Today, in the traditional liturgical calendar, would be Monday in the Octave of Pentecost.  Although the Octave of Pentecost has not been observed in the Ordinary Form of the Mass since 1969 (for more on this liturgical change, with feeling, see HERE and HERE on Fr. Z’s blog), it would be a shame to let so significant a feast pass without a little time for reflection.  In that spirit, our Music Monday selection for today is the Pentecost Sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritus, which has been sung during the Mass every year on this Holy Day for the past millennium (give or take a few years).

     Let me also take a brief minute to explain a little bit about the sequences (sequentiae in Latin) that we occasionally hear at Mass. The origins of the sequence can be traced back to the 9th century. The sequence began as an elaboration on the alleluia verse before the Gospel reading; the name comes from the Latin verb sequor, “follow”, because it follows the scripture verse. In sequences the melody usually changes from one stanza to the next, as opposed to ordinary hymns where the same melody repeats.

     Sequences became very popular in the first half of the second millennium of the Church, until there were literally hundreds that you might hear at Mass.  The Church did some drastic trimming in 1570 and limited the number of sequences at Mass to four: Victimae Paschali Laudes on Easter Sunday; Veni, Sancte Spiritus on Pentecost Sunday (at that only at the Mass during the Day); Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem on the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), and Dies Irae  at Requiem Masses. To these four Pope Benedict XIII  in 1727 added the Stabat Mater Dolorosa  for the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. A further pruning in 1969 left only two (at least in Ordinary Form Masses), the Easter and Pentecost sequences.

     The video below features The Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos.  The artwork is the second “Pentecost” painting by Fray Juan Bautista Maíno; I used his first painting in last week’s video of Palestrina’s “Veni Creator Spiritus”.

     The words of today’s musical selection, the Pentecost Sequence “Veni  Sancte Spiritus”, can be found underneath the video.

Video: Veni Sancte Spiritus, sung by the Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos

Artwork: “Pentecost” by Juan Bautista Maíno (1615-1620)

VENI, Sancte Spiritus,
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.

COME, Holy Ghost,
send down those beams,
which sweetly flow in silent streams
from Thy bright throne above.
Veni, pater pauperum,
veni, dator munerum
veni, lumen cordium.
O come, Thou Father of the poor;
O come, Thou source of all our store,
come, fill our hearts with love.
Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.
O Thou, of comforters the best,
O Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
the pilgrim’s sweet relief.
In labore requies,
in aestu temperies
in fletu solatium.
Rest art Thou in our toil, most sweet
refreshment in the noonday heat;
and solace in our grief.
O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.
O blessed Light of life Thou art;
fill with Thy light the inmost heart
of those who hope in Thee.
Sine tuo numine,
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.
Without Thy Godhead nothing can,
have any price or worth in man,
nothing can harmless be.
Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.
Lord, wash our sinful stains away,
refresh from heaven our barren clay,
our wounds and bruises heal.
Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.
To Thy sweet yoke our stiff necks bow,
warm with Thy fire our hearts of snow,
our wandering feet recall.
Da tuis fidelibus,
in te confidentibus,
sacrum septenarium.
Grant to Thy faithful, dearest Lord,
whose only hope is Thy sure word,
the sevenfold gifts of grace.
Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium,
Amen, Alleluia.
Grant us in life Thy grace that we,
in peace may die and ever be,
in joy before Thy face.
Amen. Alleluia.

From the Roman Missal, translation by John Austin (1613-1669).

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