Alleluia: Juravit Dominus

“Alleluia” is the Latinized form of the Hebrew word hallelujah, meaning “praise God.” As the most joyful of the Proper chants for the Mass, its use is forbidden during penitential seasons, when it is replaced by a second Gradual or a Tract; during the most joyful period after Easter, a second Alleluia replaced the Gradual! For most feast days, however, the Alleluia followed immediately after the Gradual, as it did on the feast of St. Donatian.

The assignment of particular Alleluias to particular feasts varied widely in the Middle Ages. In the liturgical rite of Bruges in Obrecht’s day, the Alleluia sung on feasts of Confessor Bishops such as St. Donatian was Juravit Dominus. This text is drawn from Psalm 109:4, and continues the praise of a great priest begun in the Epistle and confirmed in the Gradual.

Alleluias tend to be the most extravagant plainsongs heard in the Mass, displaying the widest range and most lavish melismas. Their most distinctive musical feature is the jubilus, the melismatic extension at the conclusion of the first word, “Alleluia,” which generally returns at the conclusion of the verse. Like the Gradual, the Alleluia is usually a responsorial chant: a soloist would begin the “Alleluia” and deliver the verse as well. Cappella Pratensis here opens with a soloist, but then allows the choir to sing the verse and so preserve the choral identity of the long jubilus with which they entered during the “Alleluia”.

Alleluia Juravit Dominus is in Mode 1, the Dorian mode; its compass is fairly restrained for an Alleluia, ranging over only one octave, c to c’.

To learn more about Alleluia chants, see:
McKinnon, James W., and Christian Thodberg. 2001 “Alleluia.” Grove Music Online. 17 Jul. 2018.
Hiley, David. Western Plainchant: a Handbook. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. See in particular pp. 130-39.

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