Page images

Notes on Hymn 14

Author. Prudentius; cf. 13.

çimus in Prudentius), which is followed by intende in This is a cento from the second hymn in the direct speech instead of by ut. The sense of Prudentius Cathemerinon, called Hymnus matutinus, and com- has inevitably undergone some change by the prises lines 1-8, 48, 49, 52, 57, 59, 60, 67 and 68 of the putting together of disconnected lines. original.

10. mente; cf. 3, 6. 1. Nox ... turbida, vocatives with discedite of line 11. flendo, canendo, instead of present participles 4; nubila, clouds; neut. plur. of adj. used as a noun. a classical construction which became very common The imagery of this verse is primarily spiritual, but in late Latin; cf. 44, 12. in the next verse it is physical.

12. intende, sc. animum, with dative, as here, or 3. lux ... venit. Three urgent reasons why night with in or ad and the accusative; direct one's mind etc. should depart. Albescit, grows bright; cf. ut to, and so, help, bring help. Sensibus; cf. 11, 29. primum albescere lumen/vidit, Virg. Aen. IV, 586, 7; 13. fucis. Fucus, a sea-weed from which a red dye polus, cf. 11, 10, note.

was made; hence, red colour, 'rouge'; figuratively, 4. discedite; a common formula bidding the un- pretence, disguise, deceit. initiated or the unclean to depart from a sacrifice; cf. IS. vera lux caelestium. Prudentius has rex eoi Discede, Christus hic est, Prud. Cath. VI, 145. Cf. also sideris and breviaries, other than the Roman, lux eoi the use of procul in procul o procul este, profani, Virg. sideris. Eous in Virgil and elsewhere means the rising Aen. VI, 258 and Procul o procul vagantium/Portenta sun, the dawn. If the revisers meant to put the somniorum, Prud. Cath. VI, 137; cf. also 29, s. thought into different words, caelestium is a sup5. caligo; cf. 6, 1, note on contegit.

posed equivalent of eoi sideris. Editors, by printing 6. spiculo, ray; cf. 17, 3.

caelestium with a capital, presumably see a reference 7. rebusque; cf. 6, 1, note on nox atra.

to the citizens of heaven. 8. vultu; i.e. at the appearance of; sideris, star (of 16. sereno, bright. So Ambrose says that Easter the day), i.e. the sun; cf. 3, 10.

day is sancto serenus lumine. 9. te with novimus; te in 10 with quaesumus (dis



Notes on Hymn 15

[ocr errors]

Author. Prudentius; cf. 13. Like 14 it is from If serenum is taken here to mean bright, puros Cathemerinon II, and comprises lines 25, 93, 94, 96 may suggest the result in us, namely freedom from 108 of the original.

sin. 2. pallens, colourless; for the idea, cf. 6, 1-2 and 6. praestet, make us, present us. 14, 7. Facessat (facesso, 3) to do eagerly, despatch; in- 7. subdolum, deceitful. trans., as here, to go away, depart. The variant 8. volvamus, turn over in our minds; obscurum fatiscat means fail

, give way. Caecitas, the equivalent nihil, no dark thought; cf. obscura in 6, 11. of caligo, tenebrae.

9. Sic is explained by ne in 10; decurrat, run to its 3. praeceps, danger, destruction; used as a noun close. governed by in.

10. mendax, prone to lie; for lines 10 and 11 cf. 4. devio seems to be used actively, i.e. which leads 18, 5-8. from the right path; otherwise errore devio=devious 11. lubrici, in its literal sense of easily moving, cf. tracks.

2, 21, note; for its position at the end of the line, cf. s. lux, i.e. Christ, because of sibi in the next line. 12, 12, note. Serenum, as a noun, fair weather; metaphorically, 12. ne may be like ne in 10 or may be dependent contentment, peace of soul; cf. also 14, 16, note. on ne peccent. Cf. James 3, 6. Noxa, guilt; 3, 14.

[ocr errors]


Speculator astat desuper,

Qui nos diebus omnibus IS Actusque nostros prospicit

A luce prima in vesperum.

in heaven is like a watchman. He sees us and our actions from first light of the day until evening.

Hymn 16 Friday Lauds

Aeterna caeli gloria, Beata spes mortalium, Summi tonantis unice Castaeque proles virginis,

s Da dexteram surgentibus,

Exsurgat et mens sobria,
Flagrans et in laudem Dei
Grates rependat debitas.

Eternal glory of heaven and blessed hope of earth, only Son of the most high Thunderer and Son of a pure Virgin, stretch out Your right hand to us as we rise. Let our soul rise up recollected and, zealous in God's praise, return Him due thanks. The morning star shines clear in the sky and announces the coming of the day; the darkness of night disappears. Do You, holy light, shine on us, dwell in our thoughts, drive out the night of sin and keep our hearts purified from all that would make the night return. First let the faith we have won take root in our hearts; let the second virtue, hope, rejoice with faith. But charity is greater than either.

Ortus refulget lucifer 10 Praeitque solem nuntius,

Cadunt tenebrae noctium;
Lux sancta nos illuminet,

Manensque nostris sensibus

Noctem repellat saeculi 15 Omnique fine temporis

Purgata servet pectora.


jam primum fides In corde radices agat,

Secunda spes congaudeat, 20 Qua major exstat caritas.

Hymn 17

Saturday Lauds

Aurora jam spargit polum, Terris dies illabitur, Lucis resultat spiculum; Discedat omne lubricum.

Now is the dawn spreading its light over the heavens, day is gradually coming to the earth; light's rays are mounting in the sky. Darkness and its attendant dangers, depart. Let the night's

13. speculator, watchman. Quanto magis Deus, Min. Felix, Octavius, 32, 9. For the general idea cf. auctor omnium et speculator omnium, a quo nullum potest Ps. 138, 7-12 and 49, S.

interest ... cogitationibus nostris,

esse secretum

[ocr errors]

Notes on Hymn 16

Author. Unknown; perhaps of the fifth century. 13. manensque, sc. lux sancta of 12. The Breviary's

It is an alphabetical hymn, though this device is not full-stop at the end of 12 is not helpful. preserved in any breviary. As the Latin alphabet has 15. omnique. Original: omnique fine diei, from

any only twenty-three letters, letters were sometimes close of day, W; i.e. from any spiritual darkness or doubled in these compositions. C was used for lines 3 night. This gives a connection between noctem and and 4 of this hymn.

diei and is like the related metaphors of 12, 28 and 1. The hymn is addressed to Christ as God and 21, 5-6. The revisers' temporis destroys this meaning man; line 3 further explains line 1, and line 4 explains and gives a text without any meaning. Probably the

; line 2; cf. the opening of 46.

best thing is to interpret temporis as if it were diei. B's 3. summi tonantis unice, only-begotten of the most

'till the end of time' does not seem satisfactory. high (and) thundering, i.e. omnipotent, Father. 17. quaesita, sought (and found), i.e. won; cf. 110, Original: celsitonantis unice, i.e. of Him who thunders 23. on high; cf. Ps. 17, 14 and Ps. 28.

18. in corde. Original, radicet altis sensibus (where 6. sobria, thoughtful, recollected; cf. 13, 9, note. sensibus


a mistake for mentibus), take root 9. Ortus; in the original Hortus to make up the in our inmost, deepest, thoughts (or, soul). alphabet. H could be so used according to the vulgar 19. secunda answers primum of 17. Congaudeat is pronunciation of Latin; cf. insidias Arrius (sc. dicebat) probably derived from congaudet veritati of 1 Cor. 13,

() hinsidias, Catullus, 84, 2. Lucifer, the morning star; 6, though there it is charity that rejoices. cf. 11,9, note.

20. qua must, in effect, refer to fides and


cf. 10. Praeitque. MSS have

which must

Cor. 13, 13. Exstat=est, is the reading of some be wrong. Some word with I is necessary; hence the MSS. But the form Tunc major exstet caritas is more suggestions ipsamque, Mone, and jactamque, W. frequent and better. An indicative seems out of place

II. cadunt, fall away, disappear; cf. labes cadunt, 11, here. 27. Original: Kadit (for cadit) caligo noctium.



Notes on Hymn 17 Author. Unknown, of date between the fourth and forward to the dawn of the morning which will have sixth century.

no evening, and asks that it may be to us the beThe hymn may be interpreted as a summary and ginning of an eternity of light. It is not without completion of the previous Lauds hymns. Its first difficulties, especially in its revised form. verse sums up the imagery of dawn and light and the 1. Aurora. The spiritual application is up permost second that of sin and darkness. The third verse looks in this verse. Aurora, dies and lucis spiculum re fer to

Notes continued on p. 28 s Phantasma noctis exsulet,

Mentis reatus corruat,
Quidquid tenebris horridum
Nox attulit culpae, cadat;

spectres be banished, the soul's guilt fall away and the soul be freed from whatever dark and horrible sin night has brought. Thus may the morning for which, as the last of all mornings, we here make humble supplication, issue forth with (eternal) light, as it resounds with this song of praise.

Ut mane, quod nos ultimum 10 Hic deprecamur cernui,

Cum luce nobis effluat,
Hoc dum canore concrepat.

Notes continued from p. 27 Christ; polum, according to one commentator, may coming clear; contrast resultet, 81, 2. Spiculum, be thought of as referring to man's intellect or soul, point, dart, ray, cf. 14, 6, and, of Christ, character, and terris to mankind in general. For the whole verse outline, idea. cf. 14, 1-8. Spargit; understand lumine or rubore or 4. discedat; cf. discedite, 14, 4; lubricum; cf. 2, some such word; cf. spargit lumine, Lucr. II, 144, and 21 and 12, 12. spargebat lumine, Virg. Aen. IV, 584. Polum; cf. 11, 5. phantasma; sing. for plur.; cf. noctium phantas

mata, 29, 6. It may be understood of any form of 2. illabitur; cf. 12, 5, note.

spiritual deception; cf. 14, 7-8 and 13-14. Exsulet, 3. resultat, climb, mount, and, of Christ, is be- the revisers' substitute for decidat, is little more than a →


prayer at

3. THE LITTLE HOURS From earliest times Christians were exhorted to pray during the day and, in particular, to sanctify the beginnings of the civil divisions of the day. This was a private devotion, with no fixed prayers. In later years the monks made these times of the day part of the public prayer, and in this way Terce, Sext and None received their present status. Prime, however, was of purely monastic origin, and was sometimes called, by the monks to whose laziness it put an end, altera matutinanot without some emphasis, probably, on altera. This too eventually passed into the Church's Office.

One of the pious customs connected with these Hours was the recalling of the Passion. At Prime our Lord, in the custody of the High Priest, offered Himself to the Father to undergo the crucifixion. At TerceJam surgit hora tertia/ qua Christus ascendit crucem, says St Ambrose in one of his hymns. At Sext began the three hours on the cross, and there was darkness over the whole earth from then until, after pardoning the Good Thief, He died at None.


synonym for discedat of line 4. The original is better. praise of the Blessed Trinity, of which the doxology As the devils fell before the risen Christ, so may that follows is an example. temptations of the devil fall away (decidat) at the The original is: rising of the Dawn. Decidat; cf. 21, 6.

Ut mane illud ultimum, 6. mentis reatus, i.e. the sense of guilt and liability

Quod praestolamur cernui, for punishment, while the next two lines are about

In lucem nobis effluat, the stain of sin.

Dum hoc tenore concrepat. 7. quidquid. Culpae is genitive after quidquid, which

Here Quod ... cernui might well be parenthetical, is further qualified by tenebris horridum; may what

like 2, 31. The first and third lines are clearly about ever dark and horrible (tenebris horridum) sin (culpae) the Last Day. The last line is difficult. Some MSS night has brought ..., W. But B orders as: quidquid have vox canora, and many have concrepet. Canore of horridum culpae nox attulit, tenebris cadat (i.e. vanish

the Breviary does not seem to be in any MSS. Hoc with the darkness). B's seems rather unnatural and

could be ablative, but could easily be nominative in awkward. Cadat, cf. 16, 11, note.

contrast with illud—the last day of the week with the 9-12. A difficult verse and 'very obscure', B.

Last Day The following points should be noted. Mane has been

B gives this anonymous translation from the taken as an adverb and as a noun; if as a noun, as

Hymnal Noted: referring to the last day of the week or to the Last

So that last morning, dread and great, Day. Ultimum has been taken as an adjective and

Which we with trembling hope await, adverbially (i.e. as the last Lauds of the week). Hoc

With blessed light for us shall glow, has been interpreted as nominative with mane and

Who chant the song we sang below. ablative with canore. If the latter, 'this song' refers to

Though there is no direct reference to these events in the hymns, it is easy to make one. Prime is a public morning offering-an offering of the next step on the way to our death. At Sext the light and heat of the noonday sun may remind us, by contrast, of the darkness of Good Friday. At None, mindful of the Good Thief and of our Lord's death, we pray that our death may be a holy one. But if we look at their direct meaning, the prayer of Prime is the negative one that we be kept from harm while that of Terce is the positive one that the grace of the Holy Ghost will enable us to grow in love and zeal. At Sext we pray that God will temper the heat of temptation and at None we ask for the gift of perseverance.

The hymns of the Little Hours, both by their position and by their subject-matter, give a special character to this part of the Office. There is much matter for reflection in these short hymns and they are valuable as prayers outside the Office. Few

grace of perseverance are as beautiful as the Rerum Deus tenax vigor of None.

prayers for the

« PreviousContinue »