Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (September 29): Benedicite Dominum ("Bless the Lord, all ye his angels")

Benedicite Dominum is the name of both the Introit and the Gradual for this feast day.  The text for both is taken from Psalm 102:20 (103:20 in the Anglican reckoning), followed by the wonderful Verse 1 from the same Psalm:
Bless the Lord, all ye his angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute his word, hearkening to the voice of his orders.

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless his holy name.

Here's an mp3 of the Introit from, sung by the Benedictine monks of São Paolo; below is the chant score:

Clearly, this chant is used at some other time than for St.MaAA; an "Alleluia" has been added to be sung during Eastertide ("T.P." = Tempus Paschale).  For what purpose?  I'm not clear yet, but am on the case.  I'm thinking it may be for celebrations of the dedications of churches named after St. Michael - or perhaps for Votive masses in his honor?  I will see what I can find out.

Unfortunately, I haven't found an audio or video file of the Gradual; that is really too bad, because it looks like it must be a beautiful chant!  Here's the elaborate score:

There is, though, at least one polyphonic setting of the Gradual, along with a setting of the Offertory, Stetit angelus.  The composer is the 18th-century Brazilian musician José Maurício Nunes Garcia; you can get all the words at the Vimeo page.

"Gradual e Ofertório a São Miguel Arcângelo" - Pe. José Maurício Nunes Garcia - Madrigal Contemporâneo from Lúcio Zandonadi on Vimeo.

Interestingly, the Liber Usualis 1961 (which was the book for the old, Tridentine Rite), calls this feast "Dedication of the Church of St. Michael, Archangel."    Hymn melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service books, though, calls it straightforwardly "The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels."  I'm actually not sure what's going on at this point; did the feast originate at the dedication of a particular church, then evolve during in the Middle Ages into a more general feast day?  Or was "St. Michael and All Angels" peculiar to the British Isles, while the rest of the church went on celebrating the Dedication of a particular church?   Or did all of Western Christendom celebrate the general feast - until at some point the Roman Catholic Church reverted to the earlier name and celebration?  I'm not sure, and I'm seeing conflicting information about this so far; I'll have to continue to look at this.  (There is also a "Feast of the Guardian Angels," celebrated by Catholics on October 2 - so the whole thing does seem to be quite complicated, all in all.  More to come, hopefully!)

In any case, the church referred to - and it's sometimes called a "basilica" - is appearently the Church of St. Michael on Mount Gargano; it was originally dedicated at some point prior to the year 493.    This comes from the Wikipedia entry for "The Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo":
The Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano, sometimes called simply Monte Gargano, is a Catholic sanctuary on Mount Gargano, Italy, part of the commune of Monte Sant'Angelo, in the province of Foggia, northern Apulia.

It is the oldest shrine in Western Europe dedicated to the archangel Michael and has been an important pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages. The historic site and its environs are protected by the Parco Nazionale del Gargano.

In 2011, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of a group of seven inscribed as Longobards in Italy. Places of the power (568-774 A.D.).

Here are some images from that page.  The first one's labeled "Santuario di San Michele Arcangelo a Monte Sant'Angelo":

This one of the tower was taken by user Idéfix:

 Tango7174 offers this image of a statue of St. Michael from the exterior of the church: also has some interesting stuff about the feast from "Rev. Alban Butler's The Lives of the Saints, 1866 (Volume IX: September)":
September 29
The Dedication of St. Michael’s Church

[Or, the Festival of St. Michael and All the Holy Angels.]  THIS festival has been kept with great solemnity on the 29th of September ever since the fifth age, and was certainly celebrated in Apulia in 493. The dedication of the famous church of St. Michael on Mount Gargano, in Italy, 1 gave occasion to the institution of this feast in the West, which is hence called in the Martyrologies of St. Jerom, Bede, and others, The dedication of St. Michael. The dedication of St. Michael’s church in Rome, upon Adrian’s Mole, which was performed by Pope Boniface IV. in 610, and that of several other churches in the West, in honour of this arch-angel, were performed on this same day. 2 Churches were likewise erected in the East, in honour of St. Michael and other holy angels, from the time when the Christian worship was publicly established by the conversion of Constantine, doubtless upon the model of little oratories and churches, which had been formerly raised in the intervals of the general persecutions, in which storms they were again thrown down. Sozomen informs us, that Constantine the Great built a famous church in honour of this glorious archangel, called Michaelion, and that in it the sick were often cured, and other wonders wrought through the intercession of St. Michael. This historian assures us, that he had often experienced such relief here himself; and he mentions the miraculous cures of Aquilin, an eminent lawyer, and of Probian, a celebrated physician, wrought in the same place. This church stood about four miles from Constantinople; a monastery was afterwards built contiguous to it. Four churches in honour of St. Michael stood in the city of Constantinople itself; their number was afterwards increased to fifteen, which were built by several emperors. 3
  Though only St. Michael be mentioned in the title of this festival, it appears from the prayers of the church that all the good angels are its object, together with this glorious prince and tutelar angel of the church. On it we are called upon, in a particular manner, to give thanks to God for the glory which the angels enjoy, and to rejoice in their happiness. Secondly, to thank him for his mercy to us in constituting such glorious beings to minister to our salvation, by aiding and assisting us. Thirdly, to join them in adoring and praising God with all possible ardour, desiring and praying that we may do his will on earth with the utmost fidelity, fervour, and purity of affection, as it is done by these blessed spirits in heaven; and that we may study to sanctify our souls in imitation of the spotless angels to whom we are associated. Lastly, we are invited to honour, and implore the intercession and succour of the holy angels.

There's much more at that link.  And this is "Note 2" from the same page:
This festival has been celebrated in the church with great solemnity ever since the sixth century. It was enacted in the ecclesiastical laws of King Ethelred in England, in the year 1014, “That every Christian who is of age, fast three days on bread and water, and raw herbs, before the feast of St. Michael, and let every man go to confession and to church barefoot.—Let every priest with his people go in procession three days barefoot, and let every one’s commons for three days be prepared without anything of flesh, as if they themselves were to eat it, both in meat and drink, and let all this be distributed to the poor. Let every servant be excused from labour these three days, that he may the better perform his fast, or let him work what he will for himself. These are the three days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, next before the feast of St. Michael. If any servant break his fast, let him make satisfaction with his hide, (bodily stripes,) let the poor freeman pay thirty pence, the king’s thane a hundred and thirty shillings; and let the money be divided to the poor.” See Sir Henry Spelman’s Councils, vol. i. p. 530, and Johnson’s Collection of the Canons of the Church of England, t. 1, an. 1014. Michaelmas-day is mentioned among the great feasts in the Saxon Chronicle on the year 1011; in the Saxon Menology of the ninth century, published by Mr. Wanley (in Lingue. Aquilon. Thes. l. 2, p. 107,) and in the English Calendar published by Dr. Hicks. (in his Saxon Grammar, p. 102, &c.)

About St. Michael himself, New Advent notes that:
Regarding his rank in the celestial hierarchy opinions vary; St. Basil (Hom. de angelis) and other Greek Fathers, also Salmeron, Bellarmine, etc., place St. Michael over all the angels; they say he is called "archangel" because he is the prince of the other angels; others (cf. P. Bonaventura, op. cit.) believe that he is the prince of the seraphim, the first of the nine angelic orders. But, according to St. Thomas (Summa Ia.113.3) he is the prince of the last and lowest choir, the angels. The Roman Liturgy seems to follow the Greek Fathers; it calls him "Princeps militiae coelestis quem honorificant angelorum cives". The hymn of the Mozarabic Breviary places St. Michael even above the Twenty-four Elders. The Greek Liturgy styles him Archistrategos, "highest general" (cf. Menaea, 8 Nov. and 6 Sept.). 

NA says this about what seems to be a different St. Michael's church:
At Rome the Leonine Sacramentary (sixth century) has the "Natale Basilicae Angeli via Salaria", 30 September; of the five Masses for the feast three mention St. Michael. The Gelasian Sacramentary (seventh century) gives the feast "S. Michaelis Archangeli", and the Gregorian Sacramentary (eighth century), "Dedicatio Basilionis S. Angeli Michaelis", 29 Sept. A manuscript also here adds "via Salaria" (Ebner, "Miss. Rom. Iter Italicum", 127). This church of the Via Salaria was six miles to the north of the city; in the ninth century it was called Basilica Archangeli in Septimo (Armellini, "Chiese di Roma", p. 85). It disappeared a thousand years ago. At Rome also the part of heavenly physician was given to St. Michael. According to an (apocryphal?) legend of the tenth century he appeared over the Moles Hadriani (Castel di S. Angelo), in 950, during the procession which St. Gregory held against the pestilence, putting an end to the plague. Boniface IV (608-15) built on the Moles Hadriani in honour of him, a church, which was styled St. Michaelis inter nubes (in summitate circi)

And the Reverend Stephen Gerth of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York writes this week that:
The Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, September 29, commonly called "Michaelmas" (MIK-uhl-mus), dates back to the dedication of a basilica near Rome on the Via Salaria in the fifth century. The basilica is gone, but the festival survived the Protestant Reformation among us Anglicans. Massy Shepherd wrote that this feast was "especially popular in medieval England" (The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary [1950] 251).

Obviously  there is disagreement about which of these Churches of St. Michael is at the heart of the original dedication and feast.

But I will not solve this problem today - so I'll end by simply wishing you a Happy Feast of St. Michael and All Angels!

Here are sound files and/or chant scores for all the mass propers, again from
    Die 29 septembris Ss. Michaelis, Gabrielis et Raphaelis, Archangelorum
Introitus: Ps. 102, 20 Benedicite Dominum (1m13.2s - 858 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 102, 20. V. 1 Benedicite Dominum (not available) score
Alleluia:  Sancte Michael archangele (not available) score
                    vel, ad libitum, Laudate Deum omnes angeli (1m54.7s - 1345 kb) score
Offertorium: Apoc. 8, 3.4 Stetit angelus (2m25.2s - 1703 kb) score
Communio: Dan. 3, 58 Benedicite, omnes angeli (48.1s - 565 kb) score

And these are posts on Chantblog about the propers for this day:

And whatever you do, don't forget to check out Full Homely Divinity's Angel page!

Here's a wonderful icon I don't think I've posted before; it's "the 13th-century icon of St. Michael from Archangel Cathedral in Yaroslavl [Russia]."

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