Liturgical Year

SGP - Liturgical Year

The view over the musical variety and riches of Gregorian chant within the framework of each liturgical season. 
Supraphon, SU 3271-2231 © 1997
Total time 75:25

Comlete texts and commentary in Czech, English and French
Tip of the Harmonie Magazine (January 1998)

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

Tempus Adventus
1. Graduale Universi qui te expectant 2:29
2. Offertorium Ad te, Domine, levavi 1:36
3. Alleluia Excita, Domine 1:30
4. Hymnus Creator alme siderum 1:41
Tempus Nativitatis
5. Antiphona Hodie Christus natus est 2:49
Tempus Quadragesimae
6. Antiphona Immutemur habitu 4:23
7. Graduale Miserere mei, Deus 4:03
8. Pater noster 1:06
9. Tractus Qui confidunt 2:28
10. Antiphona Hosanna filio David / Ps. 117 Confitemini 1:58
Tempus Paschale
11. Introitus Resurrexi 2:58
12. Alleluia Pascha nostrum 2:07
13. Introitus Quasi modo 1:40
14. Gloria Ambrosianum 1:57
15. Antiphona O Rex gloriae / Canticum Magnificat 2:52
Dominica Pentecostes
16. Introitus Spiritus Domini 2:23
17. Lectio Actuum Apostolorum 1:23
18. Alleluia Veni Sancte Spiritus 2:08
19. Sequentia Veni Sancte Spiritus 2:18
20. Moteto Veni Sancte - Da gaudiorum - Veni Sancte 0:54
21. Communio Factus est repente 2:21
Tempus per annum
22. Hymnus Immense caeli conditor 1:26
23. Offertorium Super flumina 5:06
24. Communio Memento verbi tui 2:43
25. Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli 1:31
26. Graduale Ecce quam bonum 2:38
27. Sanctus XVIII 0:39
28. Graduale Unam petii 5:06
24. Communio Memento verbi tui 2:43
25. Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli 1:31
26. Graduale Ecce quam bonum 2:38
27. Sanctus XVIII 0:39
28. Graduale Unam petii 2:33
29. Antiphona Speret Israel / Ps. 130 Domine non est 1:35
30. Alleluia Exsultate Deo 2:04
31. Agnus Dei XVIII 0:40
32. Antiphona Montes Gelboe / Canticum Magnificat 4:40

Commentary by David Eben:

Liturgical text has always conveyed its message to its listeners in the sung form. The early practice of the first centuries of the Christian era, involving elementary recitation of text on a single tone and perhaps even some degree of “improvisation”, gradually gave rise to a repertoire which became standardized sometime around the late eighth century. Known as Gregorian chant, it displays a unique equilibrium of aesthetic and functional aspects. With its single vocal line, it amounts to more than just music accompanying the act of Christian worship, as is the case of several sacred music genres dating from later periods. As the priest approaching the altar is clad in ceremonial garments, so is the word of the liturgy wrapped in the solemn attire of Gregorian chant. Together, the two components yield an unique blend of music and word which represents one of the characteristic elements of Western Christianity.

The said repertoire, however, is no mere compilation of choral melodies. Rather, each individual chant has its strictly defined place in the context of liturgical year which revokes annually the various crucial moments of divine intervention in the history of mankind. Moreover, even if one were to disregard the purely religious side of the ecclesiastic calendar, one might be attracted to its pattern alone, which is based upon the detailed knowledge of human psychology and ways of mental hygiene. As it were, liturgical year corresponds precisely with man’s inner clockwork. It takes into account the fact of the human soul’s passage along a crooked path, through valleys and across peaks, and its consequent need of alternating periods of busy mental activity with ones of relaxation.

Of course, the space of a single CD cannot embrace the entire liturgical year with its bottomless treasury of chants. Therefore, this album has concentrated on capturing only certain characteristic moments, without any claim to completeness or even equal balance in the representation of the individual liturgical periods. In historical terms, these are chants which belong — with only few exceptions — in the earliest layer of Gregorian chant, that of the so-called “ancient corpus” (vieux fonds), dating from c. the eighth century.

Liturgical year begins with the Advent season, illustrated here by the four introductory chants. During the four weeks of Advent the church lives in expectation of the mystery of God’s coming into this world. The gradual and the offertory from the first Sunday of Advent usher in one of the key ideas of this whole period, expressed by the respective verse of Psalm 25: “No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame”.

The fulfilment of the hope of Advent is the subject of Christmas liturgy, represented here by the antiphon Hodie Christus natus est. (Schola Gregoriana Pragensis has previously made a CD devoted exclusively to Christmas liturgical chants, entitled “In Pragensi Ecclesia”).

The joyful atmosphere of Christmas gives way to a period of solemn reflection and fasting, programmatically focused on the analysis of one’s inner self, including the dark places, as an inevitable prerequisite of spiritual growth. Correspondingly, the liturgy offers frequent references to penitence, as exemplified here by chants related to Ash Wednesday: the antiphon Immutemur, and the gradual Miserere mei.

Liturgical year reaches its climax in Holy Week, a period during which the liturgy re-creates the last events in the life of Christ. It opens on Palm Sunday and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The processional antiphon Hosanna filio David sets to music the words with which the crowd greets Jesus: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…”

The Easter mystery of the Resurrection is conveyed here by the introit Resurrexi. The condensed starkness of its melody is thoroughly in the service of the text which is constructed as a dialogue of the resurrected Jesus with the Father: “I have risen and I am still with you …” Juxtaposed to the introit is the Alleluia Pascha nostrum, overflowing with “Easter-like infinite” jubilation.
The plea for the “Ghost of Truth” from the antiphon O Rex glorie, sung on the feast of the Ascension of Christ, is answered by the Whit Sunday introit Spiritus Domini. The invocation, “Come Holy Ghost”, is contained both in the sequence Veni Sancte Spiritus, and in a three-voice motet from Bohemian sources.

Whitsuntide marks the end of Easter, and with it of the “omnipresent” halleluja accompanying the chants. The ensuing liturgical interim (or according to earlier terminology, post-Whitsuntide season) fills all of the time that remains before the beginning of the next liturgical year. More space in the individual canonical hours is now again reserved for the simple chants of the week-long psalter cycle, such as the hymn Immense caeli conditor, or the vesper antiphon Speret Israel. An important place in the interim period liturgy is occupied by lessons from the Old Testament. The antiphon Montes Gelboe draws on the Book of Samuel. It describes young David’s lament over the fallen King Saul of Israel and his son Jonathan.

The end of the liturgical interim brings to its close the entire liturgical year. By then, however, we find ourselves on the threshold of a new liturgical year, a point which opens up before us the prospect of “pure, virgin time” (M. Eliade).