With the Feast of the Assumption this Wednesday our song of the week will feature a Marian hymn. Hail, Holy Queen is a hymn that is nearly 1000 years old. Written around 1080 by Contractus Hermannus, this hymn was originally in Latin and translated many years later in the late 1800's. This song became well know among Catholics and non-Catholics alike when it was featured in the movie Sister Act. Sister Mary Clarence (Whoopi Goldberg) took over as choir director and this was the first song they sang under her leadership, which was the beginning of people returning to the church and eventually led to the Pope himself coming to that church as well.
This week's song is a setting of Psalm 34, "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord." It is the Responsorial Psalm that we will sing for the next three Sundays. We have been hearing readings about the multiplication of the fish and loaves, the manna in the desert, and Jesus being the Bread of Life. A similar theme will continue over the next couple of weeks. As such, the assigned Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 34. The verses that the cantor will sing each week will change slightly, but the refrain will remain the same.
A song that has become a staple in Catholic liturgy over the past years is Open My Eyes. This song began simply as a song for the composer, Jesse Manibusan's, parish and then spread like wild fire to parishes around the world. It has been translated into and sung in many languages. Listen to this great interview with Jesse Manibusan on the Open Your Hymnal podcast by clicking HERE to hear more about how this song came to life. Scroll down to "Open My Eyes" which is episode #9. This Sunday we will hear Jesus tell the apostles that he is the true Bread of Life and that those who come to him will never hunger. This can be a hard concept to grasp, even today. The apostles, and all of us, need to ask God to "open our eyes" so that we can see who Jesus really is, to "open our ears" to hear his voice. and to "open our heart" to love as Jesus loves.
This week we present a new communion song that we will be using, Make of Our Hands a Throne. The song was composed by the former director of the Notre Dame Folk Choir, Steven Warner, and the recording below was sung by the choir on one of their earlier albums. This week in the Gospel we will hear the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand people who had followed him. This leads into the Gospels of the next two weeks where we hear about Jesus as the Bread of Life. We will sing Make of Our Hands a Throne during the communion procession for all three Sundays. In the refrain we sing, "Make of our hands a throne to hold the bread of heaven, make of our hearts a home to hold the very wine of life, in this mystery, Lord, make us one in you." The verses are taken from Psalms 34, 65, 78 and 145 as well as Didache, all of which have a Eucharistic theme to them.
Next Sunday is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In the Gospel we hear that Jesus told his disciples to come away to a deserted place and rest. This comes after this past weekend's Gospel where Jesus sent the disciples out two by two with nothing but a walking stick to preach repentance. We will be singing the song We Come to You during the communion procession. As we sing the words, "we come to you, broken, hungry, make us whole again" we can imagine how to disciples may have felt broken and hungry after driving out demons and healing many who were sick, despite most likely not being welcomed or listened to in many places. One of Communion Antiphons taken from Psalm 110 reads, "The Lord, the gracious, the merciful, has made a memorial of his wonders; he gives food to those who fear him." As we come to the Lord's table feeling broken and hungry, we too seek the food that the merciful Lord will provide. In this week's video the composer, Josh Blakesley, talks about how he came to write the song We Come to You.