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THE ANTIPHONS OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
45 cal—though the original form of the Ave Regina seems not to have been metrical.
John of Parma, in 1249, mentions these four antiphons in a letter he sent to the Friars Minor about the use of the Breviary of Aymo, and Pius V made their recitation obligatory. (For further details, see histories of the Breviary etc.)
Notes on Hymn 30
Author. ?Hermann the Cripple (Hermannus Con- plena gratia. In these lines of a fragmentary hymn our tractus). According to Raby, the evidence is in- Lady is styled pervia as the one through whom the sufficient to prove his authorship. Hermann (1013- Saviour came to men; here she is so called as the one 54), a monk of Reichenau, was a cripple 'who passed through whom all men may approach God. a life of pain and trial, and though he could hardly 2. manes; i.e. is (the gate of heaven and the star of raise his voice above a whisper, he was able to make the sea). The Alma borrows many ideas from the Ave his mark as a teacher and a man of universal learning' maris stella, 94. Cadenti with populo, fallen rather than (Raby, p. 225). He was the composer of some falling. sequences.
3. curat, strives; genuisti; it is hard to re-produce in Metre. Hexameter.
English the play on genuisti and Genitorem. Genitor is Use. From the beginning of Advent to 2 February. used of God the Father in 71, 16 and of an earthly
1. pervia, passable, affording a passage through father in 110, 13. Here the Son is Genitor as being and, here, with the further idea of affording entrance Mary's, tuum, Creator. to all, accessible to all. Fit porta Christi pervia/Referta
Notes on Hymn 31
Author. Unknown. It is a metrical adaptation of season as the others are to theirs. the antiphon: Ave regina caelorum, ave domina ange- Metre. Trochaic dimeter, accentual, though the lorum, salve radix sancta ex qua mundo lux est orta; first two lines are dactylic. gaude gloriosa, super omnes speciosa. Vale, valde decora, Use. From Compline of 2 February to Wednesday et pro nobis semper Christum exora. (Cf. Daniel, II, in Holy Week.
3. radix; cf. 97, 7, note. Our Lady is called radix as This antiphon seems to have been used in some the representative of the house of Jesse and David places in the twelfth century as the antiphon for from whom was born the Saviour, the Root of
Jesse. None on the feast of the Assumption. For this the 4. This line is closely connected in the antiphon titles given to our Lady are most appropriate, and with radix, which the added porta rather hides. The the last lines, with their Vale and exora, peculiarly so. reference here is to Is. II, 10 and in line 3 to Is. II, I (Dom B. Capelle, in Les Questions Liturgiques et
as well. Paroissiales, March 1950, pp. 33-5). The Collect Porta creates something of a difficulty. Our Lady after the Ave regina suggests such a connection as, is usually called the gate of heaven, as in 30, 2, and with memoriam agimus for festivitatem praevenimus, it is such an interpretation is often given of this line. But the same as the Post-Communion of the Vigil of the some prefer to think of our Lady here as the
of Assumption. The Ave was later put into its present morning, and perhaps that makes porta and orta go form and used as one of the seasonal antiphons. It together better. must be admitted that it is not so well suited to its
Regina caeli laetare, alleluia,
Queen of heaven rejoice, alleluia. The Son whom it was your privilege to bear, alleluia, has risen as He said, alleluia. Pray God for us, alleluia.
Salve regina, mater misericordiae,
Ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes s In hac lacrimarum valle.
Eja ergo, advocata nostra,
fructum ventris tui,
O dulcis virgo Maria.
Hail, queen and mother of mercy. Hail, our life, comfort and hope. Exiled sons of Eve, with loud voice we call upon you. As we journey in sorrow and lament through this ‘Valley of Tears', we sigh and long for your help. Come then, our advocate, and turn those eyes of pity towards us now. When this time of exile is past, show us Jesus, the blessed fruit of your womb, gentle, loving and kind virgin Mary.
THE ANTIPHONS OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Notes on Hymn 32
Author. Unknown. It is thought to be an adaptation At the present day it still figures in the Breviary as an of the Christmas antiphon: Maria Virgo semper antiphon, in the Little Office of our Lady. laetare, quae meruisti Christum portare, caeli et terrae It used by the Franciscans as one of the seasonal conditorem, quia de tuo utero protulisti mundi salvatorem. antiphons as early as 1249. Its use as a substitute for According to the famous Jesuit hymnologist Blume, the Angelus dates from Benedict XIV in 1743. the earliest copy of the Regina is in an antiphonary The supposed connection of the Regina with St in the Vatican Library, whose date is between 1170 Gregory is a myth. (Cf. Thurston, Familiar Prayers, and the early years of the next century and in which it pp. 146-51). occurs as an antiphon of the ordinary paschal Vespers. Use. During the Paschal season.
Notes on Hymn 33
Author. ?Hermann; cf. 30.
Use. From Trinity Sunday until Advent. As the author of the words seems also to have been 1. mater is an addition to the original Salve, regina the author of the music, Hermann could well have misericordiae. Dreves, Analecta Hymnica, I. p. 319, been its composer; but there is no direct, early thought it was added in the sixteenth century, but evidence to prove this.
it is found in a Horae of about the year 1340, now in Another candidate is Peter, bishop of Compostella the Bodleian. As the Salve is entirely about our (died 1000), but there is apparently little justification Lady's mercy, it is a pity to lose the title Queen of for this.
mercy or to delay the mention of mercy. The date of the early MSS shows that St Bernard 2. vita. Another version, which the Carthusians cannot have been its author, and the state of the MSS use, is vitae dulcedo. proves that he is not responsible for adding the last s. lacrimarum valle; cf. Ps. 83, 7. The Salve detwo lines to a composition already in existence. All scribes our life as an exile and ourselves as exiles. copies have these two lines.
This line implies that our exile is also a pilgrimage, The last suggested author, of any importance, is for the Psalm in the Vulgate text is about the pilAimar or Adhémar, bishop of Le Puy (died 1098). grim who goes through the Valley of Tears to reach There are two or three independent sources which Jerusalem. St Peter addressed his readers as 'strangers connect the Salve with him so that it is sometimes and exiles', 1 Pet. 2, 11. called the antiphona de Podio, the antiphon of Le Puy. 9. The version mentioned above adds benignum But, once again, the evidence is inconclusive. (Cf. after ostende. Thurston, Familiar Prayers, pp. 115 ff.)
11. virgo, like mater in line 1, is an (early) addition This antiphon of our Lady has always been greatly and, like mater, tends to blur the picture. The children loved. Many medieval translations of it are to be of Eve are sorrowful, the Child of Mary is blessed. found, and many elaborations of it in Latin verse The two mothers are mentioned by name only, and were written. One of these, ascribed to St Bona- Mary receives at the end attributes which recall the venture, is printed in Daniel, II, 323-6. In modern opening titles. Virgo is an element foreign to the times also, many prayers and hymns owe their original unity. inspiration to the Salve.
HYMNS OF THE SEASONS
Christe, salus rerum, bone conditor atque redemptor ...
Tu satis es nobis, et sine te nihil est. (Fortunatus.)
the praise of our Lord as the light of the world. The hymns of the seasons, however, reverse the process. Their first concern is with the mysteries of our redeemer, though at each season we are also reminded that the redeemer is likewise our creator. Just as we would not exist, unless God gave us our being and sustained us in being, so we would not enjoy the life of the sons of God unless our redeemer gave it to us and, with our co-operation, sustained us in it. Deus qui humanae substantiae dignitatem mirabiliter condidisti et mirabilius reformasti. ... This is the constant theme of the hymns of this section, presented in a variety of forms, of which the most frequent is again the image of light.
Eternity is a completeness of being and of possessing such as we find hard even to imagine. It belongs to our Lord, as God, necessarily; and it belongs to Him as man as a result of the Resurrection and Ascension. But when He was on earth, He was subject to the conditions of time. The feasts of the seasons are the Church's way
of relating the two opposites of time and eternity and of interpreting one in terms of the other. Each
year is a complete cycle in terms of time and may be considered as some sort of natural image of the completeness which is eternity. It is a totum, if not a totum simul. In like fashion a man's life, from birth to grave, is one complete thing—a sort of likeness of eternity as well as a preparation for it. Our Lord's mortal life was one such totality, and He came to His death when He had completed His life on earthtempus implens corporis, as Fortunatus puts it, 53, 16. The parts which went to its making, the mysteries, that is, of His birth, hidden life, public life and passion together with the Resurrection and Ascension, are divided among the seasons which make up one complete year, so that we may sanctify the years by re-living these mysteries and thus prepare for eternity. Just as the natural seasons have their own functions and characteristics, so have the different mysteries of our Lord's life. For this reason it is necessary for us to think about each of them and, as mystery follows mystery in the Church's year, to approach our Lord in prayer and petition and so be enlightened. Nothing less would suffice; nothing more is necessary. Tu satis es nobis et sine te nihil est.
One thing remains to be mentioned. The important thing in these hymns is the mystery being celebrated, and the idea of the hours at which the hymns are used comes second, if indeed it comes at all. The ideas suggested by Vespers or Matins cannot be expected in a hymn which is used at both these Hours, as 44 is at the Epiphany. Nor can they be expected, apart from a happy accident, in centos which
made up purposely to be short hymns about the feast itself, of which 44 and 45 may serve as examples. However, if hymns are composed to be used at a given hour of a given feast, then mention ought to be found of the feast and of the hour. There is an example of this in the hymns of the Holy Family, 46–8, and an altogether remarkable one in those of Corpus Christi, 71–3.
1. ADVENT Advent and Christmas may be likened to Lauds and Prime—Advent to the longing for the coming of the Day and to the first dawn of His coming and Christmas to the actual coming. So it may be more than a coincidence that the passage
from Romans, which is the Scripture reading for ferial Lauds and the inspiration of its hymns, should also be the Scripture reading for the first Sunday of Advent and, together with the gospel of that day, namely Luke 21, 25–33, should be the inspiration of the Lauds hymn for Advent. Christ, the lux and aurora of the Lauds hymns, appears in the Advent ones as Creator siderum, lux credentium and sidus novum. He shines forth from heaven, 36, 4 and we ask Him to bring light to our souls, 35, S. His opposite at Lauds is Nox et tenebrae et nubila, 14, 1; the opposite is described in Advent as obscura quaeque, 36, 2 and the very punishment of the deeds of darkness is described in terms of blackness, the nigros turbines of 35, 13-14.
the dawn we must be awake. So we must put aside spiritual sloth, as 36, 1-8 tells us, if we would sincerely welcome our Lord. Non enim dormientibus, says St Ambrose, divina beneficia, sed observantibus deferentur. Likewise we must travel light, leaving earthly baggage behind—cor caduca deserens, 35, 7, and go out eagerly and with speed. Nescit tarda molimina, St Ambrose again reminds us, sancti Spiritus gratia (Ember Friday, Advent, lesson 1).