30 September 2009

Greek lesson

In the Liturgy of the hours, today we have a hymn for S Jerome written by Dom Lentini himself. It is in a metre called variously the Second (sic my own Mods tutor, the fabulously erudite Margaret Hubbard; it was outside her study door as we queued up for a Homer Class - happiest of days - that I met Pam) or Fourth (sic Wickham) or Third (sic Page) Asclepiad. This consists of three asclepiads (tumtum tumtittytum tumtittytum tytum) followed by a glyconic (tumtum tumtittytum tytum). Those of you who did some Horace are most likely to remember it from Odes 1:33; where Horace frivolously tells the elegist Tibullus not to keep writing daft infatuated poems about Glycera, because she's going for a younger bloke; everybody always seems to go for someone unsuitable.

Like all of Horace's metres, this was used by the Greeks before him. An Oxyrrhynchus papyrus reveals that Alcaeus wrote at least a couple of (probably political) poems in the same metre. In Christian Latin, Rabanus Maurus, a Carolingian poet, may have written Sanctorum meritis and Bellarmine may be the author of Custodes hominum (which you will get in a few days time at Vespers of the Holy Guardianm Angels).

Why did Lentini select this metre?
Because there's no other metre used in Christian Latin into which you can fit Jerome - Hieronymus. But it will go into the Second Asclepiad, EITHER (this is the clever bit) if you read the name as short-short-long-short-anceps and elide the e of 'laude' before it, OR, in medieval style, pronounce the Hi- as J- without elision.

Shame Lentini went to all this trouble when, in direct contravention of the explicit mandate of the Council, the use of Latin in the Office was, to all intents and purposes, about to disappear and no John Mason Neale was at hand to translate the Office Hymns into an English which preserved the flavour of the Latin originals.

4 comments:

Chris said...

And Aquinas - Sacris solemniis.

johnf said...

Jerome = Hieronymous = Geronimo in Spanish.

So the Apache who caused so much trouble to the US in the 19th Century was really called Jeremy.

The warcry of 'Jeremy!' doesn't have the same ring of menace about it somehow.

rev'd up said...

Transliteration=A beautiful thing

Saint Geronimo!!!!

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

Jeremy is Jeremias/Jeremiah, not Jerome.