Thursday, September 9, 2010

Three French Responsories

According to Dom Guéranger, the following three responsories were "composed by Fulbert of Chartres [†1028] and [King] Robert the Pious [972-1031].  France first adapted them, and the whole of Europe soon followed her example" - as did the nascent Dominican Order, for my O.P. Breviary still includes these, as follows, in place of what the Roman Office provides, as the third, sixth and ninth responsories of Matins for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady:
R/. iii.  Stirps Jesse virgam produxit, virgaque florem: * Et super hunc florem Requiescit Spiritus almus.
V/.  Virgo Dei Genetrix virga est, flos Filius ejus.Et super hunc florem.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. † Requiescit Spiritus almus.
(The rod of Jesse produced a branch, and the branch a flower: * And upon this flower rests the loving Spirit.  V/.  The Virgin Mother of God is the branch, her Son the flower.)

[Of course, this is based upon Isaias xi, 1-2a: Et egredietur virga de radice Jesse, et flos de radice ejus ascendet.  Et requiescet super eum spiritus Domini – "And there shall arise a branch from the root of Jesse, and a flower from his root shall go up.  And there shall rest upon him the spirit of the Lord".]
R/. vi.  Ad nutum Domini nostrum ditantis honorem, * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judæa Mariam.
V/.  Ut vitium virtus operiret, gratia culpam. * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judæa Mariam.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. * Sicut spina rosam, genuit Judæa Mariam.
(At the nod of the Lord enriching us with honour, * As the rose from the thorn, Judæa gave birth to Mary.  V/.  That vice might be overcome by virtue, sin by grace.)

[Again, the versicle derives from Cant. ii, 2: Sicut lilium inter spinas, sic amica mea inter filias – "As a lily among thorns, so my beloved among the daughters".]
R/. ix.  Solem justitiæ, Regem paritura supremum, * Stella Maria maris † Hodie processit ad ortum.
V/.  Cernere divinum lumen gaudete, fideles. * Stella Maria maris.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. † Hodie processit ad ortum.
(In order to bring forth the Sun of justice, the sovereign King, * Mary, the star of the sea, to-day proceeded to her rising.  V/.  To behold the divine light rejoice, ye faithful.)

[The "Sun of justice" is foretold in Malachias iv, 2.]

Sure enough, Migne's trusty Patrologia Latina, volume CXLI, column 345 (you may consult the volume here), gives the texts of these responsories among the works of Bishop Fulbert.

Furthermore, what the Roman and Dominican Breviaries provide for the lessons of the Second Nocturn of Matins of Our Lady's Birthday, as a sermon of St Augustine, is actually Fulbert's ninth sermon to the people, for the Annunciation (P.L., vol. CLXI, coll. 336-340), beginning Adest nobis dilectissimi.  (The Breviaries only take up its beginning, of course, quoting from most of parts 1 and 2.)  Most interestingly, from his ardent prayer to Our Lady which which he ends his effusion of praise (n. 5, coll. 338-340) comes the well-known anthem Sancta Maria, succurre miseris, used for a thousand years in the Office on Marian feasts and commemorations.

Herewith, a translation of this excerpt, gratefully lifted from an online version of this Office (which I trust will be perfectly alright, especially as, given its extreme quaintness, I think it is probably the Marquess of Bute's translation, by now long out of copyright):
Dearly beloved brethren, the day for which we have longed, the Feast-day of the Blessed and Worshipful and Alway-Virgin Mary, that day is come.  Let our land laugh and sing with merriment, bathed in the glory of this great Virgin's rising.  She is the flower of the fields on which the priceless lily of the valleys hath blossomed.  This is she whose delivery changed the nature that we draw from our first parents, and cleansed away their offence.  At her that dolorous sentence which was pronounced over Eve ended its course; to her it was never said: In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.  She brought forth a Child, even the Lord, but she brought him forth, not in sorrow, but in joy.
Eve wept, but Mary laughed.  Eve's womb was big with tears, but Mary's womb was big with gladness.  Eve gave birth to a sinner, but Mary gave birth to the sinless One.  The mother of our race brought punishment into the world, but the Mother of our Lord brought salvation into the world.  Eve was the foundress of sin, but Mary was the foundress of righteousness.  Eve welcomed death, but Mary helped in life.  Eve smote, but Mary healed.  For Eve's disobedience, Mary offered obedience; and for Eve's unbelief, Mary offered faith.
Let Mary now make a loud noise upon the organ, and between its quick notes let the rattling of the Mother's timbrel be heard.  Let the gladsome choirs sing with her, and their sweet hymns mingle with the changing musick.  Hearken to what a song her timbrel will make accompaniment.  She saith: My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.  For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden, for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For he that is Mighty hath magnified me.  The new miracle of Mary's delivery hath effaced the curse of the frail backslider, and the singing of Mary hath silenced the wailing of Eve.
It seems strange that, by the 1960's, when it had been known for well over a century that this sermon was not Augustine's, but Fulbert's, that the title of it in the Breviary had not been amended.  Oh well, it just goes to prove the old clerical joke, "He lies like a Second Nocturn"!

Fulbert, by the way, as befits such a devout client of Our Lady, while not canonized at Rome, has a local cult approved for the dioceses of Chartres and Poitiers – I suppose he could be styled Blessed Fulbert; the modern Martyrology lists him as a saint, albeit with a local cult only.  He it was who greatly promoted the establishment in the West of the Feast of Our Lady's Nativity, especially by his famous and widely-disseminated sermon on the subject, Approbate Consuetudinis (Sermon 4, on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in P.L. CXLI, 320-324, which can be accessed via this link), evoking the image of Our Lady as Stirps Jesse... this sermon, and the chants associated with it (as above), were worked into the liturgical texts of the feast across mediæval Europe.  However, he is most famous for rebuilding Notre-Dame de Chartres after it was destroyed by fire.

As for good King Robert II, the Pious, he had once been a fellow student of young Fulbert at the cathedral school at Rheims, and was very religious – that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, tells me that "he was musically inclined, being a composer, chorister, and poet, and making his palace a place of religious seclusion, where he conducted the matins and vespers in his royal robes."  Unfortunately, his scheming wife turned his sons against him, and he died in the midst of intestine war against those Absaloms.

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