Sunday, January 23, 2005

I wasn't entirely through with Christmas yet. . .

. . .and already it's Septuagesima Sunday, the Church's reminder that there are only 17 days left until Lent begins. With Septuagesima Sunday, "alleluia" is retired from the Liturgy until the Easter Vigil.

The medieval Church had several ceremonies of Farewell to the Alleluia which took place on the eve of Septuagesima. From Dom Gueranger:

The farewell to the Alleluia, in the Middle Ages, varied in the different Churches. Here, it was an affectionate enthusiasm, speaking the beauty of the celestial word; there, it was a heart-felt regret at the departure of the much-loved companion of all their prayers.

We begin with two antiphons, which would seem to be of Roman origin. We find them in the Antiphonarium of Saint Cornelius of Compiegne, published by Dom Denys de Sainte Marthe. They are a farewell to Alleluia made by our Catholic forefathers in the ninth century; they express, too, the hope of its coming back, as soon as the Resurrection of Jesus shall have brightened up the firmament of the Church.

ANT. Angelus Domini bonus comitetur tecum, Alleluia, et bene disponat itineri tuo, ut iterum cum gaudio revertaris ad nos, Alleluia, Alleluia.

ANT. May the good angel of the Lord accompany thee, Alleluia, and give thee a good journey, that thou mayst come back to us in joy, Alleluia.

ANT. Alleluia, mane apud nos hodie, et crastina proficisceris, Alleluia ; et dum ortus fuerit dies, ambulabis vias tuas, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

ANT. Alleluia, abide with us today, and tomorrow thou shalt set forth, Alleluia ; and when the day shall have risen, thou shalt proceed on thy way, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluuia.

From the Gothic Church of Spain, an anthem:

Ibis, Alleluia. Prosperum iter habebis Alleluia; et iterum cum gaudio revertaris ad nos, Alleluia. In manibus enim suis portabunt te: ne unquam offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum. Et iterum cum gaudio revertaris ad nos, Alleluia.

Thou shalt go, Alleluia; thy journey shall be prosperous, Alleluia; and again come back to us with joy, Alleluia. For they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And again come back to us with joy, Alleluia.

Again from Spain, a Benediction:

Alleluia, nomen pium, atque jocundum, dilatetur ad laudem Dei in ora omnium populorum.
R. Amen.

Sit in vocibus credentium clara, quae in angelorum ostenditur concentibus gloriosa.
R. Amen.

Et, quae in aeternis civibus sine sonorum strepitu enitet, in vestris cordibus effectu planiore fructificet.
R. Amen.

Angelus Domini bonus comitetur tecum, Alleluia ; et omnia bona praeparet itineri tuo. Et iterum cum gauio revertaris ad nos. Alleluia.

May Alleluia, that sacred and joyful word, resound to God's praise from the lips of all people.
R. Amen.

May this word, which expresses glory as chanted by the choirs of angels, be sweet as sung by the voices of believers.
R. Amen.

And may that which noiselessly gleams in the citizens of heaven, yield fruit in your hearts by ever growing love.
R. Amen.

May the Lord's good angel go with thee, Alleluia ; and prepare all good things for thy journey. And again come back to us with joy, Alleluia.

And from 13th century France, a vesper hymn from Saturday before Septuagesima:

Alleluia dulce carmen,
Vox perennis gaudii,
Alleluia laus suavis
Est choris coelestibus,
Quam canunt Dei manentes
In domo per saecula.

Alleluia laeta mater
Concivis Jerusalem :
Alleluia vox tuorum
Civium gaudentium :
Exsules nos flere cogunt
Babylonis flumina.

Alleluia non meremur
In perenne psallere ;
Alleluia vo reatus
Cogit intermittere ;
Tempus instat quo peracta
Lugeamus crimina.

Unde laudando precamur
Te beata Trinitas,
Ut tuum nobis videre
Pascha des in aethere,
Quo tibi laeti canamus
Alleluia perpetim.

The sweet Alleluia-song, the
word of endless joy, is the melody
of heaven's choir, chanted by them
that dwell for ever in the house
of God.

O joyful mother, O Jerusalem our
city, Alleluia is the language of thy
happy citizens. The rivers of
Babylon, where we poor exiles live,
force us to weep.

We are unworthy to sing a ceaseless
Alleluia. Our sins bid us interrupt our
Alleluia. They time is at hand when
it behoves us to bewail our crimes.

We, therefore, beseech thee whilst
we praise thee, O blessed Trinity!
that thou grant us to come to that
Easter of heaven, where we shall
sing to thee our joyful everlasting
Alleluia. Amen.

(All the translations from the Latin are by Dom Laurence Shephard, O.S.B. and appear in the volumes of Dom Gueranger's "The Liturgical Year" that he translated.)

The current usage of the traditional rite doesn't have anything so florid or poetic for the beginning of Septuagesima. The best it can do is a double alleluia at the Benedicamus Domino and response at First Vespers of Septuagesima. And the poor old Pauline rite: dear me; don't ask. It doesn't even know Septuagesima has come round again.

The old collect for Septuagesima:

Preces pópuli tui, quæsumus, Dómine, clementer exáudi : ut, qui juste pro peccátis nostris affligimur, pro tui nóminis glória misericorditer liberemur. Per Dóminum. Amen.

O LORD, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The full Mass propers in Latin and English for today can be found here and here as a .pdf text. A more stately version of the English taken from the Anglican Missal can be found here.


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