Adoratio — Devotion of the Cross

SGP - Adoratio Crucis

The theme of the Cross in the repertoire of the Holy Week, part of the divine office of the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Together with Czech Boys’ Choir Boni Pueri.
Supraphon, SU 3448-2231 © 2000
Total time 68:49 

Complete texts and commentary in Czech, English, French and German

Schola Gregoriana Pragensis: Hasan El-Dunia, Jiri Hodina, Marian Krejcik, Ondrej Manour, Martin Prokes, Stanislav Predota, Jan Stetka, Matous Vlcinsky, Radim Vondracek
artistic director — David Eben

Czech Boys’ Choir Boni Pueri
conductor — Pavel Horak

I. The theme of the cross in the repertoire of the Holy Week

(1) Hymnus Gloria laus … 2:03
(2) Antiphona Ave rex noster … 2:21
(3) Antiphona Pueri Hebreorum … 2:54
(4) Graduale Christus factus est … 3:13
(5) Hymnus Vexilla regis prodeunt … 3:18
(6) Lamentatio Ursus insidians mihi … 3:12
(7) Responsorium Insurrexerunt in me … 3:28
(8) Antiphona Captabunt in animam … 1:35
(9) Lamentatio Quomodo obscuratum est aurum … 3:46
(10) Responsorium Tenebrae factae sunt … 3:11
(11) Litania Kyrie eleison … 2:56

II. Adoratio crucis — Devotion of the Cross

(12) Antiphona Ecce lignum crucis … 1:57
(13) Antiphona Crucem tuam adoramus … 1:49
(14) Improperia … 6:52
(15) Antiphona Tuam crucem adoramus … 1:10
(16) Antihona O crux benedicta … 0:53
(17) Antiphona O crux admirabile … 1:04
(18) Hymnus Crux fidelis … 4:47
(19) Antiphona Sanctifica nos Domine … 1:25
(20) Antiphona Dum fabricator mundi … 4:19
(21) Antiphona In pace in idipsum … 1:59
(22) Responsorium Ecce quomodo moritur iustus … 2:54
(23) Antiphona Adoramus te Christe … 1:51

III. Conclusion

(24) Responsorium Congregati sunt … 4:43

The conception of the present recording is focused on the cross as the central symbol underlying the mystery of Christianity. The repertoire related to this theme here derives from the liturgy of the Holy Week — with particular emphasis on Good Friday — and is predominantly the product of the earliest layer of Gregorian chant.

The origins of the devotion of the Holy Cross date back roughly to the mid-fourth century, the time when Saint Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, discovered the True Cross of Christ in Jerusalem. At that time, the cross was regarded chiefly in terms of symbolizing triumph over death; only later was this triumphal aspect supplemented in a significant measure by that of suffering. By the ninth century the ceremony of the devotion of the cross had likely become part of the liturgy on Good Friday, the day on which the church commemorates Christ’s martyrdom. There the cross, which is initially covered, becomes unveiled whereupon it is worshipped by the genuflect participants in the service. Around this meditative ceremony was gradually formed an extensive corpus of remarkable chants, a repertoire which constitutes the core of this CD.

Apart from Good Friday, the ceremony of the worship of the cross also occurs, albeit in a shorter form, at the very beginning of the Holy Week, as part of the liturgy on Palm Sunday (1–5). This feast marks Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem. He is met by “Hebrew youths holding olive branches”, the scene related by the antiphon Pueri Hebraeorum. At the same time, however, Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem signals the beginning of the road to Calvary. Hence also the worship of the cross on Palm Sunday, most often accompanied by the antiphon Ave rex noster. For its part, the gradual Christus factus est sums up the central idea of the entire Holy Week: namely, “Christ humbled himself for our sake and showed obedience up till death, which was to be death upon the cross.”

The liturgy of Good Friday (6–11) is thoroughly permeated by the theme of Christ’s suffering. During the night office of the matins the events of the Passion are recreated in the responsory Tenebrae factae sunt. This highly expressive melody reaches its dramatic climax with Christ’s exclamation from the cross: “Deus meus, ut quid me dereliquisti” — “My God, why have you forsaken me”. Incorporated into these matins, on the account of their urgent message of tragedy and suffering, are lessons from the Prophet Jeremiah conveying his lament over the destruction of Jerusalem (6, 9).

The chants that have accompanied the ceremony of the Devotion of the Cross (12-23) in the various traditions, exemplify a richly varied repertoire. They encompass both fairly large-scale compositions, such as the antiphon Dum fabricator mundi, and smaller-scale antiphons (Tuam crucem, Sanctifica nos), some of which were taken over from the office of the feast of the Finding and Exaltation of the True Cross. Doubtless ranking among the most widespread and best known chants accompanying this ceremony are the so-called Improperia (impropriations), designating the Saviour’s imaginary reproaches addressed to the chosen people and through them to the entire world.

The present CD’s final chant, the responsory Congregati sunt, sends out the plea: “My God, do not turn away from me; My God, come to my rescue”. This plea appears to open up a view out of the darkness of suffering into the light of resurrection.

The medieval interpretative practice counted with the involvement in the liturgy of pupils of cathedral or convent schools. This pattern is reconstituted in the present disc’s blend of men’s and boys’ voices.