Monday, June 17, 2013


Eustache du Caurroy 1549-1609 
Missa pro defunctis 
Choir book

Polyphonic mass: here

Christians have always loved music and also to sing.

From the beginning

In the Gospels, immediately after the Last Supper we learn that Christ and the disciples sang a hymn before leaving the Upper Room for the Mount of Olives

Probably Psalms  114–118, the Egyptian Hallel, thanksgiving songs concluding the Passover meal.

Psalms 114 et seq are here, here, here, here and here 

Of the Egyptian Hallel, Pope Benedict XVI said:
"The Jewish tradition intentionally connected this series of Psalms to the Paschal liturgy. The celebration of that event, according to its historical-social and, more especially, spiritual dimensions, was perceived as a sign of liberation from the multifaceted forms of evil." 

According To Pope Benedict, Psalm 113 was used by the early Church in an ancient Vesper Hymn which was 
"preserved in the so-called Apostolic Constitutions (VII, 48), [and] takes up once more and develops the joyful introduction to our Psalm. We recall it here, at the end of our reflection, to highlight the customary "Christian" re-reading of the Psalms done by the early community: 
"Praise the Lord, O children, praise the name of the Lord. We worship you, we sing to you, we praise you for your immense glory. Lord King, Father of Christ, spotless Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. To you all praise, to you our song, to you the glory, to God the Father through the Son in the Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen" (S. Pricoco M. Simonetti, La preghiera dei cristiani, Milan, 2000, p. 97). 
Here is Psalm 113 in Hebrew:

In Chapter 5 of his Letter to the Ephesians, St Paul seems to quote from an early Baptism hymn:
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”
In the same chapter he exhorts his correspondents in Ephesus:
"18 And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
19 addressing one another [in] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts,
20 giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father"
In Chapter 3 of his Letter to the Colossians, St Paul writes:
"15 And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. 
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."