Friday, December 27, 2013

Sequence for the Feast of St John Evangelist

A blessed feast to all priests – for this day, being dedicate to St John Evangelist, adopted son of Mary the Virgin, and of all the Apostles the virgin priest, is a feast called in better days "the feast of priests".

Unfortunately, I managed to sleep in, and missed attending Mass… so I'll have to unite myself spiritually to the Sacrifice, and pay my respects to the clergy from afar.

In a very nice book I found secondhand (Jeffrey F. Hamburger, St. John the Divine: The Deified Evangelist in Medieval Art and Theology), I discovered a Dominican Sequence for the feast of St John the Evangelist; it appears in the Gradual of St Katharinensthal (dated about 1312).

This Sequence seems to have been given quite some attention – googling turned up several learned articles and even a book referring to it. Herewith, the Sequence, in charming mediæval style:

Verbum dei, deo natum, / quod nec factum nec creatum, / venit de celestibus
Hoc vidit, hoc attrectavit, / hoc de celo reseravit, / Johannes hominibus
Inter illos primitivos / veros veri fonti rivos / Johannes exilivit;
Toti mundo propinare / nectar illud salutare / quod de throno prodiit.
Celum transit veri rotam / solis ibi vidit totam / mentis figens aciem
Speculator spiritalis / quasi seraphim sub alis / dei videns faciem
Audiit in gyro sedis / quid psallant cum cytharedis / quater seni proceres
De sigillo trinitatis / nostre nummo civitatis / inpressit caracteres.
Celi cui sacrarium / suum Christus lylium / 
filio tonitrui / sub amoris mutui / pace commendavit.
Iste custos virginis / archanum originis /
divine mysterium / scribens evangelium / mundo demonstravit
Haurit virus hic letale / ubi corpus virginale / virtus servat fidei
Pena stupet quod in pena / sit Johannes sine pena / bullientis olei.
Hinc naturis imperat / ut et saxa transferat / indecus gemmarum
Quo iubente riguit / aurum fulvum induit / virgula silvarum.
Hic infernum reserat / morti iubet referat /quos venenum stravit.
Obstruit quod ebyon / cherintus et marcion / perfide latravit.
Volat avis sine meta /quod nec vates nec propheta / evolavit altius
Tam implenda quam impleta, / numquam vidit tot secreta / purus homo purius
Sponsus rubra veste tectus, / visus sed non intellectus / referre mysterium
Aquilam ezechielis / sponse misit que de celis / redit ad palacium.
Dic dilecte de dilecto, / qualis sit ex dilecto, / sponsus sponse nuntia.
Dic quis cibus angelorum / que sint festa supernorum / ut sponse presentia.
Veri panem intellectus, / cenam Christi supra pectus / sumptam nobis resera;
Ut cantemus de patrono, / coram agno coram throno, / laudes super ethera. 

The Word of God, born of God, that was neither made nor created, came from the heavens
This he saw, this he touched, this he, John, unlocked from heaven for mankind.
Among those first true rivulets of the true source, John sprung forth;
To supply the whole world that saving nectar which flowed from the throne.
He transcended heaven, there he saw the wheel of the sun entirely transfixing his piercing mind
A spiritual speculator, like the seraphim seeing the face of God beneath their wings
He hears in their dwelling place what the four times six elders were singing with the harpists
From the seal of the Trinity on the coin of our condition he imprinted the characters.
To whom the shrine of heaven, his lily, Christ, the sun of thunder entrusted in peace.
He, the protector of the Virgin, showed the world the arcane mystery of the divine origins, writing his Gospel 
He drank the deadly poison by which his virginal body maintained the power of faith
Punishment is perplexed, that in punishment John is without pain in the bubbling oil
He commanded the laws of nature, that stones be transformed into beautiful gems.
By which command he stiffened and covered with tawny gold the litle branches of the forest.
He entered hell and commanded death that he give back those he had punished with poison.
He denied what Ebion, Cerinthus and Marcion barked perfidiously.
He flies like a bird without limit, in that neither seer nor prophet ever flew higher
As much what would be fulfilled as what has been, never were so many secrets seen so purely by a pure man
The bridegroom, adorned with a red garment, seen, but not comprehended, has to represent the mystery
He sent the bride the eagle of Ezechiel, which from the heavens returns to its palace.
Speak, O loved one, of the beloved, what his nature is and how he proceeds from the beloved, this the bridegroom announces to the bride.
Tell us about the food of angels, about the feasts of those above, in the presence of the bride.
The bread of true understanding, the feast of Christ, on his breast consumed: reveal yourself to us:
So that we may sing of our patron, before the Lamb, before the throne, praises above the air. 

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