Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By: Sr. Fidelis

Transfiguration

The Feast of the Transfiguration is an important one at the Community of Jesus. Tt is our “Namesake” feast at the Church of the Transfiguration.  The actual feast day is August 6th, but it is usually celebrated on the closest Sunday to that date.

The feast was originally celebrated in the East as early as the 4th and 5th centuries, but was not commonly celebrated in the West until the 10th century.  In 1456 Pope Callixtus III extended the feast to the Universal Church.

We see this interesting history reflected in the chants for this special feast.  Appropriate texts were “borrowed” from other parts of the liturgy, or newly composed, which was the case with the Alleluia, “Candor est lucis”.  Using an original tune which dates back to the 9th century, a new text was added to the original notes, with some slight variations to accommodate the text. Listen to this lovely chant, while reading these words from the Book of Wisdom, 7, 26.

He is the brightness of eternal light, the flawless image (or mirror without stain) of God and the best image of the same.

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Source of Life

By Sr. Nun Other

While weeding our vegetable garden at the Community of Jesus, I was amazed — well, maybe dismayed — at the tenacious strength of those wily weeds. Clearing a path was hard work, but it got me thinking about “roots” and multiple ways we use the word.

As a noun, roots attach a plant to the ground and convey water and nourishment. They’re a source of life, established deeply and firmly. A second definition for root is “a semantic unit,” the part of a word after all prefixes and suffixes are removed. It’s also a verb: to root for a team or an individual is to lend support and encourage enthusiastically.

Perhaps it’s a Pennsylvania phenomenon — or a well-taught civics class — but when I meet someone from my home state, I connect. “You’re from Pennsylvania? Which part? Pittsburgh? No kidding.” And then we’re apt to converse in a language resembling English, but native to Western Pennsylvanians, words such as chipped chopped ham, city chicken and “redd up” a room. These are my roots by birth and they bring life through remembrance, forming part of who I am. We also put down spiritual roots, and there are several Biblical verses that employ the metaphor. In Ephesians 3:17, the Apostle Paul speaks of being rooted and grounded in Christ, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” Just imagine! Jesus is that love, our source of life, and stands with us when all pretenses are removed.

The Community of Jesus

 

Soldiers of the Cross

By Sr. Nun Other

Jacob had a dream, and in his dream he saw a ladder anchored in the bonds of earth and stretching into the arms of heaven. There was uninhibited access to the ladder, and angels moved freely in both directions, their invitation to join implicit. But what happens when we spiritually clutch the ladder on both sides, and attempt to climb up the ladder backwards? I ask this question, because it’s how I often live. My focus is on counting cost and failure and the debris I’ve left behind. Why not do as the well-known song suggests and love Jesus, serve Him as best we know, climbing ever  higher, higher as soldiers of the cross.

The Community of Jesus

Fiery Disk

By Sr. Fidelis

We’ve had two beautiful days at the Community of Jesus on Cape Cod….not a cloud in the sky, and the sun a true disk, arching through its course.

St. Gregory’s hymn for Wednesday Vespers speaks eloquently of the 4th day of Creation and describes such a day. In our digital world, it is a good reminder that God’s creation is what determines time and the length of days. The natural world and the spiritual world are so closely linked.

Most holy God of heaven, you who paint the shining center of the sky with the brightness of fire, enriching it with beautiful light,

You, who establishing on the fourth day the fiery disk of the sun, set up the orbit of the moon, and the wandering courses of the stars,

So that, to the nights or to the days you could give a line of separation, and to the beginnings of months, a most familiar sign:

Illumine the hearts of men; banish the sordid things of their soul; release the chain of guilt; make void the mass of their crimes.

Grant this, O most loving Father, and you, the only One equal to the Father, with the Spirit, the Paraclete, who reigns through every age. Amen.

The Community of Jesus

 

Alike In Our Differences

By Sr. Nun Other

I’m sometimes tempted by the concept of “alone.” It’s very appealing (and elusive) to one who’s called to live with sixty sisters! While being alone has benefits, when demanded, it seldom produces the hoped-for result. (That is, continued peace and tranquility.) Jesus called twelve men to participate in His earthly journey, not for His sake, but for theirs. They were of varying temperaments: Andrew, who introduced his brother to Jesus, was optimistic and content in second place, while Peter became the gregarious spokesman for the Twelve; Bartholomew was a scholar, James the Elder, a man of courage and forgiveness, and the fiery tempered John, beloved for his devotion. Like all friends, they arrived with individual attributes and deficits. They needed each other – we need each other — both as support beams and sandpaper.

The Community of Jesus

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Fruits of the earth

Tuesday’s Vespers hymn at the Community of Jesus reminds us of the third day of Creation, where God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:9, 11).

Clothed in poetic imagery, this hymn reminds us that all the beauty that surrounds us came from the hand of God, and was always His intent to bless us. The texts to these hymns can easily be used as prayers of gratitude and repentance!

O great creator of the earth, you who delivering the land from the troublesome beating of the water, have given the immovable earth,

That, bringing forth suitable bud, beautiful things in golden-colored flowers, it might present rich things as fruit, and render pleasant food.

Cleanse the wounds of a scorched soul with the freshness of grace, that it may wash away its deeds with tears, and destroy wrong impulses.

Let it comply with your commands; may it approach no evil; let it rejoice to be filled with good things, and never know the work of death.

Grant this, O most loving Father, and you, the only One equal to the Father, with the Spirit, the Paraclete, who reigns through every age. Amen.
The Community of Jesus

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

The Weekday Vespers Hymns

Last week we looked at Lauds hymns and discussed the fact that throughout the week, light, dawn, and the dispelling of darkness are the themes throughout.

The Vespers hymns, however, mirror the days of creation from Genesis, Chapter 1.  The texts of these hymns are attributed to Gregory the Great (d. 604).  Each one is a poetic masterpiece of 5 verses.  The first several verses always make reference to that particular day of creation, while the ensuing two verses are a supplication of needs for the soul.

The final verse is always a final prayer to the members of the Trinity.

Monday, traditionally thought of as the 2nd day of the week, mirrors this theme in the Vespers hymn, which speaks of Day 2 of Creation; the separating of waters above and below the skies.

O immense author of the heaven, you who divide the mingled streams of water so that they would not be confused, you gave the sky as a limit,

Establishing a place for the heavens, and likewise for the rivers of the earth, so that water might temper the flames, and that it might not scatter the soil of the earth.

Pour into us now, O most loving One, the gift of eternal grace:  so that, by the misfortunes of some new deception, the old error may not destroy us.

Let faith find light, so may it show forth the radiance of the light;  let it deter all these vain things, and let nothing false suppress it.

Grant this, O most loving Father, and you, the only One equal to the Father, with the Spirit, the Paraclete, who reigns through every age.

The Community of Jesus

 

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

Splendor Paternae Gloriae

The Office of Lauds, traditionally sung at dawn, is filled throughout with references to both the light and the “Light.”  We take for granted that we can have light today at the flip of a switch, while in earlier centuries, they were dependent upon the light of day, and were attuned to the sun’s rising and setting, and the spiritual significance of these natural events.  The Monday hymn for Lauds is filled with symbolic imagery.  It is a power-packed prayer text to begin a day.

O splendor of the Father’s glory, bringing forth light from light,
light of Light, and fountain of light, O Day, illuminating the day:

O true Sun, descend, sparkling with uninterrupted brightness;
O radiance of the Holy Spirit, pour in upon our senses.

Let us also call upon the Father with vows, the Father of perennial glory,
the Father of powerful grace, that he may remove the impure fault.

May he inspire steadfast acts; may he blunt the teeth of the envious;
may he direct favorably harsh situations; may he give grace to those who are bearing them.

May he govern and rule the mind in a chaste, faithful body;
let faith burn with zeal, may it not know the poisons of deceit.

Let Christ be food to us, let faith be our drink;
joyful, let us drink the sober intoxication of the Spirit.

May this day pass joyfully:  let modesty be as the dawn,
faith as the noonday;  let the spirit not know dusk.

Dawn carries on its course;  let the dawn go forward to every thing;
all the Son is in the Father, and all the Father is in the Word.  Amen   

                                                                                         Ambrose of Milan

The Community of Jesus

 

 

Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Sr. Fidelis

The Summer Hymns for Lauds 

The weekday hymn for Lauds has a new text for each day of the week.  The season is indicated by a different tune for winter and summer; but the text remains the same for each day.  Right now we are chanting the summer tune, which we began right after Pentecost.  We will continue to use this tune until after the autumnal equinox toward the end of September, when we will switch to the winter tune.

The Lord’s Day Lauds hymn however has a completely different tune as well as different text for each of the seasons of Ordinary Time.  As one might expect, the text of the summer hymn begins with reference to longer days. It is attributed to Alcuin, who died in 804.

Behold, already the shadow of night is diminishing, the dawn of light is gleaming red:  Let us all keep on with every effort beseeching the Almighty.

May our compassionate God drive away all our anguish, bestow health, and give us by the lovingkindness of the Father, the kingdom of the heavens.

Grant us this, O blessed Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and also of the Holy Spirit, whose glory resounds in all the world.  Amen.

The Community of Jesus

 

Always Reserved

By Melodious Monk

In the Reservation Chapel
Jesus Waits
He waits for our yes
He waits for us to ask
He hopes we stay.

In the Reservation Chapel
Light comes and light goes
like a mirror of our souls
and Jesus waits
through the darkest night.

In the Reservation Chapel
Morning Sun is never late
it always comes
and Jesus waits
for our hearts to do the same.

The Community of Jesus