[The following was first published for this occasion in 2009. -- DLA]
Today the western Church celebrates Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word which begins the Entrance Chant, evoking the words of Paul to the early Christians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, Rejoice.” (Phil 4:4) It is a brief respite in a season of penitential expectation. The violet vestments of the priest are exchanged for a reminiscent yet more joyful shade of rose (which is not to be confused with pink). There is also more allowance for instrumental music during the Mass, than elsewhere in the Advent season.
The homily this morning spoke of John the Baptist, the voice in the wilderness speaking the hard truth in the face of opposition: “Pontius Pilate conducted a poll. ‘Who do you want, Jesus or Barabbas?’ The people chose Barabbas, and they have been choosing Barabbas ever since.” It is no different today, yet the message ignored through the ages still gives reason for celebration, as those who remain faithful enter into eternal joy. In this video, the Choir at the College of William and Mary sing a motet by Henry Purcell (1659-1695) entitled “Rejoice in the Lord alway (‘The Bell Anthem’).”