Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6)

I'm continuing the completion of my Office Hymn listings.  Here are the hymns for Transfiguration listed at Hymn melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service books
On the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord (Aug. 6) :
1st Evensong:   Celestis formara glorie ... ... ... 26, 41 or 42
Mattins:  O Sator rerum ... ... ... ... 44 or 56
Lauds:   O nata Lux de Lumine ... ... ... 41 or 63

(You can get the full office for the Feast of the Transfiguration - Psalms, collect, Chapter, antiphons, etc., although no music is provided - at Breviary Offices, from Lauds to Compline Inclusive (Society of St. Margaret, Boston).  See iframe peek-in at the bottom of this post.)

The Hymner has English words to all three of the hymns for today.  Here is their version of the hymn for First Vespers of the Transfiguration, Celestis formara glorie:
Celestis formam glorie

A Type of those bright rays on high,
For which the Church hopes longingly,
Christ on the holy mountain shows,
Where brighter than the sun he glows.

Tale for all ages to declare;
For with the three disciples there,
Where Moses and Elias meet,
The Lord holds converse high and sweet.

The chosen witnesses stand nigh,
Of Grace, the Law, and Prophecy:
And from the cloud the Holy One
Bears record to the Only Son.

With face more bright than noon-tide ray,
Christ deigns to manifest to-day
What glory shall be theirs above,
Who joy in God with perfect love.

And faithful hearts are raised on high
By this great vision's mystery;
For which in yearly course we raise
The voice of prayer, the hymn of praise.

Thou Father,—thou, eternal Son,
Thou, holy Spirit, Three in One,
To this same glory bring us nigh,
That we may see thee eye to eye. Amen.

Sing Celestis formara glorie to any of these melodies:

LLPB provides a recording of Hymn tune #26;  the cantor is singing the Christmas Evensong hymn "Jesus, the Father's Only Son."  

Here's tune #41, on this mp3 from LLPB; the words are those from the Lauds Assumption hymn Tu, Christe, nostrum gaudium. 

I do not have a recording of melody #42.

Here's the English version of  O Sator rerum from The Hymner:
O Sator rerum

Author of all things, Christ, the world's Redeemer,
Monarch of Monarchs, judgement's dread Awarder,
Now to our praises, as to our petitions,
Graciously hearken.

While the night fleeteth, we our votive anthems
Frame to thine honour ; grant that they may please thee;
And as we hymn thee, Source of Light eternal,
Ever refresh us.

Sunlike thy visage shone with rays of splendour,
Brightly thy raiment gleam'd with snowy whiteness,
When mid the Prophets, Moses and Elias,
Thou wast transfigured.

Then did the Father own thee Sole-begotten;
Thou art the glory of the holy Angels;
Thee, the Way, Virtue, Life, the world's Salvation,
Ever confess we.

Glory and power be to thee, Creator,
Who alone all things rulest and controllest,
Throned in thy kingdom, Monarch everlasting,
Trinal and Onely. Amen.

At Mattins, sing O Sator rerum to either of these 11-11-11-5 meter melodies:

Melody #44 is the one used this mp3 of the hymn O Pater sancte, sung at the Lauds Trinity Office (again the audio file is courtesy of the LLPB).  This tune, and #56 following, uses the 11-11-11-5 meter, the "Sapphic and Adonic" meter.

Melody #56 is the same one used for Iste Confessor, a hymn sung on the feast days of Confessors; the tune is the one on this mp3, from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood.

And here is the very lovely Lauds hymn, O nata Lux de Lumine:
O nata Lux de Lumine

O Light, which from the Light hast birth,
Jesu, Redeemer of the earth,
Thy suppliant flock vouchsafe to spare,
Nor spurn their gift of praise and prayer.

Thou who, for lost transgressors' sake,
Didst not disdain our flesh to take,
O grant that living members we
Of that thy Body blest may be.

Beyond the sun thine aspect bright;
Thy raiment as the snowdrift white:
To chosen witnesses made known,
Thy Godhead on the mount was shown.

Seers, from their children's eyes conceal'd,
To thy disciples stood reveal'd;
On each thou didst thy power bestow
Thee as eternal God to know.

The Father, from his heav'nly throne,
Proclaim'd thee his Anointed Son,
And we with faithful hearts no less,
Thee, King of glory, aye confess.

May we Thy splendour day by day
In innocence of life display;
And thus to joys beyond the skies
In holy converse heav'nward rise.

Eternal God, of kings the King,
To thee our hymns of praise we bring
Who, Threefold Deity, alone
Dost reign to endless ages One. Amen.

Sing O nata Lux to either of these melodies:

Here again is tune #41, on this mp3 from LLPB; the words are those from the Lauds Assumption hymn Tu, Christe, nostrum gaudium.

Melody #63 is the same one sung by the LLPB cantor on this mp3 of the Assumption Matins hymn "The God Whom Earth and Sea and Sky" (in Latin, Quem terra, pontus, ethera).

Here are a couple of scans of Transfiguration hymsn from the Office of Book of The Community of St. John Baptist.   The Lauds hymn is O nata Lux de Lumine here, too; and for Vespers it's another translation of Celestis formara glorie.

Here's the entire Lauds service from the same source, including the Antiphon on the Benedictus:

The beautiful Quicumque Christum Quaeritis is the the Transfiguration hymn for Vespers and Matins in the Roman Breviary.   It consists of vv. 1-4, 37-40, 41-44, and 85-88 of Aurelius Prudentius' Hymnus Epiphaniae found here, along with a dozen or so others of his hymns, originally compiled and translated by Martin Pope (with thanks to Project Gutenberg).  Prudentius was a Roman Christian and poet born in the year 348.


Here are the words to Quicumque Christum Quaeritis, in Latin and English:
Quicumque Christum quæritis,
oculos in altum tollite:
illic licebit visere
signum perennis gloriæ.

Inlustre quiddam cernimus,
quod nesciat finem pati,
sublime, celsum, interminum,
antiquius caelo et chao.

Hic ille rex est gentium
populique rex Iudaici,
promissus Abrahae patri
eiusque in aevum semini.

Hunc et prophetis testibus
isdemque signatoribus,
testator et sator iubet
adire regnum et cernere:

Gloria Tibi, Domine
Qui natus es de virgine
Cum Patre et Samcto Spiritu,
in sempiterna sæcula.

Lift up your eyes, whoe'er ye be
That fare the new-born Christ to see:
For yonder is the shining sign
Of grace perennial and divine.

Sure 'tis the sign most reverend
Of Being that doth know no end:
Of One in state sublime arrayed
Ere sky and chaos yet were made.

This is the King of Israel,
Of all in Gentile lands that dwell:
The King to Abram and his seed
Throughout all ages erst decreed.

The prophets witnessed to the bond
Which sealed to Him the realm profound:
The Father's Kingdom He received
And the vast legacy perceived.

All glory be to you O Lord,
Son of the Virgin, the blessed Word,
With Father and Blest Spirit One
Until the ages’ course is done.

Read more here about Quicumque Christum quaeritis.

I adore the Feast of the Transfiguration, and have written many posts about it here.  You can also read much more about Transfiguration at the wonderful website Full Homely Divinity.

And here is the entire New Advent entry for today's feast, from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia:
Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ

Observed on August 6 to commemorate the manifestation of the Divine glory recorded by St. Matthew (Chapter 17).


The Armenian bishop Gregory Arsharuni (about 690) ascribes the origin of this feast to St. Gregory the Illuminator (d. 337?), who, he says, substituted it for a pagan feast of Aphrodite called Vartavarh (roseflame), retaining the old appellation of the feast, because Christ opened His glory like a rose on Mount Thabor. It is not found however in the two ancient Armenian calendars printed by Conybeare (Armenian Ritual, 527 sq.). It probably originated, in the fourth or fifth century, in place of some pagan nature-feast, somewhere in the highlands of Asia.


The Armenians at present keep it for three days as one of the five great feasts of the year (seventh Sunday after Pentecost); it is preceded by a fast of six days. Also in the Syriac Church it is a feast of the first class. In the Greek Church it has a vigil and an octave. The Latin Church was slow in adopting this feast; it is not mentioned before 850 (Martyrology of Wandelbert, Gavanti, "Thesaurus Liturg.", II, August); it was adopted in the liturgy about the tenth century in many dioceses, and was celebrated mostly on 6 August; in Gaul andEngland, 27 July; at Meissen, 17 March; at Halberstadt, 3 September, etc. In 1456 Callixtus III extended the feast to the UniversalChurch in memory of the victory gained by Hunyady at Belgrade over the Turks, 6 August, 1456. Callixtus himself composed the Office. It is the titular feast of the Lateran Basilica at Rome; as such it was raised to a double second class for the Universal Church, 1 Nov., 1911.


On this day the pope at Mass uses new wine or presses a bunch of ripe grapes into the chalice; raisins are also blessed at Rome.  The Greeks and Russians bless grapes and other fruit.

This apparently comes from one of Raphael's studies for the Transfiguration; he worked from around 1500-1525:

And here's Pietro Perugino's 1500 Transfiguration:

Here's an iframe window into the Breviary linked above, if you want to follow along with the day's offices:

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