Sunday, February 28, 2010


The traditional form of the Roman Mass, celebrated in Latin, has historically made limited provision for congregational singing of hymns in the language of the people. Many of us still remember the "four-hymn sandwich" of Processional, Offertory, Communion, and Recessional hymns. But strictly speaking, only the Processional and Recessional hymns can be sung in the vernacular, as they are not part of the Mass proper. When I sang for a choir in Georgetown in the early- and mid-1980s, I had the privilege of learning and singing the great polyphonic motets -- those both in Latin, and in "the King's English." I don't get to hear the latter at the Traditional Mass, and while I defer to the will of Mother Church, there are times that I wish things were otherwise.

Today is one of those occasions, the Second Sunday of Lent, where the Introit (entrance antiphon/psalm) is taken from Psalm 24/25 (referring to the Vulgate/Hebrew numerology, respectively).

    Call to remembrance,
miserationum tuarum, Domine
    thy tender compassion and mercy, O Lord,
et misericordiae tuae,
    and thy loving kindnesses towards us,
quae a saeculo sunt:
    which have been ever of old,
ne umquam dominentur
    neither suffer the triumph
nobis inimici nostri:
    of our enemies against us:
libera nos, Deus Israel,
    deliver us, O God of Israel,
ex omnibus angustiis nostris.
    out of all our misery and trouble.
Ad te Domine,
    Unto thee, O Lord,
levavi animam meam, Deus meus,
    do I lift up my soul: my God,
in te confido, non erubescam.
    in thee have I trusted, let me not be confounded.

Richard Farrant (1530-1580) was a composer of English church music. While prolific in his day, few of his works survive, among them Call To Remembrance:

Call to remembrance, O Lord,
Thy tender mercies
and Thy loving kindness,
which hath been ever of old,
O remember not the sins
    and offences of my youth:
but according to Thy mercy
think Thou on me, O Lord,
for Thy goodness.

Thankfully, we have a performance by the Cathedral Choir of Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, not far from one of my old stomping grounds.

I didn't even know Methodists had cathedrals.

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