Advent Lessons and Carols: Transeamus (“Let us go”)
BY DAVID SINDEN, DIRECTOR OF MUSIC
The season of Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas. Many themes emerge in Advent showing us how to prepare: keep awake! Listen to the voice! Make straight the way of the Lord!
But there is another word that invites us into this season. It is the Latin word “transeamus” from the medieval carol “There is no rose”.
At the Service of Lessons and Carols for Advent, sung this Sunday, December 10 at 5:00 p.m. the Choir will sing the words of this carol to music by John Joubert, a British composer of South African descent who turned 90 years old earlier this year.
There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu;
For in this rose containèd was
Heaven and earth in little space;
By that rose we may well see
There be one God in persons three,
Then leave we all this worldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth;
The four Latin words or phrases at the end of each stanza demand our attention.
The first two words acknowledge our joy at the impending arrival of the infant Jesus at his Nativity. The first stanza ends with an “Alleluia;” the second, with “Res miranda,” “a wonderful thing”.
The third is theological: “Pares forma” means “of the same form,” echoing the idea we recite in the Nicene Creed: “begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.”
It is the fourth phrase that calls us to action: “Transeamus,” or “let us go.”
Are we prepared to leave “this worldly mirth,” and what would this mean for us? It is an invitation and a challenge.
This Lessons and Carols provides a liturgical journey that we all undertake together. The service is in four sections
1) The Message of Advent – we hear of the promises of God, the charge to keep awake, to watch, and even that “it is good that we should wait.”
2) The Word of God – we hear of the instruction of the Lord coming from mount Zion, and God’s call for peace, and of Jesus himself as the fulfillment of the Word.
3) The Prophetic Call – we encounter John the Baptist and his cry for preparation
4) The Christ-Bearer – we hear of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her song of praise: the Magnificat.
This service is sung by the St. Peter’s Choristers and Parish Choir and includes music for the season by Michael Wise, Charles Wood, Paul Manz, Judith Weir, and Melissa Dunphy. The Magnificat is by English composer Francis Jackson who celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year.
A festive reception will follow.