by Sr. Fidelis
I am always astounded that even the smallest Divine Office antiphons in the most seemingly inconsequential spots — such as the 2nd antiphon of Thursday morning Lauds — have so much to tell us.
This particular antiphon — A timore inimici — has one of the smallest ranges of any in the repertoire: a perfect 4th. Also, it has only one melodic theme: a falling minor 3rd that repeats three times!
It’s amazing in this simple chant that it’s the smallest variation that makes the meaning arise! Take a look at the beginning of the chant. There is a line called an episema over part of the word timore — fear — placing a stress there. The very next word inimici — enemies — uses exactly the same notes in the same order, but there is no episema so there is no stress. Instantly, the chant stresses that it is the fear from which we want the Lord to deliver us!
Finally, look at the only two places in the chant where the chant “dips down” just one note below the interval of the minor 3rd. The two words highlighted at those two lowest points are “save” and “soul”.
How beautiful and moving that by a slight stress and two additional notes, the chant brings forth the message: “Save my soul from fear.”