The “A” in Advent

By Sr. Fidelis

In many of the ancient Graduales, the first page usually displays a beautifully decorated “A”, because the introit for the first week of Advent is Ad te levavi – To you do I lift up my soul.

The same is true of the Antiphonaries. The night office of Matins includes an extraordinary Mode 7 responsory for Advent 1 entitled Aspiciens a longe. This ornate chant weaves scripture and sacred prose together to express our longing for the Savior that has filled our hearts from the beginning of time. Each verse is followed by a portion of the opening text, in the responsory style.

Below is a copy of the first page of this chant from the Processionale Monasticum, originally published in 1893, and reprinted in 1983, including the original neumes from the Hartker Antiphonaire.

Translation

I look from afar and behold, I see the approaching power of God and a cloud touching the whole earth. Go out to meet him and say, “Tell us if you are the one who is to reign over the people of Israel.” vs. 1) And who is of the earth, and a son of men, at the same time and in one person, both rich and poor. vs. 2) You who rule Israel, listen; and you who lead out Joseph like a sheep. vs. 3) Lift up your gates, O princes, and be raised up, you eternal doors, and the King of glory will come in. vs. 4) Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

Aspiciens a longe

 

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About Sr. Fidelis

I am 46 years old, and have been a Sister at the Community of Jesus for 26 years. Having grown up here, I have been singing Gregorian chant since I was 10! I was very blessed to study Gregorian chant with Dr. Mary Berry in Cambridge, England and here at home. Recently, I have been able to do some radio and tv interviews, sharing about the blessings of Gregorian chant. I love leading chant workshops, and have been able to do that in the US and abroad.

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