Music of Holy Week: Tuesday

In the current Roman Missal, the Nos autem gloriari is the Introit (or Entrance Antiphon) for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday; however, prior to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, this was the Introit for the Tuesday of Holy Week. The text is adapted from Galatians 6:14:

We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
in whom is our salvation, life and resurrection,
through whom we are saved and delivered.

There is an inherent paradox to proclaiming that we should glory in the Cross of Christ. The cross is an instrument of torture and death, yet, in Christ, it becomes the instrument of our salvation. Ives demonstrates this paradox musically by refusing to shy away from the challenge of the Cross: the opening of this piece is haunting, eerie, quietly unsettling. The lower voices (basses and altos) stay on the same note while the upper voices (tenors and sopranos) sing a jagged melody, until all of the voices converge and, together as one chorus, ultimately find resolution on the final phrase of the Introit, which affirms that it is precisely through the ignominy of the Cross that we are saved from sin and death itself. The musical effect here is stunning. After wandering adrift through disjointed, dissonant harmonies, we reach a place of peace, of hope. The musical resolution for which we long comes only after we have confronted and accepted the reality that salvation cannot come apart from the Cross. It is our only way. It is, as the members of the Congregation of Holy Cross have taught us, our only hope.

Nos Autem Gloriari (1997) by Grayston Ives (b. 1948)


Carolyn Pirtle

Carolyn Pirtle is the program director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy and a composer of liturgical music. She is the author of Praying the Rosary Together.

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