Music is a unique and beautiful gift of the Father. Learning and growing in our appreciation of the prayers and songs of our Catholic heritage we become united with the Communion of Saints, all our brothers and sisters from the past who praised God with these same verses and melodies. When we become more musical in our daily lives, and this includes songs of prayer and faith, our lives become entwined with this prayer.
Music has the ability to touch the soul and remain in the memory in a special and powerful way. This is why we connect so deeply to St. Augustine’s memorable quote: “He who sings, prays twice.” Music doesn’t just combine with prayer to make something special. Music multiplies prayer and can make it into something even more powerful and beautiful.
J. S. Bach died on this date 260 years ago. I just couldn’t let the date pass without a small tribute to the great talent the Lord blessed him with. From the “Sanctus” in the Mass in B minor, to the Toccata and Fugue in D minor…oh you name it, who can possibly pick from his legacy a favorite? But I have to say, it always makes me sigh when I hear “May Sheep Safely Graze”, so for all you lambys out there a little reflection:
I’ve heard it said that every Orthodox Christian home is encouraged to have an image of the Transfiguration. It’s such a powerful moment.
The video below is from Sufjan Stevens. His song, called “The Transfiguration”, is put to famous works of art. Sufjan is very different in his styling. I find him very intriguing. You’ll find it different then the big Verdi-like orchestral “sacred” setting you may be expecting on this day. This piece of Sufjan’s music makes me stretch. And in some ways, wasn’t that the purpose of the day anyway? Expect the unexpected…
Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy
[Hail] our life, our sweetness and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished chidren of Eve,
To thee do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn, then, o most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy and after this our exile
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, o loving, o sweet Virgin Mary.
Salve Regina, Mater Misericordiae,
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, Salve!
Ad te clamamus, exsules filii [H]evae,
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes,
In hac lacrimarum valle.
Eja ergo, Advocata nostra,
Illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte
Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
Nobis, post hoc exilium, ostende,
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
fill the hearts of Thy faithful
reple tuorum corda fidelium
and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love
et tui amoris in eis ignem accende
Send forth Thy Spirit
Emitte Spiritum tuum,
and they shall be created.
Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur.
And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Et renovabis faciem terrae.
Let us pray.
O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit:
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti:
grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise;
da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere;
and ever to rejoice in His consolation.
et de eius semper consolatione gaudere.
Through Christ our Lord.
Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness
According to the multitude of Thy mercies do away mine offences.
Wash me throughly from my wickedness: and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my faults: and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified in Thy saying, and clear when Thou art judged.
Behold, I was shapen in wickedness: and in sin hath my mother conceived me.
But lo, Thou requirest truth in the inward parts: and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.
Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness: that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.
Turn Thy face from my sins: and put out all my misdeeds.
Make me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence: and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
O give me the comfort of Thy help again: and stablish me with Thy free Spirit.
Then shall I teach Thy ways unto the wicked: and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.
Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou that art the God of my health: and my tongue shall sing of Thy righteousness.
Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord: and my mouth shall shew Thy praise.
For Thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it Thee: but Thou delightest not in burnt-offerings.
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt Thou not despise.
O be favourable and gracious unto Sion: build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with the burnt-offerings and oblations: then shall they offer young calves upon Thine altar.
The Ave Maria aria is sung by Desdemona (Otello’s wife) in Act 4, as she kneels in prayer with a troubled mind before going to bed.
Here is the English translation
Blessed are you above all women
for delivering to us Christ Jesus.
Pray for the one
who kneels in prayer before you,
Pray for the wrongdoer
…and for the innocent,
Pray for the weak and oppressed,
…and for those in power,
For the wretched, likewise,
show your mercy.
Pray for the one suffering
Pray for the one who bows his head
under injustice and cruel fate.
And for us… pray for us,
…and in the hour
of our death.
Pray for us…
Pray for us…
Ave Maria . . .
…In the hour of our death.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. Hail Mary . . .
Hail Mary . . .
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.
“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28)
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb”
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
Áve María, grátia pléna, Dóminus técum.
Benedícta tu in muliéribus, et benedíctus frúctus véntris túi, Iésus.
Sáncta María, Máter Déi, óra pro nóbis peccatóribus, nunc et in hóra mórtis nóstrae.