Thursday, August 28, 2008

Augustine of Hippo: Common of Theologians and Teachers

Well, actually, there's no such thing - at least, not according to Hymn-melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service-books. I'm fairly sure Augustine would have come under the category of "Confessor," and those hymns are listed at that link.

I've already posted some chant scores and hymn tunes for the Feast of a Confessor, so I'll just quote myself again:
Here's an mp3 of Iste Confessor, labeled a "hymn about a Holy Man" for the Common of Saints, from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood. Here's the listing at Hymn Melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service books, where Iste Confessor is appointed as the hymn for First Vespers. Below is a an image of the chant score for this hymn:





The words to the hymn above - the first line of which is "He whose confession God of old accepted" - are found at Oremus Hymnal, where it says the hymn is "Latin, eighth century; trans. Laurence Housman, 1906."
He whose confession God of old accepted,
whom through the ages all now hold in honor,
gaining his guerdon this day came to enter
heaven's high portal.

God-fearing, watchful, pure of mind and body,
holy and humble, thus did all men find him;
while, through his members, to the life immortal
mortal life called him.

Thus to the weary, from the life enshrinèd,
potent in virtue, flowed humane compassion;
sick and sore laden, howsoever burdened,
there they found healing.

So now in chorus, giving God the g lory,
raise we our anthem gladly to his honor,
that in fair kinship we may all be sharers
here and hereafter.

Honor and glory, power and salvation,
be in the highest unto him who reigneth
changeless in heaven over earthly changes,
triune, eternal.


Here is another set of words for this hymn; this source says that the hymn "was originally composed in honor of St. Martin of Tours":
This the Confessor of the Lord, whose triumph Now all the faithful celebrate, with gladness Erst on this feat-day merited to enter Into his glory.

Saintly and prudent, modest in behavior, Peaceful and sober, chaste was he, and lowly, While that life's vigor, coursing through his members, Quickened his being.

Sick ones of old time, to his tomb resorting, Sorely by ailments manifold afflicted, Oft-times have welcomed health and strength returning, At his petition.

Whence we in chorus gladly do him honor, Chanting his praises with devout affection, That in his merits we may have a portion, Now and forever.

Glory and virtue, honour and salvation, Be unto him that, sitting in the highest, Governeth all things, Lord and God Almighty, Trinity blessed.



But actually, Hymn melodies lists Iste Confessor as the hymn only for 1st Evensong and Mattins; Jesu, Redemptor Omnium is sung at Lauds and 2nd Evensong, to several different tunes, depending on the season. Here's the rundown:

At L. (except in Xmas & Paschal-tides) ... 25
At 2пd Ev. (& L. when по 2пd Ev.) ... 49
During Xmas-tide (L. & 2пd Ev.) ... 26
During Easter-tide ... ... 39
During Ascension-tide ... ... 41
On Simple Feasts of the lowest class throughout the year (L.) ... ... ... ... 6l


So there you have it. We are talking 25, 49, and/or 61 here. That's this gang:













#25 above uses the tune heard on this mp3, a tune I've heard used for the Lauds hymn on a Feast day.

Use the words to Jesu Redemptor Omnium with any one of these, and you're in business:
1. Jesu Redemptor omnium,
Quem lucis ante originem,
Parem paternae gloriae,
Pater supremus edidit.

2. Tu lumen et splendor Patris,
Tu spes perennis omnium:
Intende quas fundunt preces
Tui per orbem servuli.

3. Memento, rerum Conditor,
Nostri quod olim corporis,
Sacrata ab alvo Virginis,
Nascendo, formam sumpseris.

4. Testatur hoc praesens dies,
Currens per anni circulum,
Quod solus e sinu Patris
Mundi salus adveneris.

5. Hunc astra, tellus, aequora,
Hunc omne quod caelo subest,
Salutis auctorem novae,
Novo salutat cantico.

6. Et nos, beata quos sacri
Rigavit unda sanguinis,
Natalis ob diem tui,
Hymni tributum solvimus.

7. Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula.


The LLPB, though, offers this "Hymn about the Doctors" ("Doctors of the Church," that is - another way of saying "Theologians and Teachers"): "O Christ the Father's Voice (mp3)"; in Latin, that's O qui perpetuus nos, with the Latin words found here and an English translation found here.

Here's the hymn for both Vespers from my source, for "Theologians and Teachers"; it is again that same 11.11.11.5 meter and the same tune sung at many minor feasts throughout the year (and a favorite of mine; here's an mp3 of this tune, although using words for the feast of John the Baptist):





Here's part of the Satucket.com entry for Augustine of Hippo:
Augustine (Aurelius Augustinus) was one of the greatest theologians of Western Christianity. (In his day the Mediterranean world consisted of an Eastern, Greek-speaking half and a Western, Latin-speaking half, with different ways of looking at things, and different habits of thought.) He was born 13 November 354 in North Africa, about 45 miles south of the Mediterranean, in the town of Tagaste in Numidia (now Souk-Ahras in Algeria), near ancient Carthage (modern Tunis). His mother, Monnica, was a Christian (see 4 May), and his father for many years a pagan (although he became a Christian before his death). His mother undertook to bring him up as a Christian, and on one level he always found something attractive about Christ, but in the short run he was more interested in the attractions of sex, fame, and pride in his own cleverness. After a moderate amount of running around as a teen-ager, he took a mistress, who bore him a son when he was about eighteen. Theirs was a long-term relationship, apparently with faithfulness on both sides, and the modern reader is left wondering why he did not simply marry the girl. He never tells us this (and in fact never tells us her name), so that we can only guess. It seems likely that she was a freedwoman, and the laws forbade marriage between a free-born Roman citizen and a slave, or an ex-slave.

When He was 19 and a student at Carthage, he read a treatise by Cicero that opened his eyes to the delights of philosophy. He was from the beginning a brilliant student, with an eager intellectual curiousity, but he never mastered Greek -- he tells us that his first Greek teacher was a brutal man who constantly beat his students, and Augustine rebelled and vowed never to learn Greek. By the time he realized that he really needed to know Greek, it was too late; and although he acquired a smattering of the language, he was never really at home in it. However, his mastery of Latin was another matter. He became an expert both in the eloquent use of the language and in the use of clever arguments to make his points. He became a teacher of rhetoric in Carthage, but was dissatisfied. It was the custom for students to pay their fees to the professor on the last day of the term, and many students attended faithfully all term, and then did not pay. In his late twenties, Augustine decided to leave Africa and seek his fortune in Rome.

....

And finally, partly because Ambrose had answers for his questions, partly because he admired Ambrose personally, and chiefly (or so he believed) because God touched his heart, he was converted to Christianity in 386 and was baptised by Ambrose at Easter of 387. About 12 years later he wrote an account of his life up to a time shortly after his conversion, a book called the Confessions, a highly readable work available in English. Ostensibly an autobiography, it is more an outpouring of penitence and thanksgiving.

In a well-known chapter, Augustine describes his conversion. His intellectual objections had lost their force, and he was at a point where the difficulty was that he seemed unable to make a commitment to living chastely, or unable to make a commitment, period. He heard of a group of young men, Christians, one of whom decided to become a desert hermit, whereupon the others, one at a time, made the same commitment, encouraged and inspired by the examples of those in the group who had already done so. (In many circles at that time, becoming a desert hermit had the same overtones as joining the Peace Corps did for many young persons in the 1960's, or joining the armed forces for many in the weeks immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor.) Augustine went aside to ponder the question, "How is it that these young men can make so drastic a commitment, and I cannot take even the first step of declaring myself a Christian?" He heard what seemed to be a child's voice coming from next door, saying over and over, "Tolle, lege; tolle, lege," or, "Pick up and read; pick up and read." Since he could not think of any reason why a child would be saying that, he took it as an omen, and picked up a copy of Paul's Epistle to the Romans. As he opened it, his eye fell on the end of the thirteenth chapter:

The night is far gone, the day is at hand.
Let us then cast off the works of darkness
and put on the armor of light;
let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day,
not in reveling and drunkenness,
not in debauchery and licentiousness,
not in quarreling and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and make no provision for the flesh,
to gratify its desires.


As he read, he experienced this as God speaking directly to him, convicting him of his past sins, and offering him forgiveness; calling him to amend his life, and promising him the grace and power to do it. He burst into tears, and surrendered. Later, he wrote:

Late have I loved Thee, O Lord; and behold,
Thou wast within and I without, and there I sought Thee.
Thou was with me when I was not with Thee.
Thou didst call, and cry, and burst my deafness.
Thou didst gleam, and glow, and dispell my blindness.
Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy peace.
For Thyself Thou hast made us,
and restless our hearts until in Thee they find their ease.
Late have I loved Thee, Thou Beauty ever old and ever new.
Thou hast burst my bonds asunder;
unto Thee will I offer up an offering of praise.


Although written as an account of his life, the Confessions keeps digressing into speculations about the nature of time, the nature of causality, the nature of free will, the motives of human action, etc.

Louis deWohl has written a novel about Augustine, based mostly on the Confessions, called The Restless Flame. It is an excellent introduction to the man.


The readings for the day are also listed at Satucket.com, and here's today's Traditional collect:
O Lord God, who art the light of the minds that know thee, the life of the souls that love thee, and the strength of the hearts that serve thee: Help us, following the example of thy servant Augustine of Hippo, so to know thee that we may truly love thee, and so to love thee that we may fully serve thee, whom to serve is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


This is the Auggie icon we see all the time these days, one I like a lot:






Of course, some do prefer to think of it this way:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More from the Met

Another interesting piece from the museum - this time, a "Plaque with Agnus Dei and Four Evangelists," from "Animals in Medieval Art":
The writers of the four Gospels, which relate the story of Christ's life, were often symbolized by animals. Winged creaturees stood for Matthew, a lion for Mark, an ox for Luke, and an eagle for John. These symbols were based upon the vision of Saint John in the Book of Revelation (4:6–7). On this ivory plaque, the animal symbols, holding their Gospels, are arranged around the cross. At the center appears the Lamb of God, a symbol of Christ. Originally, this plaque would have decorated the cover of an Evangiliary, a manuscript containing all four Gospels.

"Probably 9th century," and really beautiful, I think.





[EDIT: I just noticed this is ivory and not wood, as I'd thought. I think in medieval Europe, the tusks of walruses were used for ivory, since elephant ivory would not have been available generally. It is somewhat odd to be celebrating "Animals in the Middle Ages" by showing works of art made from ivory - but in those days, everything was made from animals. I suppose it's no stranger than Perdue commercials with singing chickens in them.

And I think in many cases, human societies depended on ivory; in the far north, for instance, where there aren't many trees or anything else to use for tools.

Anyway, don't try this at home; we don't need to use ivory any longer, and let's definitely let the living animals keep their own stuff.]

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Art for the Christian Liturgy in the Middle Ages"

An interesting online version of an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Check out the other sections in the left navigation, too.

Here's one piece, labeled "Processional Cross, late 11th–early 12th century; Spanish"; it's beautiful.




HT Episcopal Cafe Art Blog.

Bartholomew the Apostle

Don't forget to sing the hymns for Apostles and Evangelists today, the Feast of St. Bartholomew the Apostle (transferred).
The name "Bartholomew" appears in the New Testament only on lists of the names of the twelve apostles. This list normally is given as six pairs, and the third pair in each of the Synoptics is "Philip and Bartholomew" (M 10:3; P 3:18; L 6:14; but A 1:15).

John gives no list of the Twelve, but refers to more of them individually than the Synoptists. He does not name Bartholomew, but early in his account (John 1:43-50) he tells of the call to discipleship of a Nathaniel who is often supposed to be the same person. The reasoning is as follows: John's Nathanael is introduced as one of the earliest followers of Jesus, and in terms which suggest that he became one of the Twelve. He is clearly not the same as Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Thomas, Judas Iscariot, Judas (not Iscariot, also called Lebbaeus or Thaddeus), all of whom John names separately. He is not Matthew, whose call is described differently (M 9:9). This leaves Bartholomew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes. Of these, Bartholomew is the leading candidate for two reasons:
(1) "Bar-tholomew" is a patronymic, meaning "son of Tolmai (or Talmai)." It is therefore likely that he had another name. (A historical novel which may not be well researched informs me that a first-century Jew would be likely to use the patronymic instead of the forename as a mark of respect in speaking to a significantly older Jew.) "Nathanael son of Tolmai" seems more likely than "Nathanael also called James (or Simon)."
(2) Nathanael is introduced in John's narrative as a friend of Philip. Since Bartholomew is paired with Philip on three of our four lists of Apostles, it seems likely that they were associated.

We have no certain information about Bartholomew's later life. Some writers, including the historian Eusebius of Caesarea (now Har Qesari, 32:30 N 34:54 E, near Sedot Yam), say that he preached in India. The majority tradition, with varying details, is that Bartholomew preached in Armenia, and was finally skinned alive and beheaded to Albanus or Albanopolis (now Derbent, 42:03 N 48:18 E) on the Caspian Sea. His emblem in art is a flaying knife. The flayed Bartholomew can be seen in Michelangelo's Sistine painting of the Last Judgement. He is holding his skin. The face on the skin is generally considered to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo.


Here's that image, at Wikipedia:





Here's a statue of Bartholomew and his skin, at Wikimedia Commons: the Apostle Bartholomew (Rome, San Giovanni in Laterano). Sculptor: Pierre Le Gros the Younger, c. 1703-1712.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

August 15: Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Part II

I would just like to note that Friday night's celebration of the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary was possibly the gayest religious service I've ever been to. Same-sex couples (and singles), both men and women, packed the place to the rafters. And everybody loved every moment, and sang the Marian hymns - "Ye who own the faith of Jesus": from the English hymnal; "Immaculate Mary": from the public domain - the one that has "Ave, Ave, Ave Maria; Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!" at the end of each verse; and "In splendor arrayed": the words of which you can find - where else? - at St. Clement's Philadelphia; they are also from the public domain, and here sung to the tune of Parry's "O Praise Ye the Lord," bless me! - lustily and happily. And in 4 parts, and well. It was just terrific, in every possible way. (Really; it's so nice to see gay people feeling relaxed and happy and welcome in the usually so hostile and poisonous atmosphere of the Christian church. Finally. Thank God for St. M.V.)

The Propers of the Day have some terrific texts, too. Check out the words to this Introit (and here's the mp3 from the Benedictines of Brazil):
Signum magnum apparuit in coelo: mulier amicta sole, et luna sub pedibus ejus, et in capite ejus corona stellarum duodecim. -- Cantate Domino canticum novum: quia mirabilia fecit. V.: Gloria Patri . . . -- Signum magnum apparuit in coelo . . .

A great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. -- Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: because He hath done wonderful things. V.: Glory be to the Father . . . -- A great sign appeared in heaven . . .


That's Revelation, baby! And all the Propers are like this. Of course, when you celebrate an event that doesn't actually appear anywhere in the sacred texts, it's possible to go wild with imagery from who-knows-where.

Here's the page at christusrex.org with all the mass chants.




The musical highlight of the evening, though, was Cristóbal de Morales' Exaltata Est Sancta Dei Genetrix, sung as the Motet at Communion. Completely gorgeous - and it goes on forever. A note in the bulletin about it says: "Verse, response, and Antiphon on the Magnificat at First Vespers for the Feast of the Assumption. Here are the words:
Exaltata est sancta Dei Genitrix
super chorus Angelorum
ad caelestia regna.

Virgo prudentissima
Quo progrederis,
quasi aurora valde rutilans?
Filia Sion.
Tota formosa et suavis es:
pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol.


The holy mother of God has been exalted,
above the choirs of angels,
in the heavenly kingdom.

O most prudent Virgin,
whither do you go,
you who are like the rosy dawn?
O Daughter of Zion.
All beautiful and sweet you are:
fair as the moon, bright as the sun.


Isn't that wonderful? If you can possibly find this piece, it's really quite amazing! Here's a sample, at Amazon.com; here's another part of it, from this CD.

As for art: well, a lot of it's kind of cheesy, if you ask me - although I do like this:






And I like this, too (from I can't remember anymore where):






And I really like the "Girdle(s) of Mary" story told during the sermon (apparently the BVM handed off her belt to Thomas from heaven; apparently, also, there are or were several of these belts - one in Tuscany and one at Athos - and several such stories). Anyway, here's at little icon of one of these events, I'm not sure which:





Psalm Tones with Their Endings

Here's a one-page chart that gives the Psalm tones and their various endings; it originally comes from the Liber Usualis. Musica Sacra has the PDF file, if you'd rather have that. (Click the image below for the full-size chart.)





I need to compare and contrast in detail, but I do believe the Sarum Psalm tones are slightly different in some of their endings.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hiley Plainchant book at Google Books

FYI, parts of David Hiley's Western Plainchant have now been scanned and posted at Google Books. I'm told by friends that this is an indispensable reference - although, my: is it pricey.

Here's an intro from the main page there:
Plainchant is the oldest substantial body of music that has been preserved in any shape or form. It was first written down in Western Europe in the eighth to ninth centuries. Many thousands of chants have been sung at different times or places in a multitude of forms and styles, responding to the differing needs of the church through the ages. This book provides a clear and concise introduction, designed both for those to whom the subject is new and those who require a reference work for advanced study. It begins with an explanation of the liturgies that plainchant was designed to serve. It describes all the chief genres of chant, different types of liturgical book, and plainchant notations. After an exposition of early medieval theoretical writing on plainchant, Hiley provides a historical survey that traces the constantly changing nature of the repertory. He also discusses important musicians and centers of composition. Copiously illustrated with over 200 musical examples, this book highlights the diversity of practice and richness of the chant repertory in the Middle Ages. It will be an indispensable introduction and reference source on this important music for many years to come.

August 15: The Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Part I

Hymn Melodies for the whole year from the Sarum services books lists this lineup of Office hymns on the day:
On the Feast of the Assumption of the B. V. Mary (Aug. 15):
1st Evensong: O quam glorifica ... ... ... ... 66
Mattins: Quem terra, pontus, ethera ... ... ... ... 63
Lauds: O gloriosa femina ... ... ... ... 63
2пd Evensong: Letabundus... ... Sequence, p. (ii)

But within the 8ve & on the 8ve day, O quam glorifica, as above.


Here are the chant scores for #63 and #66 from Hymn Melodies:









Here's an mp3 the cantor from LLPB singing #63 above; this is "The God Whom Earth and Sea and Sky" (the English version of Quem terra, pontus, ethera posted at Oremus Hymnal). Here are the words listed there:
The God whom earth and sea and sky
adore and laud and magnify,
whose might they own, whose praise they swell,
in Mary's womb vouchsafed to dwell.

The Lord whom sun and moon obey,
whom all things serve from day to day,
was by the Holy Ghost conceived
of her who through his grace believed.

How blessed that Mother, in whose shrine
the world's Creator, Lord divine,
whose hand contains the earth and sky,
once deigned, as in his ark, to lie.

Blessed in the message Gabriel brought,
blessed by the work the Spirit wrought;
from whom the great Desire of earth
took human flesh and human birth.

O Lord, the Virgin-born, to thee
eternal praise and glory be,
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Ghost for evermore.

---------------------------------------------------

Words: attributed to Fortunatus, sixth century;
trans. John Mason Neale, 1854

Music: St. Ambrose, O Amor quam ecstaticus, Quem terra, pontus, aethera


I've already posted about several of these hymns, at the time of the Feast of the Annunciation. Here's part of that post again:

I do know, though, that the hymns listed for Mattins and Lauds in Hymn-melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service-books (which hymns are notated "as on the Feast of the Conception") are sung to the same tune; the hymn is called "O gloriosa femina" (or "O gloriosa domina") at Lauds, and "Quem terra, pontus, ethera" at Mattins. The tune is the same as, but the words do not match up to, the hymn I have for Lauds:





Here's a page from the Poissy Antiphonal that includes both of these hymns - but the melodies seem quite different:






Here is a version (not any of the chant tunes listed, but pretty) of "O Gloriosa Domina" posted at YouTube:



Here are the words, in Latin and English:

O gloriosa Domina
excelsa super sidera,
qui te creavit provide,
lactasti sacro ubere.

Quod Eva tristis abstulit,
tu reddis almo germine;
intrent ut astra flebiles,
Caeli fenestra facta es.

Tu regis alti janua
et porta lucis fulgida;
vitam datam per Virginem,
gentes redemptae, plaudite.

Gloria tibi, Domine,
qui natus es de Virgine,
cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu
in sempiterna secula. Amen.



O Heaven's glorious mistress,
elevated above the stars,
thou feedest with thy sacred breast
him who created thee.

What miserable Eve lost
thy dear offspring to man restors,
the way to glory is open to the wretched
for thou has become the Gate of Heaven.

Thou art the door of the High King,
the gate of shining light.
Life is given through a Virgin:
Rejoice, ye redeemed nations.

Glory be to Thee, O Lord,
Born of a Virgin,
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
world without end. Amen.


You can hear a bit of the hymn for First Evensong, O quam glorifica, on the CD A Lammas Ladymass - 13th and 14th Century English Chant and Polyphony, from Anonymous 4, at #2 (but as usual, it's really worth it to click "Preview All"). Here are the lyrics in English:
1. O how glorious art thou, dazzling with light,
stock of David, royal offspring!
Thou dwellest in a sublime height, O Virgin Mary,
Looking down on all the heavenly regions.

2. Thou, with the honor of being a virgin and mother,
hast prepared for the Lord of Angels thy bosom
as a sacred palace, thy most holy womb,
from whence God took flesh, and was born Christ.

3. Thou, whom the whole world venerates and pays homage,
before whom all now rightfully bend the knee,
To whom we humbly beseech in our misery and darkness,
coming before thee surrounded by the joy of pure light.

4. O Father of all lights, through this sacred Flame
give unto us thy only Begotten Son,
who with Thee reigns brilliantly in the heavens,
ruling and governing for all ages.
Amen.


But now here's the real interest, at least for me: Letabundus, a Sequence Hymn, is sung at Second Vespers - a Christmas Sequence, that is! I've tried to find a recording of this, but as is usual with many of the Sequence hymns, it's just not out there [EDIT August 2009: Not true, anymore! See this post for an mp3 of Letabundus.]; most of the Sequences have fallen into disuse at this point. Here, though, is the score, with the English words (click the image for a larger version):





And here, most wonderfully, are sound files of the entire service of 2nd Vespers for this feast, including Psalms and Antiphons, from the Benedictines of Brazil: In Assumptione Beatæ Mariæ Virginis ad II vesperas.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Something from the BBC Proms

Found here, and recorded this past Sunday; 55 minutes of "ancient meets modern":
Ancient meets modern, as Messiaen's Mass for Pentecost, for solo organ - here performed by Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster
Abbey, James O'Donnell - is interspersed with music from the 16th century.

The Missa Veni Sancte Spiritus by the Franco-Flemish Pierre de Manchicourt - a composer at last receiving the attention he deserves - offers a change of pace and texture. Andrew Carwood, a much-lauded specialist in the music of the Renaissance, leads the BBC Singers through this haunting music.

  • Messiaen Messe de la Pentecôte (29 mins)

    interspersed with:

  • Manchicourt Missa 'Veni Sancte Spiritus' (26 mins)


James O'Donnell organ
BBC Singers
Andrew Carwood conductor

Detailed notes about the music will be available one hour before the concert.

About the music


Very beautiful.

Monday, August 04, 2008

August 6: The Feast of the Transfiguration

Hymn melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service books lists three Transfiguration hymns:
At 1st Evensong Celestis formara glorie, using melodies 26, 41 or 42;
At Mattins: О Sator rerum, using melodies 44 or 56; and
At Lauds: O nata Lux de Lumine, using melodies 41 or 63. Here are images of these last two; this morning, #41 was used:




For the words to these hymns, see my full entry for the Sarum hymns for today at On the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6).   You can also find words in the Hymner.

Or, you can take the words from these images of the hymns for Lauds (which is, again, O nata Lux de Lumine) and Vespers (a version of Celestis formara glorie) from my Episcopal Office Book source:








Here's the entire Lauds service, including the Antiphon on the Benedictus:





There are some lovely, melismatic mass chants for today, as you can well imagine. The Benedictines of Brazil offer mp3s and chant scores of all but the Introit.

Transfiguration is actually celebrated twice during the Liturgical Year: once (not as a Feast) during Epiphany and once today, which is why there seem to be a great variety of hymns associated with this event; this morning we sang hymns exclusively from the Epiphany section of the hymnbook - mainly because there isn't a Transfiguration section.

Another of the hymns for the day - a hymn that does not appear in the Sarum listings above - is Quicumque Christum quaeritis. Which, it says here in the Old Catholic Encyclopedia, is "the opening line of the twelfth (in honor of the Epiphany) and last poem in the 'Cathemerinon' of Prudentius." Further:
This twelfth poem or hymn contains 52 iambic dimeter strophes, and an irregular selection from its 208 lines has furnished four hymns to the Roman Breviary, all of which conclude with the usual Marian doxology ("Jesu tibi sit gloria" etc., not composed by Prudentius), slightly varied to make the doxology appropriate for the several feasts employing the hymns. The four centos are:

Quicumque Christum quaeritis (Matins and first and second Vespers of the feast of the Transfiguration), comprising sixteen lines (I-4, 37-44, 85-88) and the doxology (which changes its second line): Jesu, tibi sit gloria, Qui to revelers parvulis, etc.

Although written for the Epiphany, the lines forming the cento apply well to the Transfiguration, as Daniel notes (Thes. Hymnol., I, p. 136). Of the 18 translations in English verse, twelve are by Catholics.


You can hear this beautiful hymn as the first piece of background music on this "Video Tour" of the Church of the Transfiguration in Orleans, MA. (It's quite a beautiful church, as well, and worth going to have a look at the video, I think.)

Here are the Latin words to Quicumque Christum quaeritis; if I find an English set, I'll add it.
Quicumque Christum quæritis,
oculos in altum tollite:
illic licebit visere
signum perennis gloriæ.

Hæc stella, quæ solis rotam
vincit decore ac lumine,
venisse terris nuntiat
cum carne terrestri Deum.

En, Persici ex orbis sinu,
sol unde sumit ianuam,
cernunt periti interpretes
regale vexillum magi.

Quis iste tantus – inquiunt –
regnator astris imperans,
quem sic tremunt cælestia,
cui lux et æthra inserviunt?

Illustre quiddam cernimus
quod nesciat finem pati,
sublime, celsum, interminum,
antiquius cælo et chao.

Hic ille rex est gentium
populique rex Iudaici,
promissus Abrahæ patri
eiusque in ævum semini.

Iesu, tibi sit gloria,
qui te revelas gentibus,
cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
in sempiterna sæcula.


[EDIT: an anonymous poster has kindly left, in the comments, the words in English to this hymn:
Here are a set of English words for the Quicumque Christum quaeritis, which I found at http://lzkiss.net/cgi-bin/horas/brevi.pl

Hymn {from the Proprium of Saints}
All ye who would the Christ descry,
Lift up your eyes to Him on high:
There mortal gaze bath strength to see
The token of His majesty.

A wondrous sign we there behold,
That knows not death nor groweth old,
Sublime, most high, that cannot fade,
That was crc earth and heaven were made.

Here is the King the Gentiles fear,
The Jews’ most mighty King is here
Promised to Abraham of yore,
And to his seed forevermore.

'Tis He the Prophets’ words foretold,
And by their signs shown forth of old;
The Father’s witness bath or. dained
That we should hear with faith unfeigned.

Jesu, to Thee our praise we pay,
To little ones revealed to.day,
With Father and Blest Spirit One
Until the ages’ course is done.
Amen.


Thanks, anon.]

Here's an interesting somewhat-Transfiguration-related passage from a Google Book, The Latin Hymn-writers and Their Hymns:
The invention of printing from movable types, about 1452, by Johann Gutenberg of Mainz marks an era in Latin hymnology, because of the prompt use of the new method to multiply the Church books in use in the various dioceses. In every part of Western Europe, from Aberdeen, Lund, and Trondhjem, on the north, to the shores of the Mediterranean, the missals, breviaries, and hymnaries were given to the early printers, with the result of bringing to light many fine hymns and sequences whose use had been merely local. The Sarum Breviary and Missal and those of
Rome and Paris were printed more frequently than any other. To the Sarum Breviary we owe the fine Transfiguration hymns — Coclestis formam gloriae and O nata lux de lumine and O sator rerum reparator aevs, which Anglican translators have made into English hymns ; to the Missal the fine sequence on the crown of thorns, Si vis vere gloriari, of which Dr. Whewell published a translation in Frazer s Magazine for May, 1849. To the York Processional (1530) we owe the four " proses" which begin Salve festa dies, tola venerabilis aevo, which suggest to Daniel that "in England also there was no lack of those who celebrated the divine majesty in very sweet hymns."


Morten Lauridson used his own version of O Nata Lux de Lumine in his Requiem. These are the words in Latin, along with a different translation in English:
O nata lux de lumine,
Jesu redemptor saeculi,
Dignare clemens supplicum
Laudes preces que sumere.

Qui carne quondam contegi
Dignatus es pro perditis.
Nos membra confer effici,
Tui beati corporis.


O Light of light, by love inclined,
Jesu, Redeemer of mankind,
With loving kindness deign to hear
From suppliant voices praise and prayer.

Thou who to raise our souls from hell
Didst deign in fleshly form to dwell,
Vouchsafe us, when our race is run,
In thy fair Body to be one.


Here it is, at YouTube, sung by the "Fountain Valley High School Troubadours in Salzburg". They're good!



Here's another video, this time of Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna from the same piece.



Here are more chant recordings from the (Byzantine Catholic) Metropolitan Cantor Institute in Pittsburgh, for The Transfiguration of Our Lord (August 6). And very beautiful chants they are, too, in English:


Here's something about the feast from the Office for Liturgy & Music of the Episcopal Church:
Celebration of the Transfiguration began in the eastern church in the late fourth century. The feast is celebrated on Aug. 6. This was the date of the dedication of the first church built on Mount Tabor, which is traditionally considered to be the "high mountain" of the Transfiguration. Others locate the Transfiguration on Mount Hermon or the Mount of Olives. Celebration of the feast was not common in the western church until the ninth century. It was declared a universal feast of the western church by Pope Callistus III in 1457. The feast was first included in the English Prayer Book as a black letter day in the 1561 revision of the calendar of the church year. It was included as a red letter day with proper collect and readings in the American Prayer Book of 1892. Its inclusion reflects the efforts of William Reed Huntington, who wrote the BCP collect for the Transfiguration. This collect prays, "O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the king in his beauty. . . ." (BCP, p. 243). The Transfiguration is listed among the holy days of the church year as a Feast of our Lord. Other provinces of the Anglican Communion followed the lead of the Episcopal Church in celebrating the Transfiguration as a major feast. The Transfiguration gospel is used on the Last Sunday after the Epiphany in all three years of the BCP eucharistic lectionary. As an Epiphany story, the Transfiguration provides one of the most distinctive and dramatic showings of Jesus' divinity. The Hymnal 1982 provides several hymns for the Transfiguration, including "Christ upon the mountain peak" (Hymns 129-130) and "O wondrous type! O vision fair" (Hymns 136-137).


There are some Transfiguration images here, at Textweek. Interestingly, Transfiguration seems to be a theme that quite a few modern artists are attracted to - perhaps because it occurs (as I always have to say) on the day the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Perhaps the stark contrast between the two events is what draws the artists; I'd have to think so.

Here are two by Bellini, though - and there's lots of contrast here, too. I like the second, painted almost 30 years later, much better than the first.








I like this Lotto version, too, because everybody's labeled. We wouldn't want there to be any confusion, after all....



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