About this blogger:
Richard J. Clark has served since 1989 as Music Director and Organist at Saint Cecilia Church in Boston, Massachusetts. He is also Chapel Organist (Saint Mary’s Chapel) at Boston College. For the Archdiocese of Boston, he directed the Office of Divine Worship Saint Cecilia Schola. His compositions have been performed on four continents.
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The Vatican Gradual cheered our hearts by restoring the authentic form of the hymns therein. But there are very few hymns in the Gradual. We looked forward to the continuation of the same work, where it was so much more needed, in the Vesperal, and then in the new Breviary. Alas, the movement, for the present, has stopped. The new Vesperal and then the Breviary contain Urban VIII’s versions. So at present we have the odd situation that in the Gradual the old form of the hymns is restored; but when the same hymn (for instance “Vexilia regis”) comes again in the Vesperal, we must sing the seventeenth-century mangling.
— Adrian Fortescue (25 March 1916)

Scripture, Sacred Music, and the Actions of Our Lives
published 26 December 2014 by Richard J. Clark

ERE IS A FREE DOWNLOAD for the communion antiphon for the Feast of the Epiphany. The Roman Missal contains two communion antiphons, which are meant to be recited rather than sung. One of the antiphons (Matthew 2:2) happily coincides with the antiphon found in the Graduale Romanum. As such, this setting uses the antiphon found in both. I have used the 2010 translation of the Roman Missal. The verses use the 2010 Grail translation.

      * *  Free Download:
PDFVidimus stellam | Communion Antiphon | Epiphany of the Lord | for Schola, SATB, Organ
I had some requests for an audio sample. Here’s a demo I threw together quickly. I used the piano instead of the organ as I’ve been traveling:
      * *  YouTube:  Rehearsal DEMO [video]

NE DISTINCT DIFFERENCE between the sung propers of the Graduale Romanum and the spoken propers of the Roman Missal, are the singing of psalm verses, which allow for further meditation, as well as repetition of the antiphon. The Roman Missal antiphons do not assign any verses, as there is no use for them in a single quick recitation.

On the Feast of the Epiphany, for example, the Communion Antiphon from the Graduale Romanum (or in the example above, the Gradule Triplex) is taken from the Gospel of the day (Mt. 2:1-12). Furthermore, the Graduale Romanum assigns Psalm 72 (71) which corresponds closely to the Responsorial Psalm of the day in the Ordinary Form. (Note the specificity of the prescribed verses. Also note the Graduale uses the Greek numbering system for the Psalms. Here’s a useful reference: Why are the Psalms numbered differently?)

These kinds of scriptural correlations are very typical of the Communion antiphons. While the Roman Missal communion antiphons also harken back to the Gospel, the addition of the psalmody and repetition of the antiphon lends it to accompanying the liturgical action.

These are very compelling reasons to sing the propers, as we sing the scriptures in union with the liturgy. In doing so, we allow the scriptures to form and shape us, while in this case, receiving the Eucharist. This is a profound relationship which may lead to even more profound prayer. In doing so, may we live our lives as Christ calls us to live.

ITTLE BY LITTLE, THIS CORRELATION is becoming more apparent to many. Sacred music, wedded to the actions of the sacred liturgy, helps us live the scriptures through the action of our lives. The principles of Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, and Lex Vivendi remind us that as we pray what we believe, we must therefore respond to God’s call by the way that we live.

Finally, consider that the antiphons of the Church are fifteen hundred years old and the psalms about three thousand years old. Consider that the psalms are quoted in the New Testament an astounding number of times. (Let’s not minimize the role of the psalms in the mass to the Responsorial.) They have much wisdom to teach us. If one sings the psalms and antiphons weekly, this will transform one’s soul. I know I’m in desperate need of such transformation!