Secret and Preface
At the beginning of the Celebration of the Eucharist the choir sings the Offertory chant, during which the celebrant silently prays the Secret. Like the Collect, the Secret is a Proper prayer that invokes St. Donatian, and entreats his help in making the offertory gifts acceptable to God. Only the closing formula (Per omnia saecula saeculorum) is intoned aloud in order to signal the end of the prayer, to which the choir responds ‘Amen.’
The Preface is then immediately introduced by the celebrant’s recitational invitation to prayer (Dominus vobiscum), initiating a dialogic exchange between celebrant and choir. The prayer itself is delivered by the celebrant, using the Preface tone appropriate to the feast, in this case the Common Preface required for feasts of Confessor Bishops by the rite of Tournai, the diocese to which Bruges belonged in the fifteenth century. This substantial recitation by the celebrant is an essential preparation for the Sanctus that comes next: the priest asks Christ to join the worshippers’ voices to those of the angels in praying “Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus …” (‘Holy, Holy, Holy …”).
This version of the tone is drawn from the Missale ad vsum ecclesie Tomacensis (Antwerp: Christoffel van Ruremunde. 1540).
To learn more about the Secret and Preface, see:
Boe, John. 2001 “Preface.” Grove Music Online. 29 Jul. 2018. www.oxfordmusiconline.com
Fortescue. Adrian. “Preface.” The Catholic Encyclopedia Online. www.newadvent.org.
Fortescue. Adrian. “Secret.” The Catholic Encyclopedia Online. www.newadvent.org.