27 February 2010

Christi Sacerdotis: a hymn

John FHH reminds us of the Hymn Hoste dum victo triumphans, a superb hymn about the Lord's priesthood and the ministerial priesthood rooted in Him. Fr E Caswall - after he left the Church of England for the Birmingham Oratory - translated it as When the Patriarch was returning; you will find this version in the English Catholic Hymn Book. I would regard it as a prime piece of Patrimony although Fr Caswall was a Roman Catholic when he did his translation, since it has for long been popular as the Office Hymn of the Votive Vespers ("Guild Office") of the Anglican "Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary".

The admirable NLM blog printed the English version with a video of it being sung in an Anglican church, on 24 May 2008.

Does anyone know what its medieval source is? And any bibliog about author?

If this Festival really does enter the Roman Calendar, I shall have to provide in my ORDO readings for Anglican clergy who desire to observe it and who say the Prayer Book Office. That is to say: at both Mattins and Evensong an Old Testament and a New Testament Reading. If it is made a Solemnity (or if someone is going to observe it as of a Title or Patron), we shall need an OT+NT reading for First Evensong too. So six readings in all. It is elegant but not compulsory that the two readings in each office in some way relate to each other. One of the readings, of course, would be the Biblical Lection from the Roman Office. Would readers like to make suggestions?

I presume this Festival will be a delight to the Blue Biretta boys ... unless it is situated in the Octave of Pentecost!


Michael McDonough said...

A) I love the Secret and Postcommunion for this votive Mass.

B) I do not have the old office, so I can make no commentary about what's there or missing, but I would think the encounter between Abraham and Melchisedek ought to be one of the Scriptural readings.

C) I would find a section incorporating the following from St. Augustine to be very appropriate for Patristic reading on such a feast:

Chapter 14.— Christ the Most Perfect Victim for Cleansing Our Faults. In Every Sacrifice Four Things are to Be Considered.

19. They do not understand, that not even the proudest of spirits themselves could rejoice in the honor of sacrifices, unless a true sacrifice was due to the one true God, in whose stead they desire to be worshipped: and that this cannot be rightly offered except by a holy and righteous priest; nor unless that which is offered be received from those for whom it is offered; and unless also it be without fault, so that it may be offered for cleansing the faulty. This at least all desire who wish sacrifice to be offered for themselves to God. Who then is so righteous and holy a priest as the only Son of God, who had no need to purge His own sins by sacrifice, neither original sins, nor those which are added by human life? And what could be so fitly chosen by men to be offered for them as human flesh? And what so fit for this immolation as mortal flesh? And what so clean for cleansing the faults of mortal men as the flesh born in and from the womb of a virgin, without any infection of carnal concupiscence? And what could be so acceptably offered and taken, as the flesh of our sacrifice, made the body of our priest? In such wise that, whereas four things are to be considered in every sacrifice—to whom it is offered, by whom it is offered, what is offered, for whom it is offered,— the same One and true Mediator Himself, reconciling us to God by the sacrifice of peace, might remain one with Him to whom He offered, might make those one in Himself for whom He offered, Himself might be in one both the offerer and the offering. (Augustine of Hippo, de trinitate, 4, 14, 19).

Michael McDonough said...

Fr. H,

I (finally) found the reference to When the Patriarch Was Returning, and listened to it. It certainly is beautiful, and strikes me as aptissimum for such a Feast.

In my own vicious way (now my Irish genes are glaring cruelly!), I would like to line up all the Roman Catholic Dragon-Trads who seem to pullulate the Rorate Caeli blog (or, are they really just the “daughters of Trent”?), and force them to swallow (under pain of excommunication reserved to the Holy See) the following "So-Orthodox-and-Traditional" closing verse from it:

While the people all uniting
In the sacrifice sublime
Offer Christ to his high Father,
Offer up themselves with him
Then together with the priest
On the living Victim feast.

That's our Faith about the Mass, taken "neat" as they say, without all the hogwarsh!

P.S. As an aid to readers, I provide the URL for the above-referenced article:


Michael McDonough said...

"And any bibliog about author?"

Short article here: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03417a.htm

You may have known him at school? (facetiously)

Michael McDonough said...

At the following forum [http://www.namethathymn.com/hymn-lyrics-detective-forum/index.php?a=vtopic&t=209], I found the following statement made by someone who seems to know what he is talking about:

According to him, it is a translation of an "11th Century hymn 'Hoste dum victo triumphans'".

I don't know who the "Blue Biretta" boys are, so now you are on your own, while I attempt to cope with some additional "global warming".

Michael McDonough said...

Sorry, I must be under the influence this morning....

At Google Books [http://books.google.com/books?id=I-0sAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA536&lpg=PA536&dq=Hoste+dum+victo+triumphans&source=bl&ots=tS0O80jHmW&sig=4TaFhyBW6AZefY_f7VlluJb3klA&hl=en&ei=mRKJS53xCM2XtgfOhtTmBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CAwQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Hoste%20dum%20victo%20triumphans&f=false],

the following reference shows up (I'm typing since they have scanned the original):

"Hoste dum victo triumphans. [Holy Communion] In the Cluniac Breviary, Paris, 1686, p. 558, this is given as a hymn for the Octave of Corpus Christi, at the Vigil, and consists of 5 st. and a doxology. Tr. by E. Caswall, and pub. in his Masque of Mary, &tc., 1858, p. 307; and in his Hymns, &tc., 1873, p. 159, as "When the Patriarch was returning.""

davidforster said...

I can't quite understand why you think we RC trads would object to the last verse of this hymn. I've puzzled, and don't get it. Can you give me a clue? I'd hate not to object to something if I ought to ... my membership of the "mad, bad and trad" society might be in question.
It's a lovely hymn - just looked it up on "namethathymn.com". I wonder what chant it's usually sung to?

Michael McDonough said...

Mr/Fr. David Forster,

I don't have anything against Trads (although I less and less seem to know what people who so identify actually mean). The falsehood that my "Dragon-Trads" try to propagate (amongst others) is that somehow it is NOT the constant teaching of the Church that "dignum et iustum est" that the congregation offer the Sacrifice of the Mass in union with the priest who is acting in persona Christi.

You may not believe that such people exist (I hardly can myself), but as evidence that I'm not entirely off my rocker I would suggest browsing the comments to this recent NLM post: [http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/#3198018391876344656].

Mr. Werling (I speak of him only because he contributes much to that debate) is not what I call a "Dragon-Trad": he is simply making the point that not everybody need follow along in their missals. To the more "Dragon-Trad" side of Mr. Werling, however, are those who feel that for the congregation to actually sing the Gloria or Creed together with the priest borders on some sort of heresy of "clericalism". These folks seem to spawn in such way that they inevitably wind up posting at Rorate-caeli for some reason or another.

They also seem to share a deep-set hatred of Pope John Paul II, for some reason or other, feeling that it is up to Popes to "change the world". I wonder what they would have to say about St. Peter, and his failure to prevent even his own crucifixion, let alone forestall the persecution of the Church for 300 years?

With apologies to Fr. H. for taking up his blog-space.

Walter said...

Cyril Pocknee published both the Latin & English in 'The French Diocesan Hymns & their Melodies' 1954, p62. (If anyone can get an Ebook copy of the 1686 Breviarium Cluniacense I'd love to download it since it has the Office of Christ Priest on the Corpus Christi Octave.)

'Hoste dum victo triumphans' is always declared as anonymous

Since the Latin isn't easily found,
here it is:

Hoste dum victo triumphans
Abraham revertitur,
Obvius fit magnus illi
Rex Salem Melchisedech,
Vina qui tamquam sacerdos
Atque panem protulit.

Quam vetus signabat umbra,
Clara lucet veritas ;
Pontifex novus secundum
Ordinem, Melchisedech,
Pane, sub vinoque corpus
Dat suum cum sanguine.

Quo creata cuncta verbo
Mira fit mutatio:
Panis incarnem, merumque
In cruorem vertitur
Deficit senus, sed alta
Roborat mentem fides.

Qui semel Patri cruentam
Obtulit se victimam;
Singulis idem diebus,
Per ministrorum manus,
Rite nostris incruentus
Se sub aris immolat.

Ipsa quin astans sacratis
Sancta plebs altaribus,
Maximo Christum Parenti
Seque cum Christo litat
Carne posthac quam litavit
Et cruore pascitur.

Summa laus Deo Parenti
Qui creavit omnia;
Summa sit Nato redemit
Qui suo nos sanguine ;
Flamini par, cujus almo
Confovemur halitu.

I would like to bring to your attention another hymn in this same Office from the Cluniac 1686 Breviary. It is also translation by Father Caswall and published in his "Hymns & Poems/Original & Translation". (Kessinger has reprinted this book)

Nocte Mox Diem Fugata

Soon the fiery sun ascending
Will have chased the midnight gloom :
Rise, O Thou High Priest eternal,
Break the bondage of the tomb !
And above the vaulted sky
Bear Thy victim Flesh on high !

Once on earth for guilty mortals
Sacrificed in torment sore,
There may It, on Heav'n's high altar,
Plead our cause for evermore ;
Opening the Way to God (alt.'d)
With the Lamb's atoning Blood.

Named of old High Priest for ever,
By the Father's stedfast oath,
Rise, O Advocate Almighty !
Rise, O Priest & Victim both !
Swiftly, swiftly, speed Thy way
Back to golden realms of day.

Lo, 'tis done ! O'er death victorious
Christ ascends His starry throne;
There from all His labours resting
Still He travails for His own ;
Still our fate His Heart employs
E'en amid eternal joys.

There He sits in tranquil glory ;
There He stands His aid to lend ;
There He offers to His Father
Every single prayer we send ;
There Himself receives each sigh
As omniscient Deity !

Well, there you have it: another piece of Patrimony.

The Latin for this hymn is even tougher to find: but here it is.

Nocte mox diem fugata
Sol reducet igneus:
Surge, noster O Sacerdos
Rumpe mortis vincula ;
Et tuam tecum reportans
Infer asteris hostiam.

Quae semel mactata terris,
Lavit orbis crimina,
Ipsa caelestes ad aras
Offeratur jugiter ;
Nec Deum placare cessat
Filii fusus cruor.

Pontifex ut sis perennis
Te tuus qualem Pater
Jurejurando vocavit ;
Jugis ut sis victima,
Surge, jugem, quid moraris
Promptus ad vitam redi.

Morte devita, triumphans
Christus ascendit polum
Cessat illic labore,
Non precari desirat :
Jugiter vivens ut oret
Pro suis et jugiter.

In throno sedet quietus ;
Stat suos ut adjuvet :
Ipse nostra sanctus offert
Vota Patri Pontifex ;
Unus ipse cum Parente
Vota suscipit Deus.

(see doxology above)

The Office for this day is very rich in content: from some of the 12 Nocturn readings are: Genesis 14, Malichi 1, Hebrews 7.
The readings from the Church Fathers include Cyprian & Augustine.


The above link is for the Summer Breviary edition. You can either read it online or download the file freely. Look for the Octave of Corpus Christi on p.220 inside the breviary. The page number for the .pdf file is 265 I think.

Michael McDonough said...


Thank you so much for the Latin originals. Although I don't count myself as a Latin expert, I think it is safe to say that Fr. Caswall was a genius at rendering beautiful Latin into (possibly more) beautiful English, and without diminishing the doctrinal richness of the piece!

Truly outstanding!

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

Don't know why, but when I try to print those hymns off the thread my printer just prints blanks. Could someone email them to me? If that is technologically easy?

Walter said...

Hi Michael, Fr. Caswall interpreted the Latin well. He is not 'literal' like Fr.John Mason Neale, but these hymns are so different than the medieval Latin hymns.

Hi Fr. Hunwicke: you're right, the pages are blank since you are only viewing the contents from original server. You have to download the file into your own PC and then you can send it to your printer.

If the person who sends the PDF via email has no viruses in his/her PC, all is fine. But viruses are transmitted unknowingly this way.

But instead of chosing the 'Read online', click the PDF format and then click the 'download' button. If you have hi-speed it takes a minute. Once it is 'in your PC', you go to the pages you like and print 'current page'. When you're finished you can 'save' the document to your own PC or just dismiss it and download will be deleted when you power your PC off.

I save these documents to my PC since this free download can be withdrawn at any time.

Walter said...


this is the URL 'thread' from which you click 'download PDF' and then chose 'save'. When it is finished, you open the document and go to the pages you want to print.

Hope this helps, instead of emailing it as an attachment.

David said...

How manhy times have I sung that hymn at Guild Office! It really is splendid and deserves a larger hearing.

A deceased brother acolyte used to amuse us with a variation of that hymn which started as "When old Cramner was returning primed with liquor from the bar." At another point it went, "Sing we now no more in Latin vulgar English be our tongue."

Anyone have any info on that?

davidforster said...

Thank you Michael McDonough for your explanation. I'm glad I asked, because I would certainly have missed the point otherwise. I had thought mistakenly that you were defending false ecumenism, interpreting "the people" to mean all people, Christian or not. Clearly that wasn't what you meant.

Obviously the dragon trads haven't read "Mediator Dei" which distinguishes between the sacrificial role of priest and of people, but maintains both. Otherwise, we need look no further than: "Orate fratres ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium ..." - my sacrifice and yours.

Disgusted in DC said...

Love the term "dragon-trad." An apt description of the Rorate Caeli bloggers and particularly the crazy commenters! Fr. Christopher Phillips has been burned by these types who tried to dominate his parish when it first started. As the rabbi in Fiddler on the Roof prayed for the Czar...may God keep the dragon trads...far away from us!

Adam said...

An excellent hymn. We sing it on Corpus Christi at Grace and St Peter's in Baltimore. Thank you for reminding me of it in the midst of Lent.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

"Love the term "dragon-trad." An apt description of the Rorate Caeli bloggers and particularly the crazy commenters!"

I'd like to know what is so "dragon-Trad" about the posts on Rorate, as you claim.

As for the comments: these are quite tame compared to the stuff that I censor or delete.

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

I'd like to add that while not a few comments on Rorate do make use of harsh words, many of these also raise points that are worth discussing or thinking about. It is difficult to be a moderator, especially when one has to decide whether to delete a comment -- does the comment's harshness outweigh the validity of its points, or should I let it stand and let its points be discussed?