Saturday, September 16, 2017

Office Antiphons for the Feast of St. Mary, August 15

This year, while investigating First Vespers of The Feast of St. Mary (August 15), I made an interesting discovery:  the Office Propers for this Feast are quite different between the Roman Breviary (published in 1908 and dating from the Council of Trent, 1545-1563), and the Breviary of the Society of St. Margaret (published in 1874).  The Society of St. Margaret is an Anglican order, founded in 1855 by J.M. Neale.

You'll notice, first of all, that the Feast is called "Assumption" in the Roman Breviary, but was called  "The Repose Of The  Blessed Virgin Mary" in the SSM Breviary.  (This feast is now called, simply, "The Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary" in the Episcopal Church (USA) and in other Anglican national churches.)

As far as I can tell, J.M. Neale was doing four things when revising these antiphons from the Sarum Breviary (which follows the Roman exactly in the Lauds Psalm antiphons, for instance, and which is the basic source for the SSM Breviary) for the new breviary for this Anglican order. 
  • First, he wanted Scriptural citations to replace the non-Scriptural sources for the Roman Breviary/Sarum antiphons, in keeping with the  Book of Common Prayer's basic ethos.  Many of these new antiphons were taken from Song of Songs, which the Roman Breviary also uses, but less frequently.  
  • Second, as is pointed out in the intro to the SSM breviary, "the Gallican breviaries present us with rich and varied treasures of Scriptural applications, and mystical interpretations."   (The SSM Breviary's full title, BTW, is:  "Breviary offices from lauds to compline inclusive, tr. from the Sarum book, and supplemented from Gallican and monastic uses."  A mouthful!)    Neale and the Sisters of the SSM particularly found the Offices of the Blessed Virgin Mary wanting in both the Sarum and Roman breviaries; the intro points out that in those prayer-books "almost the whole mass of Old Testament type and prophecy is neglected or ignored."  It could very well be that some of the sources discussed in that intro - "the Breviaries of Paris, Rouen, Coutances, Beauvais, Noyon [and] the Benedictine, (whose authority in England ranks next to that of Sarum)" - are responsible for the inclusion of these antiphons.  I am hoping that some of these sources are now or will eventually be brought online and I can investigate further.
  • Third,  the emphasis is clearly on "Repose" rather than "Assumption."   The single Psalm antiphon at First Vespers, for instance, sets the tone in a beautiful way:  "I sleep. Alleluia : but my heart waketh. Alleluia."   That's Song of Songs 5:2, exactly.   
  • And that brings me to Neale's fourth motivation:  beauty.   The intro, written as far as I can tell by a member of the SSM (and well worth reading for the information, as well as for its pointed  criticisms!), points out that "....the [Sarum] Offices are disfigured by jingling and alliterative Antiphons, which indeed bear their testimony to the English love of the grotesque, but possess neither dignity nor beauty."   Neale was a wonderful lyricist, and I'm sure his love of beauty influenced his choices for this feast;  I think he was highly successful in creating a beautiful Office here.

As to that 3rd point above:  "Repose of the Blessed Virgin Mary" is, to my ears, a strong lean in the direction of "Dormition of the Theotokos," the name of the feast in the Orthodox churches.   J.M. Neale had a strong affinity for the Orthodox churches, was a prime mover at that time in ecumenical circles between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy, and himself published a book about Orthodox hymnody.  I'm wondering if this was the reason for his naming the Feast this way here - although again, it could also have been done that way in one of the other breviaries.  More on this later, I hope - and more on Neale's book, after I've read it.

(I've been attempting to gather the parallel Office propers for Dormition of the Theotokos, without much success so far; there is a Horologion (Orthodox Book of Hours) online, but it seems to be keyed to the date it's accessed.  I haven't yet found a way to get the propers for a specific feast.  Still working on this, too; would like to make comparisons here, too, and with some of the other breviaries mentioned above)

Meantime, below are some of the differences between the two breviaries linked above, enumerated.  I've also added the propers from the Sarum Breviary, in Latin.  

Amazingly, this entire post - which has taken me several hours already to prepare and to write, came about because I happened across the single Psalm antiphon at First Vespers of this Feast -  "I sleep. Alleluia : but my heart waketh. Alleluia." - and found it lovely!   Beauty really does make a difference.

Just for the sake of adding some music to this page: here's Cristobal de Morales' setting of the Responsory at Second Vespers, Candida virginitas, sung by the ensemble Tenet:

Here's the English translation from the YouTube page; the Latin is below in the Sarum section of office propers:
O radiant maidenhood, bright pillar of paradise, a garden enclosed, a springtime flowering plot of earth: for whose sake the whole world celebrates with song. Who was worthy to bear her Lord, may this same flowering virgin give us her son again: for whose sake the whole world celebrates with song.

Roman Breviary

First Vespers of Assumption

Sir 24:11-12:  In all these I sought rest, and I will abide in the inheritance of the Lord. So the Creator of all things gave me a commandment and said, (and He That made me rested in my tabernacle).

Ave maris stella

Antiphon on Magnificat.  Maiden most wise, whither goest thou up, like the dawn gloriously rising ?  O daughter of Zion, thou art all beautiful and pleasant, fair as the moon, clear as the sun.  [Song of Solomon 6:10]


Antiphon on Nunc Dimittis.   Protect us, * Lord, while we are awake and safeguard us while we sleep; that we may keep watch with Christ, and rest in peace.

Lauds of Assumption

First Psalm Antiphon. Mary hath been taken to heaven ;  the Angels rejoice ; they praise and bless the Lord.
Second Psalm Antiphon. The Virgin Mary hath been taken into the chamber on high,  where the King of kings sitteth on a throne amid the stars.
Psalm Antiphon. We run after thee, on the scent of thy perfumes —  the virgins love thee heartily. [Song of Solomon 1:3-4]
Fourth Psalm Antiphon. Blessed of the Lord art thou, O daughter, for by thee we have been given to eat of the fruit [of the tree] of Life.
Fifth Psalm Antiphon. Fair and comely art thou, O daughter of Jerusalem,  terrible as a fenced camp set in battle array. [Song of Solomon 6:4]

Sir 24:11-12:  In all these I sought rest, and I will abide in the inheritance of the Lord. So the Creator of all things gave me a commandment and said, (and He That made me rested in my tabernacle).

O gloriósa vírginum,

Antiphon on Benedictus. Who is she * that cometh up like the rising dawn, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as a fenced camp set in battle array?  [Song of Solomon 6:10, Song of Solomon 6:4]

Second Vespers.

Sir 24:11-12:  In all these I sought rest, and I will abide in the inheritance of the Lord. So the Creator of all things gave me a commandment and said, (and He That made me rested in my tabernacle)

Ave maris stella,

Antiphon on Magnificat.  Today the Blessed Virgin Mary * ascended to heaven, rejoice, she reigns with Christ forever.

Breviary of St. Margaret

First Vespers of The Repose Of The  Blessed Virgin Mary.

Antiphon to Psalms. I sleep. Alleluia : but my heart waketh. Alleluia. [Song of Songs 5:2]

Chapter. S. Luke i.
BLESSED art thou among women; for thou hast found favour with God.

Quem terra, pontus, sidera,

Antiphon on Magnificat.  At our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old which I have laid up for Thee, my Beloved.  [Song of Solomon 7:13]

WE beseech Thee, Almighty God, grant that we, who commemorate the holy Repose of Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, may attain to participation in her eternal joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Antiphon on Nunc Dimittis.    I sat down under His shadow with great delight: and His fruit was sweet to my taste. [Song of Solomon 2:3]


First Psalm Antiphon. O that I had wings like a dove : for then would I flee away, and be at rest. [Psalm 55:6]
Second Psalm Antiphon.  My beloved spake unto me, Rise up, My love, My fair one : and come away.  [Song of Solomon 2:10]
Third Psalm Antiphon.  My soul thirsteth for Thee: my flesh also longeth after Thee. [Psalm 63:1]
Fourth Psalm Antiphon.  I am come into My garden, My sister, My spouse : I have gathered My myrrh with My spice. [Song of Solomon 5:1]
Fifth Psalm Antiphon.  The king's daughter is all glorious within : her clothing is of wrought gold. [Psalm 45:13]

Chapter. Is.lxii.
THOU shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. For the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy God rejoiceth over thee.

O gloriosa Virginum,

Antiphon on Benedictus.  They blessed her, and said unto her, Thou art the exaltation of Jerusalem : thou art the great glory of Israel, thou art the great rejoicing of our nation.  [Judith 15:9]

Second Vespers.

Antiphon on Magnificat. He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden : for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath magnified me.] [Luke 1:48]

Sarum Breviary

First Vespers of Assumption

First Psalm Antiphon. Tota pulchra es * amíca mea, et mácula non est in te : favus distíllans lábia tua, mel et lac sub lingua tua, odor unguentórum tuórum super ómnia arómata : jam enim hyems tránsiit, ymber ábiit et recéssit, flores apparuérunt, vínee floréntes odórem dedérunt, et vox turtúris audíta est in terra nostra, surge própera  amíca mea, veni de Líbano, veni coronáberis.  [Song of Songs 4:7]
Second Psalm Antiphon. Anima mea * liquefácta est ut diléctus locútus est, quesívi et non invéni illum, vocávi et non respóndet michi : invenérunt me custódes civitátis percussérunt me et vulneravérunt me, tulérunt pállium meum custódes murórum : fílie Hierúsalem nunciáte dilécto quia amóre lángueo. [Song of Songs 5:6-8]
Third Psalm Antiphon. Qualis est diléctus * tuus ex diléctis o pulchérrima muliérum : amícus meus cándidus et rubicúndus eQ léctus ex mílibus leva ejus sub cápite meo : et déxtera illíus amplexábitur me.  [Song of Songs 5:9-11]
Fourth Psalm Antiphon. Talis est * diléctus meus, et ipse est amícus meus, fílie Hierúsalem.  [Song of Songs 5:16b]

Fifth Psalm Antiphon. Descéndi * in ortum meum ut vidérem po-ma convállium et inspícerem si floruíssent vínee : et germinássent mala púnica. Revértere, revértere Suná- quóniam bonus. mitis : revértere, revértere ut intueámur te. [Song of Songs 6:10,12]

Antiphon on Magnificat.  Ascéndit Christus * super celos : et preparávit sue castíssime matri immortalitátis locum : et hec est illa preclára festívitas ómnium sanctórum festivitátibus incomparábilis in qua gloriósa et felix mirántibus celéstis cúrie ordínibus ad ethérium pervénit thálamum, quo pia sui mémorum ímmemor nequáquam exístat.


First Antiphon.  Sancta * María virgo intercéde pro toto mundo, quia genuísti Regem orbis.

Antiphon on Nunc Dimittis.    Glorificámus * te Dei génitrix : quia ex te natus est Christus : salva omnes qui te gloríficant.


First Psalm Antiphon. Assúmpta est * María in celum, gaudent ángeli laudántes benedícunt Dómi-num.  
Second Psalm Antiphon. María virgo assúmpta est * ad ethéreum thálamum : in quo Rex regum stelláto sedet sólio. 
Third Psalm Antiphon.   In odórem * unguentórum tuórum cúrrimus adolescéntule dilexérunt te nimis.  

Fourth Psalm Antiphon.  Benedícta * a fílio tuo dómi-na : quia per te frúctui vite communicávimus. Fifth Psalm Antiphon.  Pulchra es et decóra * fília Hierúsalem : terríbilis ut castrórum ácies ordináta. [Song of Solomon 6:10, Song of Solomon 6:4]

Benedictus antiphon:  Que est ista * que ascéndit sicut auróra consúrgens, pulchra ut luna, elécta ut sol : terríbilis ut castrórum ácies ordináta. [Song of Solomon 6:10, Song of Solomon 6:4]

Second Vespers.

Single Psalm Antiphon. Assúmpta est * María in celum, gaudent ángeli laudántes benedícunt Dómi-num.


Candida * virgínitas paradýsi cara colónis, ortus conclúsus florénti céspite vernans.
†Cui mérito mundus célebrat.
‡Precónia to-tus.
V. Que méruit Dóminum progeneráre suum.
V. Glória Patri et Fílio : et Spirítui Sancto.

Antiphon on Magnificat.  Hodie * María virgo celos ascéndit gaudéte : quia cum Christo regnat in etérnum.


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