It's obvious that there was a time when composers regarded the Holy Scriptures as a rich and reliable (obviously) source of textual material. It's amazing how many Bible verses one memorizes without even knowing it. There is a powerful connection in our brain between words and text. In fact, some of us still find it difficult to mentally or verbally the alphabet without associating it with the melody "twinkle twinkle, little star."
Consider the text of the Venite (more specifically, "Venite, exultemus Domino"--from the first line of Psalm 95:1, which is in Latin: "venite laudemus Dominum iubilemus petrae Iesu nostro" ), from the order of Matins.
If you've sung this before, you have then internalized (perhaps even memorized!) Psalms 95:1-7, and the comforting message they contain:
O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son And to the Holy Ghost As it was in the beginning, is now, And ever shall be; world without end. Amen.
We'll discuss the special type of musical setting used here in a future post when we discuss the Te Deum, which I regard as one of the most beautiful and poignant musical works in all of modern hymnody.