13 December 2010

Down With Cosin

Not that I mean that. The principal reviser of the Prayer Book in 1662 was much nearer being an orthodox Catholic than was poor Dr Cranmer. But I know whose liturgical craftsmanship I prefer.

In the old Latin Missals, the Third Sunday in Advent had an exquisite Collect:
Aurem tuam, quaesumus, Domine, precibus nostris accomoda: et mentis nostrae tenebras gratia tuae visitationis illustra.
translated thus in the 1549 Prayer Book:
Lord, we beseche thee, geue eare to our prayers, and by thy gracious visitacion lighten the darknes of our hearte.
Simple, elegant, terse, instinctively Roman of the best period; I don't know whether S Leo might have written it (I believe it first appears in the Gregorianum), but it's worthy of him. The Feast of Christmas is regarded as making liturgically real for us the Visitation of God among us; we are euchologically situated in the darkness of a Sin which precedes the coming of God's grace; and we are pointed to the Gospel of the Christmas Missa in Die, the Johannine Prologue about the Incarnate Divine Light which shines in the darkness that comprehends it not. (What a shame that neither Clergy nor people know this great passage anything like as well as folk did in the dreadful unreformed days that preceded the Bugnini liturgical revolution; one of the graces of saying the Extraordinary Form is starting the day with the Last Gospel.)

Needless to say, that collect proved too good to survive. The 1662 Prayer Book, anticipating the wordy over-cleverness of Bugnini, replaces it with a dense and verbose composition which links S John Baptist, the pastoral and homiletic duties of the clergy, and the verdict to be passed at the Second Coming. Bugnini brought in something from the Rotulus, but bowdlerised even that so as to eliminate a suggestion that Christmas is the Incarnatio dominica.

6 comments:

rev'd up said...

The 1940 EM translates the Latin thusly: Incline thine ears to our prayers, we beseech thee O Lord: and by the grace of they visitation enlighten the darkness of our minds.

Interesting that they translate aurem "ears."

BJA said...

Speaking of the 1940 English Missal, I've been told that a lot of retranslation was done for the 1958 English Missal, not only in the Ordinary and Canon, but also in the Collects.

I've not done a detailed comparison on the Collects, but I've always thought that the 1940 Canon sounds prettier and reads much smoother than the 1958 (though the latter may be more accurate).

Father Hunwicke, do you have any thoughts on the 1940 vs. 1958 English Missal translations?

Figulus said...

Voci nostrae, quaesumus, Domine, aures tuae pietatis accommoda, et cordis nostri tenebras gratia Filii tui nos visitantis illustra. Per Dominum.

Such is the oratio for today in the Liturgia Horarum, 2000. Very similar, it seems to me. I like the substitution of "visitantis" for "visitationis"; it gives the whole prayer a startling immediacy.

Sui Juris said...

Starting the day with the last Gospel?

I have a peculiar vision of Father's ars celebrandi, either saying his daily mass in reverse (surely not) or getting up at 11.30 for Matins and Mass before returning to the dorter.

Joshua said...

Yes, I found the image of Mass beginning with In principio a bit startling also!

Rubricarius, could you pop up to Oxford and check that Fr H. is alright?

DANIEL said...

Im just an ignorant unlearned nobody (but catholic}. am I the only one who "gets" it ??? When father says the EF it ends eith the last Gospel. And so his day begins. Go forth good Fathet Hunwicke, to do battle, against sin, this world, and the devil. And may the Lord be with your spirit...