Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Other Major Antiphons for the End of Advent

The best known feature of the Office in Advent is of course the O Antiphons, which began yesterday evening, said with the Magnificat from December 17-23. Their prominence has perhaps overshadowed some of the other riches of the season, which has an unusually large number of proper texts. In addition to the daily antiphons of the Benedictus and Magnificat, the psalms at Sunday Matins also have their own antiphons, which is not true of either Lent or Passiontide, and each individual Sunday has another set of five antiphons for the psalms of Lauds and Vespers, also used at the minor Hours of the day.

The last six ferias before the vigil of Christmas also each have a proper set of antiphons to be sung with the psalms of Lauds, and repeated at the minor Hours, though not at Vespers; they are one of the most beautiful parts of the Gregorian repertoire. If December 17 is a Sunday, these begin on Monday the 18th; otherwise, on the 17th, along with the Os.

A folio of the winter volume of the Hartker Antiphonary, end of the 10th century, beginning with the 3rd antiphon for Monday. San Gallen Stiftsbibliothek. Cod. Sang. 390. 
I have here set them out in tables, with the Latin on one side and an English translation on the other. With the Latin, I have indicated the psalms and canticles with which they are currently sung according to the Breviary of St Pius X. Prior to his reform in 1911, the third psalm of Lauds each day was Psalms 62 and 66 said together as a single psalm, and the fifth was Psalms 148, 149 and 150, also said together as a single psalm.

On the English side, I have noted the Biblical citations in the text; “vs.” stands for “verse”, indicating that the antiphon is a verse of the psalm or canticle with which it is sung. Many of them are not Scriptural at all, and some of them, such as the very first one, Ecce veniet Dominus, are either vaguely or only partially taken from the Bible. The traditional corpus of Breviary antiphons is very ancient, and some of the Biblical citations come from the Old Latin version of the Bible used before St Jerome’s Vulgate translation, such as the antiphon Deus a Libano which is said with the canticle of Habacuc.

Aña 1 Ecce veniet Dominus,
princeps regum terræ: beati
qui parati sunt occurrere illi.
Psalm 50
Behold the Lord shall come, the
Prince of the kings of the earth:
blessed are they that are pre-
pared to meet him. (Apoc. 1, 5)
Cum venerit Filius hominis,
putas inveniet fidem super
terram? Psalm 5
When the Son of Man shall
come, thinkest thou that He
shall find faith upon the earth?
(Luke 18, 8)
Ecce jam venit plenitudo
temporis, in quo misit Deus
Filium suum in terras.
Psalm 28
Behold, the fullness of time hath
already come, in which God
hath sent His Son upon the
lands. (Galatians 4, 4)
Haurietis aquas in gaudio
de fontibus Salvatoris.
Canticle of Isaiah, chapter
12, 1-6 
Ye shall draw waters in joy from
the fountains of the Savior.
(vs. 3)
Egredietur Dominus de lo-
co sancto suo: veniet ut sal-
vet populum suum. Ps. 116
The Lord will go forth from His
holy place, He will come to save
his people.

Aña 1 Rorate, caeli, desuper,
et nubes pluant justum; ape-
riatur terra, et germinet Sal-
vatorem. Psalm 50
Drop down dew, ye heavens,
from above, and let the clouds
rain the Just One; let the earth be
opened, and bud forth a Savior.
(Isaiah 45, 8)
Emitte Agnum, Domine,
Dominatorem terræ, de Petra
deserti, ad montem filiae
Sion. Psalm 42
Send forth the lamb, O Lord,
the ruler of the earth, from Petra
of the desert, to the mount of the
daughter of Sion. (Isaiah 16, 1)
Ut cognoscamus, Domine,
in terra viam tuam, in omni-
bus gentibus salutare tuum.
Psalm 66
May we know, o Lord, Thy way
upon the earth, Thy salvation in
all nations. (vs. 3)
Da mercedem, Domine,
sustinentibus te, ut Prophe-
tae tui fideles inveniantur.
Canticle of King Ezechiah,
Isaiah, 38, 10-20 
Reward them, o Lord, that
patiently wait for Thee, that
Thy prophets may be found
faithful. (Sir. 36, 18)
Lex per Moysen data est;
gratia et veritas per Jesum
Christum facta est.
Psalm 134
The law was given by Moses;
grace and truth came by Jesus
Christ. (John 1, 17)

In many medieval Uses, the first antiphon of the following set, Prophetae praedicaverunt, was said with the Psalms of either Lauds or Vespers, or both, in the Little Office of the Virgin Mary during Advent.
The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, by Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-11. (From the website of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; click to see in high resolution.)
Aña 1 Prophetae praedica-
verunt nasci Salvatorem de
Virgine Maria. Psalm 50
The prophets foretold that the
Savior would be born of the
Virgin Mary.
Spiritus Domini super
me, evangelizare pauperi-
bus misit me.
Psalm 64
The Spirit of the Lord is upon
me, He hath sent me to preach
good tidings to the poor. (Isa.
61, 1, as cited in Luke 4, 18)
Propter Sion non tacebo,
donec egrediatur ut splen-
dor justus ejus.
Psalm 100
For Sion’s sake I will not hold
my peace, till her just one come
forth as brightness. (Isa. 62, 1)
Ecce veniet Dominus, ut
sedeat cum principibus, et
solium gloriae teneat.
Canticle of Anna, I Kings
2, 1-10 
Behold, the Lord shall come to
sit with princes, and hold the
throne of glory. (vs. 8)
Annuntiate populis et di-
cite: Ecce Deus Salvator
noster veniet. Psalm 145
Proclaim ye to the peoples, and
say: Behold, God our Savior
shall come.

Aña 1 De Sion veniet Domi-
nus omnipotens, ut salvum
faciat populum suum. Ps. 50
From Sion shall come the Lord
Almighty to save His people.
Convertere, Domine, ali-
quantulum, et ne tardes ve-
nire ad servos tuos.
Psalms 89
Return, o Lord, a little while, and
delay not to come to Thy ser-
De Sion veniet, qui regna-
turus est Dominus, Emma-
nuel magnum nomen ejus.
Psalm 35
From Sion shall come the Lord
who is to rule, Emmanuel is
His great name.
Ecce Deus meus, et hono-
rabo eum: Deus patris mei,
et exaltabo eum. Canticle of
Moses, Exodus 15, 1-19 
Behold my God, and I will honor
Him, the God of my father, and
I will exalt Him. (vs. 2)
Dominus legifer noster,
Dominus Rex noster, ipse
veniet, et salvabit nos.
Psalm 146
The Lord is our law-giver, the
Lord is our king, He will come
and save us. (Isaiah 33, 22)

Aña 1 Constantes estote, vi-
debitis auxilium Domini su-
per vos. Psalm 50
Be ye steady, ye shall see the
help of the Lord upon you.
(I Chronicles 20, 17)
Ad te, Domine, levavi
animam meam: veni, et eri-
pe me, Domine, ad te con-
fugi? Psalm 142
To Thee, o Lord, I have lifted up
my soul: come and deliver me,
o Lord, to thee have I fled.
(vss 8-9)
Veni, Domine, et noli tar-
dare: relaxa facinora plebi
tuae Israël. Psalm 84
Come, o Lord, delay Thou not;
forgive the crimes of Thy
people Israel.
Deus a Libano veniet, et
splendor ejus sicut lumen
erit. Canticle of Habakkuk,
chapter 3, 1-19 
God will come from the Leba-
non, and His brightness shall be
as the light. (vss. 8 and 9)
Ego autem ad Dominum
aspiciam, et exspectabo
Deum, Salvatorem meum.
Psalm 147
But I will look towards the
Lord, I will wait for God
my Saviour. (Micah 7, 7) 

The Testament of Moses, by Luca Signorelli and Bartolomeo della Gatta, 1482, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City.
The Breviary of St Pius V has no special set of antiphons for Saturday, on which the ones impeded by the feast of St Thomas the Apostle on December 21st are used. (Obviously, this is not done if Saturday itself is the 21st.) However, the antiphon for the Old Testament canticle from the impeded set is replaced by a proper antiphon Exspectetur, which corresponds to the Canticle of Moses in Deuteronomy 32. When the vigil of Christmas falls on a Sunday, the Thursday set is impeded by St Thomas, and omitted that year; the antiphons from the Fourth Sunday of Advent are anticipated to Saturday, with Exspectetur for the canticle. This year, this older system would have made for a nice coincidence, since the canticle of Moses would be followed by the Laudate Psalms and the fifth antiphon of Tuesday, “The Law was given by Moses; grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

This custom was changed in the Breviary reform of St Pius X; Saturday is given its own antiphons, and those impeded by St Thomas’ day are simply omitted. Of the four new antiphons, the first and fifth (Intuemini and Paratus esto) are found in several very old chant manuscripts, and were widely used in the Middle Ages; the second and third (Multiplicabitur and Ego Dominus) appear to be new compositions made specifically for this reform.

Aña 1 Intuemini, quantus sit
gloriosus iste, qui ingreditur
ad salvandos populos.
Psalm 50
Behold ye how glorious is this
one, that cometh in to save the
Multiplicabitur ejus im-
perium, et pacis non erit
finis. Psalm 91
His empire shall be multiplied,
and there shall be no end of
peace. (Isaiah 9, 7)
Ego Dominus prope feci
justitiam meam, non elon-
gabitur, et salus mea non
morabitur. Psalm 63
I the Lord have brought my jus-
tice near, it shall not be afar
off, and my salvation shall not
tarry. (Isaiah 46, 12)
Exspectetur, sicut pluvia,
eloquium Domini: et de-
scendat, sicut ros, super nos
Deus noster. Canticle of
Moses, Deut. 32, 1-43 
Let the word of the Lord be
awaited, like the rain, and let
our God descend upon us like
the dew. (vs. 2)
Paratus esto, Israel, in oc-
cursum Domini, quoniam
venit. Psalm 150
Be prepared, Israel, to meet the
Lord, when He cometh.
(Amos 4, 12)

Finally, on December 21st and 23rd, there are special antiphons to be said with the Benedictus, the last of these an especially fitting final word of the season, before the special office of the vigil of the Nativity. (Nolite timere is used for the commemoration of Advent on the feast of St Thomas, unless the feast is transferred off the 4th Sunday of Advent.)

Aña Nolite timere: quinta
enim die veniet ad vos Do-
minus noster.
Fear ye not, for on the fifth day
our God will come to you.
Ana Ecce completa sunt
omnia, quae dicta sunt per
Angelum de Virgine
Behold, all things are fulfilled
which were said by the Angel
about the Virgin Mary.

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