Ascension Day 2024

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Thursday, 9 May, 2024

6:15 p.m. Procession & Solemn High Mass
(Both in-person and online)

Prelude: Toccata per l’Elevatione, Fiori Musicali – Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643);
Mass: Missa Secunda – Hans Leo Hassler (1599);
Offertory Motet: O Rex gloriae – Luca Marenzio (1585);
Communion Motet: Ego rogabo Patrem – Andrea Gabrieli (1576);
Postlude: Improvisation – Fr David Smith

Live-Stream Link | Download Leaflet

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

About Ascension Day

The Feast of the Ascension was formerly not distinguished from Pentecost because Paschaltide was regarded as a single feast day, beginning at Easter and ending with the descent of the Holy Ghost on the apostles. Before long the Ascension was kept on the fortieth day after the Resurrection, having its own vigil and octave. It is now a holy-day of obligation.

The symbolic ceremony peculiar to this feast is the final extinction of the Paschal candle, whose light during these holy forty days has represented the presence of our Lord in the midst of his disciples. It is extinguished after the reading of the Ascension Gospel, which speaks to us of our blessed Lord’s departure into heaven. The white vestments and the Alleluia, “that drop of the supreme rejoicing,” says Rupert of Deutz, “which thrills through Jerusalem above,” betrays the joy felt by the Church at the memory of our Lord’s triumph, the thought of the happiness of the angels and the just men of the Old Law who share it, and of the expectation of the Holy Ghost, who will make her to join in it herself.

The spirit of this feast is emphasized in the collect, which shows us that having, with the liturgical cycle, followed our Lord through the whole course of His life, we must lift our gaze towards heaven, and dwell there by faith and hope, for it is the true fatherland of God’s children.

– Dom Gaspar LeFebvre, O.S.B.

About the Music

The music for Ascension Day is woven from three remarkable strands of Western liturgical music. First, the organ prelude by J.S. Bach, ‘Duetto in F’ , shows the brilliance of this beloved composer in using only two voices, beginning with and developing a melodic motion which ascends and travels through both joyful and mysteriously contemplative sections to form an eloquent conversation for this particular feast day.

Second, the minor proper feature the ‘authentic’ (meaning the original, centuries-old melodies, as opposed to the psalm-tones used at Sunday mass) Gregorian chants, connecting us with the beauty and integrity of music developed specifically for worship over the last fifteen hundred years. These chants convey their texts through varying modes (arrangements of tones that govern each piece, creating different ‘moods’) and an astonishing variety of melodic gestures. While Gregorian chant does not often seem to ‘paint’ the text, the melody of the Offertory Antiphon is a notable exception; in the first words, ‘God is gone up…’ the music starts low and quickly climbs up high, describing through music this moment in the life of Christ.

Third, our motets are drawn from the golden age of music composition that was sixteenth-century Italy. This style of choral music alternates between imitative entries from the different voices and moments where the text is sung by two or more parts at the same time. The Offertory motet, by Luca Marenzio (1585), features text painting at the words ‘super omnes caelos ascendisti;’ (you have ascended above all the heavens), as pairs of voices harmoniously ascend ten-note scales, as if up into the heavens themselves.

Ascension Day 2024