Friday, April 23, 2010

Alleluia, alleluia, * Alleluia

All this week I've had the inestimable pleasure – for it is such a true, graced consolation – of praying the whole Office, and at the right times, too, giving to the day its rightful rhythm of prayer and praise.  Several mornings I had the opportunity to pray en plein air in the early morning, overlooking the beach, in the natural chapel of God's creation (which declares His glory): Matins, Lauds, and Prime.

The Breviary I'm now adhering to is the Dominican, which has many fine features above and beyond those it shares with its Roman brother.  For instance, for Paschaltide ferias, the Invitatory anthem for the Venite at the opening of the day's Hours is simply a triple Alleluia: what more can be said?

What is the versicle at Easter Lauds in the Roman Office is instead the "sacerdotal" verse preceding the start of Lauds (a very common mediæval item, this):

In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia. – Cæli et terra lætentur, alleluia.

At Thy Resurrection, O Christ, alleluia. – Heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

The Matins hymn in the Dominican Breviary, Aurora lucis rutilat, is instead the Lauds hymn (mucked about with under Urban VIII) in the Roman; while their respective Lauds (Sermone blando Angelus) and Matins hymns (Rex sempiterne cælitum) are utterly different.  Again, how good it is to have the old authentick words of the splendid Vesper hymn, Ad cenam Agni providi, not the pseudo-classicized Ad regias Agni dapes!  Still further, reading Dominican Compline one finds a proper hymn for Eastertide, Jesu nostra redemptio (almost completely rewritten in the Roman books as Salutis humanæ Sator, and there used as the Lauds hymn of Ascensiontide).

This week (the second after the Paschal Octave) the Collect (for the 2nd Sunday after Easter) has been Deus qui in Filii tui humilitate jacentem mundum erexisti: "God, Who in Thy Son hath raised up the fallen world".  What a mighty statement of fact!  And it goes on: "to Thy faithful a perpetual joy concede: that those whom Thou hast snatched" (eripuisti, from ex + rapere) "from the dangers of perpetual death, Thou mayest make to have fruition of everlasting joys".

The repetition of "perpetual" (perpetuam, perpetuæ), contrasting the endless death from which we have been snatched with the endless joys we now supplicate, that they be everlasting (sempiternis),  and the repeated words for "joy(s)" (lætitiam, gaudiis) indeed intensify the prayer.  As God by His Son's humility unto death did indeed raise the world from its primal fall, so too may we be rescued from all perils of endless death (in hell) and given instead, entirely as a gift, the joys that are eternal (in heaven): all of which we ask through the same Christ our risen Lord.  What better prayer than this?

Deus qui in Filii tui humilitate jacentem mundum erexisti, fidelibus tuis perpetuam concede lætitiam: ut, quos perpetuæ mortis eripuisti casibus, gaudiis facias perfrui sempiternis.  Per eundem Dominum...

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