11 December 2016

A note on this morning’s Eucharist
and hymns for Gaudete Sunday

‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist’ Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1608), Saint John’s Co-Cathedral, Valetta, Malta

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent or Gaudete Sunday [11 December 2016], and later this morning [11.30 a.m.] I am presiding at the Community Eucharist in the Chapel of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and David McComb, an MTh student, is preaching.

This image of Carravagio’s ‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist’ (1608) and these notes are included in this morning’s chapel booklet:

A note on this morning’s Eucharist and hymns:

This morning is the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday. On this Sunday we remember Saint John the Baptist and rejoice in his anticipation of the coming of Christ. On the Advent wreath, the rose-coloured or pink candle is lit alongside the two violet or blue candles, which represent the first two Sundays of Advent, symbolising the Patriarchs and the Prophets. The readings emphasise the joyous anticipation of the Lord’s coming, yet in our anticipation we sing no Gloria in Advent, waiting instead for the angelic Gloria that is to announce Christ’s birth.

Processional Hymn: ‘Long ago, prophets knew’ (Church Hymnal, 133) was written in 1970 by the Methodist hymnwriter the Revd Fred Pratt Green (1903-2000). The tune Personent Hodie is from Piae Cantiones (Griefswald, 1582), which in 1853 came into the hands of the Revd Thomas Helmore (1811-1890) and the Revd John Mason Neale (1818-1866). It was arranged in 1925 by Gustav Holst (1874-1934), who was a student of the Irish-born Sir Charles Villiers Stanford.

Gradual: ‘On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry’ (Church Hymnal, 136) was written in French in 1718 by Charles Coffin (1676-1749), Rector of the University of Paris, and translated by the Revd John Chandler (1806-1876). The melody, from George Wittwe’s Musikalisches Hand-Buch (Hamburg, 1690), was adapted as the tune ‘Winchester New’ by Canon William Henry Havergal (1793-1870).

Offertory: ‘Of the Father’s heart begotten’ (Church Hymnal, 175) is the oldest hymn in the Church Hymnal. It was written by Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (ca 343-413), a judge in the Roman imperial court, as a challenge to Arianism. It was translated by John Mason Neale and the Revd Sir Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877). The tune is a later form of a plainsong melody in Piae Cantiones (1582), and was arranged as the tune Corde natus (Divinium mysterium) by Sir David Wilcocks of King’s College, Cambridge.

Communion Hymn: As we receive Holy Communion, we sing ‘Jesus, remember me’ (Church Hymnal, 617), by Jacques Berthier (1923-1994) and the Taizé Community. Berthier, in collaboration with Father Robert Giscard and Father Joseph Gelineau, developed the ‘songs of Taizé’ genre. He composed 284 songs and accompaniments for Taizé, including Laudate omnes gentes and Ubi Caritas.

Post Communion Hymn: ‘Hills of the north, rejoice’ (Church Hymnal, 128) by the Revd Charles E Oakley (1832-1865) and the editors of English Praise. The tune Little Cornard was written for this hymn by Martin Shaw (1875-1958) while he was the organist at Saint Mary’s, Primrose Hill, where the Vicar was Canon Percy Dearmer (1867-1936), co-editor of the English Hymnal with Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). The tune takes its name from the Suffolk village where the composer spent his honeymoon.

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