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March 3, 2022

We Should Glory, Volume 2: Music for Our Paschal Journey with Christ


OCP 100 years

 

We Should Glory, Vol. 2 completes the goal that began with We Should Glory, Vol. 1: to provide pastoral music for Palm Sunday, the Triduum and Easter season, with special attention to assigned texts from the Lectionary and Roman Missal. So, after my description of each song in Vol. 2, I will remind you of the songs in Vol. 1 that are available for the same celebration. I will also emphasize how this music serves the ritual. As I said in my previous blog, liturgical music can function “ritually” in at least two ways. Sometimes, simply singing the text is itself the ritual action, as in singing the Gloria. But often, a song functions ritually by accompanying and interpreting a ritual action. Two examples of this in Vol. 2 are “I Give You a New Commandment” and “We Adore Your Cross.” More on these in a moment. The challenge here is to keep people engaged in song when they are focusing on an action, such as the washing of the feet or processing to reverence the cross.

 

Palm Sunday

“Psalm 22: My God, My God”

As we sing Ken Canedo’s poignant setting of “Psalm 22: My God, My God,” what are we doing, ritually speaking? What is supposed to be happening? The whole Liturgy of the Word is structured to provoke meditation, leading us more and more deeply into the Sunday’s story. This is an “I-Thou” situation. The story is a past event. But through this story, unfolded across the readings, the risen Christ is speaking to you and me here and now. The psalm heightens our awareness of the parallels among the readings, culminating in the Gospel. In this way, we can receive, be shaped by, and respond to God’s Word from the depths of our hearts.

“Father, Your Will Be Done”

The Communion Antiphon for Palm Sunday evokes Christ’s agony in the garden and his resolve to do the Father’s will, even in the face of tremendous suffering. The refrain, “Father, Your Will Be Done” is drawn from Matthew 26:42. Like the responsorial, it features verses from Psalm 22. Ritually speaking, what are we doing when we sing this during the communion procession? As the responsorial linked the readings of the Liturgy of the Word, this communion song links the whole Liturgy of the Word to the reception of communion. The Lord who enters our hearts in communion is the Lord who has already claimed our hearts in the Liturgy of the Word. The easily learned refrain allows the assembly to sing while processing, eyes freed from a page or screen.

See Vol. 1 for music for the two gathering actions of Palm Sunday, “Hosanna to the Son/Six Days before Passover.”

 

Holy Thursday

“I Give You a New Commandment”

John’s last supper account features the washing of the feet instead of the institution narrative. In this symbolic act of humble service, Jesus shows that self-emptying love of God and neighbor is the very meaning of the Eucharist. This action is equivalent in meaning to “my body given for you, my blood shed for you.” The song serves the ritual by accompanying and interpreting the action with a memorable refrain that all can sing. Many parishes have developed the beautiful custom of inviting members of the whole assembly to wash each other’s feet. For in John’s account, Jesus not only washes his disciples’ feet but bids them in turn to go and do likewise for others. Ritually, this broader participation reflects this “go and do likewise” drawing everyone into identification with Jesus in his self-offering service to others.

See Vol. 1 for Holy Thursday’s Entrance Antiphon, “We Should Glory.” Notice that this song has alternate verses so that it can continue to be sung during Easter season.

 

Friday of the Passion of the Lord

“We Adore Your Cross”

The Adoration of the Holy Cross is another instance of music accompanying and interpreting a ritual action. This ritual action requires a song easily learned and sung as the community processes to reverence the cross. For this reason, Ken Canedo and I chose the well-known Picardy hymn tune for the refrain. Verse music and words are added that can be sung by cantors and/or all who have returned to their seats. In reverencing the cross, we are giving ourselves to what it symbolizes—Christ, who emptied himself even to the point of death—out of love of God and humankind. In him we are to live this same self-offering love for God and one another.

Vol. 1 features Good Friday’s responsorial psalm: “Psalm 31: Father, Into Your Hands.”

 

The Easter Vigil

“Psalm 118: Alleluia”

Having recounted our holy history in all those beautiful Easter Vigil readings, we come to the epistle in which Paul describes our baptismal identification with the dying and rising of Jesus. We are on the threshold of the Gospel. What happens? We sing “Psalm 118: Alleluia,” with its culminating verse: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Ritually, it serves a double purpose. It is the responsorial psalm and its alleluia refrain also functions as the gospel acclamation.

In Vol. 1, you will find the song, “Christ, Our Passover,” based on the Roman Missal’s Communion Antiphon for the Easter Vigil. In addition to the vigil, the song would be appropriate for communion during much of the Easter season.

 

Easter Sunday

“Psalm 118: This Is the Day”

“Psalm 118: This is the Day” features the same verses as the Easter Vigil’s “Psalm 118: Alleluia” but with a different refrain text and melody. It is both the Easter Sunday responsorial psalm and the seasonal psalm.

See Vol. 1 for “Christians, to the Paschal Victim,” the Sequence for Easter Sunday’s Mass during the day. This is sung after the second reading and before the gospel acclamation.

 

Easter Season

“Our Life Is Hidden with Christ”

“Our Life Is Hidden with Christ” is a song for preparation or communion. It is based on Colossians 3:3 which says: “Your life is hidden with Christ in God.” What does that mean? It has everything to do with the resurrection. The liturgy’s rituals and texts not only recall the past but look toward the future. Christ, truly risen and in glory, is present to us here and now like an undertow drawing us forward to the heart of God. Christian initiation immerses us in this forward movement. Paul echoes the idea in Philippians 3:14, where he speaks of his own discipleship as “straining forward to what lies ahead . . . the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.” Though especially appropriate for the Easter season, it can be used year-round for communion or preparation, since the verses speak to the “every Sunday” meaning of the Eucharist. They express our baptismal purification and call to service, how the word shapes us, how sharing the Eucharist makes us one body in Christ, and the ethical task flowing from the Eucharist—one that can only be fulfilled beyond the liturgy in lives that seek to build God’s reign of justice, mercy and compassion.

“See, I Make All Things New”

Speaking of the future, Vol. 2 is graced by Ken Canedo’s stirring “See I Make All Things New,” a contemporary anthem based on Revelation 21. There is a reason why this scripture is proclaimed on the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C. Its promise of a new heaven and a new earth in which God will wipe away every tear beautifully captures the spirit of Easter hope. Christ risen is the first fruits of this hope which calls to each of us. Ritually speaking, it can be used during Easter season for communion, post-communion or sending forth. It would also be appropriate for the Mass of Christian Burial since this scripture is one of the options for that liturgy.

See Vol. 1 for “Alleluia! He Is Risen,” a communion or sending song for the Easter season.