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Congratulamini mihi

April 11, 2015

300x300IN the contemporary church, the sense of wonder at the specific, physical thing that has happened in the Resurrection is frequently lost. Christ was raised personally and bodily, not as a floating spirit but as a new and physical reality. It is why we believe in the resurrection of the body.

Once we get right our thinking about Easter, then we can so well understand the responses of the disciples and of the women who came upon the empty tomb on the first day of the week. What joy, what exaltation! To see once again this man whom they had believed to be the Messiah, whom they had seen dead and buried, and yet to see him before them once again, raised from the dead and to know that it was all true.

Our forebears knew this heartfelt rejoicing, and our forebears in music likely knew it better than most. Thomas Crequillon’s setting of John’s account of Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene in the garden is unrestrainedly and palpably joyous.

As Andrew Carwood writes,

“Often the drama of the triduum and the music associated with it, and the fact that few choirs in the twenty-first century sing in the period immediately after Easter, hide the excellence of Paschal music. The exuberance and joy is clear to see in Thomas Crecquillon’s setting of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Christ Congratulamini mihi. So total is the composer’s sense of joy that even the words ‘et dum flerem’ (‘and while I was weeping’) receive only scant attention…. The secunda pars is more sombre, as the confused Magdalene attempts to make sense of the empty tomb. Crecquillon uses a common device of Renaissance motet composition and repeats the music from the end of the first section in order to complete the second, and thus the sense of joy is recaptured.”1

It is sung here by the incomparable Stile Antico.

Congratulamini mihi omnes qui diligitis Dominum,
quia quem quaerebam apparuit mihi:
et dum flerem ad monumentum,
vidi Dominum meum. Alleluia.

Tulerunt Dominum meum,
et nescio ubi posuerunt eum:
si tu sustulisti eum dicito mihi:
et dum flerem ad monumentum,
vidi Dominum meum. Alleluia.

Rejoice with me, all you who love the Lord,
for he whom I sought has appeared to me;
and while I was weeping at the tomb
I saw my Lord. Alleluia.

They have taken away my Lord,
and I do not know where they have put him;
if you have taken him tell me;
and while I was weeping at the tomb
I saw my Lord. Alleluia.
[Responsory in Paschal time, after John 20:13,15,18]

1. Andrew Carwood, liner notes to “Guerrero: Missa Congratulamini mihi & other works” (London: Hyperion, 2010), 5.

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