Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song
Have mercy on me, O Lord
Miserere mei Deus, secumdum misericordiam tuam – Have mercy on me, O Lord, according to Your loving kindness. (Psalm 51). We begin the Divine Office of Lauds every Friday morning with this psalm. I was praying about what to write this week and then, quite gently, the antiphon for this psalm started going through my mind.
This particular antiphon, which is comprised of just the first three words of the first verse – Miserere mei, Deus – is a simple chant. It is made up of only three notes. Those three notes are the same ones we hear in the opening of “Mary had a little lamb” or “Three Blind Mice.” This is a chant I find myself unwittingly humming while running between activities!
I am amazed that this is one way in which chant becomes daily prayer. Not just sitting in the church, but going through the various activities of the day. It is so simple and child-like that the words which it upholds go through my mind without effort or even conscious thought. It is as though the chant is speaking to me and redirecting my thoughts back to God.