More Genesis and Responsories: Quinquigesima

Continuing with the theme and texts from the last post, I’m still looking at the responsories of pre-Lent and how they serve as interpretive lenses for early medieval liturgical communities as they read through the book of Genesis.

As we saw, the responsories of Sexagesima got us through creation and up to the murder of Abel by Cain. Remember, we’re heading into Lent here, so images that can be read as pointing to the crucifixion and passion will be thrown into relief by the season as a whole.

The responsories for Quinquigesima begin (in our book of choice…) with:

Quadraginta dies et noctes (CAO 7454)
R: For forty days and nights the heavens were opened, and out of all flesh having the spirit of life they entered into the ark, and the Lord closed the door of the entrance.
V: Namely Noah and his wife and his sons and the wives of his sons. They entered into the ark…
Sources: Gen 7:4b, 11b, 15b, 16b, 7a.

Ponam arcum meum (CAO 7391)
R: “I have placed my bow in the clouds of heaven,” said the Lord to Noah, “And I will be mindful of my covenant that I pledge with you.
V: And when I produce clouds in the heavens, my bow will appear in the clouds. And I will be mindful…
Sources: Gen 9:13, 15, 14.

Per memetipsum juravi (CAO 7375)
R: “I have sworn by my own self,” says the Lord, “I will not increase the flood-waters upon the earth; I will be mindful of my pact that I shall not destroy all flesh with the flood-waters.
V: “I have placed my bow in the clouds of heaven, and I will swear by my right hand. That I shall not destroy…
Sources: Gen 9:11. While most of the earlier responsories have been almost word-for-word cut-n-paste events from Scripture, the language here departs from the vocabulary of the Vulgate. Creative license or tracks of the Old Latin…?

Aedificavit Noe altare (CAO 6055)
R: Noah built an altar to the Lord, offering upon it a burnt-offering. God smelled the pleasant odor and blessed him: “Be fruitful and multiply, refill the earth.”
V: “Behold–I establish my pact with you and with your seed after you. Be fruitful and multiply…”
Sources: Gen 8:20a, 21a, 9:1b.

Locutus est Dominus ad Abraham (CAO 7097)
R: The Lord spoke to Abraham saying, “Go out from your land and kinsman and go to the land that I will show you, and I will make you to increase into a great nation.”
V: “Those blessing you, I will bless you and will multiply you. I will make you to increase into a great nation…”
Sources: Gen 12:1,2a, 3a.

Tentavit Deus Abraham (CAO 7762)
R: God tested Abraham and said to him, “Take your son whom you love, Isaac, and offer him as a burnt-offering upon a mountain that I will show you.”
V: Make to God a sacrifice of praise and repay your vows to the Most High. upon a mountain…
Sources: Gen 22:1-2; VgPs 49:14. (Of course, the juxtaposition in the second half also contains strong resonances to the style of Deuteronomy and is intended to bring Mt. Zion into clear focus.)

[Antiphon for the canticles for Nocturn 3]

Angelus Domini vocavit Abraham (CAO 6098)
R: The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham saying, “Do not extend your hand against the boy, for you fear the Lord.”
V: And all the tribes of the earth shall be blessed in you. For you fear the Lord.”
Sources: Gen 22:11, 12; 12:3b.

Vocavit angelus Domini Abraham (CAO 7911)
R: The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven saying, “I will bless you, and I will multiply you like the stars of heaven.”
V: “And all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in your seed because you obeyed my voice. And I will multiply you…”
Sources: Gen 22:15, 17, 18.

Deus domini mei Abraham (CAO 6420)
R: “God of my lord Abraham, direct my way that I may return in health to the house of my lord.”
V: “I pray you, Lord, have mercy upon your servant. That I may return…”
Sources: Very loosely connected to Gen 24:12.

Veni hodie ad fontem (CAO 7827)
R: Today I came to the fountain of water and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Lord, God of Abraham, make my desire prosperous.”
V: “Therefore the girl to whom I shall say ‘Give me water from your jar that I might drink’ and she shall say, ‘Drink, lord, and I will give a drink to your camels’ she it will be whom the Lord prepared for the son of my lord.” Lord, God of Abraham…”
Sources: Gen 24:42-44.

Caecus sedebat secus viam (CAO 6260)
R: A blind man used to sit beside the road and, the Lord having passed by, he cried out to him. The Lord said to him, “What would you like me to do for you?” “Rabbouni, that I might see light.”
V: But those who went before rebuke him that he would be silent, but he called out more and more. “Rabbouni, that I might see light.”
Sources: Luke 18:35b, 38, 41, 39. Light is an addition to the biblical text (and not commonly found in this responsory either).

Dum staret Abraham (CAO 6563)
R: While Abraham remained at the root of Mambre, he saw three boys coming down the road; he saw three but he worshiped one.
V: The Lord said to Abraham, “Behold, your wife Sara shall bear you a son and you shall call his name Issac.” He saw three…
Sources: loosely based on Gen 18:1-2, 17:19. The R appears to have been created mostly whole-cloth from the substance of 18:1-2 highlighting the Trinitarian possibilities in the text, playing off the Vulgate’s use of “adoravit” as a form of welcome.

We begin with a nocturn-full of Noah materials that both begins with “40 days” and foregrounds the everlasting covenant not to destroy the earth by water.

Moving to Abraham, we note that there is not a continuous narrative here. Rather, it jumps a bit from place to place. For instance, we have Isaac’s almost sacrifice before we have him being born. Indeed, we have the search for his wife before he’s even been born! And that is, perhaps, one of the more puzzling sections of this group of responsories–why two responsories on the search for Rebecca?

Too, we have the injection of material from Luke. Luke 18:31-43 is the Gospel appointed for the day and sure enough on the next page are five antiphons labelled “In Ev” (i.e., to be used with the Magnificat at Vespers) that are all extracts from the healing of the blind man in Luke 18, a typical treatment for the Gospel of the day. I would think this reponsry would function best as the first responsory in the third nocturn but the order doesn’t work quite that neatly. At any case, here we see one of the not uncommon cross-overs that place the Night Office lectionary in connection with the Mass lectionary.

I’m tempted to suggest that the placement of this Gospel-inspired responsory is intended as a pregnant juxtaposition in connection with the pleas of Abraham’s servant, given the common theme of beseeching but that may be stretching a bit…

In any case, the responbsories here show the same pattern that we saw at Sexagesima, namely responsories that are intended to shape, focus and fundamentally interpret the continous reading of Scripture.

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