First Vespers of Quinquagesima Sunday
I was profoundly struck last evening by the antiphons and psalmody of First Vespers of Quinquagesima Sunday. Every antiphon — I have believed and taught this for years — is a kind of sacramental. It is a divine utterance that, as we chant it and hear it chanted, delivers what it announces. Here at Silverstream, we sing at First and Second Vespers during Septuagesimatide and Lent the four antiphons given in the Antiphonale Monasticum (1934) for Prime, Tierce, Sext. and None. This is immensely beneficial; it allows us to ponder the antiphons, all of which are taken from the Gospel of the day, not only at the Little Hours but also at the solemn hour of the sacrificium vespertinum, which would not otherwise have proper antiphons for the psalmody.
The antiphons are not, of course, mere text; they are a marriage of text and melody. The text becomes, thanks to the melody that emerges from it, a living word, a word capable of piercing the heart. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel writes:
Music is the soul of language. A good sentence is more than a series