Sunday, April 26, 2020

Good Shepherd Sunday 2020

Alleluia, I am the Good Shepherd, and I know my sheep, and mine know me, alleluja. (The second Alleluia of Good Shepherd Sunday.)

The Good Shepherd, by Cristóbal García Salmerón (1603-66), originally painted for the church of St Genesius in Arles, France, now in the Prado Museum in Madrid. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
Alleluja, Ego sum pastor bonus, et cognosco oves meas, et cognoscunt me meae, alleluia.


I
n the Ambrosian Rite, the Gospel for today is St John’s account of the Baptism of Christ, chapter 1, 29-34, which the Roman Rite reads on the octave of Epiphany. In the oldest Ambrosian lectionary, the Gospels for the Sundays between Low Sunday and the Ascension continue the instruction of those who were baptized at Easter, and are centered on the figure of Christ. Today John calls him “the Lamb of God”, and on the following Sunday (John 1, 15-28), “the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father.” On the next two Sundays, Christ speaks of Himself as “the light of the world” (John 8, 12-20) and “the way, the truth and the light (John 14, 1-14).” In the Carolingian era, when the Ambrosian Rite underwent a significant Romanization, the latter three were replaced with the traditional Roman Gospels for these Sundays, but the Gospel of today remained; it is accompanied by the following particularly beautiful preface.

John the Baptist Indicates the Lamb of God to Ss Peter and Andrew; fresco by Domenico Zampieri (1581-1641), generally known as Domenichino, in the ceiling of the apse of the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle in Rome, 1622-28. (Image by AlfvanBeem released to the public domain, from Wikimedia Commons.)
VD... Aeterne Deus: Qui omnia mundi elementa fecisti, et varias disposuisti témporum vices: atque hómini ad tuam imáginem cóndito, universa simul animantia, rerumque mirácula subjecisti. Cui licet orígo terréna sit: tamen, regeneratióne Baptísmatis, caelestis ei vita confertur. Nam devicto mortis auctóre, immortalitátis est gratiam consecútus: et, praevaricatiónis erróre quassáto, viam réperit veritátis. Per Christum.

Truly ... eternal God: Who made all the elements of the world, and arranged the various changes of time, and subjected to man, who was made in Thy image, all living things, and the wonders of creation. And though his origin is of earth, nonethless, the life of heaven is conferred upon him in the regeneration of baptism. For then the author of death was conquered, he obtained the grace of immortality, and when the error of his transgression was brokwn, he found the way of truth. Through Christ...

In the Byzantine Rite, today is called the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women from its Gospel, Mark 15, 43 - 16, 8. In the first part of this reading, Joseph of Arimathea requests from Pilate and receives the body of the Lord for burial, wraps Him in the shroud, and lays Him in the tomb; in the second (which the Roman Rite reads on Easter itself, minus the last verse), the women come to the tomb to anoint the body, and meet the angel who tells them that He has risen, and bids them go tell the disciples.

A fresco of the Myrrh-Bearing Women in the Dionysiou Monastery on Mt Athos.
At Matins of Holy Saturday, which is usually sung on the evening of Good Friday, the first set of proper chants at the beginning of the service is based on this Gospel. (The traditional setting in Church Slavonic is one of the best loved and most moving pieces of music among the Slavs.)


The noble Joseph took down from the Cross Thy spotless Body, and when he had wrapped It in a clean shroud with spices, he laid It for burial in a new sepulchre.
– Glory be. When Thou went down to death, o immortal Life, then didst Thou slay Hades by the brightness of the Godhead; and when Thou raised up the dead from the netherworld, all the powers of heaven cried out, ‘Christ our God, Giver of life, glory to Thee.’
– Now and ever. The angel stood by the tomb and cried to the myrrh-bearing women, ‘Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has been shown free from corruption.’

At Vespers of the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women, these same chants are sung at the end, but the first two change places, and the second and third have additions (marked here with *) which make them more appropriate for the Easter Season.

When Thou went down to death, o immortal Life, then didst Thou slay Hades by the brightness of the Godhead; and when Thou raised up the dead from the netherworld, all the powers of heaven cried out, ‘Christ our God, Giver of life, glory to Thee.’
– Glory be. The noble Joseph took down from the Cross Thy spotless Body, and when he had wrapped It in a clean shroud with spices, he laid It for burial in a new sepulchre; * but Thou didst rise on the third day, o Lord, granting great mercy to the world.
– Now and ever. The angel stood by the tomb and cried to the myrrh-bearing women, “Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has been shown free from corruption. * But cry out, ‘The Lord is risen, granting great mercy to the world!’ ”

This video includes only the first one, which has a rather more cheerful melody in its Paschal version.

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