Thursday, 24 December 2015

Laetabundus -- the forgotten Christmas Sequence

In the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, there are four Sequences which in the Third Missal, precede the Alleluia, prior to that, they followed it as in the Extraordinary Form, they were "in sequence." However, in a Mass in the Ordinary Form, in a "Gregorian" manner with Gradual and Alleluia, it follows with the Sequence. With the Responsorial Psalm, it precedes the Gospel Acclamation as it is not truly in the manner of the Gregorian Alleluias. More ridiculous Novus Ordoisms. Two of these are mandatory, Victimae Paschalis of Easter and Veni, Sancte Spiritus of Pentecost, two are, sadly, optional; these are Lauda, Sion Salvatorem of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and Stabat Mater on Our Lady of Sorrows, but not to the common tune that is sung as a hymn. In the Extraordinary Form they are not optional and there is one additional, Dies Irae in the Requiem Mass and funeral liturgy and it survives in the new Liturgy of the Hours for All Souls Day, which in the new Ordinariate Missal, returns to the Requiem Mass.

What is little known though is that prior to the Council of Trent, there was a Christmas Sequence known as Laetabundus. The Concilium created by Pope Pius V after Trent did not include it in our current traditional Roman Missal as it was not "Roman." They were extremely cautious about Sequences because there were so many in use in different Rites and on many Sundays and Feasts.

While this Sequence cannot be sung in the Mass, it can be done within it as a "hymn" or prior. 

Courtesy of Music Sacra is the text newly set in the Gregorian. I've included below the English translation and the video of the Laetabundus extremely well sung and with perfection by Cantori Gregoriani of Italy. Enjoy this beautiful piece of a liturgical past. 

Faithful people,
Sweeten all your song with gladness.

Matchless maiden
Bringeth forth the Prince of princes:
O! the marvel.

Virgin compasseth a man,
Yea, the angel of the plan:
Star the Dayspring.

Day that sunset shall not close,
Star that light on all bestows,
Ever cloudless.

As the star, light crystalline,
Mary hath a Son divine
In her likeness.

Star that shining grows not dim,
Nor his Mother, bearing him,
Less a maiden.

The great tree of Lebanon
Hyssop's lowliness puts on
In our valley;

And the Word of God Most High
Self-imprisoned doth lie
In our body.

So Isaias sang of old,
So the Synagogue doth hold,
But the sunrise finds her cold
Hard and blinded.

Of her own she will not mark,
Let her to the gentiles hark;
For the Sybil's verses dark
Tell of these things.

Make haste, O luckless one,
Give ear to the saints bygone:
Why perish utterly,
O race undone?

He whom thy seers foretell
Born is in Israel:
Mary's little Son, O mark him well.

1 comment:

Sandpiper said...

May blessings rain down upon you this Christmas Day. Thank you for your holy work in service to Our Newborn King.