Today’s antiphon begins a new liturgical year with a mosaic of Advent themes.
The springboard for the opening phrase is to be found near the beginning of today’s 2nd Reading (“it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep”, Romans 13:11) as well as Jesus’s exhortation in the Gospel to stay awake (Matthew 24:42); the second phrase derives from the 1st Reading and the image of the nations streaming towards to the Mountain of the Lord (Isaiah 2:2-3), that same mountain where the Lord of Hosts will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines (Isaiah 25:6); while the final phrase comes from Psalm 85, that quintessential Advent psalm that is suggested for use by the ICEL 1998 Antiphonal, 2010 Antiphonary as well as the 1974 Graduale Romanum, where mercy and faithfulness, justice and peace, are all core elements.
We also are invited to come to Communion, the feast where those same core elements will figure at the table in the sacrificed Body and Blood of the Lord.
The lilting melody, sometimes called BESANÇON after the town in Eastern France, was originally sung to the words Chantons, bargiés, Noué Noué ! [“Sing, O shepherds, Noël, Noël!”], translated as “Shepherds, shake off your drowsy sleep”, the same tune later used by Eleanor Farjeon for her carol “People, look east; the time is near”. The Collegeville Composers borrowed the first two phrases and the very last (sixth). The accompanying psalm uses many of the scriptures already mentioned: Ps 85:9, 11-14; Isaiah 2:2-5; Romans 13:11, and Matthew 24:42, 44.
An extract from the CD recording Where Two or Three are Gathered will be found here.
The key to today’s antiphon and verses lies in the 2nd Reading, Colossians 1:12-20, that great hymn of praise to the Beloved Son in whom all things hold together. The Collegeville Composers Group had already set this canticle (in fact Colossians 1:11-20) as the verses for the Song for the Table for the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on January 1, with the antiphon above, all of which seemed to fit in well with the concept of the King of the Universe.
If only our faith in Jesus could be the same yesterday, today and for ever!
Another mosaic antiphon, taking its rise from today’s Gospel:
Do not be terrified (Luke 21:9)
By your perseverance you will secure your lives. (Luke 21:19)
together with one of the Communion antiphons from the 1998 Antiphonal (Mark 11:2-23):
Amen, says the Lord:
Whatever you pray for,
believe it is yours,
and so it will be.
The Collegeville Composers reused an antiphon relating to the Gospel of Jairus’s daughter and the woman with the issue of blood from the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, with similar sentiments (Mark 5:35. 34):
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.” “[Daughter,] your faith has saved you. [Go in peace]”
The psalm verses major on belief and trust in God, using extracts from Psalms 31 and 73, the latter following a suggestion in the 1998 Antiphonal and 2010 Antiphonary. The verses may be superimposed on the antiphon or sung separately.
A demo extract, using different superimposed psalm verses, from the CD Walk in My Ways will be found here.
November 9, 2022 : Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
Today’s scriptures focus on the city of God and its temple. The door or threshold is an important part of that building. In this antiphon, rooted in Matthew 7:7a, we reflect on the fact that the opening of that door is dependent upon our requests to God and our seeking to find the way to do his will. Then we will receive grace upon grace.
The psalm verses take Psalms 133, 134 and extracts from Psalm 135, once again focusing on the house of the Lord and the unity that should be found within.