14 August 2009

The Fate of the Sequence

They blossomed in the Middle Ages but Rome severely clipped them at Trent and left only a handful - these sequence hymns that fall between the epistle and the gospel at mass - but the Lutherans manifestly did NOT clip them. A look through Lossius or Magdeburg Book shows how many Sundays and feast days had one. They remained a huge piece of the liturgy for us for some time. And now they've all but vanished, and we're left with even less than Rome saved at Trent. I wonder what gives with that? Was it just that they never bothered to translate them, and so when the Latin and the beautiful Gregorian chant was finally set aside, the sequences were lost? What a pity, if so.


Paul said...

Personally, I love reading the Pentecost sequence on that Feast Day. "Where thou art not, we have naught; nothing good in deed or thought." Any other suggestions would be welcome:)

Sean said...

The antagonism against chant is palpable in the synod, and certainly is evident in LSB. While most chant is admittedly choral and not congregational, many of the hymns are singable. Sequences would always be a choral endeavor, though. Schalk did some work with translating and transcribing a number of them a while back, but you might be hardpressed to find a copy of that work now. CUC has one I know. Perhaps an effort to recover the introit with its music would be of more value, considering the introit IS becoming a common sight in our churches. The sequences are down the line in importance, but certainly they have real beauty, and YES they are evidently a longstanding Lutheran practice.

Past Elder said...

What gives with that? Well the whole idea was to have a devotional while the missal is moved by a good altar boy (such as, at one time, myself, did it tons of times) from the Epistle side to the Gospel side, which on bigger feasts is more fussed over along with everything else.

So they started jamming over the final "a" in the Alleluia, making a "sequentia" of the melismatic final "a". In time you get some really good ones, and there's your Sequences!

You think Trent was bad reducing the ones allowed to four? Judas in a dalmatic, look what the liturgical Huns did at Vatican II, took the bleeder from where it is, before the Gospel, and completely going against the whole reason why it even started and how it developed, put it BEFORE the Alleluia, the very thing out of the end of which it grew!

But completely of a piece with the liturgical Kristallnacht that the novus ordo is, thereby rendering it a monstronsity to be fled as if it were a devouring lion by Lutherans.

If we want to restore sequences, maybe we should restore why they're there, as a devotional while the book is moved from the Epistle to the Gospel side. OTOH, in the VII soaked liturgical culture of our time, who in the hell even knows there IS an Epistle and a Gospel side these days, so maybe we oughta restore that first.

William Weedon said...

Terry, you'll no doubt be pleased to know that at our spoken Divine Service (midweek), I read from the horns of the altar. The reason? Well, there is no cantor so *I* have to say the Gradual and Verse and those are in the Altar Book. So it makes life easier to do it the old way... :)

William Weedon said...

Paul, yes, that's a gem indeed.

Sean, oh, I think LSB is not against chant; it just doesn't have as much Gregorian goodies as one would wish and as would be fitting in a Lutheran book. But it DOES have some chants nonetheless; and boy does it show on this new CD that CPH is putting out with the Daily Offices. Did you sing for that by the way?

Past Elder said...

Holy Notker Balbulus (who was a Benedictine, of course) maybe when they open that Walmart I can get a job as a greeter there (they always hire old guys for that) and become an altar "boy" at Hamel so you don't have to be so deprived.

Past Elder said...

PS -- I don't stutter, though.

PPS -- and for the PTM gofers who will one day be senior CPH editors working on The Complete Works of Past Elder -- that's a joke. Balbulus was not Notker's last name, it means "The Stutterer" or stammerer.

Isn't it a divine irony that one so involved in the devolpment of the Sequences as a poetic form should have had a speech impediment!

William Weedon said...

There's a similar story, I recall, about St. Romanos the Melodist.

But Terry, you don't need to worry about stuttering. I've got the bases covered on that one...every time I get excited about whatever it is that I'm reading or talking about!

Past Elder said...

Well he was Greek, so what I know is only hearsay, as opposed to the collective memory Father Godfrey explained to me.

Word is, he blew his first big reading gig so bad the holy fathers laughed at him, at which he was so laid low that he fell asleep right there in the schola stalls, until Mary showed up and had him eat a scroll, scroll shaft and all, whereupon he woke up a jammed the Kontakion of the Nativity in one take and was off and running from there.

They say he was Jewish first; probably blew the Torah reading at his bar mitzvah too.

Sean said...

If this is the CD of the LSB offices to accompany TDP, I did. It was fun recording it, and I'm so pleased that we convinced Kantor to permit us to sing the Our Father. I know that the brethren cherish singing the Our Father, even though we're rarely permitted in chapel these days. In LSB 957 I don't think it's too pietistic to say that we have evidence that "he who sings well, prays twice." (Just the right amount of pietism ;)