15 August 2009

Heady stuff

Well, last night I said the pre-1950 Mattins; and what heady stuff. The way the service starts with Assumpta est ... "Mary is taken up into heaven: the Angels rejoice ..." makes it seem as if you're back nineteen hundred years and someone comes dashing into the room shouting the exciting news. And the way this antiphon is repeated (likewise, the formula Exaltata est ..."The Holy Mother of God is exalted above the choirs of Angels to the heavenly realms") is just how it is when one has heard something transportingly wonderful and for joy one just cannot help continually iterating and reiterating it (which is why I love the Byzantine Easter with its incessant "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death with death, and, to those in the tombs, gracing Life"). By comparison, there is something schoolmasterly about the Bugnini first antiphon, with its downbeat and careful theological reminder that Christ went up first to prepare a place for his Mother. Paedagogues and Bugninis can kill anything.

Donnishness did not start with Paul VI's rite. The Office decreed by Pius XII in 1951 (doesn't change the antiphons but does) eliminate those wonderful First Nocturn Readings from the Song of Songs, and replaces them with Genesis 3 and I Corinthians 15, to instruct us on the Pauline theology with which Pius XII (quite rightly) associated the Assumption.

I think there's a whole Octave's worth of meditation in those old lections from the Song of Solomon (1:1-16), and the relationship of their imagery to our Lady.

A jolly nice and keen congregation at my 10.30 EF pre-1950 Mass. I suspect my Altar Missal must be one of the very few in the world into which the Mass Gaudeamus has been pasted!

Tomorrow, modern propers. In the Asperges I shall sprinkle them with water from Lourdes and, Deo volente, we shall sing "I'll sing a hymn to Mary" (who was the Fr Wyse who wrote it?) to the tune of the Eton Boating Song (an idea I picked up from the late and lamented Fr Melrose at S Giles, Reading). And, at the end, ""Daily daily ...". The spirit of Fr Faber and the English Catholic Hymn Book still flourishes at S Thomas's.

7 comments:

Pastor in Valle said...

Daily, daily will also go to 'What a friend we have in Jesus'.

Malcolm Kemp said...

Someone told me the other day that the English Catholic Hymn Book had been re-issued recently and that a well known East End London church had bought 200 new copies. I can't finsd any on-line reference to this. Does anyone have any information?

CG said...

I use the old S. Mary's Convent, Wantage, Order of Vespers, and was startled by the collect for Second Vespers of the Assumption: it reads 'Grant. O lord, we beseech thee, that this august solemnity may bring us everlasting aid: forasmuch as on this day the holy Mother of God endured the pains of death, and yet could not be holden of it, seeing that of her substance thy Son our Lord became incarnate.'
I thought the tradition was that she suffered no pain in childbirth or in death.
The Sarum Latin original reads 'Veneranda nobis, Domine, hujus diei festivitas opem conferat sempiternam, in qua sancta Dei genitrix mortem subiit temporalem, nec tamen mortis nexibus deprimi potuit; quæ Filium tuum Dominum nostrum de se geniut incarnatum. Qui tecum...'

Methinks the Rev. G.H. Palmer stretched a point there in his translation, but why would he wish to?

Berni said...

Father, do you know when the Assumption got its Octave? (I know when it lost it!) Is it mediaeval, or perhaps earlier?

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

After the 7th century, since the Greg sacramentary has octaves for old Roman saints like S Laurence, but not the more recent feasts of our Lady.

Antiphon said...

There was indeed a recent reprint of the English Catholic Hymn Book; it is a softback volume with a blue cover. I bought one in 2006 through eBay. I'm not sure who published the reprint or from where else it can be obtained.

Bishop of Ebbsfleet said...

I like the Song of Songs stuff in the pre-Pian office but not the use of Luke 10 and John 11. I have searched the respective volumes of my IVP (sic) Ancient Christian Commentary to see if there is any patristic likening of Mary of Bethany to Our Lady. Isn't this a typological step too far?

Lovely Mass at St John, New Hinksey, this morning. Novus Ordo. Cloth of gold Latin High Mass set - yes, I folded back the front edge of the chasuble when I sat down to keep it clean - and, from one of the ordinands assisting, a very able homily on the Assumption.

Happy ferragosto

+ Andrew