Hearing the Voice of God
This past Sunday’s Introit — “Gaudete” for “Gaudete” or “Rejoicing” Sunday, contains incredible joy and confidence. Years ago, in a class with Mary Berry, she surprised all of us with a rather colloquial translation of the first phrase when she let loose with an uncharacteristic outburst of, “it means don’t worry about a thing!” I remember thinking to myself that chant is not just a museum piece that has beautiful melodies with extraordinary text. I heard something in her voice that told me that inside these chants was God’s love and God’s life. I knew at that moment that she had experienced God through chant in such a way that He became more alive to her every time she heard the chant. She had heard God’s voice!
Now, moving into Christmas, we have one of the most famous of all chants — “Dominus Dixit ad me” — the introit for Christmas Eve. Instead of the fervor found in the Dr. Berry’s stentorian translation of the “Gaudete” text, this chant beckons us to be quiet and listen in on a secret — something almost too personal to imagine hearing — God the Father himself saying that, “You are my Son, today have I begotten Thee.”
Chant tells the story of the text upon which it is based. This is one of the great and beautiful attributes of chant — it can teach through sound, the meaning of God’s Word. The passage of Advent into Christmas — provides us with chants that linger in our memories and, if we listen carefully, reveal God’s own voice of love as He himself introduces us to His newborn Son, Jesus, through the Christmas Eve introit!
A Blessed Christmas to all of you!