Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rosh Hashanah

Rabbi Shefa Gold offers some chant for the holiday:
Ashrei HaAm yodeya T’ruah Adonay B’or panecha y’haleychun

Oh God, Happy are the people who know the blast of the shofar;
they walk in the light of your presence.
( Psalm 89:16)

What kind of “Happy” is this? Certainly not the happiness of superficial pleasure- a lifestyle of Denial that masks a terrible truth, and not the la-di-da happiness that keeps life bland and safe.

This is the kind of “happy” that is a dynamic force waiting quietly at our center, the deep joy for existence itself.

The blast of the shofar can break open the shell that imprisons that inner joy. When that joy is freed, it becomes a light that shines regardless of circumstance. And that joy is our power. It is the power that moves us as “we walk in the light of God’s presence,” as we walk with integrity, courage, commitment, as we walk in beauty.

May the blast of the shofar shatter the rigid walls that imprison our true joy.

May the wail of the shofar open our hearts and send us with compassion to profound forgiveness.

May the call of the shofar inspire each of us to respond with our unique love as we rise to the challenge that is set before us this year.
This practice can be done as a dance of stillness and movement. As you chant Ashrei HaAm yodeya T’ruah Adonay, stand very still and listen, raising your arms to receive God’s presence with the word Adonay. Then, with the words B’or panecha y’haleychun, do a mindful walking meditation around the circle. This practice can be done as a round with two concentric circles.

Here are two mp3s to listen to the chant:

Single Part note

Two Part Round note

And here is a longer article about the holiday, from Judaism 101.

Happy Rosh Hashanah to all who celebrate it, in the year 5769.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

September 29: The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels

From Hymn melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service books:
On the Feast of S. Michael & all Angels (Sept. 15):
Evensong & Mattins: Tibi, Christe, Splendor Patris ...... 67
Lauds: Christe sanctorum ... ... ... ... 59

We think that "(Sept. 15)" designation is a misprint in the book, since September 29 has been St. Michael's day since the Middle Ages, at least, according to New Advent.

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's the chant score for Tibi, Christe, Splendor Patris:
Here's G. Vianini's version of the hymn:

The Latin words are attributed to Rhabanus Maurus (776-856); here's the English translation, from Cyberhymnal, and again from J.M. Neale:
Tibi Christe splendor Patris
Vita ac virtus cordium
In conspectu Angelorum
Votis voce psallimus
Alternantes concrepando
Melos damus vocibus.

Conlaudamus venerantes
Omnes caeli milites
Sed precipue primatem
Celestis exercitus
Michaelem in virtute
Conterentem Zabulum.

Quo custode procul pellas
Rex Christe piissime
Omne nefas inimici
Mundo corde et corpore
Paradyso redde tuo
Nos sola clementia.

Gloriam Patri melodis
Personemus vocibus
Gloriam Christo canamus
Gloriam Paraclyto
Qui Deus Trinus et Unus
Extat ante secula.
Thee, O Christ, the Father’s splendor,
Life and virtue of the heart,
In the presence of the angels
Sing we now with tuneful art,
Meetly in alternate chorus,
Bearing our responsive part.

Thus we praise with veneration
All the armies of the sky;
Chiefly him, the warrior primate,
Of celestial chivalry,
Michael, who in princely virtue
Cast Abaddon from on high.

By whose watchful care repelling—
King of everlasting grace—
Every ghostly adversary,
All things evil, all things base,
Grant us of Thine only goodness,
In Thy paradise a place.

Laud and honor to the Father,
Laud and honor to the Son,
Laud and honor to the Spirit,
Ever Three, and ever One,
Consubstantial, co-eternal,
While unending ages run.

You can also find Tibi, Christe, Splendor Patris in The Latin hymns of the Anglo-Saxon church. Interestingly, Tibi, Christe, Splendor Patris is listed in "Early christian hymns" as a "Hymn to the Archangel Raphael." The next page lists Te Splendor et Virtus Patris as the "Hymn to the Archangel Michael"; this change represents yet another divergence in the Sarum use.

Here's TPL on Te Splendor et Virtus Patris:
From the Roman Breviary. This hymn is by Pope Urban VIII (1632) and is based upon Tibi, Christe, splendor Patris which is attributed to Rabanus Maurus.

This video is labeled "Tommy Smith's KARMA [Tibi, Christe, splendor Patris] dedicated to Norway and its lost souls" - I'm sure after the shooting there. The music here is definitely based on this hymn tune.

Here's the chant score for the Lauds hymn, Christe, sanctorum decus angelorum ("Christ, the Fair Glory of the Holy Angels"):

You can listen to the St. Mark's Cathedral Compline Choir (Seattle) sing this hymn to melody #59 (at about 1:05) on this mp3 of their September 29, 2013 podcast of Sunday evening Compline.   That's a link to an mp3 of the entire service, and the hymn is the first thing sung - but it's always very worth listening to the whole service.  You'll also hear a version of Tibi Christe, splendor patris with polyphonic alternatim by Palestrina.  If the link to the mp3 doesn't work, get the whole service at this page.

Here's TPL on Christe, sanctorum:
This hymn, less the concluding doxology, is attributed on questionable grounds to Rabanus Maurus (776-856), a pupil of Alcuin. It is traditionally used for Laudes for the feasts of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Today, verses 2, 3, and 4 of the hymn are used for their feast on September 29.
And here are the words from that page:

CHRISTE, sanctorum decus Angelorum
Rector humani generis et auctor,
nobis aeternum tribue benigne
scandere caelum.

ANGELUM pacis, Michael ad istam
caelitus mitte, rogitamus aulam:
nobis ut crebro veniente crescant
prospera cuncta.

ANGELUS fortis Gabriel, ut hostem
pellat antiquum, volitet ab alto,
saepius templum veniat ad istud
visere nostrum.

ANGELUM nobis medicum salutis
mitte de caelis Raphael, ut omnes
sanet aegrotos, pariterque nostros
dirigat actus.

HINC Dei nostri Genetrix Maria,
totus et nobis chorus Angelorum
semper assistat, simul et beata
concio tota.

PRAESTET hoc nobis Deitas beata
Patris ac Nati pariterque Sancti
Spiritus, cuius resonat per omnem
gloria mundum. Amen.

CHRIST, the fair glory of the holy Angels,
Thou who hast made us, Thou who o'er us rulest,
grant of Thy mercy unto us Thy servants
steps up to heaven.

SEND Thy Archangel, Michael, to our succor;
Peacemaker blessed, may he banish from us
striving and hatred, so that for the peaceful all
things may prosper.

SEND Thy Archangel, Gabriel, the mighty,
herald of heaven; may he from us mortals
spurn the old serpent, watching o'er the temples
where Thou art worshiped.

SEND Thy Archangel, Raphael, the restorer
of the misguided ways of men who wander,
who at Thy biding strengthens soul and body
with Thine anointing.

MAY the blest Mother of our God and Savior,
may the assembly of the Saints in glory,
may the celestial companies of Angels
ever assist us.

THIS He vouchsafe us, God forever blessed,
Father eternal, Son, and Holy Spirit,
whose is the glory which through all creation
ever resoundeth. Amen.

Here's Medieval Music Database's S. Michaelis archangeli page where you can find snippets of the hymns, responses, and antiphons. Here are the mass chants from the Benedictines of Brazil for Ss. Michaelis, Gabrielis et Raphaelis, Archangelorum.
Here's the beautiful Alleluia in mp3 format; here's the chant score:

Interestingly, in England:
The feast of St Michael the Archangel, 29 September, is one of the Quarter Days, a date for the payment of rents and the beginning or ending of hiring engagements (see hiring fairs). It was also a day for feasting, the traditional fare being a roast goose, fattened on the stubble fields; such geese were sometimes presented by tenant farmers to their landlords. It was said that ‘if you eat goose on Michaelmas Day you will never lack money all year’.

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

There are, as you might expect, many great images of Michael and the others (here, matter of fact, is an entire page at Wikimedia Commons of "Icons of Saint Michael"). And since I've only used 5% of my allotted Blogger storage so far, why shouldn't I just go ahead and load up on my favorite images? No reason.

Here's a nice one, called "The Archangel Michael Trampling the Devil Underfoot," Russian, from 1676:

Here's one I like a lot for some reason, called "Pala dei tre Arcangeli," by Marco d'Oggiono (who was born in 1470):

Here's an old favorite: Michael by Raphael:

And here's a really interesting one from the other side of the spectrum, of "Virgin and Child with St. John the Baptist and the Three Archangels, Raphael, Gabriel, and Michael," by Sebastiano Mainardi:

And, my favorite of all, "The Mother of God and the Archangels," a 14th-Century mural from the Ubisi Monastery in Georgia:

Really, that is just splendid.

Monday, September 22, 2008

September 22: Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (transferred from Sunday, September 21)

From an earlier post:
Hymn Melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service books lists a variety of hymns to be sung on the feast days of Apostles and Evangelists, and the LLPB provides two mp3s that match up with Hymn Melodies for the whole year. First, the hymn listed for Lauds and Evening Prayer (using two different tunes): "Let the Round World With Songs Rejoice" (mp3), which in Latin is Exultet caelum laudibus. Here is the chant score for this melody, the one listed for Evensong:

Second, "The Eternal Gifts of Christ the King" (mp3); in Latin, this is Aeterna Christi Munera. I've linked to the St. David's Compline Choir version of this before; here it is again. Here's the chant score:

Here is the version from my sources, which is unlike any of the above; still haven't found out much about it.

For more, see Hymnody: Apostles and Evangelists.

There's a nice post today about Matthew and other Apostles at Episcopal Cafe: Speaking to the Soul: "A community of opposites":
Daily Reading for September 22 • Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Matthew was exactly the kind of person that Zealots regarded as the scum of the earth. It is easy to imagine that Simon [the Zealot, also one of the twelve disciples] would have gladly killed Matthew with his little curved knife before Jesus came into his life. Similarly, Matthew would have looked on Simon as a hopeless idealist who did not understand the limitations of his situation. Matthew might have expressed himself to Simon in this way: “Look, in order to get along, you have to go along. We can do only so much, and I am just going to make a better place for myself in the world as it is. Forget about any impractical ideas of trying to change the world.” The two apostles were as different as they could possibly be, both temperamentally and ideologically. They would have had an enormous conflict of personalities and beliefs before they met Jesus. . . .

The miracle in this situation was that Jesus had reached out so far in opposite directions with those gracious hands, grasping the hand of Simon the Zealot on one side and the hand of Matthew the tax collector on the other. It is even more astonishing that Jesus wanted two such radically different people to be his close companions, and it illustrates how all encompassing his love was. Something in Jesus drew both of these dissimilar human beings to him. I believe that Jesus offered these opposites a glimpse of the kind of unconditional acceptance and wholeness that gave them a completely new understanding of what it means to be fully human. It was the gift of Jesus to make it possible for people as different as Simon and Matthew to get to know each other, thereby helping one another toward more wholeness and balance. . . . Only the spirit of mutual understanding can lead to lasting solutions or wholeness, and only such broadening acceptance can make it possible for us to grow into the fullness of what it means to be made in the image of God.

From “Simon and Matthew: Unlikely Companions,” in The First to Follow: The Apostles of Jesus by John R. Claypool, edited by Ann Wilkinson Claypool. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Morehouse Publishing, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. www.morehousepublishing.com

And I like this Rembrandt, called "The Evangelist Matthew Inspired by an Angel" (HT Daily Office Blog):

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Dream of the Rood"

Here's the wonderful entry for today (the day of the transferred Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross) at "Speaking to the Soul," from Episcopal Café:
Dream of the Rood

Listen, I’ll tell the loveliest of dreams,
what I dreamt in the dark of night
after reason-bearers lay at rest.
It seemed I saw a wondrous tree
led aloft, wound in light,
the brightest of beams. That beacon was
all covered with gold. Gems stood
fair at the ground’s surface; likewise there were five
up at the crossbeam. All beheld there the Angel of the Lord,
fair through eternal decree. There was no felon’s gallows there,
but holy spirits beheld him,
people of earth and all this glorious creation.
Rare was this victory-beam, and I stained in sins,
mauled by misdeeds. I saw glory’s tree,
graced with garments, shine with joy,
girded with gold. Gems had worthily covered the tree of the wild.
Yet through that gold I could glimpse
the old war of wretched ones, for it first began
to bleed on its right side. I was all driven with sorrows;
afraid I was of the fair vision. . . .

I have few friends
powerful on earth, since they have departed
from the world’s joys, sought wonder’s King,
and live now in heaven with the high Father,
dwell in glory. And every day
I look for that time when the Lord’s cross,
which I once beheld here on earth,
will fetch me in this fleeting life
and bring me where the bliss is great,
joy in heaven, where the Lord’s hosts are
seated at the banquet. Endless bliss is there.
It will set me where forever I will
dwell in wonders, taste well
happiness with the holy. May the Lord be my friend,
he who earlier suffered here on earth,
on this gallows tree for our trespasses.
He redeemed us and returned our lives,
gave us a heavenly home. Hope was renewed
among blessings with bliss for those who suffered burning there.
The Son, mighty and successful, was victorious
in that quest, when he came with many,
a host of spirits into God’s glorious kingdom,
the almighty ruler, to the bliss of angels
and all the saints who earlier dwelt in glory
in heaven, when their Creator came,
almighty Lord, back to the land of his home.

From “The Dream of the Rood,” quoted in Anglo-Saxon Spirituality: Selected Writings, translated and introduced by Robert Boenig, in the Classics of Western Spirituality series (Paulist Press, 2000).

[EDIT: Derek also has a post up about this, and links to the full version of the poem. (Old English fans can find their version here - and listen to it being read here!)]

Saturday, September 13, 2008

September 14: the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

For September 14, Hymn melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service books says this:
"On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14): as on the Feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross."

("Invention," here, means "discovery," from the Latin invenire. According to Wikipedia: "In the Gallican usage, beginning about the seventh century, the Feast of the Cross was celebrated on May 3, and called 'Crouchmas' (for 'Cross Mass').")

So, we back up to May 3 to find this group of hymns listed to be sung at Divine Office:
On the Feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross (May 3):
1st Evensong: Impleta sum que concinit: ... ... ... 35
Mattins: Pange lingua, gloriosi Prelium: ... ... ... 36
Lauds & 2nd Evensong: Crux fidelis inter omnes: ... ... ... 45

These hymns are all well-known from their use during Passion Week, as we will see. 

(Follow along with the Offices for Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross here, at Breviary Offices, from Lauds to Compline Inclusive (Society of St. Margaret, Boston, 1885); the hymns are not the same as in Sarum, however.)

Impleta sum que concinit, the hymn for 1st Evensong, is sung  to the same tune as the Passiontide hymn Vexilla regis prodeunt; here's the score for that one, using melody #35:

Here's Vexilla regis prodeunt (mp3) sung in English by the St. David's Compline Choir of Austin, TX;  Vexilla regis itself is a Vespers hymn for weeks 5 and 6 in Lent (i.e., in Passiontide).

The name of hymn in the listings for Exaltation, though, seems to be incorrect; it should probably be Impleta sunt quae concinit; those are the words that begin the fourth verse of Vexilla Regis Prodeunt, as you can see below.   (This seems to be another case of a long hymn being broken into parts for use at different offices on one feast day, or on different feast days altogether.)  Here are all the words to Vexilla Regis Prodeunt:
VEXILLA Regis prodeunt;
fulget Crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.

Confixa clavis viscera
tendens manus, vestigia,
redemptionis gratia
hic immolata est hostia.

Quo vulneratus insuper
mucrone diro lanceae,
ut nos lavaret crimine,2
manavit unda et sanguine.

Inpleta 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 est corporis
praedam tulitque Tartari.

Fundis aroma cortice,
vincis sapore nectare,
iucunda fructu fertili
plaudis triumpho nobili.

Salve ara, salve victima
de passionis gloria,
qua vita mortem pertulit
et morte vitam reddidit.

 Here's TPL on Vexilla:
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.

Here's a set of the English words to just the "Impleta sunt quae concinit" section of Vexilla:
Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song of old:
Amidst the nations, God, saith he,
Hath reigned and trimphed from the Tree.

O Tree of beauty! Tree of light!
O Tree with royal purple dight!
Elect on whose trumphas breast
Those holy limbs should find their rest:

On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
The wight of this world's ransom hung,
The price of humankind to pay,
And spoil the spoiler of his prey.

O Cross, our one reliance, hail!
In this our Easter joy, avail
To give fresh meric to the saint,
And pardon to the penitent.

To thee eternal Three in One,
Let homage meet by all be done:
Whom by the Cross thou dost restore,
Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.

Below is a video of Pange lingua, glorisi sung to melody #36 The only problem is that it isn't the same hymn as the one we're looking at for today!  St. Thomas Aquinas took the original 6th Century Fortunatus hymn (the hymn for Exaltation) and re-purposed it for Corpus Christi and general Eucharistic Devotion; the video uses Aquinas' text, which is better known and thus far easier to find online.

I've put the words from the earlier hymn just below the video, so just sing along using those.

Here are the words to the Fortunatus hymn in Latin and in English:
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.

Here's the chant score for melody #36, the same as in the video:

Below is the chant score for melody #45, used for the Lauds and 2nd Evensong hymn, Crux fidelis inter omnes:

This is not the usual tune used for Crux fideles; as you can see above, the text is taken from the last third of the longer Pange lingua gloriosa and is most often - in my experience at least - sung to that melody.   Oremus hymnal, though, has a midi of this plainsong melody; interestingly, it's the same one used for Urbs beata Hierusalem and Angulare fundamentum, the Office hymns sung "On the Feast of the Dedication of a Church".

So, just sing the Crux fideles section of  Pange lingua gloriosa to this tune for Lauds and 2nd Evensong.

Here's an image of  a medieval "Good Friday Missal fragment" from 1549, at the Bergen (Norway) University library; look at the lower right of the page and you'll Crux fidelis inter omnes.

Satucket.com's entry for Holy Cross Day, September 14, begins this way:
During the reign of Constantine, first Roman Emperor to profess the Christian faith, his mother Helena went to Israel and there undertook to find the places especially significant to Christians. (She was helped in this by the fact that in their destructions around 135, the Romans had built pagan shrines over many of these sites.) Having located, close together, what she believed to be the sites of the Crucifixion and of the Burial (at locations that modern archaeologists think may be correct), she then had built over them the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which was dedicated on 14 September 335. It has become a day for recognizing the Cross (in a festal atmosphere that would be inappropriate on Good Friday) as a symbol of triumph, as a sign of Christ's victory over death, and a reminder of His promise, "And when I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32)

Tertullian, in his De Corona (3:2), written around AD 211, says that Christians seldom do anything significant without making the sign of the cross. Certainly by his time the practice was well established. Justin Martyr, in chapters 55 and 60 of his First Apology (Defence of the Christian Faith, addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius and therefore written between 148 and 155 AD), refers to the cross as a standard Christian symbol, but not explicitly to tracing the sign of the cross as a devotional gesture. In the ruins of Pompeii (destroyed 79 AD), there is a room with an altar-like structure against one wall, and over the altar the appearance of the plaster shows that a cross-shaped object had been nailed to the wall, and forcibly pulled loose, apparently shortly before the volcano buried the city. It is suggested that this house may have belonged to a Christian family, and that they took the cross and other objects of value to them when they fled the city. This is not the only possible explanation, but I do not know of a likelier one.

Here are the mass chants for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, from the Benedictines of Brazil. Here's an mp3 of the beautiful Gradual, Christus factus est; here's the chant score:

The words in English (which come from the Epistle read on the day, Philippians 2:5-11), are:
Christ became obedient for us unto death,
even to the death of the cross.
Response. Therefore God exalted Him and gave Him a Name
which is above all names.

Many, many composers have written choral pieces using this text: Felice Aniero and Anton Bruckner, for two.

Here's the beautiful Bruckner:

Here's an interesting fresco of the Exaltation of the Cross: "Piero della Francesca: Frescoes in San Francesco, Arezzo." I'm not sure what that headgear is about, though:

Here's a Russian icon of the Exaltation of the Cross, from the "Novgorod School," according to this page:

Here's another icon, one of several I've seen that use this motif (with the central figure - not always the same person - "elevating" the cross in this way):

Here's a peek-in to the Offices in the SSM Breviary, linked above:

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

September 9: Constance and her Companions, Martyrs

Sr. Constance was a nun of the Episcopal Sisterhood of St. Mary. From the Martyrs of Memphis icon page at Flickr, where you can see the icon itself:
Constance and her companions

Memphis suffered periodic epidemics of yellow fever, a mosquito-borne viral infection, throughout the 19th Century. The worst of the epidemics occurred in the summer of 1878, when 5,150 Memphians died. During this time, the Cathedral was considered the “religious center of the city,” because the doors remained open and the Sacraments were always available.

Five years earlier, a group of Episcopal nuns from the recently formed Sisterhood of St. Mary arrived in Memphis to take over operation of the St. Mary's School for Girls, which was relocated to the cathedral site. When the 1878 epidemic struck, a number of priests and nuns (protestant and catholic), doctors, and even prostitutes stayed behind to tend to the sick and dying. The Episcopal nuns' superior, Sister Constance, three other Episcopal nuns, and two Episcopal priests are known throughout the Anglican Communion as "Constance and Her Companions" or the "Martyrs of Memphis." Added to the Episcopal Church's Lesser Feasts and Fasts in 1981, their feast day (September 9) commemorates their sacrifices. A traditional Anglican prayer memorializes the Martyrs in this way:

We give thee thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the Heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and the dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death. Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ...

Episcopal nuns and priests who died from the epidemic

* Sister Constance (neé Caroline Louise Darling, b. Medway, Mass., 1846), superior of the work at Memphis, headmistress of St. Mary’s School for Girls.
* Sister Thecla, sacristan of St. Mary’s Cathedral and its school chapel, instructor in music and grammar (English and Latin)
* Sister Ruth, nurse at Trinity Infirmary, New York
* Sister Frances, a newly professed nun given charge of the Church Home orphanage
* Rev. Charles Carroll Parsons, rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Memphis; former U.S. Army artillery commander, West Point alumnus and professor; served with classmate Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer in Kansas, defense counsel in Custer's 1867 court-martial trial.
* Rev. Louis S. Schuyler, assistant at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, Hoboken, New Jersey

Approximately 30 Roman Catholic priests and nuns died during the same plague.

Here's the Collect of the Day, for Constance and Her Companions:
We give you thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and the dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death. Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

From Hymn-melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service-books, "On the Feast of several Martyrs (or Confessors)":
1st Ev. & M. Sanctorum meritis
   At 1st Ev. ... ... ... 51
   At Matt. ... ... ... . 52
   At 1st Ev. & Matt. ad libitum ... ... ... 53
   On Simple Feasts of the lowest class throughout the year (1 Ev. & M.)............ 54
[Matt. (York) Eterna Christi munera Et (Martyrs only) 61]

Lauds & 2nd Ev. Rex gloriose martyrum
   At L. (except in Xmas & Paschal-tides) ... 25
   At 2nd Ev. (& L. when no 2nd Ev.) ... 49 '
   During Xmas-tide ( L. & 2nd Ev.) ... 27
   On Simple Feasts of the lowest class throughout the year (L.) ... ... ... 6 or 55

So, at first Evensong (the Vespers on the eve of the feast), we could sing Sanctorum meritis, which is given at Cyberhymnal as "The Triumph of the Saints." LLPB sings it as "The Noble Deeds of Saints (MP3)." Here are the words from the former (translated by J.M. Neale), which are definitely close enough to the latter:
The triumphs of the saints,
The toils they bravely bore,
The love that never faints,
Their glory evermore—
For these the Church today
Pours forth her joyous lay;
What victors wear so rich a bay?

This clinging world of ill
Them and their works abhorred;
Its withering flowers still
They spurned with one accord;
They knew them short lived all,
How soon they fade and fall,
And followed, Jesu, at Thy call.

What tongue may here declare,
Fancy or thought descry,
The joys Thou dost prepare
For these Thy saints on high?
Empurpled in the flood
Of their victorious blood,
They won the laurel from their God.

O Lord most high, we pray,
Stretch forth Thy mighty arm
To put our sins away
And shelter us from harm;
O give Thy servants peace;
From guilt and pain release;
Our praise to Thee shall never cease.

That's a nice tune; it's #51 from Hymn melodies:

Or (if we were singing Mattins in York, or wanted a different hymn to sing at Lauds or 2nd Evensong), we'd go with "The Eternal Gifts of Christ the King" (mp3), about which I've posted several times; in Latin, this hymn is Aeterna Christi Munera. I've linked to the St. David's Compline Choir version of this before; here it is again, using a different tune (MP3), and here are the Oremus words, translation J.M. Neale:
The eternal gifts of Christ the King,
the apostles' glory, let us sing,
and all, with hearts of gladness, raise
due hymns of thankful love and praise.

For they the Church's princes are,
triumphant leaders in the war,
in heavenly courts a warrior band,
true lights to lighten every land.

Theirs is the steadfast faith of saints,
and hope that never yields nor faints;
and love of Christ in perfect glow
that lays the prince of this world low.

In them the Father's glory shone,
in them the will of God the Son,
in them exults the Holy Ghost,
through them rejoice the heavenly host.

To thee, Redeemer, now we cry,
that thou wouldst join to them on high
thy servants, who this grace implore,
for ever and for evermore.

Here's the chant score:

Finally, for both Lauds (Morning Prayer) and 2nd Evensong (the Vespers of the feast day itself), we'd sing Rex gloriose martyrum, to two different tunes. This is sung as "O Glorious King of Martyr Hosts (MP3)" by LLPB. The hymn is 6th Century originally; here are the English words, from Oremus:
O glorious King of martyr hosts,
thou crown that each confessor boasts,
who leadest to celestial day
the saints who cast earth's joys away.

Thine ear in mercy, Savior, lend,
while unto thee our prayers ascend;
and as we count their triumphs won,
forgive the sins that we have done.

Martyrs in thee their triumphs gain,
confessors grace from thee obtain;
we sinners humbly seek to thee,
from sins offense to set us free.

All laud to God the Father be,
all praise, eternal Son, to thee;
all glory, as is ever meet,
to God the holy Paraclete.

And here is the chant score; it's #49 above:

Interestingly, there's an individual Wikipedia entry about this hymn.

Here is a page at anglicanhistory.org, with links to several articles about Constance and her Companions. God bless the memory of the Martyrs of Memphis, and their Sisters today of the Episcopal Community of St. Mary; we sing these hymns in their memory and in their honor today.

FYI, the Community of St. Mary's publishes The Monastic Diurnal Noted, the breviary they use themselves in their recitation of the Divine Office.

Sr. Constance (from the Cathedral of St. Mary, Memphis):

Monday, September 08, 2008

September 8: Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From Hymn-melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service-books:
On the Feast of the Nativity of B. V. Mary (Sept. 8) & during the 8ve (when the Service is of the Feast) :
1st Evensong: Ave! maris stella ... ... ... ... 64
Mattins: Qucm terra, pontus, ethera ... ... ... ... 63
Lauds: O gloriosa femina ... ... ... ... 63
2nd Evensong: Letabundus ... ... Sequence, p. II
But within the 8ve & on the 8ve day :
Evensong: Ave! maris stella
On the Sunday & 8ve day at both Evensongs ... 64
On the remaining days of the 8ve ... ... ... 65

I've posted most of these before. See August 15: The Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Part I, In Visitatione Beatæ Mariæ Virginis, and Office Hymns, etc, for the Feast of the Annunciation.

Here is a quick mp3 link for Quem terra, pontus, ethera and O gloriosa femina (both use the same melody).

Here, too, is my previous post from Annunciation about Ave! Maris Stella ("Hail! Star of the Sea"):
In the Sarum book - and in most others - the Vespers hymn is Ave, Maris Stella ("Hail, Star of the Sea!"). But that's not the one I have, about which I don't know much about at all. It does have that really interesting 11-11-11-5 Meter thing going, though; I'd sure like to know where that came from, and what significance it has; it seems to be used only for certain hymns and feasts, but I'm not sure what the link is. Anyway, the chant score:

The page for the Feast of the Purification at MMDB does have some of these hymns listed, however.

Here's an mp3 of Ave Maris Stella from the Benedictines of Brazil. Here's the Latin text, and an English translation:

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.

You can hear an mp3 sample of Anonymous 4's version of Ave, Maris Stella here; Edvard Grieg, of all people, also composed an Ave, Maris Stella, which is quite beautiful. And here is an mp3 of "Orthodox Byzantine Hymn(s) for the Annunciation" at Wikipedia. Best I can do, this time - sorry.

I find it very appealing, actually, that a monastic Marian hymn has anything at all to do with the sea! I suspect this one originated in a port city somewhere; I'm going to do some research in this area and will post what I find, because this has intrigued me for quite awhile.

[EDIT: This is from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia (I added the bold):

Most interpreters derive the name Mary from the Hebrew, considering it either as a compound word or as a simple. Miryam has been regarded as composed as a noun and a pronominal suffix, or of a noun and an adjective, or again of two nouns. Gesenius was the first to consider miryam as a compound of the noun meri and the pronominal suffix am; this word actually occurs in II Esd., ix, 17, meaning "their rebellion". But such an expression is not a suitable name for a young girl. Gesenius himself abandoned this explanation, but it was adopted by some of his followers, e.g. by J. Grimm (Das Leben Jesu; sec. edit., I, 414-431, Regensburg, 1890) and Schanz (Comment. uber d. Ev. d. hl. Matthäus, p. 78, Freiburg, 1879). One of the meanings assigned to the name Mary in Martianay's edition of St. Jerome's works (S. Hier. opp., t. II, Parisiis, 1699, 2°, cols. 109-170, 181-246, 245-270) is pikra thalassa, bitter sea. Owing to the corrupt condition in which St. Jerome found the "Onomastica" of Philo and of Origen, which he in a way re-edited, it is hard to say whether the interpretation "bitter sea" is really due to either of these two authorities; at any rate, it is based on the assumption that the name miryam is composed of the Hebrew words mar (bitter) and yam (sea). Since in Hebrew the adjective follows its substantive, the compound of the two words ought to read yam mar; and even if the inverse order of words be admitted as possible, we have at best maryam, not miryam. Those who consider miryam as a compound word usually explain it as consisting of two nouns: mor and yam (myrrh of the sea); mari (cf. Dan., iv, 16) and yam (mistress of the sea); mar (cf. Is., xl, 15) and yam (drop of the sea). But these and all similar derivations of the name Mary are philogically inadmissible, ad of little use to the theologian. This is notably true of the explanation photizousa autous, enlightening them, whether it be based on the identification of miryam with me'iram (part. Hiphil of 'or with pronominal suffix of 3 plur.), or with mar'am (part. Hiphil of ra'ah with pron. suffix of 3 plur.), or again with mar'eya (part. Hiphil of raah with Aramaic fem. termination ya; cf. Knabenbauer, Evang. sec. Matt., pars prior, Parisiis, 1892, p. 43).

Here a word has to be added concerning the explanation stella maris, star of the sea. It is more popular than any other interpretation of the name Mary, and is dated back to St. Jerome (De nomin. hebraic., de Exod., de Matth., P.L., XXIII, col, 789, 842). But the great Doctor of the Church knew Hebrew too well to translate the first syllable of the name miryam by star; in Is., xl., 15, he renders the word mar by stilla (drop), not stella (star). A Bamberg manuscript dating from the end of the ninth century reads stilla maris instead of stella maris. Since Varro, Quintillian, and Aulus Gelliius testify that the Latin peasantry often substituted an e for an i, reading vea for via, vella for villa, speca for spica, etc., the substitution of maris stella for maris stilla is easily explained. Neither an appeal to the Egyptian Minur-juma (cf. Zeitschr. f. kathol. Theol., IV, 1880, p. 389) nor the suggestion that St. Jerome may have regarded miryam as a contracted form of me'or yam (cf. Schegg, Jacobus der Bruder des Herrn, Munchen, 1882, p. 56 Anm.) will account for his supposed interpretation stella maris (star of the sea) instead of stilla maris (a drop of the sea).


Here are the chant scores for "Ave! Maris Stella" as listed above, to be sung "On the Sunday & 8ve day at both Evensongs ... 64 / On the remaining days of the 8ve ... ... ... 65":

#64 above is the tune on the mp3 above from the Brazilian Benedictines, and the one used by Anonymous 4; I'll try to work out the other tune and see if I can find an mp3 to go with it; if I do, I'll return and post them. (Notice all those nice melismas! Well, Mary gets 'em....)

Here are the chant Propers, including mp3s and chant scores, from the Benedictines of Brazil.

Full Homely Divinity offers this article article about Our Lady of Glastonbury Church especially for September 8 - "the great day of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages." An excerpt:
In his play, "Murder in the Cathedral," T.S. Eliot, the poet-laureate of twentieth century Anglicanism, wrote:

Wherever a saint has dwelt, wherever a martyr has given his blood for the blood of Christ,
There is holy ground, and the sanctity shall not depart from it
Though armies trample over it, though sightseers come with guide-books looking over it;
From where the western seas gnaw at the coast of Iona,
To the death in the desert, the prayer in forgotten places by the broken imperial column,
From that ground springs that which forever renews the earth....

Glastonbury is such a place and neither Puritans nor pagans have been able to drive the sanctity from it. In 1920 pilgrimages were renewed. Today, there are two pilgrimages: the number of people who participate require that the Roman Catholics have a separate day of pilgrimage. Thousands attend the Anglican pilgrimage, which is joined by a contingent of Orthodox Christians who bring a modern icon of the Glastonbury Mother of God. In 1939, 400 years from the dissolution of the abbey, the foundations were laid for a Roman Catholic church dedicated to St. Mary. In 1955 a new statue of Our Lady of Glastonbury was enshrined in this church which stands just across the road from the abbey ruins. And, in 1965, the Apostolic Delegate presided at the rare ceremony of the crowning of the statue of Our Lady.

As for art: I'm especially loving the work of Pietro Perugino when it comes to Mary. Look at this beautiful piece reproduced on an Italian postage stamp in 1954, the "Anno Mariano":

And here's Madonna col Bambino tra Santa Rosa (?) e Santa Caterina d’Alessandria. Wow.

"Nativity of the BVM: Words from the 'Apocrypha'"

Via Haligweorc:
The traditional Epistle for today for well over a thousand years was one of those cases when the Epistle is not an epistle. Instead, the first, non-Gospel, reading at mass was from the multi-named Ecclessiasticus, Wisdom of Jesus Ben Sirach, Sirach, etc. This is one of those texts that Bible-reading Christians are not familiar with. Even if you’ve read the Apocrypha, you’ll not find this section as it appears in the Vulgate. Here it is in full from the Douay-Rheims English translation of the Vulgate:
Sirach 24:24-31 24 I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. 25 In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue. 26 Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits. 27 For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb. 28 My memory is unto everlasting generations. 29 They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me, shall yet thirst. 30 He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin. 31 They that explain me shall have life everlasting.

"Prayer is natural"

Here's today's "Speaking to the Soul" entry at Episcopal Cafe:
Prayer is the fundamental activity of the Christian; to be in the image of God means to communicate with God. Many people are intimidated by prayer, believing that there is a right and wrong way, and thinking that they will somehow offend God or make fools of themselves if they do it wrongly. It is helpful to know that our monastic ancestors were convinced that prayer is natural to us, like breathing, if we only discover it in ourselves. It is something we do, but even more, it is a gift of God to us. We do not even have to enter God's presence in prayer, because we are already in God's presence. It may be helpful to think not of entering God's presence, but rather of making ourselves accessible to prayer. Prayer shapes us and transforms us. It centers us in God and at the same time in ourselves. It is always changing, as we are always becoming new in God.

Nevertheless, this discussion of introspection and prayer and overcoming the passions in order to love might suggest that the primary reason we pray has to do with transformation. This is misleading, however, for while prayer makes us who we are, we do not pray in order to become new any more than we marry the person we marry primarily in order to become somebody else. We pray, first of all, to be with God. Secondarily we pray knowing that God has promised good things which we can expect through prayer. If we let prayer be only a means to something else we want, however, it will not be for us what it can be, and we will not be who we can be.

From To Love as God Loves: Conversations with the Early Church by Roberta C. Bondi (Fortress Press, 1987).


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