Saturday, October 22, 2022

The Dominican Sequence for the Dedication of a Church

In the Dominican Rite, today is the collective feast of the dedication of all of the Order’s consecrated churches. This is a fairly new custom, instituted when the Dominican calendar was revised in the wake of St Pius X’s breviary reform; prior to that, each such church kept its own dedication feast. In the post-Conciliar rite, the Dominicans have reverted to the older custom, but the feast on October 22nd is retained for those churches whose real date of dedication is unknown; a rare example within the Novus Ordo of a return to an authentic historical custom.

Earlier this year, I addressed the persistent misunderstanding that the liturgical reform of St Pius V removed the great majority of sequences from the Mass. The reality is that the Roman Missal had always had very few sequences, and as various churches and orders adopted it, they adopted its sparse repertoire of them along with it. However, some churches and orders that did not adopt the Roman Missal nevertheless reformed their own missals in one way or another in imitation of it. One of the most common such reforms was to take out of most of the sequences, and in 1687, this was done to the Dominican Missal when the master general Antonin Cloche had a new edition published. (The Premonstratensians had done something similar in the 1620s.)
The Sequence Rex Salomon in the Codex of Humbert of Romans, the prototype manuscript of the medieval Dominican liturgy. (Rome: Santa Sabina MS XIV L1). This manuscript was compiled by the Master of the Order Humbert of Romans, in accord with the commission of the Dominican General Chapter held at Buda in 1254, and approved by the General Chapter of Paris in 1256. The sequence begins with the large blue R in the left column.
Prior to Cloche’s reform, the Dominicans sang the following sequence, Rex Salomon fecit templum, on the feast of a church’s dedication; it is attributed (with some uncertainty) to one of the most prolific authors in the genre, Adam of St Victor, who flourished in the first part of the 12th century. After serving as precentor of Notre-Dame de Paris, he entered the abbey of Augustinian Canons Regular dedicated to St Victor in Paris’ Rive Gauche, very close to the Sorbonne. This abbey was one of the major intellectual centers of the High Middle Ages, and literary works produced by its members were swiftly diffused throughout Europe. Dreves’ Analecta Hymnica (vol. 55) lists a very large number of sources for the piece, including several early manuscripts of the Dominican Use, several from the abbey, and various others from the British isles, the Low Countries, etc. The English translation is taken from The Liturgical Poetry of Adam of St Victor (vol. 1), by Digby Wrangham of St John’s College, Oxford. (Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., London, 1881.)

Rex Salomon fecit templum,
Quorum instar et exemplum
Christus et Ecclesia.

Hujus hic est imperator,
Fundamentum et fundator,
Mediante gratia.
Solomon the king a temple
Built, whose pattern and example
Christ, with Holy Church, appears:

He, its founder and foundation,
Sway, through grace’s mediation,
As the Church’s ruler bears.
Quadri templi fundamenta
Marmora sunt, instrumenta
Parietum paria.

Candens flos est castitatis,
Lapis quadrus in praelatis,
Virtus et constantia.
Squarely built, this temple’s bases
Are of marble; each wall’s space is
Formed of stones cut evenly.

Chastity’s fair flower there twineth;
Each squared stone therein combineth,
Prelates’ nerve and constancy.
Templique sublimitas.

Fide recta
Sunt fides, spes, caritas.
Its far-reaching
Length, and stretching
Width, and height that tempts the sky,

Faith explaining
The true meaning,
Are Faith, Hope, and Charity.
Sed tres partes sunt in templo
Trinitatis sub exemplo:
Ima, summa, media.

Prima signat vivos cunctos,
Et secunda jam defunctos,
Redivivos tertia.
Tripartite is this fair Temple,
After the Triune’s example,
With first, third, and middle floor:

First, the living signifying;
Second, those in death now lying,
Third, those raised to life once more.
Sexagenos quaeque per se
Sed et partes universae
Habent lati cubitos;

Horum trium tres conventus
Trinitati dant concentus
Unitati debitos.
All the parts together rated,
Or alone, are calculated
Threescore cubits wide to be:

Triply do these three, thus blending,
Harmonize with the transcending
Trinity in Unity.
Templi cultus
Exstat multus:
Odor domus,
Murra, stactis, cassia;

Quae bonorum
Decus morum
Atque bonos
Precum sonos
Sunt significantia.
Gorgeous ritual
And perpetual
Scents, sweet smelling,
Fill God’s dwelling,
Cassia, myrrh, and cinnamon;

Christian graces,
Prayers, and praises,
Grateful offerings at His throne.
In hac casa
Cuncta vasa
Sunt ex auro
De thesauro
Praeelecto penitus;

Nam magistros
Et ministros
Decet doctos
Et excoctos
Igne sancti spiritus.
In this palace
Is each chalice
A gold measure
From the treasure
Pre-elected secretly:

For all teachers’
Minds, and preachers’,
Throughly furnished,
Purged, and burnished,
By the Spirit’s fire should be.
Sic ex bonis
Quae rex David
Fiunt aedificia;

Nam in lignis
Rex insignis
Juvit Tyri,
Cujus viri
Tractant artificia.
Thus with treasure
David’s pleasure
Had collected
Is erected Solomon’s
great sanctuary;

But the dwelling,
All excelling,
– Timber sending,
Craftsmen lending, –
Tyre’s art fashioned cunningly.
Jam ex gente Judaeisque,
Sicut templum ab utrisque,
Conditur Ecclesia.

Christe, qui hanc et hos unis,
Lapis huic et his communis,
Tibi laus et gloria! Amen.
Formed of Jew and Gentile races,
Builds the Church her holy places,
As did both the Temple raise.

Christ, Who both in one unitest!
Corner-stone of each! the brightest
Glory be to Thee and praise. Amen.

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