Friday, December 06, 2013

On the Feast of the Conception of the B.V. Mary (Dec. 8)

From Hymn melodies for the whole year, from the Sarum service-books:
On the Feast of the Conception of the B. V. Mary (Dec. 8)
Evensong: Ave! maris Stella ... ... ... 64
Mattins:  Quem terra, pontus, ethera  ... ... ... 63
Lauds: O gloriosa femina  ... ... ... 63

We have seen all these hymns in our travels before; the Mattins and Lauds hymns are the same, and sung to the same melody, at Purification (Candlemas, February 2), at Assumption (August 15), and at The Nativity of the B.V.M. (Sept. 8); the  Evensong hymn is the same one, again sung to the same melody, as on the Nativity of the B.V.M. (Sept. 8).

So, these hymns and melodies are associated with Mary throughout the year; this makes it easy for me, since I can just grab content from some of the feasts I've already posted on!  (Ironic that this is one of the last of the Propers of Saints I'm posting on - yet the first of those to be celebrated during the liturgical year.)

Follow along with the Offices for this feast at Breviary Offices, from Lauds to Compline Inclusive (Society of St. Margaret, Boston) (published in 1885). You can get all the Psalms, the collect, Chapter, antiphons, etc., for each of the offices of the day at that link, although no music is provided; also check the iFrame look-in at the bottom of this post.

Here is the score for the beautiful melody #64, used for the splendid hymn Ave! Maris Stella on this day (as, again, on the Nativity of the B.V.M.); below that is a video of the hymn sung by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey at Ganagobie.:

CPDL has the Latin and English words; non-metrical English translation is by Allen H Simon:
Ave, maris stella,
Dei Mater alma,
Atque semper Virgo,
Felix caeli porta.

Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
Funda nos in pace,
Mutans Evae nomen.

Solve vincla reis,
Profer lumen caecis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce

Monstra te esse matrem,
Sumat per te preces,
Qui pro nobis natus
Tulit esse tuus.

Virgo singularis,
Inter omnes mitis,
Nos culpis solutos,
Mites fac et castos.

Vitam praesta puram,
Iter para tutum,
Ut videntes Jesum,
Semper collaetemur.

Sit laus Deo Patri,
Summo Christo decus
Spiritui Sancto,
Tribus honor unus. Amen.


Hail, star of the sea,
loving Mother of God,
and also always a virgin,
Happy gate of heaven.

Receiving that Ave
from Gabriel's mouth
confirm us in peace,
Reversing Eva's name.

Break the chains of sinners,
Bring light to the blind,
Drive away our evils,
Ask for all good.

Show yourself to be a mother,
May he accept prayers through you,
he who, born for us,
Chose to be yours.

O unique virgin,
Meek above all,
Make us, absolved from sin,
Gentle and chaste.

Keep life pure,
Make the journey safe,
So that, seeing Jesus,
We may always rejoice together.

Let there be praise to God the Father,
Glory to Christ in the highest,
To the Holy Spirit,
One honor to all three. Amen.

CPDL also offers a brief write-up about the hymn:
Hymn to the Virgin Mary (8th cent., author anon.)
Liturgical use: Hymn at Vespers on feasts of the Virgin Mary.

Mary's title of stella maris was first proposed by St. Jerome, in his treatise Liber de nominibus hebraicis (probably around AD 390), in which he explains the etymology of Hebrew names. He quotes unidentified sources as explaining the name of Mary as smyrna maris, literally bitterness of the sea. The Hebrew word miriam indeed refers to bitterness - it is explained as such in the anonymous Jewish account The life of Moses. St. Jerome dismisses the 'bitter' etymology, however, and proposes to change her title to stella maris. In order to justify his proposal, he quotes Syrus, most likely his contemporary St. Ephraem Syrus, who had insisted on Mary's status as domina or mistress.

View Wikipedia article for Ave maris stella.

This is from that Wikipedia link:
Ave Maris Stella (Latin, "Hail Star of the Sea") is a plainsong Vespers hymn to Mary. It was especially popular in the Middle Ages and has been used by many composers as the basis of other compositions. The creation of the original hymn has been attributed to several people, including Bernard of Clairvaux (12th century), Saint Venantius Fortunatus (6th century)[1] and Hermannus Contractus (11th century).[2] The text is found in 9th-century manuscripts, kept in Vienna[3] and in the Abbey of Saint Gall.[1]

The melody is found in the Irish plainsong "Gabhaim Molta Bríde", a piece in praise of St. Bridget. The popular modern hymn Hail Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star, is loosely based on this plainsong original.

It finds particular prominence in the "Way of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary" by Saint Louis de Montfort.

Here's a (very faint) recording of the same hymn, sung by the Benedictines of Brazil.

This is Guillame Dufay's beautiful chant/polyphony alternatim arrangement of the hymn, using the same melody in the chant portions.

Or, you can listen to 32 different versions of the hymn (!) in the below playlist:

Here is the chant score for melody #63 from Hymn Melodies; this tune is used for both the Mattins and Lauds hymns on this feast day, and, again, on Purification (AKA Candlemas, February 2), at Assumption (August 15), and at the Nativity of the B.V.M. (Sept. 8).

Here's an mp3 the cantor from LLPB singing melody #63; it's the Mattins hymn Quem terra, pontus, ethera, called "The God Whom Earth and Sea and Sky" in English.

Here are the words from Oremus; the note says "Words: attributed to Fortunatus, sixth century; trans. John Mason Neale, 1854."
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.

The Lauds hymn, O gloriosa femina (sometimes "O gloriosa domina"), is sung to the same melody today;  O gloriosa domina is also sung at Lauds on Purification (Candlemas)

This set of words comes from the SSM Breviary mentioned above (p.291);  it uses the same meter as Quem terra, pontus, ethera, so just sing it to the same tune, as prescribed.
O GLORIOUS Virgin, throned in rest
Amidst the starry host above,
Who gavest nurture from thy breast
To God with pure maternal love:

What we had lost through sinful Eve
The Blossom sprung from thee restores.
And granting bliss to souls that grieve.
Unbars the everlasting doors.

O gate, through which hath passed the King:
O hall, whence light shone through the gloom;
The ransomed nations praise and sing,
Life given from the virgin womb.

All honour, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To Father and to Paraclete. Amen.

CPDL has the words to O gloriosa Domina, in Latin and English; the words above are clearly taken from the same original Latin text, so it's definitely the same song:
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.

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

Here's that peek-through to the SSM Breviary for today:

Here's a bit from Wikipedia about the history of this feast:

An 11th-century Eastern Orthodox icon
of the Theotokos Panachranta,
i.e. the "all immaculate" Mary[15]
A feast of the Conception of the Most Holy and All Pure Mother of God was celebrated in Syria on 8 December perhaps as early as the 5th century. Note that the title of achrantos (spotless, immaculate, all-pure) refers to the holiness of Mary, not specifically to the holiness of her conception.[14]

By the 7th century the feast of her conception was widely celebrated in the East, under the name of the Conception (active) of Saint Anne. In the West it was known as the feast of the Conception (passive) of Mary, and was associated particularly with the Normans, whether these introduced it directly from the East[16] or took it from English usage.[17] The spread of the feast, by now with the adjective "Immaculate" attached to its title, met opposition on the part of some, on the grounds that sanctification was possible only after conception.[18] Critics included Saints Bernard of Clairvaux, Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas. Other theologians defended the expression "Immaculate Conception", pointing out that sanctification could be conferred at the first moment of conception in view of the foreseen merits of Christ, a view held especially by Franciscans.[19]

Writers such as Mark Miravalle and Sarah Jane Boss interpret the existence of the feast as a strong indication of the Church's traditional belief in the Immaculate Conception.[20][21]

On 28 February 1476, Pope Sixtus IV, a Franciscan after whom the Sistine Chapel is named, authorized those dioceses that wished to introduce the feast to do so, and introduced it to his own diocese of Rome in 1477,[17] with a specially composed Mass and Office of the feast.[22] With his bull Cum praeexcelsa of 28 February 1477, in which he referred to the feast as that of the Conception of Mary, without using the word "Immaculate", he granted indulgences to those who would participate in the specially composed Mass or Office on the feast itself or during its octave, and he used the word "immaculate" of Mary, but applied instead the adjective "miraculous" to her conception.[23][24] On 4 September 1483, referring to the feast as that of "the Conception of Immaculate Mary ever Virgin", he condemned both those who called it mortally sinful and heretical to hold that the "glorious and immaculate mother of God was conceived without the stain of original sin" and those who called it mortally sinful and heretical to hold that "the glorious Virgin Mary was conceived with original sin", since, he said, "up to this time there has been no decision made by the Roman Church and the Apostolic See."[25] This decree was reaffirmed by the Council of Trent.[26]

One of the chief proponents of the doctrine was the Hungarian Franciscan Pelbartus Ladislaus of Temesvár. [27]

Pope Pius V, the Dominican Pope who in 1570 established the Tridentine Mass, included the feast (but without the adjective "Immaculate") in the Tridentine Calendar, but suppressed the existing special Mass for the feast, directing that the Mass for the Nativity of Mary (with the word "Nativity" replaced by "Conception") be used instead.[28] Part of that earlier Mass was revived in the Mass that Pope Pius IX ordered to be used on the feast and that is still in use.[29]

On 6 December 1708, Pope Clement XI made the feast of the Conception of Mary, at that time still with the Nativity of Mary formula for the Mass, a Holy Day of Obligation.[18] Until Pope Pius X reduced in 1911 the number of Holy Days of Obligation to 8, there were in the course of the year 36 such days, apart from Sundays.[30]

Here's another beautiful icon, a "Detail of a 13th century Theotokos Aeiparthenos icon, the Eleusa Theotokos of Tolga.   (Aeiparthenos = "Ever Virgin.")

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