Universi qui te expectant. Words from Psalm 24, used for the Gradual chant for the First Sunday in Advent (Graduale triplex p. 16).
Universi qui te expectant non confundentur, Domine.
V. Vias tuas Domine notas fac mihi: et semitas tuas edoce me.
Let none that wait for thee be ashamed, O Lord. Make thy ways known unto me, O Lord, and teach me thy paths.
The Old Testament Psalmist asks the Lord that all who wait for him should not be disappointed, and the Christian singer places these words at the beginning of the season of Advent to prepare worshippers for the Coming of the Lord at Christmas with the birth of Jesus. The melody proclaims the Advent with broad solemnity. In the Verse the words of the Psalmist ask for instruction (“Make thy ways known to me”) not in penitence but rather in confidence, and the melody rises in a tone of insistent, enthusiastic affirmation.
Populus Sion. Words from the Prophet Isaiah, Ch. 30, used for the Introit antiphon for the Second Sunday of Advent (Graduale triplex, p. 18).
Populus Sion ecce Dominus veniet ad salvandas gentes:
et auditam faciet Dominus gloriam vocis suae in laetitia cordis vestris.
V. Qui regis Israel intende: qui deducis velut ovem Ioseph.
O People of Sion, behold! The Lord will come to save the nations:
and the Lord will make the glory of his voice heard in the gladness of your hearts.
Thou that rulest Israel, hear: thou that leadest Joseph like sheep.
Populus Sion is Isaiah’s proclamation to the Jews that the Messiah is coming to save the people, and “The Lord will make his voice to be heard in the gladness of your hearts!” Isaiah’s words were sung in Christian liturgy near the start of the Advent season to a bright melody, to rouse Christians for the Coming of the Lord Jesus as a babe in the manger. Populus Sion is sung by the choir as an antiphon for the Entrance Song, at Mass on the second Sunday of Advent. The Christian melody proclaims this as if in a fanfare, high and then higher, brilliant in tone.
Alleluia Laetatus sum. Words from Psalm 121, sung before the Gospel on the Second Sunday of Advent.
Alleluia V. Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. Alleluia.
Alleluia. I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.
The Christian melody makes the personal expression “I was glad . . . ,“ already elated in the Old Testament Psalm, leap up in the Alleluia, continuing in the Verse higher and lower but always up in tone.
Excita Domine. Words from Psalm 79, sung here to the Christian second-mode melody “Haec dies.”
Excita Domine potentiam tuam et veni ut salvos facias nos.
V. Qui regis Israel intende: qui deducis velut ovem Ioseph:
qui sedes super cherubim appare coram Ephraim Beniamin et Manasse.
Stir up thy strength, O Lord, and come and save us.
Give ear, O shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock:
thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim,
Benjamin, et Manasse.
Used for more than twenty different sets of words (all in the Archive), this “model melody” shows the remarkable ability of Gregorian to infuse its melodic expressivity into various different sets of words, heightening the message of each set in a peculiarly appropriate way. Here the melody brings urgency to the singers’ request for the power of the Lord to “Come and save us!” and reflects their exultant confidence in receiving it. The melody itself is phrased very clearly but in very long arcs, not song-like but rather discursive, sometimes exploring thoughtfully a confined tonal space, other times soaring seemingly without limit.
Ecce virgo. Words from Isaiah ch. 7, used for the Communion antiphon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Graduale triplex p. 37.
Ecce virgo concipiet et pariet filium: et vocabitur nomen eius Emmanuel.
V. Coeli ennarant gloriam Dei: et opera manuum eius adnuntiat firmamentum.
Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son: and shall call
his name Emmanuel. V. The heavens are telling the glory of God:
and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.
In his ch. 7, the Prophet Isaiah foretells of a virgin birth, and the Christian singer points this prophecy toward the birth of Jesus from his Mother Mary. There is, however, little sense of the joyous acclamation of Populus Sion. Rather, the short, quasi-lyrical verbal phrases are set to a melody that first invokes a somber intimacy concerning the Christian mystery of virgin birth, then toward the end brings an awareness of profound solemnity of the naming of the Christchild—“Emmanuel!”
Hodie scietis. Words selected from Exodus and Isaiah, used for the Introit at the Vigil Mass for Christmas
Hodie scietis quia veniet Dominus et salvabit nos: et mane videbitis gloriam eius.
V. Domini est terra et plenitudo eius: orbis terrarum et universi qui habitant in eo.
Today you will know that the Lord will come to save you:
and in the morning you will see his glory. V. The earth is the Lord’s,
and the fulness thereof: the circle of the lands,and all that dwell therein.
This is the entrance song for Mass on the day before Christmas: “Today (Hodie) you will know that the Lord will come!” In hushed, simple tones the choir sings of its excited anticipation of the event foretold by the words selected from the Old Testament sources Exodus and Isaiah. In slightly brighter mood the Verse recalls the larger context of “the circle of lands.”
Viderunt omnes. Words from Psalm 97, used for the Gradual chant in the Mass on Christmas day, Graduale triplex p. 48.
Viderunt omnes fines terrae salutare Dei nostri: iubilate Deo omnes terra.
V. Notum fecit Dominus salutare suum: ante conspectum gentium revelavit iustitiam suam.
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God:
O be joyful in God, all ye lands. V. The Lord hath made known his salvation;
in the sight of the peoples hath he revealed his righteousness.
Sung as the most prominent chant of the Mass on Christmas day, the Gradual Viderunt omnes is the formal confirmation of the Coming of the Lord Jesus to save all peoples, as foretold in one of the many Old Testament prophecies (this one from Psalm 97). More than a proclamation, this Gradual is a statement of the worldwide significance of universal salvation as claimed by Christianity. The melody is clear, bold, expansive, dwelling on extended reiterations, then rolling through the pitch set again and again to its high points.
Viderunt omnes. Words from Psalm 97, used as the Communion antiphon for the Mass on Christmas day, Graduale triplex p. 50.
Viderunt omnes fines terrae salutare Dei nostri.
V. Cantate Dominum canticum novum: quia mirabilia fecit.
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
V. O sing unto the Lord a new song: for he hath done marvelous things.
This Communion antiphon is sung toward the end of the Mass which celebrates the Nativity of Jesus as the climax of the Advent season. It repeats the opening words of the Gradual of that Mass, Viderunt omnes, but not the whole Gradual; the Communion antiphon melody, short and simple, has none of the expansive quality of the Gradual. The words of the Communion antiphon echo the Gradual, but its lyrically pensive melodic curves intimate a darker awareness of what salvation might cost.