Saturday, March 16, 2019

"A Short Responsory" for Lent: Illumina oculos ("Lighten my eyes")

Here's something interesting, for Lent: a "short responsory" that comes from Medieval Hungary.  It's beautifully sung here by the Schola Hungarica:




The text is taken from Psalm 12/(13):4-5/(3-4), and Psalm 87/(88):2:
12:4b Illumina oculos meos, ne unquam obdormiam in morte,
12:5a Ne quando dicat inimicus meus. Praevalui adversus eum.

2. Domine, Deus salutis meae, in die clamavi et nocte coram te.

13:3b Lighten mine eyes, that I sleep not in death.
13:4a Lest my enemy say "I have prevailed against him."

2. O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee.

Perfect for Lent!   But, this text is nowhere to be found in the Trent Breviary.  The CD lists it as included in "The Istanbul Antiphonary,"  which I have not found online (although I have found numerous references to it).  I need to look more at this.

Fortunately, Cantus Database lists it as a Compline Responsory, found 18 times in various manuscripts, most from Eastern Europe:  Czechia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, etc.  It's used, variously, on the first four Sundays of Lent.  (In one exception below, St. Gall, it's listed as "uncertain usage" for feasts of the BVM.  So not much help there.) 

I've copied the concordance table from Cantus here for easier reading:

SiglumFolioIncipit


FeastModeImageDB
A-Gu 29128rIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 4 Quadragesimae6ImageCD
A-Gu Ms. 211064vIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 3 Quadragesimae

CD
A-VOR 287066vIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 3 Quadragesimae5
CD
A-Wda D-4001vIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 3 Quadragesimae5
CD
A-Wda D-4039vIllumina oculos meos*CR
Dom. 3 Quadragesimae*
CD
CH-SGs 388476Illumina oculos meos neXR2De BMV?ImageCD
CZ-Pst DE I 7107vIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 1 Quadragesimae5
CD
PL-KIk 1059rIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 3 Quadragesimae5
CD
PL-WRu R 503056rIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 3 Quadragesimae5
CD
SI-Lna 18 (olim 17)083rIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 2 Quadragesimae5
CD
TR-Itks 42059rIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 1 Quadragesimae5
CD
SK-BRsa SNA 2089rIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 1 Quadragesimae
ImageCSK
SK-BRsa SNA 4095rIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 1 Quadragesimae
ImageCSK
SK-BRsa SNA 17018vIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 3 Quadragesimae
ImageCSK
SK-Bra EC Lad. 6054vIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 1 Quadragesimae
ImageCSK
PL-KIk PL-KiK 1059rIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 3 Quadragesimae5
CPL
PL-PłS PL-PłS 35047vIllumina oculos meos neCR
Dom. 1 Quadragesimae5ImageCPL
PL-PłS PL-PłS 35053vIllumina*CR
Dom. 2 Quadragesimae*ImageCPL


The usual "Short Responsory" at Compline in the Trent Breviary (and others)  is this:   
Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
– Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
You have redeemed us, Lord God of truth.
– Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
– Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.
I wonder if Illumina oculos replaced it during Lent, in some of these Eastern European breviaries?    Would be very interesting to know, so here's another thing I'll have to investigate.


Here's an image of the chant from the Antiphonary of Bratislava (15th C. ); here is one from the Antiphonarium from Płock Cathedral, a 15th C. Polish source.  (I cannot post these images on this page because of copyright restrictions.)   They differ slightly, in places, from what's on the video above - but they are clearly the same tune.  The pretty rise and fall of the melody on "oculos" is the same in every case.

Here's one from the Antiphonarium Benedictinum (1400) (Austria), which doesn't have the same restriction.  The text does not seem to be complete here, though:





Here's the St. Gall/BVM version; it's written in the old-style chant notation, without staff, so hard to tell - but it seems to me to be a similar melody, with the same rise and fall on "oculos."  The St. Gall MS is from the 13th Century.

St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 388, p. 476 – Antiphonary


There is another "Illumina oculos" in the repertoire, though; a different text that begins the same way is the Offertory at Lent IV in Year C.   (This chant was formerly the Offertory on the Fourth Sunday of Pentecost.)

1 comment:

George Staelens said...

You need not use the word «formerly.» For some (myself included), it is offensive.

You may say, for instance, that "Illumina oculos" IS the offertory of the IVe Sunday after Pentecost, and - eventually - that moderns uned the same tune etc.

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