Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Vespers Odd Week

Today I begin working with Vespers hymns. I really should have started with Second Vespers on Sunday, but I'll catch that one on the return trip. The reason I should have started there is that the Vespers hymns follow a logical sequence outlining the days of creation in the opening chapters of Genesis.

Hence today's hymn speaks of what happened on the 2nd day of creation.

Imménse cæli cónditor,
O Great Creator of the heavens
qui, mixta ne confúnderent,
who, lest uniting they flow together,
aquae fluénta dívidens,
dividing the floods of water
cælum dedísti límitem,
Thou didst establish the sky as a boundary.

O GREAT CREATOR of the sky,
Who wouldest not the floods on high
with earthly water to confound,
but madist the firmament their bound;

Firmans locum cæléstibus,
Thou didst establish a place for the heavenly waters,
simúlque terræ rívulis,
and also for the streams on earth,
ut unda flammas témperet,
that water might moderate the heat,
terræ solum ne díssipet:
lest it destroy the soil of the earth.

The floods above Thou didst ordain;
the floods below Thou didst restrain:
that moisture might attemper heat,
lest the parched earth should ruin meet.

Infúnde nunc, piíssime,
Pour forth now, most gracious Lord,
donum pérennis grátiæ,
the gift of Thy never-failing grace,
fraudis novæ ne cásibus
lest by the misfortune of some new deception
nos error átterat vetus.
the old error should overwhelm us.

Upon our souls, good Lord, bestow
Thy gift of grace in endless flow:
lest some renewed deceit or wile
of former sin should us beguile.

Lucem fides invéniat,
Let faith increase the light,
sic lúminis iubar ferat;
and thus produce an effulgence of light;
hæc vana cuncta térreat,
may it trample under foot all vain things;
hanc falsa nulla cómprimant.
may nothing false supplant it.

Let faith discover heav’nly light;
so shall its rays direct us right:
and let this faith each error chase,
and never give to falsehood place.

Præsta, Pater piíssime,
Patríque compar Unice,
cum Spíritu Paráclito
regnans per omne saéculum. Amen.

Grant this, O Father, ever One
with Christ, Thy sole-begotten Son,
and Holy Ghost, whom all adore,
reigning and blest forevermore. Amen.

The translation is by the great J.M. Neale.

Monday Lauds Odd Week

Splendor patérnæ glóriæ,
O Splendor of the Father's glory,
de luce lucem próferens,
bringing forth light from light,
lux lucis et fons lúminis,
O Light of Light, and source of light,
diem dies illúminans.
Day illuminating day!

O splendor of God's glory bright,
O Thou that bringest light from light,
O Light of Light, light's Living Spring,
O Day, all days illumining.

2. Verúsque sol, illábere
O Thou, true Sun, descend,
micans nitóre pérpeti,
shining with everlasting brightness,
iubárque Sancti Spíritus
and the radiance of the Holy Spirit
infúnde nostris sénsibus.
infuse into our hearts.

O Thou true Sun, on us Thy glance
let fall in royal radiance,
the Spirit's sanctifying beam
upon our earthly senses stream.

3. Votis vocémus et Patrem,
In our prayers, let us also implore the Father,
Patrem perénnis glóriæ,
the Father of eternal glory,
Patrem poténtis grátiæ,
the Father of mighty grace,
culpam reléget lúbricam.
that He may remove every dangerous inclination to sin.

The Father too our prayers implore,
Father of glory evermore,
the Father of all grace and might,
to banish sin from our delight:

4. Infórmet actus strénuos,
May he shape (in us) manly deeds
dentem retúndat ínvidi,
blunt the teeth of the envious one,
casus secúndet ásperos,
bring adverse events to a favorable outcome,
donet geréndi grátiam.
and give us the grace to act wisely.

To guide whate'er we nobly do,
with love all envy to subdue,
to make ill-fortune turn to fair,
and give us grace our wrongs to bear.

5. Mentem gubérnet et regat
May He rule and direct our mind
casto, fidéli córpore;
to be chaste and faithful in body
fides calóre férveat,
may our faith glow with fervor,
fraudis venéna nésciat.
and may it know not the poison of error.

Our mind be in His keeping placed,
our body true to Him and chaste,
where only faith her fire shall feed
to burn the tares of Satan's seed.

6. Christúsque nobis sit cibus,
May Christ be our food,
potúsque noster sit fides;
and faith our drink,
læti bibámus sóbriam
joyfully let us drink of the sober
ebrietátem Spíritus.
inebriation of the Spirit.

And Christ to us for food shall be,
from Him our drink that welleth free,
the Spirit's wine, that maketh whole,
and mocking not, exalts the soul.

7. Lætus dies hic tránseat;
Joyfully may this day pass by;
pudor sit ut dilúculum,
may our modesty be as the dawn,
fides velut merídies,
our faith as the noonday sun,
crepúsculum mens nésciat.
and may our souls know no twilight.

Rejoicing may this day go hence,
like virgin dawn our innocence,
like fiery noon our faith appear,
nor know the gloom of twilight drear.

8. Auróra cursus próvehit:
The dawn sails on in its course:
Auróra totus pródeat,
let the complete Dawn come forth,
in Patre totus Filius
in the Father the whole Son
et totus in Verbo Pater. Amen.
and the whole Father in the Word.

Morn in her rosy car is borne:
let Him come forth our Perfect Morn,
the Word in God the Father One,
the Father perfect in the Son. Amen.

Britt says this is a companion hymn to Sunday's hymn, very Trinitarian in its construction, with prayers for help and guidance throughout the day. Exactly what I need right now!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Lauds Odd Week

Again I am skipping over a major, major feast, one which overrides the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, not to mention the start of the Pauline year. I leave those hymns, which look juicy and delicious, for another time, possibly next year at this time, at the close of the Pauline year. I did start the year of St. Paul off right by taking my family to the Cathedral of St. Paul, MN for mass this morning, where we were treated to Gregorian Chant, regal organ and trumpet, Proulx's Antiphon: Let all the world and Palestrina's Tu Es Petrus.

But in the interest of finishing the Morning Hymns for Ordinary Time so I can start on the Vespers hymns, here is Aeterna rerum conditor (to be followed tomorrow by Splendor paternae gloriae).

Ætérne rerum cónditor,
Eternal maker of the world,
noctem diémque qui regis,
who rules both the night and day,
et témporum das témpora,
and gives a variety of seasons
ut álleves fastídium;
to relieve monotony!

Maker of all, eternal King,
who day and night about dost bring:
who weary mortals to relieve,
dost in their times the seasons give:

2. Præco diéi iam sonat,
The herald of the day (the rooster)sends forth his cry
noctis profúndæ pérvigil,
always watchful through the depths of night
noctúrna lux viántibus
a nocturnal light to wayfarers,
a nocte noctem ségregans.
separating watch from watch

2. Now the shrill cock proclaims the day,
and calls the sun's awakening ray,
the wandering pilgrim' guiding light,
that marks the watches night by night.

3. Hoc excitátus lúcifer
While he sings, the awakened morning star
solvit polum calígine,
scatters the
darkness of the heavens
hoc omnis errónum chorus
all the multitude of vagabonds
vias nocéndi déserit.
abandon their deeds of violence.

3. Roused at the note, the morning star
heav'n's dusky veil uplifts afar:
night's vagrant bands no longer roam,
but from their dark ways hie them home.

4. Hoc nauta vires cólligit
While he sings, the sailor gathers new strength,
pontíque mitéscunt freta,
the raging of the sea subsides:
hoc ipse Petra Ecclésiæ
while he sings, the very Rock of the Church

canénte culpam díluit.
washes away his sin.

4. The encouraged sailor's fears are óer,
the foaming billows rage no more:
Lo! éen the very Church's Rock
melts at the crowing of the cock.

7. Iesu, labántes réspice,
O Jesus, look with compassion upon the wavering
et nos vidéndo córrige,
and correct us with Thy look (as Thou didst correct Peter)
si réspicis, lapsus cadunt
if Thou dost but look, our sins vanish,
fletúque culpa sólvitur.
and our guilt is washed away by our tears.

7. Look in us, Jesu, when we fall,
and with Thy look our souls recall:
if Thou but look, our sins are gone,
and with due tears our pardon won.

8. Tu lux refúlge sénsibus,
O Light, shine Thou into our hearts,
mentísque somnum díscute,
dispel the lethargy of the soul;
te nostra vox primum sonet
may our voice first praise Thee,
et vota solvámus tibi.
and to Thee may we pay our vows.

8. Shed through our hearts Thy piercing ray,
our soul's dull slumber drive away:
Thy Name be first on every tongue,
to Thee our earliest praises sung.

9. Sit, Christe, Rex piíssime,
tibi Patríque gloria
cum Spíritu Paráclito,
in sempitérna saécula. Amen.

9. All laud to God the Father be;
all praise, Eternal Son, to Thee;
all glory, as is ever meet,
to God the Holy Paraclete. Amen.

You may notice that the numbering of the verses above skips from 4 to 7. This is due to the two other verses, which the Liber Hymnarius leaves out, but which were included in Britt:

[5. Surgamus ergo strenue!
Let us therefore arise with alacrity;
Gallus iacentes excitat,
the cock awakens the sleepers,
et somnolentos increpat,
chides the drowsy
Gallus negantes arguit.
and rebukes the unwilling.

5. O let us then like men arise;
the cock rebukes our slumbering eyes,
bestirs who still in sleep would lie,
and shames who would their Lord deny.

6. Gallo canente spes redit,
At the crowing of the cock, hope returns;
aegris salus refunditur,
health is restored to the sick;
mucro latronis conditur,
the sword of the robber is sheathed;
lapsis fides revertitur.
confidence returns to the fallen.

6. New hope his clarion note awakes,
sickness the feeble frame forsakes,
the robber sheathes his lawless sword,
faith to fallen is restored. ]

When I have time, I like to sing all nine verses. As Britt says: "The Aeterne reum Conditor, though written on so simple a subject as cock-crowing, is on the of the most beautiful hymns in the Breviary." He goes on to point out that the rooster (which I have highlighted in red everytime he is mentioned in the hymn) is a symbol of the preacher who proclaims the gospel.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday Lauds Even Week

Diéi luce réddita,
Day's light having been restored
lætis gratísque vócibus
and by glad thanks of our voices
Dei canámus glóriam,
let us sing the glory of God
Christi faténtes grátiam.
confessing the grace of Christ.

2. Per quem creátor ómnium
During which the creator of all things
diem noctémque cóndidit,
day and night has made
ætérna lege sánciens
having sanctioned by eternal law
ut semper succédant sibi.
that they would always follow each other.

3. Tu vera lux fidélium,
You are the true light of faith
quem lex vetérna non tenet,
which the long-established law does not hold
noctis nec ortu súccidens,
nor undercutting the night by rising
ætérno fulgens lúmine.
the light forever shining.

4. Præsta, Pater ingénite,
Grant, Father engendered(?)
totum ducámus iúgiter
that we may lead continually all
Christo placéntes hunc diem
pleasing to Christ this day
Sancto repléti Spíritu. Amen.
filled with the Holy Spirit.

Big party today. Didn't have time to make much sense of this. I may come back to it....

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Lauds Even Week, Revisited

I almost finished a roofing project on my garage before the heavy rain hit. So I thought I would revisit the hymn Deus, qui caeli lumen es which was the very first hymn I tackled. I wasn't very satisfied with my understanding of the hymn when I sang it this morning, so I looked around a bit more and found this hymn in Early Christian Hymns by A. S. Walpole. He says the hymn was written by Flavius, bishop of Chalon-sur-Saone (d. 591). I found another reference which says it was a Gallican (written in the land of Gaul, now modern France) hymn, "written in the style of Ambrose" (like most of these hymns we have talked about).

I will revisit some of the vocabulary in this hymn with the help of Walpole and others. Revisions are in bold.

1. Deus qui cæli lumen es
God who are the lamp of heaven
satórque lucis, qui polum
and sower of light, who the sky
patérno fultum bráchio
firmly set upon your fatherly arm
præclára pandis déxtera.
you stretch out by your splendid right hand

2. Auróra stellas iam tegit
The sunrise hides the stars
rubrum sustóllens gúrgitem,
red (sea?) rising up flood
uméctis atque flátibus
humid and breathing(?)
terram baptízans róribus.
drenching the earth with dew

Iam noctis umbra línquitur,
So the shadows of the night dissolve
polum calígo déserit,
the darkness of the sky departs
typúsque Christi, lúcifer
and a model of Christ, the Day-star (Venus?)
diem sopítum súscitat.
awakens the day from its slumber

Dies diérum tu, Deus,
Day of days, you, God,
lucísque lumen ipse es,
and you yourself are the light of all lights
Unum potens per ómnia,
One almighty over all things
potens in unum Trínitas.
almighty Trinity residing in one

Te nunc, Salvátor, quaésumus
You now Savior, we ask
tibíque genu fléctimus,
and to you we bend the knee
Patrem cum Sancto Spíritu
to the Father with the Holy Spirit
totis laudántes vócibus. Amen.
be the praises of all voices.

Stanza 2 still boggles me. The page is missing from Google books Walpole that could help me with that!

Is there anyone out there who could help me?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday Lauds Even Week

Iam lucis orto sídere,
The star of light being now risen,
Deum precémur súpplices,
let us humbly beseech God,
ut in diúrnis áctibus
that in our daily actions
Nos servet a nocéntibus.
He may keep us from all harm.

Now in the sun's new dawning ray,
lowly of heart, our God we pray
that He from harm may keep us free
in all the deeds this day shall see.

Linguam refrénans témperet,
Bridling, may He restrain the tongue,
ne litis horror ínsonet,
lest the jarring discord of strife resound;
visum fovéndo cóntegat,
may He lovingly veil our sight
ne vanitátes háuriat.
lest it drink in vanities.

May fear of Him our tongues restrain,
lest strife unguarded speech should stain:
His favoring care our guardian be,
lest our eyes feed on vanity.

Sint pura cordis íntima,
May the inmost rescesses of the heart be pure,
absístat et vecórdia:
and may folly cease;
carnis terat supérbiam
may the pride of the flesh
potus cibíque párcitas.
the sparing use of food and drink wear down.

May every heart be pure from sin,
and folly find no place therein:
scant meed of food, excess denied,
wear down in us the body's pride

Ut cum dies abscésserit,
That when the day has departed,
noctémque sors redúxerit,
and fate has brought back the night,
mundi per abstinéntiam
still pure by virtue of abstinence,
ipsi canámus glóriam.
we may sing His glory.

That when the light of day is gone,
and night in course shall follow on,
we, free from cares the world affords,
may chant the praises that is our Lord's.

Deo Patri sit glória,
eiúsque soli Fílio,
cum Spíritu Paráclito,
in sempitérna saéculum. Amen.

The translation today is all courtesy of Fr. Britt, indeed, this is Hymn #1 in his book. Apparently "Jam lucis orto sidere" was once used at the now-supressed office of Prime. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the origin of the Office of Prime:
We learn further from Cassian the reason that led to the institution of this office. The office of the night, comprising Matins and Lauds, ended then at sunrise, so that Lauds corresponded to the dawn. After the night offices at Bethlehem, as in the other Palestinian monasteries, the monks might retire to rest. As no other office called them together before Terce, those who were lazy seized the opportunity of prolonging their sleep till nine in the morning, instead of applying themselves to manual work or spiritual reading. To end this abuse, it was decided, in the above monastery, to continue the custom of reposing after the night office, but, to prevent an undue prolongation of sleep, the monks were recalled to choir at the hour of Prime, and after the recital of a few psalms they were to work until Terce (Cassian, "Instit.", III, iv).

Why was Prime supressed? The Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Consilium
state in pargraphs 88 & 89:
88. Because the purpose of the office is to sanctify the day, the traditional sequence of the hours is to be restored so that once again they may be genuinely related to the time of the day when they are prayed, as far as this may be possible. Moreover, it will be necessary to take into account the modern conditions in which daily life has to be lived, especially by those who are called to labor in apostolic works.

89. Therefore, when the office is revised, these norms are to be observed:

a) By the venerable tradition of the universal Church, Lauds as morning prayer and Vespers as evening prayer are the two hinges on which the daily office turns; hence they are to be considered as the chief hours and are to be celebrated as such.

b) Compline is to be drawn up so that it will be a suitable prayer for the end of the day.

c) The hour known as Matins, although it should retain the character of nocturnal praise when celebrated in choir, shall be adapted so that it may be recited at any hour of the day; it shall be made up of fewer psalms and longer readings.

d) The hour of Prime is to be suppressed.
However, the office is still celebrated by Traditional Catholics, especially by those who adhere to the Extrordinary Form of the Mass (also known as the TLM or Traditional Latin Mass.) It is also still celebrated in some form in the Eastern Rite.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wednesday Lauds Even Week

Fulgéntis auctor aétheris,
Brilliant founder of the heavens
qui lunam lumen nóctibus,
who the moon as the lamp of the nights
solem diérum cúrsibus
and the sun for the passing of the days
certo fundásti trámite,
you have established in a fixed course

2. Nox atra iam depéllitur
So the murky night is being driven away
mundi nitor renáscitur,
the brilliance of the world is reborn
novúsque iam mentis vigor
and now a fresh liveliness of mind
dulces in actus érigit.
rouses kindly(sweet, pleasant) deeds.

3. Laudes sonáre iam tuas
Let now your praises be uttered
dies relátus ádmonet,
the day in reply reminds (admonishes)
vultúsque cæli blándior
and the more alluring face of the heavens
nostra serénat péctora.
brightens our souls.

4. Vitémus omne lúbricum,
Let us avoid all slippery (deceitful) things
declínet prava spíritus,
let the soul turn aside the perverse
vitam facta non ínquinent,
let deeds not pollute (our) life
linguam culpa non ímplicet;
nor by fault (crime) entwine the tongue

5. Sed, sol diem dum cónficit,
Rather, while the sun causes (accomplishes) day
fides profúnda férveat,
let faith inflame the depths (of us)
spes ad promíssa próvocet,
Let hope call (us) forth (according?)to the promises
Christo coniúngat cáritas.
let love unite (us) in Christ.

6. Præsta, Pater piísime,
Patríque compare Unice,
cum Spíritu Paráclito
regnans per omne saéculum. Amen.

I think I'm starting to get the hang of these hymns. Please correct me if I am wrong!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tuesday Lauds Even Week

I know that today is the feast of the Birth of John the Baptist (and you can get some really good info about the Vespers hymns from chantblog. It is the Ut-re-mi hymn. Cool stuff!), but I am on a roll analyzing Lauds hymns for Ordinary Time. If God wills, I will get around to saint's days hymns someday.

Ætérne lucis cónditor,
Eternal creator of light
lux ipse totus et dies,
Light itself wholly and the day
noctem nec ullam séntiens
nor feeling any night
natúra lucis pérpeti,
the nature of light eternal

2. Iam cedit pallens próximo
So the night cedes to the nearing pale dawn
diéi nox advéntui,
of the coming day
obtúndens lumen siderum
striking the light of the stars
adest et clarus lúcifer.
as the gleaming morning star draws near.

3. Iam stratis læti súrgimus
So from our beds rejoicing we arise
grates canéntes et tuas,
and singing your glad thanks
quod cæcam noctem vicerit
for the sun has conquered the dark night
revéctans rursus sol diem.
and carried back the day once again.

4. Te nunc, ne carnis gáudia
You now, no joys in the flesh
blandis subrépant áestibus,
which flattering would sneak up on the passions
dolis ne cedat sáeculi
by the tricks of the age, do not allow
mens nostra, sancta quáesumus.
our minds [to fall?], we ask holy

5. Ira ne rixas próvocet,
Let not violent anger provoke
gulam ne venter íncitet,
nor the belly incite appetite
opum pervértat ne famis,
let not powerful opinion pervert
turpis ne luxus óccupet,
nor base luxury capture

6. Sed firma mente sóbrii,
Rather strengthen the heart with sobriety
casto manéntes córpore
chaste remaining in body
totum fidéli spíritú
completely faithful in spirit
Christo ducámus hunc diem.
let us regard this day with Christ

7. Præsta, Pater piísime,
Patríque compare Unice,
cum Spíritu Paráclito
regnans per omne sáeculum. Amen.

If I have time later, I will try to find out who wrote this very vivid and lengthly morning hymn. I like this one.

Monday Lauds Even Week

Lucis largítor spléndide,
Generous giver of glimmering light
cuius seréno lúmine
whose serene lamp
post lapsa noctis témpora
after the night time has slipped away
dies refúsus pánditur,
the returning day is spread out

WONDROUS giver of the light!
By whose eternal ray serene,
After the lingering hours of night,
The glory of the morn is seen,

2. Tu verus mundi lúcifer,
Thou true morning star of the world
non is qui parvi síderis
not like the lesser star (the sun)
ventúræ lucis núntius
though herald of the coming Light
angústo fulget lúmine,
scanty shines its narrow light

Bringer of light indeed art thou;
Not like the common sun of day
That o'er the world is rising now
And shining with a narrow ray;

3. Sed toto sole clárior,
But clearer than the entire sun
lux ipse totus et dies,
that entire light itself and the day
intérna nostri péctoris
our inward soul
illúminans præcórdia.
brightening hearts

Nay, brighter than the solar beam,
Thyself the sun and perfect light,
And in the breast thy tender gleam
Illumes with glory pure and bright.

4. Evíncat mentis cástitas
Let chastity of the mind overcome
quæ caro cupit árrogans,
those things the flesh desires amiss
sanctúmque puri córporis
holy and of chaste body
delúbrum servet spíritus.
shrine(temple) the spirit keep

Let not our minds be overcome
By false desire or deed of shame,
And be our hearts a shrine and home
Wherein shall burn thy holy flame.

5. Sit, Christe, rex piísime,
tibi Patrique glória
cum Spíritu Paráclito,
in sempitérna saécula. Amen.

I found the metrical translation of this hymn this morning on Google books. Apparently this hymn was composed by St. Hilary of Potiers in the fourth century. According to Butler's Lives of the Saints (found here at EWTN ) Hilary included this morning hymn and an evening hymn(now lost) in a missive to a daughter, Apra (he was married before his conversion). The letter to Apra implores her to choose a life of virginity over married life.

The translation, published by Daniel Joseph Donohoe in 1908, contains two other verses between the present vss 3 and 4, and a different verse in place of the doxology.

Another translation is given here at CCEL.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Lauds Even Week


Ecce iam noctis tenuatur umbra
Behold, now the shadows of the night are made thin
lucis aurora rutilans coruscat;
the reddened lights of dawn shimmer
nisibus totis rogitemus omnes
with all effort let us all implore
the Omnipotent One

Lo! the dim shadows of the night are waning;
radiantly glowing, dawn of day returneth;
fervent in spirit, to the mighty Father
pray we devoutly.

Ut Deus, nostri miseratus, omnem
That God, our compassionate benefactor, all
pellat angorem, tribuat salutem,
anxiety may banish, may grant salvation
donet et nobis pietate patris
and give to us in his loving, Fatherly goodness
regna polorum.
heavenly kingdoms.

So shall our Maker, of His great compassion,
banish all sickness, kindly health bestowing;
and may He grant us, of a Father's goodness,
mansions in heaven.

Praestet hoc nobis Deitas beata
May the blessed Deity fulfill this for us
Patris ac Nati, pariterque Sancti
Father and Son, and equally the Holy
Spiritus, cuius resonat per omnem
Spirit, whose glory resounds throughtout
gloria mundum. Amen.
the whole world.

This He vouchsafe us, God for ever blessed,
Father eternal, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Whose is the glory which through all creation
ever resoundeth. Amen.
Pope St. Gregory the Great(540-604), Tr. by M.J. Blacker

After a week of all Ambrosian meter (, it is a change to finally hit "Sapphic and Adonic" meter. Sapphic and Adonic translates in to for a hymn tune. There are not many English hymns written in this meter (such as Father we thank thee who hast planted) but many old Greek and Latin poems use it, and so many medieval hymns like this one are written this way. says this about Sapphic and Adonic:

The strict meter of the sapphic, with its starts and stops, creates a powerful
emotion that the language of the poem intensifies. Starting with a stressed
syllable, as opposed to the familiar iambic foot that begins on an unstressed
syllable, provides a sense of forcefulness and urgency to the sapphic, while the
extra unstressed syllable at the core of the first three lines, offers a pause,
or caesura, within the driving movement. The short fourth line may offer either
a rest or a quick turn to the poem, or even an opportunity for conclusion, as
with the final two lines of a Shakespearean sonnet.

That last short line is called an Adonic. The word "Sapphic" comes from the Greek poet Sappho, who either invented or refined this meter. She is a one of the few of ancient Greek female poets. She lived on the island of Lesbos. She was later parodied as being a promiscous lesbian, which historically is probably not accurate, but the modern word "lesbian" takes its meaning from the island where Sappho lived based on those ribald parodies. Seems like everyone remembers the pop culture references and not the real story.

Anyways, a lot of hymns for the Office of Readings are written in this meter. I am anxious to get to analyzing hymns for the Office of Readings, but first I have one more week of Lauds hymns, followed by two weeks of Vespers hymn analysis. Then I can start the OR hymns.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saturday Lauds Odd Week

Auróra iam spargit polum:
The dawn now sprinkles the sky
terris dies illábitur:
the day flows over the earth
lucis resúltat spículum:
the rays of light mount on high
discédat omne lúbricum.
Let all deceit depart

THE DAWN is sprinkling in the east
its golden shower, as day flows in;
fast mount the pointed shafts of light:
farewell to darkness and to sin!

Iam vana noctis décidant,
Now let the vain things of night pass away
mentis reátus súbruat,
let guilt of soul depart
quicquid tenébris hórridum
whatever frightful thing of darkness
nox áttulit culpae, cadat,
the night has brought of guilt, let it fall,

Away, ye midnight phantoms all!
Away, despondence and despair!
Whatever guilt the night has brought
now let it vanish into air.

Ut mane illud últimum
So that on that last morning
quod praestolámur cérnui,
which we await bowing
in lucem nobis éffluat,
in light to us may it flow
dum hoc canóre cóncrepat.
while this song sounds on.

So, Lord, when that last morning breaks,
looking to which we sigh and pray,
O may it to Thy minstrels prove
the dawning of a better day.

Deo Patri sit glória,
eiúsque soli Fílio,
cum Spíritu Paráclito,
in sempitérna saécula. Amen.

To God the Father glory be,
and to His sole-begotten Son;
Glory, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
while everlasting ages run. Amen.

Attributed to St. Ambrose (350-397).
Translation by Fr. Edward Caswall (1814-1878).

I like this metric translation today. Once again, St. Ambrose of Milan probably did not write this hymn, it is just written in his style (see yesterday's post.)

Fr. Britt, on page 72 of his book on Hymns of the Breviary, has the following analysis of the third stanza:
"That on that last morning, together with the light, that which we here humbly
pray for, and what accords with our song, may issue forth (come) to us."
Constr.: Ut cum luce (æterna) mane (illud) untimum nobis effluat, quod nos
hic, dum hoc canore concrepat, deprecamur ceruni.
THis stanza is very
obscure. It seems to contain a reference to the present morning, and to the last
morning--at the end of time. In this sense it might be rendered: "While the
present morning resounds with song (canore), we here with profound
humility beg (deprecamur cernui) that the last morning may also dawn
(effluat) for us with light eternal." Abp. Bagshawe translates mane
as referring to Saturday--"On this morn of the week the last." The
following is from an anonymous translation in the Hymnal Noted:

So that last morning dread and great,
Which we with trembling hope await,
With blessed light for us shall glow,
Who chant the song we sang below.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Friday Lauds Odd Week

One of the things that jazzes me about singing these hymns is their antiquity. Christians were singing today's hymn, composed either by Ambrose, bishop of Milan(or in the style of Ambrose), back before the printing press was invented, the fifth century.

Fr. Britt calls this hymn "Ambrosian" because of its meter: iambic dimeter (two iambs or emphasized syllables in each line). Hymn-tune scholars also classify these hymns by the number of syllables in each line. They would call this L.M. (Long Meter) or because the hymn has four lines of 8 syllables each. [That means you could presumably sing this hymn to any tune in your hymnal that is marked "L.M." For example: O Salutaris Hostia or Jesu Dulcis Memoria are examples of hymns written in this meter. If you don't have a tune to sing today's hymn, try one of these.]

Ambrose the bishop of Milan used to write hymns in this meter to help his people remember truths of the Faith to battle the Arians. Most of the so-called Ambrosian hymns were really not written by Ambrose, they just have the same meter as all the hymns he wrote.

If you look up Ambrosian Hymnography in the online Catholic Encyclopedia, you find that scholars have classified about ninety-some hymns as Ambrosian. Out of these, the opinions vary as to how many Ambrose acutally penned: some say only four, some twelve, and some eighteen. Today's hymn appears on none of those lists, so it was probably not really written by Ambrose, just by someone who imitated his style. It's still a great hymn.

Æterna cæli glória
Eternal glory of heaven
beáta spes mortálium
blessed hope of mortals,
celsi Paréntis Unice
Only-begotten son of the Highest
castéque proles Vírginis:
the offspring of a chaste Virgin:

O CHRIST, whose glory fills the heaven,
our only hope, in mercy given;
Child of a Virgin meek and pure;
Son of the Highest evermore:

2. Da déxteram surgéntibus,
Give thy right hand to those who rise;
exsúrgat et mens sóbria
sober also may the soul arise
flagrans et in laudem Dei
and zealous in the praise of God
grates repéndat débitas.
return him due thanks.

Grant us Thine aid Thy praise to sing,
as opening days new duties bring;
that with the light our life may be
renewed and sanctified by Thee.

3. Ortus refúlget lúcifer,
The risen morning star shines forth,
ipsámque lucem núntiat,
and announces the Light Himself
cadit calígo nóctium,
the darkness of night disappears;
lux sancta nos illúminet.
may the holy light illuminate us.

The morning star fades from the sky,
the sun breaks forth; night's shadows fly:
O Thou, true Light, upon us shine:
our darkness turn to light divine.

4. Manénsque nostris sénsibus
And dwelling in our hearts
noctem repéllat saéculi
may it dispel the darkness of the world
omníque fine témporis
and till the end of time
purgáta servet péctora.
may it preserve our hearts unsullied.

Within us grant Thy light to dwell:
and from our souls dark sins expel;
Cleanse Thou our minds from stain of ill,
and with Thy peace our bosoms fill.

5. Qæsíta iam primum fides
First may faith long-sought
radícet altis sénsibus,
root itself in our nourished hearts;
secúnda spes congáudeat,
secondly, may hope rejoice us;
tunc maior exstat cáritas.
but greater still than these is charity.

To us strong faith forever give,
with joyous hope, in Thee to live;
That life's rough way may ever be
made strong and pure by charity.

6. Sit, Christe, rex piíssime,
tibi Patríque glória,
cum Spíritu Paráclito,
in sempitérna saécula. Amen.

All laud to God the Father be;
All praise, Eternal Son, to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
to God the Holy Paraclete.

The interlinear English today is generally straight out of Britt, as is the metrical translation by John Julian (1839-1913). Several lines vary from the Pre-V2 version though:
line 3 in Stanza 1 used to be "Summi Tonantis Unice" or Son of the most high Thunderer.
line 2 in Stanza 3 used to be "Præitque solem nuntius" or and as a herald precedes the sun.
line 3 in Stanza 3 used to be "Cadunt tenebræ noctium" or the shadows of the night disappear
line 2 in Stanza 5 used to be "In corde radices agat" or strike deep its roots in our hearts;
line 4 in Stanza 5 had "Qua" for "tunc", which I can't see how it changes the meaning much.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thursday Lauds Odd Week

Once again The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal by Fr. Matthew Britt, O.S.B has a metric (and rhymed) translation of today's hymn Sol ecce surgit ígneus. But there is a problem. According to Fr. Britt, the hymn has a different title: Lux ecce surgit auria (see page 65, hymn #18 in Britt). The first two stanzas have been collapsed into one in the pre-Vatican II version. So I am including a different translation

I found out by reading more carefully that the Odd Tuesday and Wednesday Lauds hymns have a common source. The stanzas are chosen from a longer work entitled Morning Hymn or Hymn at Cock-Crow which is the first of twelve hymns in a larger work called the Cathemerinon, or The Daily Round. That link contains the whole book, with Latin and English translated by R. Martin Pope. That is the source of the metrical, rhyming translation I have included below.

I found an article reviewing a translation of this Prudentius hymn-collection, and here's what it says about Prudentius and his hymns:

Everything known about the life of Aurelius Prudentius Clemens is contained in a 5 verse introduction to his collection of hymns that he published in 405 C.E. When he was 57 years old. Born into a reasonably prosperous Christian family in Spain in 348, Prudentius enjoyed a typical education based on the literature and rhetoric of the classical era. He had a brief career as an advocate and held increasingly responsible positions in the imperial civil service. Tiring of the emptiness of his life, he visited Rome c.401-403. It was while touring Rome, with its combination of monuments both classical and Christian, that Prudentius vowed to spend the remainder of his life writing hymns in praise of God for an audience that was more familiar with the literature of the classical past than with Scripture-based Christianity. Thus, much of the imagery and vocabulary in Prudentius' hymns have more in common with the writings of Virgil and Ovid than the New Testament. Written in conscious imitation of the pagan hymns of Horace, Prudentius' hymns are full of images drawn from the world of nature. Rather than trying to convert his thinly Christianized audience through Scriptural exegesis or christological explanation, Prudentius lets the beauty and interrelated complexity of the natural world draw the mind towards the Creator. In contrast to various systems of gnosticism and Neoplatonism prevalent in his day, Prudentius repeatedly stressed the fact that acceptance of Christianity did not necessitate a rejection of either the created world or the physical body. On the contrary, Prudentius employs a wide variety of images from nature to proclaim God's involvement in the physical world.

This may explain the reference to "bee-glue" or fucis in yesterday's hymn. Looking up the word online reveals that fucus can mean either colored paint, rouge or the glue that bees use to seal up the entrance to their hives. The verse in the hymn says that our senses, smeared over with this substance(which probably symbolizes sin or ignorance or some artifice we use to cover it up), will be purged by Christ the light of the world. Continuing with the article:

The Cathemerinon is a set of twelve hymns included within a much larger collection of hymns by Prudentius. The first six hymns are each written for use at a particular time during the course of the day, thus giving Christians an opportunity to sanctify all the hours of the day.
There is a lot more interesting information in the article, and you should read it despite the fact that it uses the annoying "C.E." in place of "A.D."
Sol ecce surgit ígneus,
Behold, the sun rises all fiery
piget, pudéscit, paénitet,
it afflicts, shames, makes sorry,
nec teste quisquam lúmine
nor can any witness in this light
peccáre constanter potest.
be able to keep sinning

Soon as the sun rekindles day,
Sin slinks abashed and shamed away
For none can damning light resist
And 'neath its rays in sin persist.

Tandem facéssat caécitas,
and finally let blindness/darkness go away
quæ nosmet in præceps diu
that which we ourselves headlong
lapsos sinístris gréssibus
having slipped/fallen by left(sinister) feet/steps
erróre traxit dévio.
error drags (us) straying

And then at length let darkness flee,
Which all too long held us in fee,
'Mid wildering shadows made us stray
And led in devious tracks our way.

Haec lux serénum cónferat,
May this light serenity bring
purósque nos praestet sibi;
and may it preserve us pure for itself
nihil loquámur súbdolum:
that we may utter nothing deceitful
volvámus obscúrum nihil.
nor roll(meditate) anything dark

We pray Thee, Rising Light serene,
E'en as Thyself our hearts make clean:
Let no deceit our lips defile
Nor let our souls be vexed by guile.

Sic tota decúrrat dies,
Thus may the whole day run its course
ne lingua mendax, ne manus
neither lying tongue nor hand
oculíve peccent lúbrici,
nor inconstant eyes sin
Ne noxa corpus ínquinet.
nor some hurt(sin) stain the body

O keep us, as the hours proceed,
From lying word and evil deed,
Our roving eyes from sin set free,
Our body from impurity.

Speculátor astat désuper,
An Observer assists from above
qui nos diébus ómnibus,
who for all our days
actúsque nostros próspicit
watches our conduct
a luce prima in vésperum.
from first light unto evening

For thou dost from above survey
The converse of each fleeting day:
Thou dost foresee from morning light
Our every deed, until the night.

Deo Patri sit glória,
To God the Father glory be
eiúsque soli Fílio,
and to his only Son
cum Spíritu Paráclito,
with the Spirit Paraclete
nunc et per omne saécula. Amen.
now and through all ages.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wednesday Lauds Odd Week

I have some historical information about today's hymn Nox et tenébræ et núbila from The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal by Fr. Matthew Britt, O.S.B.: he says it was written by Prudentius (348-413). I include a metric translation by W. J. Courthope, even though the English meter is different from the Latin, in other words, you can't sing the English to the tune of the Latin.


Nox et tenébræ et núbila,
Night and shadows and clouds
confúsa mundi et túrbida,
the heavens disordered and troubled
lux intrat, albéscit polus:
light enters, the sky whitens:
Christus venit; discédite.
Christ has come; Depart!

(speaking to Nox et tenébræ et núbila)

DAY is breaking, dawn is bright:
Hence, vain shadows of the night!
Mists that dim our mortal sight,
Christ is come! Depart!

Calígo terræ scínditur
The darkness of the earth is split
percússa solis spículo,
pierced by a ray of the sun
rebúsque iam color redit
color now returns to things
vultu niténtis síderis.
at the appearance of the shining (day-)star

Darkness routed lifts her wings
as the radiance upwards springs:
through the world of wakened things
life and color dart.

Sic nostra mox obscúritas
Thus our darknesses soon
fraudísque pectus cónscium,
and offenses, known in the heart
ruptis retéctum núbibus,
clouds broken, laid bare
regnánte palléscet Deo.
will fade, God reigning

Te, Christe, solum nóvimus,
You alone, O Christ we know
te mente pura et símplici
with pure and simple hearts
rogáre curváto genu
to ask on bended knee
flendo et canéndo díscimus.
with tears and singing we learn

Thee, O Christ, alone we know,
singing even in our woe,
with pure hearts to Thee we go:
on our senses shine!

Inténde nostris sénsibus
Our senses hold out
vitámque totam dispice:
and consider our whole life
sunt multa fucis íllita
they are much smeared over with dye (bee-glue?)
quæ luce purgéntur tua.
by your light shall they be purged

In Thy beams be purged away
all that leads our thoughts astray!
Through our spirits, King of day,
pour Thy light divine!

Sit, Christe, rex piíssime,
tibi Patríque glória
cum Spíritu Paráclito,
in sempitérna saécula. Amen.

Unto God the Father, Son,
Holy Spirit, Three in One,
one in Three, be glory done,
now and evermore. Amen.

Tuesday Lauds Odd Week

This morning's hymn contains the noun spicula, which as far as I can figure out is an arrow, javelin, or the sharp point of some weapon. Update: In looking at the next day's hymn, I have discovered that spicula refers to a ray of the the sun. I believe that pergrata(very agreeable or pleasant) could be describing spicula or perhaps aurora, so that the opening line could rendered as "The early morning (aurora) heavens report the pleasant ray of the sun" or perhaps "The heavens' pleasant dawn announces the sun's ray." (I am acutely aware that the first verse makes no sense whatsoever(it's better now). I'm trying really hard to make sense of it, but...all I can do at this point is give the raw vocab. Hopefully I am catching the right flavor of the text, but I could be way off.)

Pergráta mundo núntiat
The pleasant heavens report
auróra solis spícula,
the dawn sun's ray
res et colóre véstiens
clothing everything with color
iam cuncta dat nitéscere.
so the thing gives as it begins to shine
(res refers to either spicula or solis?)

2. Qui sol per ævum praénites,
who the sun through time shining before
o Christe, nobis vívidus,
O Christ, to us lively
ad te canéntes vértimur,
to you singing we are turned
te gestiéntes pérfrui.
you exulting to enjoy.

3. Tu Patris es sciéntia
You are knowledge of the Father
Verbúmque per quod ómnia
and the Word through whom all things
miro refúlgent órdine
shines with wonderful order
mentésque nostras áttrahunt.
and attract our minds.

4. Da lucis ut nos fílii
Give us the Son's light that
sic ambulémus ímpigri,
we may walk with eagerness
ut Patris usque grátiam
that the Father's grace (continually?)
mores et actus éxprimant.
habits and action they may express

5. Sincéra præsta ut prófluant
Pure, grant that they may emanate
ex ore nostro iúgiter,
from our mouth continually,
et veritátis dúlcibus
and delightful truths
ut excitémur gáudiis.
that we may awaken with joy.

6. Sit, Christe, rex piísime,
Christ, most loving King
tibi Patríque glória
to you and to the Father be glory
cum Spíritu Paráclito,
with the Spirit Paraclete
in sempitérna saécula. Amen.
unto endless ages.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Friday Lauds Even Week

I will start with the daily hymns for Ordinary Time. I am arbitrarily starting with Lauds, or Morning Prayer. These are arranged in a two week cycle, so I call them Even and Odd Weeks. Since this is the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time, I will start with the Even Friday hymns.

I am mainly just indicating vocabulary to get a flavor of what the text means. I am not going for a smooth translation, whether literal or otherwise. I don't have the expertise to do that.

For example, the English of the first verse below doesn't even make grammatical sense. But if you are familiar with Psalm 104:2-3 [who coverest thyself with light as with a garment,who hast stretched out the heavens like a tent, who hast laid the beams of thy chambers on the waters] you will get the picture.

1. Deus qui cæli lumen es
God who are the light of heaven
satórque lucis, qui polum
and creator of light, who the sky
patérno fultum bráchio
ancient support your arm
præclára pandis déxtera.
you stretch out your splendid right hand

2. Auróra stellas iam tegit
The sunrise hides the stars
rubrum sustóllens gúrgitem,
red (sea?) rising up flood
uméctis atque flátibus
humid and breathing(?)
terram baptízans róribus.
drenching the earth with dew

Iam noctis umbra línquitur,
So the shadows of the night dissolve
polum calígo déserit,
the darkness of the sky departs
typúsque Christi, lúcifer
and a model of Christ, the Day-star (Venus?)
diem sopítum súscitat.
the day from sleep rouses

Dies diérum tu, Deus,
Day of days, you, God,
lucísque lumen ipse es,
and that light of lights you are
Unum potens per ómnia,
One powerful over all
potens in unum Trínitas.
powerful Three in one

Te nunc, Salvátor, quaésumus
You now Savior, we ask
tibíque genu fléctimus,
and to you we bend the knee
Patrem cum Sancto Spíritu
to the Father with the Holy Spirit
totis laudántes vócibus. Amen.
be the praises of all voices.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Let us sing fitting hymns

The name of this blog comes from the first verse of the (Pre-1962) hymn for Matins on feasts of the Apostles and Evangelists. (Because today is the Feast of St. Barnabas the Apostle.)

Aeterna Christi munera, .....The eternal gifts of Christ,
Apostolorum gloriam, ..........The glory of the Apostles,
Palmas et hymnos debitos, .Songs of triumph and becoming hymns,
Laetis canamus mentibus. ...Let us sing with joyful hearts.
(translation based on Fr. M. Britt OSB Hymns of the Breviary and Missal

The word debitos is from the verb debeo which according to Fr. Britt's Dictionary of the Psalter (1928) means "to owe, to be indebted" so I suppose it could be translated "fitting," "due," or "appropriate."

I chose the word for the title of this blog because the Church has a fitting, appropriate, becoming, due, or assigned hymn for Christians to sing as part of the Liturgy of the Hours. This blog is where I plan to collect my thoughts and attempts at translating these hymns.

I say "attempts" because I am not really qualified for the task. Granted, I probably know much more Latin than the average person, but I am by no means an expert like, say, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, author of the continually interesting blog What Does the Prayer Really Say. Back when he was assigned to my parish St. Raphael I used to regularly assault him with questions about what the Latin prayers and hymns really said. He patiently and thoroughly answered them and offered friendly translation advice and an occasional grilling about the ablative absolute. (This was way back when he was watching over the forum at, before he ever began

He did acknowledge how difficult hymns in particular can be to translate well. I think this is because:
  • the syntax can be confusing
  • the vocabulary can sometimes be obscure
  • allusions to Holy Scripture, Tradition or classical literature can be difficult to catch
The syntax problem probably happens because hymn writers take liberty in moving words around in order to fit the meter. The vocabulary is obscure due to the writer choosing a more poetic word because of its sound or syllabic qualities. The allusions can be difficult because authors sonetimes seem to have double meanings for phrases in hymns, or more probably because of my ignorance of the content of Tradition and classical literature.

In any case, my desire to understand what I am singing is stronger than my apprehension about the difficulties. Perhaps I will look very amateurish. That's OK with me. I am very open to correction.