by Sr Fidelis
A is for Advent
Yesterday marked the first Sunday in Advent. It is my favorite season of the liturgical year. The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” The Advent chants are rich with layers of meaning, for they celebrate both Christ’s first and his second coming! One of the most beautiful Advent chants is the Responsory Aspiciens a longe, taken from the Night Office of Matins on the eve of the first Sunday of Advent. The season of Advent sums up the hopes and desires of all the generations awaiting the coming of a Savior, and this single piece expresses that longing in the form of a majestic dialogue between the people of God and their future Messiah.
Below is a page from the ancient manuscript of the St. Gall Antiphonale, written between 922 and 926 by the monk Hartker. It is one of the most celebrated manuscripts because it is a masterpiece of script, neumes (the ancient signs), and illuminated initials. The large A and other letters indicate that this is the first Responsory for Advent, Aspiciens a longe. The delicate neumes located above the text trace the melody. Listen to this exquisite chant while reading the translation below. (See attachment)
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.” (verse 1) And who is of the earth, and a son of men, at the same time and in one person, both rich and poor.(verse 2) You who rule Israel, listen; and you who lead out Joseph like a sheep. (verse 3) Lift up your gates, O princes, and be raised up, you eternal doors, and the King of glory will come in. (verse 4) Glory be to the Father…….