The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
Read more.

Ad te levavi

Saturday, December 02, 2017
One of the least heard parts of the liturgy is probably the chant of the Proper of the Mass. These are the parts of the Mass which change with the season or the feast and consist in the Collect, Prayer Over the Offerings, and the Post Communion Prayer, and also three scriptural texts; the Introit, Offertory and Communion. These texts are often replaced by hymns, but you may hear them said by the priest at the beginning of the Mass or, in the case of the Communion Antiphon, just before or after the faithful have received Holy Communion. However, you almost certainly won’t have heard them sung to the proper chants appointed by the Church for use in the liturgy. 

So this Advent we’ll be looking at the Introit texts of the Mass for the four Sundays of Advent and the Solemnities of Christmas and the Immaculate Conception, and to give our reflections a distinctive Dominican flavour, we have taken the texts from our own Dominican liturgical books. The student brothers have recorded each of the chants so you’ll be able to hear them and then read a short reflection from a student brother on the text itself.

The text of the First Sunday of Advent is taken from Psalm 24(5), ‘To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul. In thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed. Neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on thee shall be confounded.’ This short text encapsulates the key theme of the Advent season, for Advent is a time of joyful expectation, a time of penance and self denial for sure, but also a time when we can joyfully put our trust in the Lord. But of course at this time of the year it can be quite difficult to find that joyful expectation; the frost or rain comes again and again, the earth is stripped of its beauty and brightness, and the sky is often a steely grey. So warnings that we should wake up, rejoice and be joyful can often fall on deaf ears, particularly as the business of preparations for Christmas takes up more and more of our time. 

What’s the answer? Well, part of the answer will be, unsurprisingly, to enter more deeply into the mystery of the season. The Church offers us the liturgy as a privileged means of understanding more about our salvation, and so spending time reading the texts of the Mass or the readings that we hear would certainly be one way of entering into the spirit of the season more deeply. Again, another way might be to read the Scriptures more, and enter into the history of our salvation through reading and meditating on the words of the prophets as they waited in expectation for the coming Messiah. These prophets teach us, in a strange way, how to be joyful and how to put our trust in the Lord, for they lived in turbulent and difficult times, wrote in outrage at the injustices of their own time, and still looked out in joyful hope to the birth of a saviour which they saw in prophetic vision.

Br Albert Elias Robertson O.P.

Br Albert Elias was born in Surrey and went to university at the London School of Economics, where he read Social Anthropology before going to Oxford, where he read for an MPhil in Material Anthropology. After studies, he had a propaedeutic year in three Anglican parishes in north London. He became a Catholic in 2013 and worked for a short time in London living at St Patrick’s Soho before entering the noviciate in 2015. Br Albert helps to run the Thomistic Institute and so has an interest in promoting the theology of St Thomas as well as Patristics. In his spare time he likes to read novels [lots]. | albert.robertson@english.op.org


Anonymous commented on 03-Dec-2017 03:11 PM
I find your writings very helpful and interesting each week although I am an Anglo Catholic. One of our priests does sing introits.
Anonymous commented on 03-Dec-2017 04:47 PM
Great idea to record the chant and then expound the scripture. Well done!
Michael O’Duffin commented on 04-Dec-2017 08:43 AM
What a good idea, especially including the recorded chant! Thank you. More would be welcome!
Michael O’Duffin
A member of the Edinburgh Lay Dominicans.
Robert commented on 04-Dec-2017 03:10 PM
As it was in the time of the prophets so it is now. Not easy to be joyful and put our trust in the Lord in such times as these. But this is excellent advice which I have found, if followed prayerfully and regularly, does help bring home the true meaning of Christmas. Thank you Br Albert and may you and your confreres have a blessed Christmas period.
George Grassby commented on 08-Dec-2017 11:53 PM

from Citeaux Abbey.

Post a Comment

Captcha Image
Follow us
Meet the Student Brothers

Meet the Student Brothers



Featured Series

Featured Series

Recent posts


Liturgical index

All tags & authors


Upcoming events

View the full calendar