A Place to Dwell

By Sr. Fidelis
During this 4th week of Lent, we look at another one of Jesus’ teachings, taken from the Gospel of John. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me and I in him, says the Lord.” Scripture tells us that this was a hard saying, indeed. The Jews murmured against Jesus and disputed amongst themselves. But through the lens of Lent and approaching Holy Week, we see Jesus’ loving preparation, even if they did not understand, for what he was about to do in the Sacrament of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday.

This Communion piece gives us a greater understanding of Jesus’ words. Set in Mode 6, the opening intonation rises quickly, giving a sense of energy and joy, which then peaks on the words sanguinem meam (my blood). Here is a loving invitation to dwell in him.  Then, the most important words of all, et ego in eo (and I in him), give a sense of humility and intimacy in their low range. The piece ends with a lovely descending passage to its’ final cadence. Listen to Qui manducat.

Qui manducat

Feast of the Presentation

By Sr. Fidelis

Detail of “The Presentation” by Fra Angelico

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Presentation, and it is one of my most favorite times of the Church Year. There is rich symbolism in the beautiful chants, with texts taken from the Psalms as well as other sources. This feast is thought of as the last day of the Christmas Season, coming 40 days after the celebration of Christ’s birth, and celebrates Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple. This is the time when the Church candles for the year are blessed. The connection between Christ and the “light”, represented by the candles, is very strong.

The Communion for this Feast, Responsum, takes its text from the book of Luke.  “Simeon had received an answer from the Holy Spirit, that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” This Mode 8 piece has a great sense of mystery to it, created by the use of  the lower part of the modal range, going below the home tone of SOL. Also there is an “undulating” effect created by what is known as the special torculus. The torculus is a three-note neum (low-high-low), where all three notes are normally equal. But with the special torculus, the first note is weaker and lighter, with the emphasis on the next two notes. This phenomena can be seen (and heard!) on the words accepit and Simeon. Finally, notice that the piece peaks only one time on the word mortem, on the reciting tone DO.