Since tomorrow’s Gospel is that of the Transfiguration. This hymn comes from the Office of Lauds for the Feast of the Transfiguration, which is celebrated on August 6th.
O nata lux de lumine,
Jesu redemptor saeculi,
Dignare clemens supplicum
Laudes precesque sumere.
Qui carne quondam contegi
Dignatus es pro perditis,
Nos membra confer effici
Tui beati corporis.
Translation: O Light born of Light,
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
with loving-kindness deign to receive
suppliant praise and prayer.
Thou who once deigned to be clothed in flesh
for the sake of the lost,
grant us to be members
of thy blessed body.
This sums it up rather well.
February 21 marks the birthdays of two gentlemen who made significant contributions to organ music, both as performers and composers.
Charles-Marie Widor, born on this day in 1844, presided over the Cavaillé-Coll organ at Saint-Sulpice in Paris for nearly 64 years.
Gerre Hancock, born on this day in 1934, was the Organist and Master of Choristers at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City from 1971 until 2004.
Listen to the Sanctus and Benedictus from Widor’s Messe, Op. 36.
Peccantem me quotidie et non penitentem,
Timor mortis conturbat me.
Quia in inferno nulla est redemptio.
Miserere mei, Deus, et salva me.
Translation: I who sin every day and am not penitent
the fear of death upsets me:
For in hell there is no redemption.
Have mercy upon me, O God, and save me.
The Secretariat for Divine Worship at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has provided Liturgical Resources for the Papal Transition, a document which includes suggested texts for votive Masses for the current pope, during the time of the election of his successor, and upon the election of the new pope. It’s a useful resource. I have already begun to use material from it for use in my parish.
At the end of the document, it provides musical suggestions. While it is complicated to have a musical inventory that will suit the needs of all congregations, this list is deficient in a number of areas. There’s not a single suggestion of Gregorian chant provided. (For example, providing the Latin propers of each Votive Mass would be an ideal point of departure!)
Nonetheless, this is a valuable resource for all involved in planning and executing liturgies in the weeks ahead.
Today is Presidents Day, a federal holiday in the USA. While the holiday was originally established to honor the first president of the United States, George Washington, it has, in recent years, been expanded to honor all of the men who have served as commander-in-chief.
Today, let us pause to remember the men who have led this nation through peace and war. Let us also pray today for President Barack Obama, whom the people of this nation have freely elected as its president. May he continue to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and uphold all our liberties, especially religious liberty.
With all the excitement caused by the news that Pope Benedict would renounce the papal throne, it’s been easy to forget that we have begun the penitential season of Lent. (I hope that everybody abstained from meat today!)
One of the great Lenten hymns is Attende, Domine, et miserere quia peccavimus tibi (Hear us, Lord, and have mercy for we have sinned against thee). As a meditation, close your eyes for a few minutes and listen to this lovely prelude on the Gregorian hymn composed by the twentieth century French organist and composer, Jeanne Demessieux (1921–1968). This work comes from a set of twelve chorale preludes on Gregorian themes (Op. 8). A student of Marcel Dupré, Demessieux was an extraordinary organist, having memorized the complete organ works of Bach, Franck, Liszt and Dupré, among others. She was the organist for two churches in Paris, Saint-Esprit and La Madeleine. In her own right, Demessieux was also a gifted composer. If you enjoy what you listen to, my colleague and dear friend, Stephen Tharp, recently recorded the complete organ works of Jeanne Demessieux; he is one of only a small handful of organists to do so. Unfortunately, the CD is out print, however, you can purchase the recording on iTunes.
Here is the entire hymn text.
This past Monday, 11 February, I awoke to learn that Pope Benedict XVI announced his plans to renounce the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, effective Thursday, 28 February at 20:00 hours Rome time (14:00 Eastern). Benedict becomes the first pope to do so since Gregory XII renounced the papacy in 1415. While the reign of the pope has typically been from election until death, Canon 332 of the Canon Law of the Catholic Church states:
If it should happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that he make the resignation freely and that it be duly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone.
I have had a number of thoughts and emotions since Monday. My first emotion was shock and sadness. I thought that voluntarily stepping down would be the last thing that the traditionalist Pope Benedict would ever consider. There was also some anger. “How could he walk away? Does he not care about the Church?” Then I remembered the character of the man who holds the office. Above all else, Joseph Ratzinger is a priest and a teacher. This is a moment for him to teach us something. Approaching the age of 86, he acknowledges that his physical and mental abilities have diminished greatly since he assumed the papacy nearly eight years ago. He recognizes that he can no longer fulfill the obligations of the ministry entrusted to him. Therefore, for the well-being of the Church, he is stepping down. He strengthens the papacy by making sanctity the hallmark of the office over celebrity.
There are so many people who were inspired by the charism of Blessed John Paul II during his twenty-six year papacy. I am too young to remember the youthful, vigorous Polish pope. My memories of him come from the later years of his life, when the course of his physical ailments had taken their grip over his once youthful body. Benedict, therefore, became “my pope”. I knew of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before his election to the papacy, through his writings and his work as prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. When Cardinal Ratzinger, in his capacity as dean of the College of Cardinals, presided over the funeral rites of Pope John Paul II and the papal transition, the interregnum, it was very clear to me that the Holy Spirit was already at work in him, as he led the Church into this new chapter of its continuing history.
Many questions can be asked about the legacy of Benedict XVI and how history will remember him. Will he forever be known as the pope that resigned? Will he be seen as a pontiff that was, at times, naïve in his leadership? Will he be remembered for his writings, in particular, the three volume anthology on the life of Christ? Will he be remembered for his humility, the humility that he exhibited on the day of his election that continues through the termination of his papacy?
In the remaining weeks of the reign of Pope Benedict XVI, let us continue to pray for him, that God allows him the strength of mind, body, and heart to continue his Petrine ministry and that God is gracious to him in the days that remain for him in his earthly life. Ever the Servant of the servants of God, Benedict will spend the remainder of his days in prayer, praying for the Church he has loved and served all his life.
So begins a journey into the blogosphere. I enjoy writing and a number of friends have been encouraging me to start a blog for some time. My interests are diverse, so I don’t intend to pick one particular topic to write about. However, you should expect to hear my thoughts about church music and topics in Roman Catholicism. With the news this week that Pope Benedict would be renouncing the papal throne (the first pope in centuries to do so) and with all that will transpire after the Holy Father’s abdication, I thought that now would be a good time to begin this blog.
Whoever you are and wherever you are, welcome to my blog. I hope enjoy your visit.