Monday, February 02, 2009

"The Feast of the Purification of the B. V. Mary (Feb. 2)" (also called "Candlemas," and "The Presentation")

From Hymn melodies for the whole year from the Sarum Service books:
On the Feast of the Purification of the B. V. Mary (Feb. 2):
1st Evensong: Quod chorus vatum ... ... ... 56
Mattins: Quem terra, pontus, ethera ... ... ... 63
Lauds: O gloriosa femina ... ... ... 63
2nd Evensong: Letabundus ... ... Sequence, p. 11
       (But in Septuagesima, Quod chorus vatum as above).

Our current Book of Common Prayer calls this feast "The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple," a name that supplants the older names - "Purification" or "Candlemas" - for what had been for hundreds of years a Marian feast.  

All that is to explain the reason that most of these hymns are used at other Marian feasts - the Nativity of the BVM, Annunciation, and the (August 15) Feast of the BVM, to name three - and I will borrow from previous posts to discuss them.

One hymn, though, that I haven't come across before is Quod chorus vatum, sung to tune #56:

This melody is the same one Hymn melodies often gives for Iste Confessor (as here for the Feast Day of Martin of Tours); the tune is the one on this mp3, from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood. (The words sung on that sound file are those of Iste Confessor, not Quod chorus vatum.)

Quod chorus vatum is attributed to attributed to Rabanus Maurus (ca.776-856), and is another hymn in Sapphic meter (11 11 11 5). Here are the words, in Latin:
Quod chorus vatum venerandus olim
Spiritu Sancto cecinit repletus,
in Dei factum genitrice constat
esse Maria.

Haec Deum cæli Dominumque terræ
virgo concepit peperitque virgo,
atque post partum meruit manere

Quem senex iustus Simeon in ulnis
in domo sumpsit Domini, gavisus
ob quod optatum proprio videret
lumine Christum.

Tu libens votis, petimus, precantum,
regis æterni genetrix, faveto,
clara quæ fundis Geniti benigni
munera lucis.

Christe, qui lumen Patris es superni,
qui Patris nobis reseras profunda,
nos fac æterne tibi ferre laudes
lucis in aula.

The English translation, by Thomas A. Lacey, is: All prophets hail thee, from of old announcing:
All prophets hail thee, from of old announcing,
by the inbreathèd Spirit of the Father,
God's Mother, bringing prophecies to fullness
Mary the maiden.

Thou the true Virgin Mother of the Highest,
bearing incarnate God in awed obedience,
meekly acceptest for a sinless offspring

In the high temple Simeon receives thee,
takes to his bent arms with a holy rapture
that promised Savior, vision of redemption,
Christ long awaited.

Now the fair realm of paradise attaining,
and to thy Son's throne, Mother of the Eternal,
raisèd all glorious, yet in earth's devotion
join with us always.

Glory and worship to the Lord of all things
pay we unresting, who alone adorèd,
Father and Son and Spirit, in the highest
reigneth eternal.

Here is the chant score for #63 from Hymn Melodies:

Here's an mp3 of the cantor from LLPB singing melody #63 above; this is "The God Whom Earth and Sea and Sky" (the English version of Quem terra, pontus, ethera posted at Oremus Hymnal). Here are the words listed there:
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.


Words: attributed to Fortunatus, sixth century;
trans. John Mason Neale, 1854

Music: St. Ambrose, O Amor quam ecstaticus, Quem terra, pontus, aethera

This one and O gloriosa femina (or sometimes "O gloriosa domina") are sung to the same tune.

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

Here are the words, in Latin and English:
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.

And here again is Letabundus, the Christmas Sequence Hymn, sung at Second Vespers; a wonderful way to bookend the entire Christmas season. Here's a lovely version, sung by the Gregorian Singers of the Cremona Church of Sant’Abbondio:

Here's the score, from Hymn Melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service-books:

Here's an image of the score from the same source:


Figulus said...

The Anglican's probably learned to call it the Presentation from the Catholics, who changed its name in 1970 to upgrade it to a "Feast of the Lord" so that it could take precendence over a Sunday. (Feasts of Our Lady do not normally trump Sundays).

bls said...

Thanks, Figulus.

Anonymous said...

It is true that the Missal of Pope Paul VI changed the name of this feast. However, the reason for the name change was not so that it could take precedence over a Sunday. The feast was already a feast of our Lord of the second class in the Missal of Blessed Pope (soon: Saint) John XXIII (1962). "II classis -- Festum Purificationis B. Mariae Virg. habetur tamquam festum Domini," the rubrics say. So, even before 1970, when February 2nd fell on a Sunday, the Mass for the feast took precedence over the Sunday Mass of the season.

bls said...

Huh. Thanks, Anon.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...