
And a job for each
Every man to his work.

Every man to his work! That was the gist of Father's sermon today. Then came the consumation of all POD'ity: At the end of Mass, we sang the Carolingian Acclamations in honor of Pope Benedict XVI. They seem to be synonymous with the Laudes Regiae, and I think they really do go back to Charlemagne's time. Now, I have sung these only once before, at Our Lady of Peace in Santa Clara sometime around Easter. And I've seen them printed in the Liber Cantualis we use at the College. They are the giddiest piece of Gregorian chant I've ever sung, and they run something like this:

Cantores: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.

Omnes: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.


Cantores: Exaudi, Christe. Omnes: Exaudi, Christe.

Cantores: Ecclesiae sanctae Dei, supra regnorum fines nectenti animas: salus perpetua!

Cantores: Redemptor mundi. Omnes: Tu illam adiuva.

Cantores: Sancta Maria. Omnes: Tu illam adiuva.
C: Sancte Joseph. O: Tu illam adiuva.


Cantores: Exaudi, Christe. Omnes: Exaudi, Christe.

Cantores: Benedicto, Summo Pontifici, in unum populos doctrina congreganti, caritate: Pastori gratia, gregi obsequentia.

Cantores: Salvator mundi. Omnes: Tu illum adiuva.
C: Sancte Petre. O: Tu illum adiuva.
C: Sancte Paule. O: Tu illum adiuva.


Cantores: Exaudi, Christe. Omnes: Exaudi, Christe.

Cantores: Paulo episcopo et omni clero sibi commisso pax et virtus, plurima merces.

Cantores: Sancte Timothe. Omnes: Tu illum adiuva.
C: Sancta Katerina. O: Tu illum adiuva.

Omnes: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.

Cantores: Rex regum. Omnes: Rex noster.
Cantores: Spes nostra. Omnes: Gloria nostra.


Cantores: Exaudi, Christe. Omnes: Exaudi, Christe.

Cantores: Magistratibus et omnibus concivibus nobiscum orantibus: cordis vera quies, votorum effectus.

Cantores: Auxilium christianorum. Omnes: Tu illos adiuva.
C: Sancte Michael. O: Tu illos adiuva.
C: Sancte Benedicte.(!) O: Tu illos adiuva.

Omnes: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat.

Cantores: Ipsi soli imperium, laus et iubilatio, per infinita saecula saeculorum.
Omnes: Amen.

Cantores: Tempora bona habeant! Omnes: Tempora bona habeant redempti sanguine Christi!

Cantores: Feliciter!
Omnes: Feliciter!
Omnes: Feliciter!

Cantores: Pax Christi veniat! Omnes: Regnum Christi veniat!

Omnes: Deo gratias. Amen.

My friend Stephanie summed it up in one word: "Tribal." You had to be there to hear the schola, deacons and people cheerily trying to outshout each other, raising the roof of the chapel. "Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat"... that's carved on the side of the obelisk in St. Peter's Square. I've seen it myself. "Tempora bona heabeant!" Sorta the Latin equivalent of "Let the good times roll!" It's too bad I can't find a translation or music online. (Come to think of it, I can't find a complete version of Choruses from the Rock either. Huh.) But Catholic Encyclopedia has this super-nifty article on the Acclamation, and how it originated from Republican Rome. Lots of fun!

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