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"Thus," wrote Isaac Jogues, "on the 29th of September, René Goupil, an angel of innocence and martyr of Jesus Christ, was immolated in his thirty-fifth year for Him who had given His life for ransom. He had consecrated his heart and his soul to God, and his work and his life to the welfare of the poor Indians."
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Much of the beauty of the older forms was lost and the hymns did not really become classical. We have reason to hope that the present reform of the breviary will also give us back the old form of the hymns. But meanwhile it seems necessary to keep the later text. This is the one best known, it is given in all hymnbooks and is still the only authorized form. Only in one case have we printed the older text of a hymn, number 57, “Urbs Jerusalem.” The modern form of this begins: “Caelestis urbs Jerusalem.” But in this case the people who changed it in the seventeenth century did not even keep its metre; so the later version cannot be sung to the old, exceedingly beautiful tune.
— Fr. Adrian Fortescue (1913)
What Are The Mass Propers? Installment no. 3
published 18 November 2011 by Corpus Christi Watershed

Since Advent is coming up, I thought it might be nice to show a few examples of the Communion Proper from the 1st Sunday of Advent. The Propers are ancient prayers carefully chosen by the Church for each Mass of the (Western) liturgical year. Over many centuries, the Church has written beautiful and sophisticated melodies for these prayers that are unparalleled. Each monastery usually had their own “variation” of the chant, but the similarities between the majority of Propers is astounding. The Communion Proper is required to be prayed by the priest. Unfortunately, most people do not pray the Communion Proper, because there is a loophole that allows the Communion antiphon to be replaced by “another song.” However, it is difficult to understand why people are not willing to sing the beautiful antiphon prescribed by the Church. If you click on the video (upper right) you can hear it sung by the monastery of Triors. If your choir cannot sing this piece in the full Gregorian chant setting, you can sing a simplified version in English (click on “options for music sung during Holy Communion”).

Communion for the 1st Sunday of Advent (Ps. 84: 13)
Dóminus dabit benignitátem: et terra nostra dabit fructum suum.
The Lord will give goodness: and our earth shall yield her fruit.

And here it is in a 15th century MS:

And here it is in a different 15th century MS:

What Are The Mass Propers? is an ongoing series dedicated to exploring the Catholic Liturgy. Although this series will focus on the Graduale Propers, other subjects will also be included. The views presented here do not necessarily represent the views of Corpus Christi Watershed. Comments, advice, and criticism are welcome, and can be E-mailed. E-mails will be read, but cannot always be answered (due to time constraints). To learn more about how Watershed is helping spread the love of Propers, please visit the Vatican II Hymnal website. “AF” refers to Adrian Fortescue, The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy (1912).

Pictures of ancient manuscripts appearing in this blog come from various sources. The author has collected his own color photographs of manuscripts from libraries and monasteries in the United States and Italy. A Canadian chant scholar who has been taking photographs of MSS since the 1960’s has generously made his collection available as well, and the author is grateful. Some photographs also come from online archives hosted by libraries and universities the world over. All photographs are used with permission.