Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beata Dei Genetrix

Each morning at Lauds of the Blessed Virgin, the Benedictus antiphon is as follows:

Beata Dei Genitrix Maria, Virgo perpetua, templum Domini, sacrarium Spiritus Sancti:
sola sine exemplo placuisti Domino nostro Jesu Christo:
ora pro populo, interveni pro clero, intercede pro devoto femineo sexu.

(Blessed Mother of God Mary, ever a Virgin, temple of the Lord, shrine of the Holy Ghost:
alone without peer thou didst please our Lord Jesus Christ:
pray for the people, intervene for the clergy, intercede for consecrated women.)

Interestingly, this Marian anthem is composed of three parts - the first is a series of Our Lady's titles; the second, a slightly expanded quotation from Sedulius (Carmen paschale, II, 69 - Sola sine exemplo placuisti femina Christo); the third, part of the prayer of Fulbert of Chartres long attributed to St Augustine (Serm. IX - ora pro populo; interveni pro clero; intercede pro devoto femineo sexu).

Sedulius also gives us the Introit for Our Lady, Salve sancta Parens (at which words the Carthusians genuflect in memory of the Incarnation): his verses were Salve, sancta parens, enixa puerpera regem, / Qui caelum terramque tenet per saecula... (Carmen paschale, II, 63f), but these the Church has expanded upon by changing the last words to regit in saecula saeculorum.

Salve, sancta parens,
enixa puerpera Regem,
qui caelum, terramque regit
in saecula saeculorum.

(Hail, holy Parent,
a woman in labour who didst bring forth the King,
Who ruleth heaven and earth
for ever and ever.)

From his abecedarian hymn A solis ortus cardine come some wonderful Christmas and Epiphany hymns, though his full text extends from the Infancy to the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. From the Carmen comes also the following lines (II, 66-68):
...quæ ventre beato
Gaudia matris habens cum virginitatis honore
Nec primam similem visa es nec habere sequentem:

(... by whose blessed womb
having the joys of a mother with the honour of virginity:
neither was one like seen before thee nor shall there be another)
These appear reused in various places in the Liturgy, such as in this antiphon sung before Christmas in some rites:

O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud?
Quia nec primam similem visa es nec habere sequentem.
Filiæ Jerusalem, quid me admiramini?
Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.

(O Virgin of Virgins, how shall this be?
For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me?
The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.)

As Gambero notes, Sedulius offers a synthesis and summary of all Mariology in a short passage of his Carmen (II, 63-69), parts of which have already been quoted above, parts taken up into the official Liturgy of Christ's Church:
Hail, O holy mother; you gave birth to the King
Who governs heaven and earth forever, whose
Divinity and dominion embrace everything in one eternal realm
And endure without end. In your blessed womb
You hold a mother's joy, yet you enjoy the honour of virginity.
No woman like you was seen before, nor did one appear after;
You alone, without comparison, were the woman who pleased Christ.
May the Blessed Virgin intercede for us with her Son, Who refuses nothing to His Mother in whom He is well-pleased.

No comments: