Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Office of Readings Odd Week noctu

Here is an mp3 of me singing this hymn. If you heard yesterday's mp3, you will recognize the tune: it's the same one. In fact, the Office of Readings hymn (for the night or early morning) has the same tune in the Liber Hynarius for the whole week, Sunday through Saturday. The Even Week features several different tunes though, so stayed tuned if you like variety!

Tu, Trinitátis Unitas,
Thou Unity in Trinity,
orbem poténter qui regis,
Thou who dost mightily rule the world,
atténde laudum cántica
harken to the canticle of praise,
quæ excubántes psállimus.
which we, risen from sleep, sing.

O Three in One, and One in Three,
Who rulest all things mightily,
bow down to hear the songs of praise
which, freed from bonds of sleep, we raise.

2. Nam léctulo consúrgimus
For we rise from our beds
noctis quiéto témpore,
in the quiet time of the night,
ut flagitémus vúlnerum
that we may ask, for our wounds
a te medélam ómnium.
ask of Thee a remedy for all of them.

2. While lingers yet the peace of night,
we rouse us from our slumbers light;
that might of instant prayer may win
The healing balm for wounds of sin.

3. Quo fraude quicquid daémonum
That whatever, by the deception of the evil spirits,
in nóctibus delíquimus,
we have failed in during the night,
abstérgat illud caélitus Update:
from heaven may blot it out
tuæ potéstas glóriæ.
by the might of Thy glory.
[Let the might of thy glory wipe it [whatever was our failure] away from heaven.]
Thanks, Figulus.

3. If, by the wiles of Satan caught,
this nighttime we have sinned in aught,
that sin Thy glorious power today,
from heaven descending, cleanse away.

[4. Ne corpus astet sórdidum,
Lest the body become defiled,
nec torpor instet córdium,
and torpor of heart threaten,
ne críminis contágio
and by the touch of sin
tepéscat ardor spíritus.
the fervor of the soul be chilled.

4. Let naught impure our bodies stain,
no laggard sloth our souls detain,
no taint of sin our spirits know,
to chill the fervor of their glow. ]

5. Te corde fido, quaésumus,
With trusting heart we ask Thee then,
reple tuo nos lúmine,
fill us with Thy light,
per quod diérum círculis
that in the cycle of days
nullis ruámus áctibus.
we may fail in none of our actions.

5. Wherefore, Redeemer, grant that we
fulfilled with Thine own light may be:
that, in our course. from day to day,
by no misdeed we fall away.

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

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

Today I received a wonderful "loan" from a reader, bluejeepsiamese: three books which will add immensely to my understanding of these hymns. The most revealing of these is Te Decet Hymnus: L'Innario della "Liturgia Horarum" by Dom Anselmo Lentini himself, the presumed editor of the Liber Hymnarius.

Here are a few things I found out about today's hymn from Lentini:
1) Lentini includes a "title" or description of each hymn, much like the Liturgia Horarum does for each of the Psalms. Today's description reads "A Prayer for the Wounds of the Soul."
2) You may have noticed I have bracketed the 4th verse, which means it has been omitted in the modern Office. Lentini explains why he took it out: "The 4th verse has been omitted, again for brevity:" (He then quotes it in full, and adds), "which stresses, with the usual anxiety, the nocturnal miseries of the flesh."
3) Te corde fido, quaésumus in the 5th verse is his replacement for the original Ob hoc, Redemptor, quaesumus: (We therefore beseech Thee, O Redeemer). He explains: "This final prayer now only to Christ seems harmful to the organic unity of the hymn as a whole, directed to the Trinity; Hence the replacement inspired by Analecta hymnica, Vol 51, No 30: "Te puro corde quaesumus."

I have a few observations on these points.

1) I now love these little titles: they are tiny summaries to help me prepare for the meaning of the hymn. They used to annoy me ("Those aren't in the original text!"), but as I get older, I find I am grateful for any assistance to my slowing mind. The descriptions act as runway lights to help my understanding land in the right place so I don't go completely astray on the meaning of the text.
2) One of Fr. Z's pet peeves about ICEL translations of the proper prayers at Holy Mass is that the translations remove certain "outmoded" concepts like grace, sacrifice, our total dependence on God, etc. One might look at Fr. Lentini's omission of verse 4 and put it in that category, as if Lentini was saying, "Oh, we don't believe all that old stuff about keeping the flesh pure. Why should it be harder to remain pure at night than during the day? What's the big deal anyway? We all have our urges, God knows this, so relax and blah, blah, blah..."

Is it possible to give him the benefit of the doubt on this? Perhaps priests of his generation (he died in 1989) experienced a particularly harsh type of discipline or formation early on which over-emphasized avoiding the dangerous sins of the flesh, even to an unhealthy or unbalanced degree? I have heard that the aggiornamento for this generation often included a kind of catharsis when these kinds of teachings became more balanced, putting them in perspective, perhaps taking modern psychology more into account.

I hasten to add that I did not know the man. Also, I know that many poor, misguided souls took this "balancing" of emphasis as an excuse for pulling out all the stops, so to speak, and giving in to their every fleshly impulse. Somehow I believe that such a learned man as Lentini was not one of those low kind of people.

On the other hand, could Lentini possibly have known how immersed in sins of the flesh we would be today? Perhaps if he knew the torpor of the 21st century heart "touched by sin" and suffering such massive spiritual wounds caused by today's casual attitude toward sins of the flesh, he would put that verse back in, despite the fact that it make the hymn a tiny bit longer.

3) I personally have no problem with Lentini's scholarly replacement in the 5th verse. It's not like he just arbitrarily threw it in to fix some rhyme scheme or make it "sound nicer." He was actually trying to tighten up the focus of the hymn as a whole. "Didn't we start out this hymn addressing ourselves to Trinitatis Unitas? When did we focus our gaze on the 2nd person alone?" And if I understand the scholarly apparatus correctly, the replacement phrase was "inspired" by a similarly ancient hymn to this one. (Incidentally, this hymn was written by one of my favorites: "Author Unknown, 6th or 7th century.")

Thanks again, bluejeepsiamese. God reward you for making the effort to help me out.

1 comment:

Figulus said...

abstergat illud caelitus
tuae potestas gloriae

"Let the might of thy glory wipe it away from heaven." The "it" that gets wiped away is the "quicquid deliquimus" of the previous lines, the sin we committed in the night influenced by the demons' fraud.