Thursday, May 26, 2011

Treatise on the Mass (from the Stowe Missal), Part 01

According to Wikipedia:

The Stowe Missal is a missal written in Latin and Gaelic which was transcribed at Lorrha Monastery in the ninth century. Also known as the Lorrha Missal, it is known as the 'Stowe' Missal due to its acquisition by one of the Dukes of Buckingham for the Stowe manuscripts collection. Stowe House was sold in 1849 to the Earl of Ashburnham. In 1883 the missal was purchased by the British Government and deposited in the Royal Irish Academy.

The form of the liturgy and the services of baptism and unction reflect a Celtic usage dating from before 650 AD. Whether this is the usage brought by St. Patrick in the early fifth century, or a later revision is not certain. Used during an era in which Christianity was neither universal nor fully understood, it asserts in detail the redemptive nature of Jesus Christ's birth, death and resurrection. The writer(s) assumes that those participating in the Eucharist must have every detail repeated clearly.
Here we are going to look upon a tract on the Mass (folios 65-67) written in Old Irish. I would first provide the original Gaelic and Latin text (as it appears in the Missal), a more 'tidied up' version (with proper spacings and punctuations), and an English translation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From Youtube: Beneventan Chant

Beneventan chant is a liturgical plainchant repertory of the Catholic Church, used primarily in the orbit of the southern Italian ecclesiastical centers of Benevento and Montecassino, distinct from Gregorian chant and related to Ambrosian chant. It was officially supplanted by Gregorian chant in the 11th century, although a few chants of local interest remained in use.

Here is a sample of Beneventan Chant from Youtube: Otin to Stauron - O Quando in Cruce, sung by Ensemble Organum in Greek and Latin, from their album, Chants de la Cathédrale de Benevento: Semaine Sainte & Pâque.

What is interesting is that three bilingual (Greek and Latin) antiphons, of this is but one, were sung in Benevento and some other Italian centres as part of the Adoration of the Cross service in Holy Week. Some of these chants seem to have Eastern origins: this particular sample for instance, found in sources from places such as Benevento and Ravenna, is actually a version of a Byzantine troparion which can be followed back to the rite of Jerusalem in the 7th century. Its presence in Ravenna should mean that it was already used in the liturgy there before the fall of the Exarchate of Ravenna to the Lombards in 752.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

From Youtube: Ambrosian Rite Mass at Rome's Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

A little something I just wanted to introduce.

The video shows the chanting of the Gospel. Note the Ambrosian form of the thurible (no top cover), the manner of censing (clockwise), and the cappino worn by the priest around the neck (derived from the apparelled amice).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Minor, Trivial Biblical Stuff, Part 11: Ancient Writers on the Cross

A Roman citizen of no obscure station, having ordered one of his slaves to be put to death, delivered him to his fellow-slaves to be led away, and in order that his punishment might be witnessed by all, directed them to drag him through the Forum and every other conspicuous part of the city as they whipped him, and that he should go ahead of the procession which the Romans were at that time conducting in honour of the god. The men ordered to lead the slave to his punishment, having stretched out both his arms and fastened them to a piece of wood which extended across his breast and shoulders as far as his wrists, followed him, tearing his naked body with whips.
-Dionysius of Halicarnassus (ca. 60 BC-after 7 BC), Roman Antiquities, VII, 69:1-2

I see crosses there, not just of one kind but made in many different ways: some have their victims with head down to the ground; some impale their private parts; others stretch out their arms on the gibbet (patibulum).
-Seneca the Younger (ca. 1 BC-AD 65), To Marcia on Consolation, 20.3

Such are his verbal offences against man; his offences in deed remain. Men weep, and bewail their lot, and curse Cadmus with many curses for introducing Tau (Τ) into the family of letters; they say it was his body that tyrants took for a model, his shape that they imitated, when they set up the erections on which men are crucified. Σταυρός (stauros) the vile engine is called, and it derives its vile name from him. Now, with all these crimes upon him, does he not deserve death, nay, many deaths? For my part I know none bad enough but that supplied by his own shape--that shape which he gave to the gibbet named σταυρός after him by men.
-Pseudo-Lucian (ca. 125-after 180), Trial in the Court of Vowels

The Minor, Trivial Biblical Stuff, Part 10: Joseph Caiaphas

Joseph Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest between AD 18-37, best known for his role during the trial of Jesus of Nazareth. Nothing is known about his early career, but we can assume that he was a member of a wealthy family, because he married a daughter of the high priest who is called Annas (or Ananus) son of Seth, high priest from AD 6-15 (John 18:13). Even when he was no longer in function, he was apparently extremely influential. According to Josephus, five of Ananus' sons became high priest (Antiquities 20.198); to this we may add Caiaphas, his son-in-law.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ἔλεον εἰρήνης, Sacrificium Laudis

As you can see, I've slightly retitled my blog to Ἔλεον Εἰρήνης, Sacrificium Laudis. This is a slight reference to the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, where before the Anaphora proper begins there is the usual dialogue between the deacon (or priest) and the congregation common in all liturgies. One of the responses happen to be (in Greek) Ἔλεον εἰρήνης, θυσίαν αἰνέσεως. That is, "mercy of peace, sacrifice of praise."

The term 'sacrifice of praise' which is used in Psalm 49/50:14 and also in Hebrews 13:15 ("Through [Jesus] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name"), has since from early on apparently been applied to the Eucharist. To quote the Catechism, paragraph 1359: "The Eucharist, the sacrament of our salvation accomplished by Christ on the cross, is also a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for the work of creation. In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the Resurrection of Christ. Through Christ the Church can offer the sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for all that God has made good, beautiful, and just in creation and in humanity."

Aside from the Byzantine liturgy, we can see it referenced within the Roman Canon at the commemoration of the living - which is what I was also thinking of when trying to come up with a title for this blog:

Memento, Domine, famulorum, famularumque tuarum N. et N. et omnium circumstantium, quorum tibi fides cognita est, et nota devotio, pro quibus tibi offerimus: vel qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis, pro se, suisque omnibus: pro redemptione animarum suarum, pro spe salutis et incolumitatis suae: tibique reddunt vota sua aeterno Deo, vivo et vero.

Remember, Lord, your servant men and women (Names) and all here present. You are aware of their faith and know their devotedness. We offer for them, or they offer, this sacrifice of praise for themselves and all who are theirs, for the redemption of their souls, for the hope of their health/salvation and safety; and they present their prayers to you, the eternal, living, and true God.
We go to Ἔλεον εἰρήνης. As we have noted, this phrase literally translates to "mercy of peace," which admittedly does not make much sense, to the point that some who use an English translation of the Divine Liturgy soften it into more comprehensible forms like "Offering of peace" or "mercy and peace". There have been various attempts to explain what the original wording could have been (there are have apparently quite a number of variants throughout history). For all intents and purposes, I chose to preserve the textus receptus version here. After all, εἰρήνης (pronounced as irinis in Byzantine Greek) is a good rhyme to laudis. ;)

Old Roman Chant

Ever heard the claim: "Pope Gregory the Great came up with Gregorian chant"?

For centuries, it has become common wisdom that the venerable pope was the source of what we now know of as Gregorian chant, and the assumption that it was the chant tradition of the Roman Church - apparently the sole one - was a given. Many - scholars and laymen alike - repeat this attribution, often without question. However, certain discoveries in the 19th century (which were not given proper attention until the 20th century!) has shook the foundations of centuries of pious retelling.

Holy Week in the City of Rome: Palm Sunday

Dominica in Palmis (De Passione Domini)

Three of the earliest Roman liturgical books, the Gelasian Sacramentary (7th c.), and both the Paduan (7th c.) and the Hadrian (8th c.) editions of the Gregorian Sacramentary already call the Sunday before Easter Dominica in Palmis ("Sunday for Palms") or Die dominico ad Palmas. Even so, none of these documents explicitly mention any observances of palm rites, which were by the time already being performed in various parts of Christendom. The references to palms is absent in the propers, and in all the Roman Epistolari and Evangeliari of the period - in fact, the original title for the day probably did not mention palms at all, since the rite did not probably reach Rome until about the tenth century. In Rome, Palm Sunday was simply Passion Sunday, due to the fact that the Passion account from Matthew's Gospel (chapters 26-27) was read on this day. After the Gospel is read, the pope then usually gave a sermon on the first half of the account, postponing his explanation of the remainder to the following Wednesday.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Minor, Trivial Biblical Stuff, Part 9: Pontius Pilate, Third Part and Appendix

The Jesus incident certainly was not the last event in Pilate's career.

The Minor, Trivial Biblical Stuff, Part 9: Pontius Pilate, Second Part

Later, on another occasion:

After this he raised another disturbance, by expending that sacred treasure which is called korbonas upon aqueducts, whereby he brought water from the distance of four hundred furlongs. At this the multitude had indignation; and when Pilate was come to Jerusalem, they came about his tribunal, and made a clamor at it.

Now when he was apprized aforehand of this disturbance, he mixed his own soldiers in their armor with the multitude, and ordered them to conceal themselves under the habits of private men, and not indeed to use their swords, but with their staves to beat those that made the clamor. He then gave the signal from his tribunal [to do as he had bidden them].

Now the Jews were so sadly beaten, that many of them perished by the stripes they received, and many of them perished as trodden to death by themselves; by which means the multitude was astonished at the calamity of those that were slain, and held their peace.

- Josephus, Wars of the Jews 2.175-177

But Pilate undertook to bring a current of water to Jerusalem, and did it with the sacred money, and derived the origin of the stream from the distance of two hundred furlongs. However, the Jews were not pleased with what had been done about this water; and many ten thousands of the people got together, and made a clamor against him, and insisted that he should leave off that design. Some of them also used reproaches, and abused the man, as crowds of such people usually do.

So he habited a great number of his soldiers in their habit, who carried daggers under their garments, and sent them to a place where they might surround them. So he bid the Jews himself go away; but they boldly casting reproaches upon him, he gave the soldiers that signal which had been beforehand agreed on; who laid upon them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them, and equally punished those that were tumultuous, and those that were not; nor did they spare them in the least: and since the people were unarmed, and were caught by men prepared for what they were about, there were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded. And thus an end was put to this sedition.

- Josephus, Antiquities 18.60-62

Korbanas: among the Jews the holy treasury. Pilate spent the holy treasury on an aqueduct and stirred up a riot. It brought in water from a distance of seventy-two kilometers. Bringing in his army, he killed many.

- The Souda, 'Korbanas'

The Minor, Trivial Biblical Stuff, Part 9: Pontius Pilate, First Part

A belated Happy Easter to one and all! Christ is Risen!
Sorry again for the (usual) silence here in this blog. To make some amends: we'll have a bit of look on the man whose name is known to most Christians all over the world in a daily basis solely because he has some involvement in the death of Jesus Christ.

Pontius Pilate (Pontius Pilatus; Greek Πόντιος Πιλᾶτος, Pontios Pilatos) was the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from AD 26-36. He is probably famous as the man who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. We do not know much about him, save for the scraps that men of former ages have left down for us. Pilate's name has become famous only because of his association with Jesus Christ: "He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate." Indeed, we can say that if he did not have any involvement with Jesus' death at all, he would only be yet another of those minor footnotes in the history of the Roman Empire.