Friday, March 07, 2008

Lauds, Mattins, and Vespers Hymns, Lent 5 and Holy Week

Now we're heading into the really deep and powerful music of the two weeks before Easter; some of the most ancient, most well-known, and (I think) most beautiful hymns of the year are sung during this period.

From Hymn melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service-books:
On Passion Sunday, & daily (when the Service is of the Season) until Wednesday in Holy Week inclusive :
EvensongVexilla Regis prodeunt ... ... ... 35
Mattins: Pange, lingua, gloriosi Prelium ... ... 36
Lauds Lustra sex qui iam perafta ... ... 36

Lent 5 is also known as Judica - the first word of the Latin Introit for Lent 5; in English, the first line is "Judge me, O God."   You can listen to the Introits for which the Sundays of Lent are named (Invocavit, Oculi, Judica, etc.) here, at, from St. Benedict's Monastery in São Paulo (Brazil).

Follow along with the Offices for this period at Breviary Offices, from Lauds to Compline Inclusive (Society of St. Margaret, Boston) (published in 1885); Lent 5 is labeled "Passion Sunday" there.  You'll find  all the Psalms, the collect, Chapter, antiphons, etc. at that link, although no music is provided; also check the iFrame look-in at the bottom of this post.

Here's the score for melody #35 - the very famous tune used for Vexilla regis prodeunt:

Here is an mp3 of Vexilla Regis Prodeunt, sung to  melody #35; this, in my view, is one of the best hymns ever written.  The Venantius Fortunatus hymn - in English here, "The Royal Banners Forward Go" - is sung each evening beginning on Lent 5 until Holy Thursday.   Again the audio file comes from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood's "Seasonal Propers Sung."

Here are the English words - another of  J.M. Neale's fantastic translation:
The royal banners forward go,
The cross shines forth in mystic glow;
Where He in flesh, our flesh Who made,
Our sentence bore, our ransom paid.

Where deep for us the spear was dyed,
Life’s torrent rushing from His side,
To wash us in that precious flood,
Where mingled water flowed, and blood.

Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old,
Amidst the nations, God, saith he,
Hath reigned and triumphed from the tree.

O tree of beauty, tree of light!
O tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose triumphal breast
Those holy limbs should find their rest.

Blest tree, whose chosen branches bore
The wealth that did the world restore,
The price of humankind to pay,
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.

Upon its arms, like balance true,
He weighed the price for sinners due,
The price which none but He could pay,
And spoiled the spoiler of his prey.

O cross, our one reliance, hail!
Still may thy power with us avail
To give new virtue to the saint,
And pardon to the penitent.

To Thee, eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done:
As by the cross Thou dost restore,
So rule and guide us evermore.

So beautiful, and so powerful!

Here's a video of the hymn in Latin, with words below:

Vexilla Regis prodeunt: Fulget Crucis mysterium,
Quae vita mortem pertulit, Et morte vitam protulit.

Quae vulnerata lanceae Mucrone diro, criminum
Ut nos lavaret sordibus, Manavit unda et sanguine.

Impleta sunt quae concinit David fideli carmine,
Dicendo nationibus: Regnavit a ligno Deus.

Arbor decora et fulgida, ornata Regis purpura,
Electa digno stipite tam sancta membra tangere.

Beata, cuius brachiis Pretium pependit saeculi:
Statera facta corporis, tulitque praedam tartari.

O Crux ave, spes unica, hoc Passionis tempore!
Piis adauge gratiam, reisque dele crimina.

Te, fons salutis Trinitas, collaudet omnis spiritus:
Quibus Crucis victoriam largiris, adde praemium. Amen.

Here's TPL on Vexilla Regis:
Vexilla Regis was written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) and is considered one of the greatest hymns of the liturgy. Fortunatus wrote it in honor of the arrival of a large relic of the True Cross which had been sent to Queen Radegunda by the Emperor Justin II and his Empress Sophia. Queen Radegunda had retired to a convent she had built near Poitiers and was seeking out relics for the church there. To help celebrate the arrival of the relic, the Queen asked Fortunatus to write a hymn for the procession of the relic to the church.

The hymn has, thus, a strong connection with the Cross and is fittingly sung at Vespers from Passion Sunday to Holy Thursday and on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The hymn was also formerly sung on Good Friday when the Blessed Sacrament is taken from the repository to the altar. The text given below is the full text of Fortunatus' hymn, but verses 2, 4, and 7 are omitted when the hymn is used liturgically. The last two verses which form the concluding doxology are not by Fortunatus, but is rather the work of some later poet.

This hymn is in the 1982 Hymnal, at #162. It's the very last hymn sung at St. Mary the Virgin's Palm Sunday service, in procession and without organ accompaniment.  Powerful, after everything that had gone before:  the distribution of Palms, the procession in Times Square, the station at the church doors, the service, the sung Passion.

Here's the New Advent entry for Vexilla Regis. And here's the chant score from my sources, which uses slightly different words:

The Mattins and Lauds hymns, Pange, lingua, gloriosi Prelium and Lustra sex qui iam perafta, are two pieces of the same hymn, the original Pange, lingua, gloriosi.   This is by now a familiar formula, in which a longer hymn or poem is broken up to create hymns at the various offices for a feast.

The Lauds hymn, in English "Thirty Years Among Us Dwelling," is the second half of the hymn  derived from Venantius Fortunatus' Pange Lingua glorisi.    Here's the chant score for melody #36:

Here's an mp3 of "Thirty Years Among Us Dwelling," sung to melody #36 from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood's "Seasonal Propers Sung."

Oremus gives us the words used here; the English translation is another splendid one from John Mason Neale.  These words, we believe, derive from the verse beginning Lustra sex qui iam perafta in the longer Pange lingua, gloriosi, although the translation is not word-for-word:
Thirty years among us dwelling,
his appointed time fulfilled,
born for this, he meets his passion,
for that this he freely willed:
on the Cross the Lamb is lifted,
where his life-blood shall be spilled.

He endured the nails, the spitting,
vinegar and spear and reed;
from that holy body piercŠd
blood and water forth proceed;
earth and stars and sky and ocean
by that flood from stain are freed.

Faithful Cross! above all other,
one and only noble tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit thy peers may be;
sweetest wood and sweetest Iron!
sweetest weight is hung on thee.

Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory!
thy too rigid sinews bend;
for awhile the ancient rigor
that thy birth bestowed, suspend;
and the King of heavenly beauty
on thy bosom gently tend!

Thou alone wast counted worthy
this world's ransom to uphold;
for a shipwrecked race preparing
harbor, like the ark of old;
with the sacred blood anointed
from the smitten Lamb that rolled.

To the Trinity be glory
everlasting, as is meet:
equal to the Father, equal
to the Son and Paraclete:
Trinal Unity, whose praises
all created things repeat.

This page provides the words to the entire Fortunatus hymn, along with an English translation by Edward Caswall:
PANGE, lingua, gloriosi
proelium certaminis,
et super Crucis trophaeo
dic triumphum nobilem,
qualiter Redemptor orbis
immolatus vicerit.

De parentis protoplasti
fraude Factor condolens,
quando pomi noxialis
morte morsu corruit,
ipse lignum tunc notavit,
damna ligni ut solveret.

Hoc opus nostrae salutis
ordo depoposcerat,
multiformis proditoris
ars ut artem falleret,
et medelam ferret inde,
hostis unde laeserat.

Quando venit ergo sacri
plenitudo temporis,
missus est ab arce Patris
natus, orbis, Conditor,
atque ventre virginali
carne factus prodiit.

Vagit infans inter arcta
conditus praesepia:
membra pannis involuta
Virgo Mater alligat:
et manus pedesque et crura
stricta cingit fascia.

LUSTRA sex qui iam peracta
tempus implens corporis,
se volente, natus ad hoc,
passioni deditus,
Agnus in crucis levatur
immolandus stipite.

En acetum, fel, arundo,
sputa, clavi, lancea:
mite corpus perforatur,
Sanguis, unda profluit
terra, pontus, astra, mundus,
quo lavantur flumine!

CRUX fidelis,
inter omnes
arbor una nobilis;
nulla talem silva profert,
flore, fronde, germine.
Dulce lignum, dulci clavo,
dulce pondus sustinens!

Flecte ramos, arbor alta,
tensa laxa viscera,
et rigor lentescat ille,
quem dedit nativitas,
ut superni membra Regis
miti tendas stipite.

Sola digna tu fuisti
ferre saeculi pretium,
atque portum praeparare
nauta mundo naufrago,
quem sacer cruor perunxit,
fusus Agni corpore.

Aequa Patri Filioque,
inclito Paraclito,
sempiterna sit beatae
Trinitati gloria,
cuius alma nos redemit
atque servat gratia. Amen.
SING, my tongue,
the Savior's glory;
tell His triumph far and wide;
tell aloud the famous story
of His body crucified;
how upon the cross a victim,
vanquishing in death, He died.

Eating of the tree forbidden,
man had sunk in Satan's snare,
when our pitying Creator did
this second tree prepare;
destined, many ages later,
that first evil to repair.

Such the order God appointed
when for sin He would atone;
to the serpent thus opposing
schemes yet deeper than his own;
thence the remedy procuring,
whence the fatal wound had come.

So when now at length the fullness
of the sacred time drew nigh,
then the Son, the world's Creator,
left his Father's throne on high;
from a virgin's womb appearing,
clothed in our mortality.

All within a lowly manger,
lo, a tender babe He lies!
see his gentle Virgin Mother
lull to sleep his infant cries!
while the limbs of God incarnate
round with swathing bands she ties.

THUS did Christ to perfect manhood
in our mortal flesh attain:
then of His free choice He goeth
to a death of bitter pain;
and as a lamb, upon the altar of the cross,
for us is slain.

Lo, with gall His thirst He quenches!
see the thorns upon His brow!
nails His tender flesh are rending!
see His side is opened now!
whence, to cleanse the whole creation,
streams of blood and water flow.

above all other,
one and only noble Tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit thy peers may be;
sweetest wood and sweetest iron!
Sweetest Weight is hung on thee!

Lofty tree, bend down thy branches,
to embrace thy sacred load;
oh, relax the native tension
of that all too rigid wood;
gently, gently bear the members
of thy dying King and God.

Tree, which solely wast found worthy
the world's Victim to sustain.
harbor from the raging tempest!
ark, that saved the world again!
Tree, with sacred blood anointed
of the Lamb for sinners slain.

Blessing, honor, everlasting,
to the immortal Deity;
to the Father, Son, and Spirit,
equal praises ever be;
glory through the earth and heaven
to Trinity in Unity. Amen.

So, sing both Pange, lingua, gloriosi Prelium at Matins, and Lustra sex qui iam perafta at Lauds to the same melody above.

TPL has this to say about Pange, lingua, gloriosi:

There are two Pange Linguas in use, one by St. Thomas Aquinas and then this one, by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) which extols the triumph of the Cross. He wrote it for a procession that brought a part of the true Cross to Queen Radegunda in 570. This hymn is used on Good Friday during the Adoration of the Cross and in the Liturgy of the Hours during Holy Week and on feasts of the Cross. The concluding stanza was not written by Fortunatus, but was added later.

When used in the Liturgy the hymn is often broken into smaller hymns such as: Lustra sex qui iam peregit, En acetum, fel, arundo, and Crux fidelis inter omnes.

There is a charming ancient legend that is hinted at in the second verse of this hymn. According to this legend, the wood of the Cross upon which Christ was crucified was taken from that tree which was the source of the fruit of the fall in the Garden of Eden. When Adam died, the legend states, Seth obtained from the Cherubim guarding the Garden a branch of the tree from which Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Seth planted this branch at Golgotha (the place of the skull), which is so named because Adam was buried there. As time went on, the Ark of the Covenant, the pole upon which the bronze serpent was lifted, and other items were made from this tree.

Here's a video of Pange Lingua for Corpus Christi, sung in Latin by the Choeur Gregorien de Paris.  This, however, is the Thomas Aquinas hymn mentioned above, so while the melody is the same, the words are quite different.  (You can follow along with those words here; I won't copy them to this post, though, because it's not the hymn used for these last two weeks of Lent in Sarum.)

Here is the New Advent entry for Pange Lingua. (Which, BTW, does not include the origin story given at TPL: that the hymn was written for a procession of a relic of the True Cross. NA ascribes that story to the hymn Vexilla Regis Prodeunt; I think TPL has this one wrong, because it has essentially given the same story twice, for two different hymns.)

Edit: Fr. Mark of the blog Vultus Christi has left this link to a blog entry titled "Singing the Mystery of the Cross" that contains more information about "the Hymns of Passiontide." Thanks, Fr. Mark.

Below are the chant scores I have, which use words similar to those on the audio file (which uses the translation by John Mason Neale). Oremus hymnal calls this a "cento of Sing My Tongue the Glorious Battle" (which is the first line in English of the Pange Lingua). A cento is, according to the Webster 1913 online, a term derived from Latin that refers to "a garment of several pieces sewed together, patchwork," and indicates in this case to "a poem made up of various verses of another poem."

Here are links to all three "Lent Office" posts on Chantblog:

Here's the peek-in to the SSM Breviary beginning with Lent 5 (labeled "Passion Sunday"):


Father Mark said...

Do visit me at Vultus Christi and see my commentary on the hymns of Passiontid:

Anonymous said...

re:>>>> I haven't been able to find the title in Latin, if this is a hymn that was used by the Roman Church

According to The English Hymnal, the first line in latin of 'thirty years among us' is Lustra sex qui jam percata.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I think the translations here don't exactly match up, which is why I've been confused on this....


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