Thursday, November 09, 2023

A Sequence for the Dedication of a Church, by Adam of St Victor

Today is the feast of the dedication of the cathedral of Rome, formally known the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior, but often referred to by the nick-name St John in the Lateran. This dedication is celebrated by all dioceses and churches of the Roman Rite, in addition to their own local dedications, so here is a sequence for such feasts by one of the great masters of 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.
Last 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. The diocese of Paris, however, kept its own Missal, and traditionally used this sequence, but in the Neo-Gallican reform, it was shortened by the removal of several stanzas, while some others were rewritten. The reformed version is the one sung in the recording given below. 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.)
A page from a Missal according to the Use of Paris, written in the first quarter of the 14th century. The intonations of three different sequences (usually called “proses” in French liturgical books) are given in the lower part of the left column; the first, Rex Salomon fecit templum, is also by Adam of St Victor. At the time this Missal was produced, the Sequence might vary according to the choice of the choirmaster. Later editions of the Parisian Missal will specify that either Rex Salomon or Jerusalem et Sion be sung on the feast, and the others during the days within the octave of the dedication. 
Jerusalem et Sion filiae,
Coetus omnis fidelis curiae,
Melos pangas jugis laetitiae,

Christus enim desponsat hodie
Matrem nostram, norma justitiae,
Quam de lacu traxit miseriae,
Jerusalem and Sion’s daughters fair!
And all the faithful crowd that
worship there! / That ceaseless strain
of tuneful joy prepare, / “Alleluia!”

For Christ, Who doth all righteousness
display, / to our Mother-Church espoused
to-day, / That Church, whom He in love
hath drawn away / From depths of woe.
In Spiritus Sancti clementia,
Sponsa sponsi laetatur gratia:
A reginis, laudum cum gloria,
   Felix dicta.

Dos ut datur, crescit laetitia:
Quæ dos! quanta! triplex potentia,
Tangens coelum, terram et stygia
Through the blest Spirit’s mercy from
above / The Bride rejoices in the Bride-
groom’s love. / Earth’s queens with
glorious praises doth she move
   To call her blest,

Mid greater joy still is her dowry given:
What! and how great! that threefold
power, which heaven, / And earth below,
and the dread judgments even
   Of hell affects.
Mira loquar, sed sanum credere:
Foederatam tarn largo munere,
De proprio produxit latere

Formaretur ut sic Ecclesia
Figuravit in pari gloria
Adae costis formata femina,
   Hostis Eva.
Belief is wise, though strange my tale:
that bride, / by gifts of such vast magni-
tude allied / to Him, was taken out of
His own side / By the God-Man: 

That thus the Church should form and
shape receive / equal glory, we a type
believe / was woman, formed—source of
our sorrow, Eve! /  From Adam’s rib. 
Eva fuit noverca posteris:
Haec est mater electi generis,
Vitae portus, asylum miseris
   Et tutela.

Pulchra, potens, partu mirabilis,
Ut luna, sol, fulget spectabilis,
Plus acie multo terribilis
Eve a stepmother hath been to her seed;
the Church to her elect a Mother indeed,
Life’s haven, an asylum in their need,
   And sure defense,

She, beautiful and great, in birth divine,
fair as the moon, clear as the sun doth
shine / more terrible than armies’ serried
line / With banners dight.
Multiplex est, singularis, una,
Generalis et individua
Omnis aevi, sexus, simul una
   Parit turmas.

Haec signata Jordanis fluctibus;
Haec quae venit a terrae finibus,
Scientiam audire cominus
Multifold is she, yet but one alone
has all together, and each singly, known
of every age and sex, yet only one;
   Troops she brings forth.

Jordan! thy waves a type of her appear,
and she, that from the ends of earth drew
near, / that, face to face, she might the
wisdom hear / Of Solomon.
Haec typicis descripta sensibus,
Nuptiarum induta vestibus,
Caeli praeest hodie civibus
   Christo juncta.

O solemnis festum laetitiae
Quo unitur Christus Ecclesiae,
In quo nostrae salutis nuptiae
She, whom these types, when understood,
portray, / Robed for her marriage-feast in
bright array, / presides o’er all the hea-
venly host to-day, / The bride of Christ.

O holy joy’s bright feast-day in the skies,
Which joins the Church with Christ in
marriage-ties! / That marriage-day,
whose rite mankind allies /
   With saving health.
Coetus felix, dulce convivium,
Lapsis ubi datur solatium,
Desperatis offertur spatium

Justis inde solvuntur praemia,
Angelorum novantur gaudia,
Laeta nimis quod facit gratia
O happy gathering! O sweet feast of
heaven! / When consolation to the lapsed
is given, / And to the sinner, to despair
now driven, / A breathing-space!

Here their rewards are to the righteous
paid, / And angels’ joys, renewed again,
displayed / Feast, by the grace of charity
thus made / Too full of joy.
Ab aeterno fons sapientiae,
Intuitu solius gratiae,
Sic praevidit in rerum serie
Haec futura.

Christus ergo nos suis nuptiis,
Recreatos veris deliciis,
Interesse faciat gaudiis
   Electorum! Amen
The fount of wisdom from the first hath
known, / through the clear insight given
by grace alone, / As the due course of
things hath onward gone, / What is to be.

Therefore may Christ, by these His
marriage-rites, / take us, refreshed there-
by with true delights, / partake those joys
to which His love invites 
   All His elect! Amen.

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