24 December 2009

Ave Maris Stella

In the English Catholic Hymn Book [try the Search machine on this blog for earlier references] and in the form of Vespers of our Blessed Lady, published by the Society of SS Peter and Paul, a translation is given of Ave Maris Stella which begins Star of ocean fairest/ Mother, God who barest ...

This appeared in 1904 in a volume called Songs of Syon, edited by a priest called George Radcliffe Woodward (1848-1934) . Woodward served at Houghton S Giles near Walsingham; he and his wife were buried at Walsingham; so he looks rather like a bit of Walsingham's Catholic pre-History, from before Year 1 of the Hope Patten Era. Like many Anglican Catholics - even papalists such as Fr Fynes Clinton and Fr Hope Patten - his ecumenical breadth spread beyond the Catholic West to Orthodoxy; he produced a translation of the Akathist Hymn (this aspect of the Patrimony is also something which we should not lose).

Star of Ocean Fairest was itself the work of the Revd Thomas Isaac Ball (1838-1916), who held a number of Scottish curacies, was for many years a leading member of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, and became Provost of the College of the Holy Spirit, Cumbrae (a theological College within the Scottish Episcopal Church - at one time, a distinctly 'Catholic' province of the Anglican Communion). He had in 1863 translated a number of Latin hymns for the Appendix to the Hymnal Noted of S Alban's, Holborn (I wonder if Star was one of them? Does anyone have a copy?).

I suspect that Athelstan Riley's version of Ave Maris Stella, which is the version offered by the English Hymnal (and its bastard progeny The New English Hymnal), was an attempt to produce a slightly toned-down version of the original, in the hope that it would be easier for the 'Mainstream' to use.

I am in no way hostile to Athelstan Riley, a great character who played a distinctive role in the completion of Lancing Chapel and more or less created a magical little Catholic hamlet called Little Petherick in Cornwall. I have published a couple of things on him, and regard him as having been a close companion for forty years. But I do wonder if Ball and his translation of Ave Maris Stella might be a lost fragment of the Patrimony, ripe for recovery.

The English Catholic Hymn Book contains within its little green covers quite a lot of such fragments.

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Dr David McConkey kindly provided information for this post.

9 comments:

Malcolm Kemp said...

I've only ever seen pale blue covers on the English Catholic Hymn Book. Perhaps the green ones are those re-issued by St Matthew's Willesden a few years ago?

What a pity nobody ever produced a music edition. See my recent letter in New Directions to which several people helpfully responded.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

Our green ones date from the 1930s.

Nebuly said...

'Provost of the College of the Holy Spirit, Cumbrae'

and was also Provost of the sister foundation, the Cathedral of the Isles

John F H H said...

The green ones were the paperback editions, the blue the hardback.
The ECHB had a predecessor, The New Office Hymn Book: a Companion to the Book of Coomon Prayer, produced by Knotts. I have the limp edition of 1905 "Edition"C" and the hardback of 1907, "Edition D".

Hymns are numbered 1-860, + Children's Services.
It is in four parts - Part I Introits, Processions, &c., which begins with the Asperges and Vidi Aquam.
Part II is Office Hymns
Part II contains Hymns New & Old, Sacred Songs and Carols,
Part IV has Litanies,various.

As with the ECHB, there is no introduction, authorship or notes.

At 285 is another translation of Ave maris stella, which begins:
Hail, bright Star of ocean!
Our Salvation's portal!
Ever-virgin Mother
Of the Lord Immortal.


The New Office Hymn Book appears to be the successor to The Office Hymn Book published by Pickering & Chatto in 1889, which also has the Hail, Bright Star of ocean! translation.

Julian identifies this translation as the work of E.Caswall. It also appears in the Catolic Literature Association's A Mary Hymn Book, published between the wars[?]

Julian also notes that Ave Maris Stella was also translared by J.R.Beste: Hail, Sea Star, we bless thee
Ano: Hail, thou respendent star,
J.R.Hewett: The Star which o'er the sea
Chambers: Hail! Star of ocean, Mary.

Regards . .
... and a holy and blessed Christmas to you, dear father,

John U.K.

rev'd up said...

The Ave Maris Stella dates from at least the 9th Century. Ball was undoubtedly working from the Hymnarium Sarisburniense which was the standard for the majority of what appeared in the Hymnal Noted series. Riley was most likely working with the (as Neale called them) "spoilt" adaptations of Urban VIII. Could this explain the discrepencies between their translations?

Pax Britannica said...

Bravo, Father. So - who produced and edited ECHB??? And who composed the more splendidly extreme offerings contained therein, found nowhere else (and post-Julian)?? Fr Twice-a-day is sometimes rumoured. Is that plausible? Part of our CP, surely? (insofar that vernacular hymns are...)

Gengulphus said...

Oh to be reminded of the glory days of the ECHB.

When the numbers on the hymn board added up to over 4000 you knew it was going to be dizzyingly high.

Joshua said...

I don't believe Urban VIII changed the text of the Ave Maris Stella, except perhaps for a word in the Doxology.

Malcolm Kemp said...

"A Mary Hymn Book" was compiled by Fr Alban Baverstock (40 pages) and the British Library has a copy.

My 1908 Edition E copy of the New Office Hymn book (published jointly by Novello and Knott)has a preface by J F W Bullock. I could provide photcopies for anyone wanting one.

I have the music edition of the Appendix to the Hymnal Noted (St Alban's Holborn) but - like so many hymn books of this period, including the Clumber Park Hymn Book - the words and music were published in seperate books. The litanies did have words and music together. I also have the words and music for "Certain Hymns... at St Alban's Holborn" (Knott 1922).

I am happy to try to answer queries about Anglo Catholic hymns. Rather than clutter up Fr Hunwicke's blog it might be easier if people contacted me direct. My e-mail address is in the letters page of the October New Directions and it may be in the January edition when it comes out.