Sunday, March 29, 2020

Passion Sunday 2020

Here is a beautiful recording of the Passiontide hymn Pange, lingua, in the traditional Gregorian setting. This hymn was composed by St Venantius Fortunatus (ca. 530-600), bishop of Poitiers, to celebrate the arrival there of a relic of the True Cross which was given by the Byzantine Emperor Justin II to Venantius’ dear friend St Radegund, Queen of the Franks. In the Roman Breviary, it is traditionally divided into two parts, the first of which (five stanzas plus a doxology) is sung at Matins, the second (five more stanzas plus the same doxology) at Lauds. At the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday, it is sung during the adoration of the Cross.

This recording includes the stanzas traditionally sung at Matins, the first two from Lauds, and the doxology once. Venantius also composed the hymn Vexilla Regis, sung at Vespers of Passiontide, for the same occasion. This is the version of the text found in the Breviary of St Pius V, as revised in 1629 by Pope Urban VIII, which is not markedly differt from Venantius’ original; the English translation is by the Anglican cleric John Mason Neale (1818-66), one of his finest efforts among many.

Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Lauream certaminis,
Et super Crucis trophaeo
Dic triumphum nobilem,
Qualiter Redemptor orbis
Immolatus vicerit.
Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle
Sing the last, the dread affray;
O’er the cross, the victor’s trophy,
Sound the high triumphal lay:
Tell how Christ, the world’s Redeemer,
As a victim won the day.
De parentis protoplasti
Fraude Factor condolens,
Quando pomi noxialis
In necem morsu ruit
Ipse lignum tunc notavit
Damna ligni ut solveret.
God, his Maker, sorely grieving
That the first-made Adam fell,
When he ate the fruit of sorrow,
Whose reward was death and hell,
Noted then this wood, the ruin
Of the ancient wood to quell.
Hoc opus nostrae salutis
Ordo depoposcerat,
Multiformis proditoris
Ars ut artem falleret
Et medelam ferat inde,
Hostis unde laeserat.
For the work of our salvation
Needs would have his order so,
And the multiform deceiver’s
Art by art would overthrow,
And thence would bring the medicine
Whence the insult of the foe.
Quando venit ergo sacri
Plenitudo temporis
Missus est ab arce Patris
Natus orbis conditor,
Atque ventre virginali
Carne amictus prodiit.
Wherefore, when the sacred fullness
Of the appointed time was come,
This world’s Maker left his Father,
Sent the heav’nly mansion from,
And proceeded, God Incarnate,
Of the Virgin’s holy womb.
Vagit infans inter arcta
Conditus praesepia;
Membra pannis involuta
Virgo Mater alligat
Et Dei manus pedesque
Stricta cingit fascia.
Weeps the infant in the manger
That in Bethlehem’s stable stands;
And his limbs the Virgin Mother
Doth compose in swaddling bands,
Meetly thus in linen folding
Of her God the feet and hands.
Ad Laudes
Lustra sex qui jam peregit
Tempus implens corporis,
Sponte libera Redemptor
Passioni dedictus,
Agnus in Cruce levatur
Immolandus stipite.
At Lauds
Thirty years among us dwelling,
His appointed time fulfilled,
Born for this, he meets his passion,
For that this he freely willed:
On the cross the Lamb is lifted,
Where his life-blood shall be spilled.
Felle potus ecce languet;
Spina, clavi, lancea,
Mite corpus perforarunt
Unde manat et cruor;
Terra, pontus, astra, mundus
Quo lavantur flumine.
He endured the nails, the spitting,
Vinegar, and spear, and reed;
From that holy body broken
Blood and water forth proceed:
Earth, and stars, and sky, and ocean,
By that flood from stain are free.
Sempiterna sit beatae
Trinitati gloria,
Aeque Patri, Filioque,
Par decus Paraclito:
Unius Trinique nomen
Laudet universitas.
To the Trinity be glory
Everlasting, as is meet;
Equal to the Father, equal
To the Son, and Paraclete:
Trinal Unity, whose praises
All created things repeat. Amen.

The three stanza at Lauds not included in the recording.

Crux fidelis, inter omnes
Arbor una nobilis:
Silva talem nulla profert
Fronde, flore, germine:
Dulce ferrum, dulce lignum,
Dulce pondus sustinent.
Faithful cross! above all others,
One and only noble tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peers may be;
Sweetest wood and sweetest iron!
Sweetest weight is hung on thee.
Flecte ramos, arbor alta,
Tensa laxa viscera,
Et rigor lentescat ille
Quem dedit nativitas:
Et superni membra Regis
Tende miti stipite.
Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory!
Thy relaxing sinews bend;
For awhile the ancient rigour,
That thy birth bestowed, suspend;
And the King of heavenly beauty
On thy bosom gently tend!
Sola digna tu fuisti
Ferre mundi victimam,
Atque portam praeparare
Arca mundo naufrago
Quam sacer cruor perunxit
Fusus Agni corpore.
Thou alone wast counted worthy
This world’s ransom to uphold;
For a shipwrecked race preparing
Harbour, like the ark of old;
With the sacred blood anointed
From the smitten Lamb that rolled.

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