Monday, November 29, 2010

The Advent Sequence: Salus Aeterna

Salus Aeterna is an 11th-Century sequence hymn for Advent, found in the Sarum Gradual. It's difficult to find audio versions of this online, as (with four exceptions) the Sequence Hymns were dropped from the Gregorian repertoire at the Council of Trent. 

Oremus Hymnal offers a midi of the entire tune, without words, here, though.  And below is a video of - perhaps? - a Benjamin Britten composition based on the Gregorian melody.   It's straightforwardly the Gregorian tune (see score below) until about 2:04 on the video, at which point a baritone solo begins - and then abruptly ends!  The piece uses about half the original Gregorian tune , and was - perhaps?- written as a processional; I can find nothing about it online at the moment.

Here are the words in Latin from Prosper Gueringer's The Liturgical Year: Advent, and in English from Hymn Melodies for the Whole Year, from the Sarum Service Books:
Salus aeterna, indeficiens mundi vita.
Lux sempiterna, et redemptio vera nostra.
Condolens humana perire saecla per tentantis numina.
Non linquens excelsa, adisti ima propria dementia.
Mox tua spontanea gratia assumens humana,
Quae fuerant perdita omnia, salvasti terrea.
Ferens mundo gaudia.
Tu animas et corpora nostra, Christe, expia,
Ut possideas lucida nosmet liabitacula.
Adventu primo justifica.
In secundo nosque libera;
Ut cum facta luce magna, judicabis omnia,
Compti stola incorrupta, nosmet tua subsequamur mox vestigia quocumque visa. Amen,

Saviour eternal, health and life of the world unfailing,
light everlasting, and in verity our redeemer.
Grieving that the ages of men
must perish through the tempter’s subtlety,
still in heaven abiding,
thou camest earthward of thine own great clemency.
Then freely and graciously deigning to assume humanity,
to lost ones and perishing gavest thou thy free
deliverance, filling all the world with joy.
O Christ, our souls and bodies cleanse
by thy perfect sacrifice, that we as temples
pure and bright fit for thine abode may be.
By thy former advent justify,
by thy second grant us liberty,
that when in the might of glory thou descendest,
judge of all,
we in raiment undefiled bright may shine,
thy footsteps blest,
where’er they lead us.

Here's the score from Hymn Melodies:

And here is Gabriel Jackson's (b. 1962) gorgeous polyphonic 20th Century setting, masterfully rendered by the BYU Singers:


Anonymous said...

The processional by Britten is at the beginning of his one-act opera, The Burning Fiery Furnace. That opera is the second of Britten's "church parable" operas.

bls said...

Many thanks, Anon. Will need to look at those....

Anonymous said...

You're very welcome. His church parable operas are really wonderful! They are: Curlew River, The Burning Fiery Furnace, and The Prodigal Son.

bls said...

Thanks again. I'm surprised I haven't heard of these before. Looking forward to investigating!


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