Sunday, January 01, 2006

On the Eighth Day of Christmas. . .

. . . it is also (depending upon your calendar) the Octave Day of Christmas, the feast of the Circumcision of Christ, and the Solemnity of the Theotokos, the Mother of God. Schuster says the Octave Day is probably the most ancient name for today's feast. The Circumcision came from Gallican sources and the feast of the Mother of God from the Eastern Church.

Gueranger says the antiphons for Lauds and Vespers in the old rite were taken from Byzantine sources. (They still occur in the Pauline rite but are distributed differently due to the different number of psalms at each hour.) He must have forgotten, though, to mention how beautiful they are. Some of the loveliest in the Divine Office. Herewith the Lauds antiphons, followed by Dom Laurence's own somewhat-less-earthy-than-the-original translations, a work of Victorian art in its own right:

1. O admirabile commercium! Creator generis humani animatum corpus sumens, de Virgine nasci dignatus est; et procedens homo sine semine, largitus est nobis suam deitatem.

1. O admirable Interchange! The Creator of mankind, assuming a living Body, deigned to be born of a Virgin; and becoming Man without man's aid, bestowed on us his Divinity.

2. Quando natus es ineffabiliter ex Virgine, tunc impletæ sunt Scripturæ; sicut pluvia in vellus descendisti, ut salvum faceres genus humanum: te laudamus, Deus noster.

2. When Thou wast born ineffably of the Virgin, the Scriptures were fulfilled. As dew upon Gideon's Fleece, Thou camest down to save mankind. O Lord our God! we praise Thee.

3. Rubum, quem viderat Moyses incombustum, conservatam agnovimus tuam laudabilem virginitatem: Dei Genitrix, intercede pro nobis.

3. In the bush seen by Moses as burning yet unconsumed, we recognize the preservation of Thy glorious Virginity. O Mother of God, intercede for us.

4. Germinavit radix Iesse; orta est stella ex Iacob; Virgo peperit Salvatorem: te laudamus, Deus noster.

4. The Root of Jesse hath budded; the Star hath risen out of Jacob; a Virgin hath brought forth the Saviour. O Lord our God! we praise Thee.

5. Ecce Maria genuit nobis Salvatorem, quem Ioannes videns exclamavit, dicens: Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi, alleluia.

5. Lo! Mary hath brought forth a Saviour unto us, Whom John seeing exclaimed: Behold the Lamb of God! Behold Him that taketh away the sins of the world, alleluia.