Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Elizabethan Prayers I and II

From the time of Elizabeth I comes "The Order Of Prayer upon Wednesdays and Fridays, to avert and turn God's wrath from us threatened by the late terrible earthquake, to be used in all Parish Churches" (Liturgical Services of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, 562-566) – a service appointed in consequence of the great earthquake that shook England and sundry lands around on the 6th of April 1580.  

I spare readers the immensely lengthy and rather over-enthusiastic prayer, but I do like the choice for the First Lesson of either Joel i or ii (or Isaias lviii), and in particular find the choice of proper psalms very apt: Psalms 30 (Vulg. 29), 46 (45), and 91 (90), which I append in the Prayerbook version (which is approved for Catholic use):

Psalm 30. Exaltabo te, Domine
I WILL magnify thee, O Lord, for thou hast set me up : and not made my foes to triumph over me.
2. O Lord my God, I cried unto thee : and thou hast healed me.
3. Thou, Lord, hast brought my soul out of hell : thou hast kept my life from them that go down to the pit.
4. Sing praises unto the Lord, O ye saints of his : and give thanks unto him for a remembrance of his holiness.
5. For his wrath endureth but the twinkling of an eye, and in his pleasure is life : heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
6. And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be removed : thou, Lord, of thy goodness hast made my hill so strong.
7. Thou didst turn thy face from me : and I was troubled.
8. Then cried I unto thee, O Lord : and gat me to my Lord right humbly.
9. What profit is there in my blood : when I go down to the pit?
10. Shall the dust give thanks unto thee : or shall it declare thy truth?
11. Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me : Lord, be thou my helper.
12. Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy : thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness.
13. Therefore shall every good man sing of thy praise without ceasing : O my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

Psalm 46. Deus noster refugium
GOD is our hope and strength : a very present help in trouble.
2. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved : and though the hills be carried into the midst of the sea;
3. Though the waters thereof rage and swell : and though the mountains shake at the tempest of the same.
4. The rivers of the flood thereof shall make glad the city of God : the holy place of the tabernacle of the most Highest.
5. God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed : God shall help her, and that right early.
6. The heathen make much ado, and the kingdoms are moved : but God hath shewed his voice, and the earth shall melt away.
7. The Lord of hosts is with us : the God of Jacob is our refuge.
8. O come hither, and behold the works of the Lord : what destruction he hath brought upon the earth.
9. He maketh wars to cease in all the world : he breaketh the bow, and knappeth the spear in sunder, and burneth the chariots in the fire.
10. Be still then, and know that I am God : I will be exalted among the heathen, and I will be exalted in the earth.
11. The Lord of hosts is with us : the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 91. Qui habitat
WHOSO dwelleth under the defence of the most High : shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2. I will say unto the Lord, Thou art my hope, and my strong hold : my God, in him will I trust.
3. For he shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunter : and from the noisome pestilence.
4. He shall defend thee under his wings, and thou shalt be safe under his feathers : his faithfulness and truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5. Thou shalt not be afraid for any terror by night : nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6. For the pestilence that walketh in darkness : nor for the sickness that destroyeth in the noon-day.
7. A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand at thy right hand : but it shall not come nigh thee.
8. Yea, with thine eyes shalt thou behold : and see the reward of the ungodly.
9. For thou, Lord, art my hope : thou hast set thine house of defence very high.
10. There shall no evil happen unto thee : neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee : to keep thee in all thy ways.
12. They shall bear thee in their hands : that thou hurt not thy foot against a stone.
13. Thou shalt go upon the lion and adder : the young lion and the dragon shalt thou tread under thy feet.
14. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him : I will set him up, because he hath known my Name.
15. He shall call upon me, and I will hear him : yea, I am with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and bring him to honour.
16. With long life will I satisfy him : and shew him my salvation.

From the reign of Elizabeth II, albeit from Italian sources, comes the following Collect in the modern Roman Missal, evidently a conflation of the old Collect and Secret for use in time of earthquake, with some additions made that supply the last two phrases:

Deus, qui fundásti terram super stabilitátem suam, parce metuéntibus, propitiáre supplícibus, ut, treméntis terrae perículis pénitus amótis, cleméntiam tuam iúgiter sentiámus, et, tua protectióne secúri, tibi serviámus gratánter. Per...

My unofficial translation:

O God, “Who didst establish the earth on firm foundations” (Ps 103:5a), spare those who are afraid, show Thy mercy to those who implore Thee, that, by wholly removing the perils of earthquake, we may evermore enjoy Thy mercy, and, kept safe by Thy protection, may we serve Thee with joy.  Through...

Unfortunately any mention of God's wrath was judged unacceptable to "modern man" (whoever he is) by the relevant cœtus, so they snipped and pasted the bits they liked to compile this pastiche prayer. At least it is vastly shorter than the Elizabethan prayer alluded to above.

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