Saturday, April 18, 2009

Return to the North

This week has been noteworthy for my resumed attendance at weekday Mass - something I didn't achieve during Lent!  I've been off-blog; the past few days have been pleasantly spent in Hobart, with some dear friends of mine.  One thing that has been on my mind (having sung along with it, in the vernacular, at Mass at Carmel) is the Easter Sequence, the Victimæ paschali laudes:

Victimae Paschali laudes immolent Christiani.
Agnus redemit oves: 
Christus innocens Patri 
reconciliavit peccatores.
Mors et vita duello 
conflixere mirando: 
dux vitæ mortuus 
regnat vivus.
Dic nobis, Maria, 
quid vidisti in via?
Sepulcrum Christi viventis 
et gloriam vidi resurgentis.
Angelicos testes, 
sudarium et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea: 
præcedet vos in Galilæam.
[Credendum est magis soli 
Mariæ veraci 
quam Judaeorum turbæ fallaci.]*
Scimus Christum surrexisse
 a mortuis vere: 
tu nobis, victor Rex, miserere.
Amen. Alleluia.

Christians, to the Paschal Victim offer sacrifice and praise.
The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb;
and Christ, the undefiled,
hath sinners to his Father reconciled.
Death with life contended: 
combat strangely ended!
Life's own Champion, slain, 
yet lives to reign.
Tell us, Mary: say 
what thou didst see upon the way.
The tomb the Living did enclose;
I saw Christ's glory as he rose!
The angels there attesting; 
shroud with grave-clothes resting.
Christ my hope has risen: he goes before you into Galilee.
That Christ is truly risen from the dead we know.
Victorious king, thy mercy show!  
Amen.  Alleluia!

* Omitted since 1570.

What an extraordinary line: dux vitæ mortuus regnat vivus - "the leader of life, dead, reigns alive"! But better far than any commentary of mine is that given by the late John Paul II of happy memory, in his 1997 Urbi et Orbi address.


On my trip to and from Hobart, I had the chance to pass by Colebrook, though I was unable to obtain the key to open up Pugin's little masterpiece church (now being restored) of St Patrick.  However, this afternoon St Matthew's, Pontville, was unlocked, so I said some Office there, and a prayer for my godmother buried in the adjoining cemetery, plus one for "the Venerable Archdeacon Marum" whose remains lie interred before the high altar, as his memorial in the church porch proclaims.


In the State capital, I did some CD and secondhand book buying: Mexican Baroque: Music from New Spain, being recordings of sacred choral music, including a Mass, by Ignacio de Jerusalem and Manuel de Zumaya, as sung by Chanticleer (to go with a favourite CD of theirs I already have); two books about life in pioneer New Zealand, A First Year in Canterbury Settlement (first issued 1864; new edition, 1964) and Erewhon (first 1872; my copy, 1936 - a Penguin Books paperback, still with its original wrapper), both by Samuel Butler; Barbara Celarent: A Description of Scholastic Dialectic (1949) by the late great Thomas Gilby, O.P., he of Gilby-edition-of-the-Summa fame; and a rather racy biography of a notorious Nazi sympathizer, Unity Mitford: A Quest (1976; reprint, 1981), by David Pryce-Jones - something light for a change.  

(I ought mention I've also recently read a rather racier double biography, one of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas - Janet Malcolm's Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice; long ago I read, as the authoress reveals herself to have done, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, all unawares of who either lady was, or of their, ahem, closeness... It was pleasing to read that years after Gertrude's death, Alice was baptized a Catholic in old age; she spent the last decade of her life enduring poverty, but praying and suffering, hoping that perhaps by God's secret grace her erstwhile fellow Jewess would be found to have been saved.  Ms Malcolm is rather ignorantly flippant about this, I was sorry to note.)

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