Monday, February 02, 2009

Then went virtue out from him

The communion chant for year B for next week tells the story of Christ's miracle of healing the masses who gather before him, as told in St. Luke, 6:17-19.

Now, many people are under the impression that all of Gregorian chant is spooky and ominous, and this just isn't true. Many chants are ebulliently joyful and celebratory.

This one, however, is indeed ominous, for it tells of diseased multitudes gathered, people who then healed in one breath by Our Lord.

See how the monk interprets the story in song.

It is set in the minor mode of II, and it contains an unusual number of expressive neumes that requires some discipline and subtlety. It begins with the description of the sad scene and the mood is reflected in the music. "A multitude with diseases, and they that were troubled with unclean spirits, came unto him."

The chant is long and detailed here.

The mood and range change at the full bar with "quia virtus" and it reaches its highest point. Then we encounter the feeling of exhaling with "exibat" and the effects with "et sanabat omnes."

"For virtue went out from him and healed all."

It is fitting that we sing and hear this as we stand for procession to communion, for it us who stand as that diseased multitude seeking healing from the virtue of grace in the sacrament. We come to him and we are healed.

Indeed, it is the sacraments that will heal a diseased world. And so this song inspires us to reflect on the meaning of the action and the privilege of being in the presence of our Lord.

See the Psalms with this antiphon from this sheet. Our you can have the entire book of communion chants and Psalm in the choir loft.

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