Gloria Et Honore 1
Today we celebrate the Transfiguration of the Lord. The disciples would remain deeply baffled when they witnessed the events of the Passion. That is why the Lord led three of them, those who were to accompany him in his agony in Gethsemane, to the top of Mount Tabor, so that they may contemplate his glory. Christ manifested His divinity to Peter, James, and John. Jesus, in the radiance of his divine light, receives the testimony of Moses and Elijah. According to Matthew: “Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain by themselves and was transfigured before them. Jesus’ face became resplendent like the sun and his clothes were white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him” (Matthew 17:1-3). This vision produced in the Apostles uncontainable happiness; Peter expresses it in these words: “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Matthew 17:4). St. Mark, who takes up the catechesis of St. Peter himself, adds that he did not know what he was saying (Mark 9:6). While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5).
We at Neumz have chosen the offertory Gloria et honore to celebrate this feast. The text taken from Psalm 8:6-7 shows the Kingship of Christ: "You have crowned him with glory and honour; you have made him the head of the work of your hands." In the Transfiguration, the Lord shows His divine nature: Christ Jesus, the Only Begotten beloved of the Eternal Father, manifests His glory before His holy apostles Peter, James, and John with the testimony of the Law and the Prophets. And thus, shows His majesty, making known the image of God, according to which man was created, that corrupted in Adam was renewed by Christ. Therefore, that body which is transfigured before the astonished eyes of the Apostles is the body of Christ our brother, but it is also our body destined for glory; the light that floods him is and will also be our share of inheritance and splendour.
As for the melody, it is composed in mode I. At least the second phrase is imbued with great devotional fervour as well as splendid majesty. The prayerful one, contemplating the radiant divinity of the Anointed One of the Father, sings with all his being, rejoicing in such a scene and longing to be transfigured one day in the image of Christ Jesus.
In the first phrase, "you crowned him with glory and with honour," the devotional character of mode VI, Fa as the fundamental and La as the dominant, imposes itself, conferring that reverence full of devotion that the one who prays sings together with the Apostles. All of them are in awe of the gift that is given to us: to witness the contemplation of the true nature of Christ. At the beginning of the piece, the melody rises from the Fa to the La in a quilismatic movement that is full of recollection, contemplation, and of course, devotion. All are amplified by the quilisma and the B-flat, which give a touch of intimacy, closeness, and tenderness. From the La, the prayerful one looks up and sings with profound reverence the honour that God bestows on his Only Begotten Son: in the accent of honore, from the La ascending to the Do, the melody settles in the high register, between the La and the Do, for it is there, on the heights, that the Eternal Father honours Jesus, triumphant in his human nature, and to Christ, glorious in his divine nature. The composer captures this in a double melodic turn, bivirga + climacus (Do-Do-Do Do-Si-La, a motif that appears throughout this offertory as we shall see) followed by a devotional torculus. The incise concludes with a fervent melodic turn that returns the melody to the register of the fundamental, the Fa. But it is only momentary, for after the honours with which the Father clothes his Son, comes the coronation. Jesus Christ, God-Man could symbolically be placed around the Fa-La, with respect to God who works in heaven, the Do. Therefore, in coronasti, the melody develops insistently between the Fa and the La, emphasizing over all the dominant, the La, which would symbolize Christ's elevation (note the initial salicus Fa-Sol-La or the tenete of the pes quadratus subbipunctis in the St. Gallen notation of the Einsiedeln manuscript, or again, the tenete of the elongated torculus in the melodic turn in the accent of the word, or the episema in the climacus). All of this to prepare the coronation, that unique leap of a fifth in this offertory, Fa-Do, at the end of coronasti: the melody returns to the high Do, where God crowns his Son. The melodic turn at the end of the word is reminiscent of the bivirga + climacus of honore, even more so if we look at the beginning of the word eum, a pronoun that in an obvious way refers to Christ. However, it is worth underlining the composer's genius in adding an extra note to the climacus. Until then we had sung Do-Si-La in honore, Do-Si-Sol, in coronasti, and now Do-Si-La-Sol, the only four-note climacus in this piece. The grace of God is poured out in Christ being glorified.
In the second phrase, the majesty of the I mode appears. In et constituisti, the melody returns to the heights, from the La to the do, but this time it surpasses it rising to the high Re, the fundamental of the mode. The one who prays sings with overflowing joy of the heavenly reward that Christ receives from the Father: to reign over all creation. The use of the letter f is very rare and significant (frangor / frendor); it is noteworthy. According to the Letter from Notker “the stammerer,” the author of these significant letters, the meaning would be "that it may be sung with a great clatter or as if gritting one's teeth" (ut cum fragore seu frendore feriatur efflagitat). Let us sing then full of joy this heavenly reward granted to our Lord. From the high Re, the melody descends to the La where it develops around the Fa and the La, the same as in coronasti, and rises again to conclude the word with the turn that characterizes this piece, bivirga + climacus, the musical seal of God the Father's action. This incise finishes again with the pronoun eum, the parallelism with coronasti eum is more than evident, but this time the melody descends with great reverence to the low Re, for the first time in the piece. If the Do, the high register corresponds to God in the heights, and the La-Fa to Christ, God-Man, who moves between the divine and the human, then the low register, Fa-Re, undoubtedly represents in this offertory the earthly, the created in this world. Thus, in the following incise, super opera, over the works, in super after firmly emphasizing utilizing a bivirga this time with the Fa, the melody moves gracefully into the accent of opera (note the magnificent rhythmic contrast bivirga distropha in the change of syllable at the end of super and the beginning of opera) before reverently descending to the Re with a masterful leap of a fourth and then falling to the low Do in the posttonic syllables. The incise concludes in a sublime melodic elevation, with another beautiful leap of a fourth, Do-Fa, and a quilismatic movement, the second one of the piece that essentially echoes the incipit: Fa-Sol-La. In manuum tuarum, from your hands, echoes of this piece continue to be heard. On this occasion, in manuum the melodic turn of the accent of honore reappears, the melody rises to the Do, they are the hands of God; and in tuarum, the melodic turn of the accent of constituisti, Fa-Sol-La La-Sol, a sort of semantic and melodic synthesis of the spiritual essence of this offertory: God's hand, by divine will, Christ has been glorified and crowned with the accolade of having power over Creation, that is the manifestation of his kingship, of his nature as God-Man.
This masterful composition ends with the vocative, Domine, Lord, added to the psalmic text. The prayerful one displays immense reverence and fervour in the accent of the words. The melodic movement develops around the Fa with two symmetrical pes subbipunctis, separated by an oriscus at the beginning of the melisma: Sol-Si-La-Sol Sol-Fa-La-Sol-Fa. After that, the melody settles on the Fa, and after a slight inclination on the high Re, it settles on the Fa amplified by a tristropha, the only one in the piece. Undoubtedly, the Fa and the Do are this piece's true protagonists. The final cadence is proof of this, full of reverence, with a bivirga on the Fa, the letter x, exspectare, wait, which separates it from a virga with episema on the Fa, the height of melodic insistence in a certain way, to end in a sublime bow with a leap of a fourth, Sol-Re. The prayerful one sings piously, fervently, admiring the transfiguration of Jesus and longing, in turn, to be transfigured as well. The Lord, Our God, is the author of the transfiguration of His Son, it is He who raises us and invites us to unite ourselves to Him by discovering our true nature, beyond the merely human.