Friday, December 04, 2015

Ambrosian Prefaces for Advent - Part 1

One of the most interesting and important features of the Ambrosian Mass is the corpus of Prefaces, which is very much larger than in the Roman Rite. Almost every proper Mass has a proper Preface, and there are also many common Prefaces (for the Commons of the Saints, and the Sundays after Pentecost), totaling well over 200. Since the Ambrosian Advent is longer than the Roman, beginning on the Sunday after St Martin’s day, there are a total of nine Advent Prefaces: one for each of the first five Sundays, two for the sixth, which has two Masses assigned to it, one for the ferias at the end of Advent, and one for the vigil of Christmas. In this post, I will give the Latin of the first three, followed by my own translation; the other six will appear in two separate posts later on.

The frontispiece of an Ambrosian Missal printed at Milan in 1522
The opening formula of the Ambrosian Preface is the same as that of the Roman, except that the word “quia” is added after “Vere”. In manuscript sacramentaries and missals, this formula was usually abbreviated to a highly stylized V and D joined together, a custom which carried over into some early printed editions; I have used it below from a printed Ambrosian Missal of 1522. The conclusion varies, as it does in the Roman Rite, and the formula “Per quem majestatem tuam” is longer, including the names of all nine choirs of Angels. “Per quem maiestatem tuam laudant Angeli, venerantur Archangeli, Throni, Dominationes, Virtutes, Principates, et Potestates adorant. Quem Cherubim et Seraphim socia exsultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti iubeas, deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes.” The other most common formula “Et ideo…” is the same as in the Roman Rite.

The First Sunday of Advent
Cui proprium ac singuláre est, quod bonus es, et nulla umquam a te es commutatióne diversus. Propitiáre supplícibus, et Ecclesiae tuae misericordiam, quam confitétur, ostende, manifestans plebi tuae Unigéniti tui mirábile sacramentum. Ut in universitáte natiónum perficiátur, quod per Verbi tui Evangelium promisisti: et hábeat plenitúdo adoptiónis, quod práetulit testificatio veritátis. Per eundum.

Truly...Almighty God: To whom it is proper and unique that Thou art good, and in Thy very nature not subject to change. Have mercy upon Thy suppliants, and show to Thy Church the mercy which She confesseth, making known to Thy people the wondrous mystery of Thy Only-Begotten Son; so that what Thou didst promise through the Gospel of Thy Word may be fulfilled in all the nations of the world, and the fullness of adoption may have that the truth brought forth in witness. Through the same Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy majesty etc.

The Second Sunday of Advent
Per Christum, Dóminum nostrum. Cuius Incarnatióne salus facta est mundi, et passióne redemptio procuráta est hóminis procreáti. Ipse nos, quáesumus, ad aeternum perdúcat praemium, qui redémit de ténebris infernórum: iustificetque in adventu secundo, qui nos redémit in primo: quátenus illíus nos a malis ómnibus defendat sublímitas, cuius nos ad vitam erexit humílitas. Per quem.

Truly...Through Christ our Lord. By whose incarnation was wrought the salvation of the world, and by whose passion was brought about the redemption of Man whom Thou didst create. May He lead us, we beseech Thee, to eternal reward, who redeemed us from the darkness of hell, and in His second coming, justify us, who redeemed us in the first: that His glory by defend us from all evils, whose humility raised us up to life. Through whom the Angels praise Thy majesty etc.

The Third Sunday of Advent
Per Christum, Dóminum nostrum: cuius praestolámur adventum. Qui causa salútis humánae, sic est dignátus úterum Vírginis introíre, ut et nobis viam salútis tribúeret, et a tuae maiestáte Deitátis numquam deesset, idem Iesus Christus, Dóminus noster. Quem una tecum, omnípotens Pater, et cum Spíritu Sancto laudant Angeli...

Truly...Through Christ our Lord, whose coming we await. Who for the sake of man’s salvation, did so deign to enter the womb of the Virgin, that he imparted to us the way of salvation, and was never separated from the majesty of Thy divinity, the same Our Lord Jesus Christ. Who together with Thee, almighty Father, and with the Holy Spirit, the Angels praise etc.

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