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1 January 2013


Its significance, explained in the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Hac die festa concinat multimoda camena, 
Collaudans celi Dominum cum dulci cantilena. 

Per hec enim solempnia sunt cuncta renovata, 
Humano quoque generi est venia donata. 

Invenit drachma mulier; accenditur lucerna, 
In carne dum comparuit mens Deo coeterna. 

Dum cadit secus Jericho vir Hierosolomita, 
Samaritanus affuit quo lapso datur vita. 

Perduxit hunc in stabulum clementia divina, 
Vinum permiscens oleo suavi medicina. 

Curantis egri vulnera sunt dulcia fomenta, 
Dum cunctis penitentia fuit reis inventa. 

Bini dati denarii sunt duo Testamenta 
Dum Christus, finis utriusque, complet sacramenta. 

En tellus rore germinat nec patet madefacta, 
Dum virgo Deum partuit, et mater est intacta. 

In tenebris exortus est Puer, lux sempiterna: 
Octava circumcisus est hac die hodierna. 

Hec ab antiquis patribus dies fuit previsa 
Dum se prolemque Domino dant carne circumcisa. 

Hac die circumcisio fiebat sub figura 
Octavo, qua salvabitur humana creatura. 

Ergo nos circumcidamus, non carnis preputia, 
Sed a nobis abscidamus sordes et vitia. 

Ut mundati mente, carne, capiamus premia, 
Que octava confert etas merenti celestia. 

Eya, die ista, 
Omnis organista 
Cantor et psalmista 
Cum cytharista. Amen. 
Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

This festal day our Muse should be a varied song upraising, 
In strains of sweetest melody the Lord of heaven praising. 

For all things by this festival have been renewed from heaven, 
And pardon to the human race for all their misdeeds given. 

The woman finds her silver piece; her candle she hath lighted, 
What time to flesh the mind, with God co-equal, is united. 

When from Jerusalem the man nigh Jericho is lying, 
The good Samaritan comes by and rescues him from dying. 

By clemency divine he is into the inn attended, 
Whilst wine and oil, as remedy to soothe his pain, are blended. 

Sweet are the balms of Him, who gives to sick men's wounds their healing, 
The way of penitence for all their sinfulness revealing. 

Of the two Testaments the gift of the two pennies telleth, 
Since Jesus Christ, the end of both, their mysteries fulfilleth. 

Lo! now the earth buds forth with dew and yet abideth rainless, 
Whilst bears a maid our God Himself, and is a mother stainless. 

In darkness was the Infant born, Who light eternal giveth; 
And circumcision on this day, the eight day, He receiveth. 

This day the Patriarchs of old foresaw in clear pre-vision, 
Who gave themselves and progeny to God by circumcision. 

That circumcision was performed this eighth day in a figure, 
Which shall a human creature save from God's most righteous rigour. 

Ourselves, and not our foreskins, then let us be circumcising, 
And cut away the lust and sin for aye within us rising. 

That, cleansed in heart and flesh, to us those prizes may be given, 
Which the eighth age confers on him deserving joy in heaven. 

Come ye then to-day here, 
Every organ player, 
Singer and psalm-sayer! 
Lift your praise, 
And upraise, 
Minstrel! your lay here! Amen.

31 December 2012


The subject on which I am about to treat is one of far more importance than the generality of men may be willing to admit; it is not a mere question of architectural detail, respecting a few mullions and a transverse beam, but it involves great principles connected with discipline, and even faith, and it is a question in which all those who either wish for the revival of ancient solemnity and reverence, or even the preservation of what yet remains, are most deeply interested. The contest that has been raised by the restoration of screens in England is not altogether new; it occurred in France during the latter part of the last century, when a vile spirit of modern innovation appears to have arisen among a portion of the French clergy, chiefly in the capitular bodies, and more injury was then inflicted on the great churches of that country than was caused by the outrages of the Calvinists and Huguenouts in the civil wars of the sixteenth century. The traditions of the church, as regards the disposition and arrangement of ecclesiastical buildings in the northern countries, do not appear to have been much affected by the revived paganism of the sixteenth century; the details were debased and incongruous, but the things remained unaltered in principle - rood lofts were erected, choirs were stalled, cruciform churches, with aisles and lateral and lady chapels, and transepts, were the general type that followed, and screens for choirs, side chapels, and altars were universal. But gradually, from the adoption of the details of classic antiquity, the buildings themselves became objects of imitation, till revived paganism displayed its full absurdity in the substitution of a temple of Jupiter for a church of the crucified Redeemer in the huge room called the Madeleine. Designed by infidels, built by infidels, and suited only for infidel purposes, and then turned over, for want of another use, to become a church!...

I have been induced to speak particularly of this edifice, as it is the beau ideal of a modern church in the minds of those who are opposed to screens; for the principles of these men, worked out to their legitimate ends, are subversive of every tradition and the whole system of ecclesiastical architecture. Screens are, in truth, the very least part of the cause of their animosity to the churches of their Fathers, for if any man says he loves pointed architecture, and hates screens, I do not hesitate to denounce him as a liar, for one is inseparable from the other, and more, inseparable from Catholic arrangement in any style, Byzantine, Norman, Pointed, or debased. We have now to contend for the great principles of Catholic antiquity - tradition and reverence against modern development and display. It is not a struggle for taste or ornament, but a contention for vital principles. There is a most intimate connection between the externals of religion and the faith itself; and it is scarcely possible to preserve the interior faith in the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist if all exterior reverence and respect is to be abolished.

There is no higher act in the Christian religion, says Father Le Brun, than the Sacrifice of the Mass; the greater portion of the other Sacraments, and nearly all the offices and ceremonies of the Church, are only the means or the preparation to celebrate or participate in it worthily. Such being the case, it is but natural that the place where this most holy sacrifice is to be offered up, should be set apart and railed off from less sacred portions of the church, and we find this to have been the case in all ages, in all styles, and in all countries professing the Catholic faith down to a comparatively very recent period, when in many places all feelings of sanctity, tradition, and reverence, seemed to have been superseded by ignorant innovation and love of change.

It will be shown in this work that the idea of room-worship, and the all-seeing principles, is a perfect novelty. Those indeed who would make the Mass a sight, are only to be compared to the innovators of the 16th century, who made it essential to be heard; those who compiled the Book of Common Prayer converted the Mass into all-hearing service; this was the great object of the vernacular change, that people might hear the priest; they were to be edified by what he said, more than what he did; the sacrifical act was merged into the audible recitation of prayers and exhortations; for this reason the altars, in the reign of Edward the Sixth, were to be moved down from their eastern position to the entrance of the chancel, to enable the people to hear; this led to the demolition of the stone altars and the substitution of tables. For this reason, in large parochial churches, the chancel has been often entirely cut off, and a portion of the nave glazed in and reduced to such a size that the people could hear the clergyman; these were all natural consequences of the change of principle consequent on the translation of the Mass, and the altered nature of its celebration. That churches are now built after the old tradition for the service of the separated portion of the English Church, is purely owing to an internal revival of Catholic feelings and traditions in that body; the effect is the erection of churches in accordance with those feelings. It has been a charge and reproach made by Catholics against their separated countrymen, that the old fabrics were unsuited to their purpose, and unquestionably, on the principle that it was essential for every one to hear, they were so. But I will ask these new-fashioned men: if it is indispensible for every one to see, how much better are they adapted for modern Catholic rites? They become as unfit for one as the other, for it is unquestionable, that comparatively very few persons in these cruciform churches could obtain a view of the altar, and this independent of any screen-work, the disposition of the pillars intersecting and shutting out all those who are stationed in the aisles and transepts.

I have always imagined that one great distinction between the Protestant and the Catholic services was this, that the former was essentially a hearing service, at which only a comparatively few persons could assist, while at the latter many thousands, or, indeed, hundreds of thousands could unite in one great act of adoration and praise, concentrating their thoughts and intentions with the priest who is offering at God's altar, although he is far shut off from their vision.

Real Protestants have always built rooms for their worship, or walled up their old churches, when they have fallen into their possession, into four or five distinct spaces, as in Scotland. But the separated Church of England, though Protestant in position, in name, and in practice, has retained so much of the old traditions in her service, and is linked by so many ties to older and better times, that she naturally turns back to them with affection and reverence, and seeks, as far as her maimed rites and fettered position will admit, to restore the departed glory of the sanctuary. Few persons are aware that the choirs of three of the English cathedrals were completely restalled, and after the old arrangements, by the munificence of churchmen in the seventeenth century; moreover, the completion of some towers and extensive works date from the same period. It is a consoling fact that the cathedrals of England retain more of their old Catholic arrangements and fittings than most of those on the continent: and as regards the fabricks, they have suffered less injury, and have preserved their original character most wonderfully. Architecturally, we must certainly admit that the Anglicans have been good tenants of the old fabricks; we must not test them by the works of preceding centuries, but by the corresponding period; and when we reflect on the debased state of design and art that prevailed, even in those countries which were nominally exclusively Catholic, we may be thankful that our great religious edifices have been so well handed down to our times, when the recognition of their beauty and grandeur is daily increasing. I have dilated upon this subject, for if the lingering remains of Catholic traditions which have been so imperfectly preserved since the separation of England in the sixteenth century, have yet produced such edifying results, how much more have we reason to expect from those who should possess them in all their fullness! and how heart-rending, how deplorable, how scandalous is it to behold even priests of the very temple combining, by word and deed, to break down the barriers erected by ancient reverence and faith!

But to return, I cannot too strongly impress on the minds of my readers that the very vitals of Catholic architecture are assailed by the opponents of screens.

Those who complain of not being able to see in a Pointed church should have assisted at an ancient service in a Roman basilica; the altar surrounded by pillars sustaining veils and curtains, and covered by a ciborium, was placed in front of the celebrant, of whom nothing could be discerned by the congregation except an occasional glimpse of his head; the space behind the altar was reserved for the bishop and his presbyters, while in front was the choir for those who sung, walled round to a considerable height, averaging five feet, wnd within, or occasionally outside, this space, were the amboes for th epistle and gospel, marble rostrums, ascended by steps, and usually of large dimensions; moreover, the basilicae were constructed with aisles, like pointed churches, so that not one-tenth part of the congregation could have seen either the celebrant or the mensae of the altar. And although it does not appear that the Latin Church has purposely excluded the sight of the altar from the people, yet from the beginning the canonical arrangement of her sacred edifices has had the practical effect of cutting off its view from a very large portion of the assisting faithful.

Christians of the present time have but little idea of the solemnity of the ancient worship of the Catholic Church; ordained ministers were alone permitted to fill the humblest offices about the sanctuary, every object connected with the sacred rites were considered deserving of the most loving care; even in the very early ages, the vessels of the altar were usually of precious metals, and studded with jewels. the books of the holy Gospels were written in golden text on purple vellum, bound in plates of silver encasing ivory diptychs, and deposited in portable shrines, like relics. Though all this should fill us with admiration, there is nothing to excite surprise, when we reflect on the very sacred nature of the Christian mysteries - no sign typical and prophetic, as under the Mosaic law, but our blessed Lord truly present and abiding in the temple in the holy sacrament of the altar - it is by no means wonderful that the Christian worship should assume a form of solemnity formerly unknown, and we are only astounded that with the perpetuation of the doctrine the practice of external solemnity should have so lamentably become decayed in the latter times; indeed, so sacred, so awful, so mysterious is the sacrifice of the Mass, that if men were seriously to reflect on what it really consists, so far from advocating mere rooms for celebration, they would hasten to restore the reverential arrangements of Catholic antiquity, and instead of striving for front seats and first places, they would hardly feel worthy to occupy the remotest corner of the temple. The form and arrangement of the ancient churches originated from the deepest feelings of reverence; the altar, or place of sacrifice, was accessible only to those who ministered, it was enclosed by pillars and veils; the sanctuary was veiled, the choir was enclosed, and the faithful adored at a respectful distance. All this, and the custom of every succeeding century, is in utter opposition to the modern all-seeing principle, and which, if it is carried out, ends in an absurd conclusion; for if it be essential for every worshipper to see, even a level room would not answer the purpose, and the floor must be raised like an ampitheatre to elevate the receding spectators, for unless the people be thus raised, they form a far greater barrier than any screen-work..... If religious ceremonies are to be regarded as spectacles they should be celebrated in regular theatres, which have been expressly intended for the purpose of accomodating great assemblages of persons to hear and see well. It has been most justly said, that there is no legitimate halting-place between Catholic doctrine and positive infidelity, and I am quite certain that there is none between a church built on Christian tradition and symbolism and Covent Garden Theatre with its pit, boxes, and gallery. It is only by putting the question in this forcible contrast that persons can really understand the danger of these new notions, or the lengths to which they may eventually lead; and I trust it may be the means of raising a feeling of the greatest repugnance to them in the hearts of every true Catholic.
[A Treatise on Chancel Screens and Rood Lofts: their Antiquity, Use and Symbolic Signification by A.W.N. Pugin. London: Charles Dolman, 1851]


His life, according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

29 December 2012


His life, according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

His life, told in stained glass at Chartres Cathedral.

Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Gaude, Sion, et letare,
Voce, voto jocundare
Solemni letitia:
Tuus Thomas trucidatur;
Pro te, Christe, immolatur,
Salutaris hostia.

Archipresul et legatus,
Nullo tamen est elatus
Honoris fastigio;
Dispensator summi Regis,
Pro tutela sui gregis
Trusus est exilio.

Tele certans pastorali,
Ense cinctus Spiritali,
Triumphare meruit;
Hic pro Dei sui lege,
Et pro suo mori grege
Decertare studuit.

Tunc rectore desolatam
Et pastore viduatam
Se plangebat Canthia;
Versa vice, plausu miro,
Exultavit tanto viro
Senonensis Gallia.

Quo absente, infirmatur,
Infirmata conculcatur
Libertas Ecclesie;
Sic nos, pater, reliquisti,
Nec a vero recessisti
Tramite justitie.

Quondam cetu curiali
Primus eras et regali
Militans palatio;
Plebis aura favorali
Et, ut mos est, temporali
Plaudebas preconio.

Consequenter es mutatus:
Presulatu sublimatus,
Novus homo reparatus
Felici commercio,
Ex adverso ascendisti,
Et te murum objecisti:
Caput tuum obtulisti,
Christi sacrificio.

Carnis tue morte spreta,
Triumphalis es athleta;
Palma tibi datur leta,
Quod testantur insueta
Plurima miracula.
Per te visus cecis datur,
Claudis gressus instauratur,
Paralysis effugatur,
Vetus hostis propulsatur
Et peccati macula.

Cleri gemma, dare Thoma,
Motus carnis nostre doma
Precum efficacia,
Ut, in Christo vera vite
Radicati, vera vite
Capiamus gaudia. Amen.
Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

Joy, O Sion! and rejoice thou;
With both vow and lifted voice now,
With a holy joy be glad!
For Christ's sake, assassinated,
Is thy Thomas immolated,
A most precious victim made.

Primate, legate, though created.
He was ne'er with pride elated
By his honours' lofty height;
Steward of the King of heaven,
He was into exile driven,
Since he for his flock would fight.

With the Spirit's sword girt round him,
Victory with full triumph crowned him.
As with pastoral spear he fought;
For his God's law to be fighting,
For his flock's sake death inviting,
Ever was his chiefest thought.

Losing then its guide and master,
And deprived thus of its pastor,
Canterbury deeply grieved;
But then one, so justly noted,
Sens in France, with joy devoted.
And with glad acclaim received.

In his absence sore prostrated,
And, when prostrate, violated.
Was the Church no longer free;
So from 'mongst us thou departedst,
Father! but aside ne'er startedst
From the path of probity.

Once, amid the courtier bevy,
Thou wast foremost of the levy
In the palace of the king;
All the people approbation,
And the world loud acclamation,
As its wont is, offering.

Well-timed was thy transformation;
For of thee thy consecration
By a blest reciprocation
Made a new man happily:
Thou thine opposition endedst.
As a wall, the Church defendedst,
And thyself to death commendedst,
Willing thus for Christ to die.

Champion! who this life disdainest!
Victory in the fight thou gainest,
And the joyful palm obtainest;
Evidence of which the plainest
All thy wonders rare afford.
To the blind their sight thou givest,
And the lame man's powers revivest;
Thou paralysis relievest,
And the old foe backward drivest,
And transgressions' filthy horde.

Gem of priesthood, princely Thomas!
By thy prayer effectual from us
Take our lusts, our flesh subdue;
That, in Christ, the true Vine, rooted,
We may gain, thus constituted,
Life-joys both divine and true! Amen. 


His life, according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

His life, told in stained glass at Chartres Cathedral.

Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Pia mater plangat Ecclesia
Quod patravit major Britannia
Factum detestabile;
Pietate movetur Francia;
Fugit coelum, tellus et maria
Scelus exsecrabile!

Scelus, inquam, non dicendum:
Grande scelus et horrendum
Perpetravit Anglia.
Patrem suum praedamnavit,
Et in sede trucidavit
Restitutum propria.

Thomas totius Angliae
Flos vernans, et Ecclesiae
Specialis gloria,
In templo Cantuariae
Pro legibus justitiae
Fit sacerdos et hostia.

Inter templum et altare,
Templi super liminare
Concutitur, non frangitur;
Sed gladiis conscinditur
Veluna templi medium.
Eliseus decalvatur,
Zacharias trucidatur;
Pax tradita dissolvitur
Et organum convertitur
In lamentum flentium.

Prope festum Innocentum
Innocentur ad tormentum
Pertrahitur, concutitur,
Et cerebrum effunditur
Cuspide mucronis.
Ad decoris ornamentum
Templi rubet pavimentum,
Quod sanguine respergitur,
Dum sacerdos induitur
Veste passionis.

Furor ingens debacchatur,
Sanguis Justus condemnatur,
Ense caput dissecatur
In conspectu Domini:
Cum sacrabat, hic sacratur,
Immolator immolatur,
Ut virtutis relinquatur
Hoc exemplum homini.

Holocaustum medullatum,
Jam per orbem propalatum,
In odorem Deo gratum
Est pontifex oblatus;
Pro corona quae secatur
Duplex stola praeparatur,
Ubi sedes restauratur

Synagoga derogat, ridet Paganismus,
Insultant idolatrae, quod Christianismus
Foedus violaverit
Nec patri pepercerit
Rachel plorat filium, non vult consolari,
Quam in matris utero vidit trucidari;
Super cujus obitum
Dant in fletu gemitum
Mantes pietatis.

Hic est ille pontifex
Quem supernus Artifex
In coelorum culmine
Magnum stabilivit,
Postquam pertransivit
Gladios Anglorum.

Cum mori non timuit,
Sed cervicem praebuit
In suo sanguine;
Ut abhinc exivit,
Semel introivit
In sancta sanctorum.

Cujus mortem pretiosam testantur miracula,
Christe, nobis suffragetur per aeterna saecula!

Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

Now let our holy Mother-Church bemoan
What was aforetime by great Britain done;
'Twas a deed detestable:
By pious feelings France is deeply stirred,
And in all horror from the guilt abhorred
Flee heaven and earth and seas as well!

Ah! a crime beyond all telling,
One most hateful and repelling,
Was at England's hands then done:
She prejudged her father, newly
To his home restored, and foully
Murdered him upon his throne.

Thomas, all England's brightest flower,
The glory of the church, before
All others in exalted fame,

At Canterbury's temple door.
The laws of justice to secure,
Both sacrifice and priest became.

'Twixt the temple and the altar,
On the threshold, each assaulter
Doth rudely shake, but breaks him not;
Though with their swords in twain they cut
In its midst the temple veil.
Low Elisha's bald head lieth,
Zacharias, slaughtered, dieth;
Peace, thus betrayed, dissolves away,
And the sweet organ now can play
But the tearful mourners' wail.

Upon Childermas's morrow
Is this Innocent to sorrow
Dragged forth, and blows, and tortures' pain;
Whilst, on the earth outpoured, his brain,
Lo! the sword's point bareth.
As that temple's chiefest glory,
Blushes still its pavement gory,
Which is o'ersprinkled with his blood,
As there this holy priest of God
Robes of passion weareth.

Rages wrath, with fury fevered,
Just blood is to death delivered;
With a sword his head is shivered
In the presence of the Lord:
Consecrating, consecrated,
Immolating, immolated,
He to man a celebrated
Type of virtue doth afford.

Holocaust, with marrow welling,
Known to earth's remotest dwelling,
Sacrifice to God sweet-smelling,
This pontiff was selected;
For a crown that may be riven
Two-fold robes to him are given
On his primate's throne, in heaven
Restored and re-erected.

Jews depreciate our fame, Pagans show derision,
Such as worship idols scoff, that our own religion
Should to break its pledge have dared,
Neither have that father spared,
Over Christians reigning,
Rachel weepeth for that son, nor finds consolation.
Who thus in his mother's womb meets assassination;
Over whose untimely end
Holy hearts their tears expend,
Bitterly complaining.

This man is that pontiff bright,
Whom on heaven's supremest height
Its supernal maker, God,
Stablished in great glory,
When with swords all-gory
England's swordsmen smite him.

Since of death he felt no dread,
But surrendered up his head
To welter in his blood,
When he hence was driven
God to highest heaven
Did at once admit him.

Of his death indeed most precious mighty wonders testify;
Jesu! may he recommend us unto Thee eternally!

28 December 2012


Their story, according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

Hymn by the Venerable Bede:

Hymnum canentes martyrum
Dicamus Innocentium,
Quos terra deflens perdidit,
Gaudens sed ethra suscipit;

Quos rex peremit impius,
Pius sed Auctor colligit,
Secum beatos collocans
In luce regni perpetis.

Preclara Christo splenduit
Mors innocens fidelium;
Celis ferebant angeli
Bimos et infra parvulos.

O quam beata civitas,
In qua Redemptor nascitur,
Notque prime martyrum
In qua dicantur hostie!

Astant nitentes fulgidis
Eius throno nunc vestibus,
Stolas suas qui laverant
Agni rubentes sanguine.

Iesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna secula.

Englished by John Mason Neale:

A Hymn for Martyrs sweetly sing;
For Innocents your praises bring;
Of whom in tears was earth bereaved,
Whom heaven with songs of joy received;

Whose Angels see the Father's face
World without end, and hymn His grace;
And, while they praise their glorious King,
A hymn for Martyrs sweetly sing.

A voice from Ramah was there sent,
A voice of weeping and lament,
While Rachel mourned her children sore,
Whom for the tyrant's sword she bore.

After brief taste of earthly woe
Eternal triumph now they know;
For whom, by cruel torments rent,
A voice from Ramah was there sent.

And every tear is wiped away
By your dear Father's hands for aye:
Death hath no power to hurt you more;
Your own is life's eternal shore.

And all who, good seed bearing, weep,
In everlasting joy shall reap,
What time they shine in heavenly day,
And every tear is wiped away.

27 December 2012


His life, according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

Erika Lauren Lindgren:
The St. Katharinenthal novice Kathrin Brümsin was taught the text to all twenty-four verses of the sequence Verbum dei by Saint John the Evangelist in a dream-vision. This sequence celebrated the saint and was popular at St. Katharinenthal. In Kathrin's dream, the saint carried a book with him in which the sequence was written in golden letters. This vision is referred to twice in the monastery's Sister-Book. The first vita gives the context of the vision, the second records what was written in the golden letters, providing the incipits for the twenty-four verses in Latin with a full German translation.
The aforementioned sequence:

Verbum Dei, Deo natum,
Quod nec factum nec creatum
Venit de celestibus,

Hoc vidit, hoc attrectavit,
Hoc de celo reseravit
Iohannes hominibus.

Inter illos primitivos
Veros veri fontis rivos
Iohannes exsiliit

Toti mundo propinare
Nectar illud salutare.
Quod de throno prodiit.

Celum transit, veri rotam
Solis videt ibi totam
Mentis figens aciem;

Speculator spiritalis
Quasi Seraphim sub alis
Dei videt faciem.

Audiit, in giro sedis
Quid psallant cum citharedis
Quater seni proceres:

De sigillo trinitatis
Nostre nummo civitatis
Impressit characteres.

Iste custos virginis
Arcanum originis
Divine mysterium
Scribens evangelium
Mundo demonstravit,

Celi cui sacrarium
Christus suum lilium
Filio tonitrui
Sub amoris mutui
Pace commendavit.

Haurit virus hic letale,
Ubi corpus virginale
Virtus servat fidei;

Pena stupet, quod in pena
Sit Iohannes sine pena
Bullientis olei.

Hic naturis imperat,
Ut et saxa transferat
In decus gemmarum,

Quo iubente riguit,
Aurum fulvum induit
Virgula silvarum.

Hic infernum reserat,
Morti iubet, referat,
Quos venenum stravit.

Obstruit, quod Ebion,
Cerinthus et Marcion
Perfide latravit.

Volat avis sine meta,
Quo nec vates nec propheta
Evolavit altius;

Tam implenda quam impleta
Nunquam vidit tot secreta
Purus homo purius.

Sponsus rubra veste tectus
Visus, sed non intellectus,
Redit ad palatium,

Aquilam Ezechielis
Sponse misit, que de celis,
Referre mysterium.

Dic, dilecte, de dilecto,
Qualis hic sit ex dilecto
Sponsus, sponse nuntia;

Dic, quis cibus angelorum,
Que sint festa supernorum
De sponsi presentia.

Veri panem intellectus,
Cenam Christi supra pectus
Sumptam nobis resera,

Ut cantemus de patrono
Coram agno, coram throno
Laudes super ethera. Amen.

English translation from the Sarum Hymnal of 1868:

Word of God, so long awaited,
Son not made, Thou uncreated,
Thous has come from heaven to man;

To Thy loved disciple sealing
Faith by sight and touch, revealing
Visions of the wondrous plan.

He hath reached the crystal river
Flowing from the throne for ever,
Primal Truth's eternal spring:

He hath taught the sons and daughters
Of the world those living waters
Soul-refreshing thence to bring.

Far beyond this earth's dominion
He hath soared on eagle's pinion,
Gazed upon the sapphire throne;

Where the seraphim are veiling
Their immortal faces, hailing
God in Majesty alone!

He beneath the opened heaven
Saw the thrones, the lamps, the seven,
Looked along the crystal sea -

Heard the number of the sealéd,
Bare the record, thus revealéd,
Of the Triune Mystery.

Who so fitted for the twlling
Of the Holy Ghost, indwelling
In the flesh of Him, the Son

As the chosen, dearest brother,
Guardian of the Virgin-Mother,
Pledge of love till life were done?

Higher soars his eagle, higher,
Never bard or prophet nigher
To the Heaven of God hath flown!

None more pure the pure beholding,
Past and future none unfolding,
Secrets of the world unknown!

See in crimson robe arrayéd
With the bridal pomp displayéd,
Christ, the scorned of friend and foe.

Homeward now in triumph wendeth,
Say what message thence He sendeth
To His waiting Bride below!

Speak to stay her soul's keen longing,
Calm the fears around her thronging,
Tell her thou, the Bridegroom's friend,

Thou she feel all broken-hearted,
From her Lord for ages parted,
Time and earth are not the end!

Tell, for thou hast known, the treasure,
Garnered in no stinted measure,
For the faithful loving heart,

Tell how God's own Angels glorious,
Hold high festival victorious,
When He comes no more to part!

Thou, that on His breast wast leaning,
Tell the deep, the mystic meaning
Of that Marriage-feast on high!

Tell it out - the wondrous story -
Tell the Soul, entranced in glory,
Praise Him through eternity! Amen.

26 December 2012


His life, according to the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

His life, told in stained glass at Chartres Cathedral.

Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

Heri mundus exultavit
Et exultans celebravit
Christi natalitia;
Heri chorus angelorum
Prsecutus est celorum
Regem cum letitia.

Protomartyr et Levita,
Clarus fide, clarus vita,
Clarus et miraculis,
Sub hac luce triumphavit,
Et triumphans insultavit
Stephanus incredulis.

Frement ergo tanquam fere,
Quia victi defecere
Lucis adversarii:
Falsos testes statuunt,
Et linguas exacuunt
Viperarum filii.

Agonista, nulli cede,
Certâ certus de mercede,
Persevera, Stephane:
Insta falsis testibus,
Confuta sermonibus
Synagogam Satane.

Testis tuus est in celis,
Testis verax et fidelis,
Testis innocentie.
Nomen habes Coronati:
Te tormenta decet pati
Pro corona glorie.

Pro corona non marcenti
Prefer brevis vim tormenti!
Te manet victoria.
Tibi fiet mors natalis,
Tibi pena terminalis
Dat vite primordia.

Plenus Sancto Spiritu,
Penetrat intuitu
Stephanus celestia.
Videns Dei gloriam,
Crescit ad victoriam,
Suspirat ad premia.

En a dextris Dei stantem,
Jesum pro te dimicantem,
Stephane, considera:
Tibi celos reserari,
Tibi Christum revelari,
Clama voce liber
Se commendat Salvatori,
Pro quo dulce ducit mori
Sub ipsis lapidibus.
Saulus servat omnium
Vestes lapidantium,
Lapidans in omnibus.

Ne peccatum statuatur
His, a quibus lapidatur,
Genu ponit, et precatur,
Condolens insanie:
In Christo sic obdormivit,
Qui Christo sic obedivit,
Et cum Christo semper vivit,
Martyrum primitie.

Quod sex suscitaverit
Mortuos in Africa,
Augustinus asserit,
Fama refert publica.

Hujus, Dei gratia,
Revelato corpore,
Mundo datur pluvia
Siccitatis tempore.

Solo fugat hic odore
Morbos et demonia,
Laude dignus et honore
Jugique memoria.

Martyr, cujus est jocundum
Nomen in Ecclesia,
Languescentem fove mundum
Celesti fragantia. Amen.

Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

Yesterday the world, elated,
Joyed, and, joying, celebrated
Chris the Saviour's natal day:
Yesterday, heaven's King surrounding,
Angel-choirs, his welcome sounding,
Sang to him with joyful lay.

Protomartyr and a deacon,
Faith's clear light and life's bright beacon,
For his wonder-works well known,
Stephen on this day all-glorious
Won the victory, and, victorious,
Trod the unbelievers down.

Thus, since those 'gainst light engaging,
Conquered, fail, behold them raging
Like wild beasts in their despair:
Lying witnesses they bring,
And with bitter words they sting,
Seed of vipers that they are!

Champion! yield to non, but ever
Persevere in thine endeavour,
Stephen! sure of sure reward:
Their false witnesses withstand,
And confute all Satan's band
By thine eloquence outpoured.

In the heavens thy Witness dwelleth;
Truly, faithfully, He telleth
How thou hast no evil done:
Since "a crown" for name thou bearest,
Suffering first thou fitly sharest,
Till thy glory-crown be won.

For that crown's unfading dower
Choose to bear brief torture's power;
There awaits thee victory!
Death new birth for thee portendeth,
And its pain, which quickly endeth,
Is the dawn of life to thee.

Full of the blest Spirit's grace,
Stephen into heaven's space
Penetrates with lightened eyes;
Gazing on God's glory, he
Waxes strong for victory,
Longing for its deathless prize.

Lo! at God's own right hand standing,
Jesus, in thy cause contending,
Stephen! lift thine eyes and see!
Cry that heaven now open lieth;
And that Christ thine eye descrieth
Cry aloud in accents free!

To his Lord his soul commending,
Sweet he deems it at life's ending
'Neath these stones for him to fall.
Saul stands by and keeps the clothes
Of each stoner as he throws,
Stoning Stephen through them all.

That the Lord would not be laying
To his murderers' charge this slaying,
Stephen kneeleth down, and, praying,
Mourns their mad and reckless deed:
So asleep in Christ fell Stephen,
Who had Christ to serve so striven,
And now lives with Christ in heaven,
First-fruits of the martyrs' seed!

That in Africa from death
He six men to life revived,
Is a fact Augustine saith,
And one commonly believed.

When, by God's grace, his remains
From their grave to light were brought,
Then were given heavy rains
On the earth in time of drought.

He by perfume rare alone
Makes disease and demons flee,
And due praise and fame hath won
With a deathless memory.

Martyr! whose sweet name doth live
In the Church so pleasantly,
An enfeebled world revive
With thy heavenly fragrancy! Amen.

25 December 2012


Its significance, explained in the Golden Legend of James of Voragine, as Englished by William Caxton.

Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:

In natale Salvatoris 
Angelorum nostra chorus 
Succinat conditio: 
Harmonia diversorum, 
Sed in unum redactorum 
Dulcis est connexio. 

Felix dies hodiernus, 
In quo patri coeternus 
Nascitur ex Virgine! 
Felix dies et jocundus! 
Illustrari gaudet mundus 
Veri solis lumine. 

Ne periret homo reus, 
Redemptorum misit Deus, 
Pater unigenitum; 
Visitavit quos amavit 
Nosque vite revocavit 
Gratia, non meritum. 

Infinitus et immensus 
Quem non capit ullus sensus 
Nec locorum spatia, 
Ex eterno temporalis, 
Ex immenso fit localis, 
Ut restauret omnia! 

Non peccatum, sed peccati 
Formam sumens, vetustati 
Nostre se contemperat: 
Immortalis se mortali, 
Spiritalis corporali, 
Ut natura conferat. 

Sic concurrunt in persone 
Singularis unione 
Verbum, caro, spiritus, 
Ut natura non mutetur, 
Nec persona geminetur, 
Sed sit una penitus. 

Tante rei sacramentum 
Latet hostem fraudulentum; 
Fallitur malitia. 
Cecus hostis non presagit 
Quod sub nube carnis agit 
Dei sapientia. 

Hujus nodum sacramenti 
Non subtilis argumenti 
Solvit inquisitio. 
Modum nosse non est meum; 
Scio tamen posse Deum 
Quod non capit ratio. 

Quam subtile Dei consilium! 
Quam sublime rei mysterium! 
Virga florem, 
Vellus rorem, 
Virgo profert filium. 

Nec pudorum lesit conceptio, 
Nec virorem floris emissio; 
Et pariens 
Comparatur lilio. 

O Maria, stella maris, 
Post Deum spes singularis 
Naufragantis seculi, 
Vide quam nos fraudulenter, 
Quam nos vexant violenter 
Tot et tales emuli. 

Per te virtus nobis detur 
Per te, mater, exturbetur 
Demonum superbia; 
Tue proli nos commenda, 
Ne nos brevis, sed tremenda 
Feriat sententia. 

Jesu, noster salutaris, 
Qui prudenter operaris 
Salutis mysterium, 
His qui colunt hunc natalem 
De salutem temporalem, 
Da perhenne gaudium!

Englished by by Digby S. Wrangham:

Since a Saviour is born for us, 
With the angels in glad chorus 
Let our race unite to-day: 
Sweetly sound such hymns uprising, 
Different voices harmonizing 
All their praises in one lay. 

Happy day, when the Supernal, 
With the Father co-eternal, 
Of a Virgin comes to birth! 
Day of joy and jubilation, 
When the bright illumination 
Of the true Sun lights glad earth! 

God hath a Redeemer given, 
His, the Father's, Son from Heaven, 
That a sinner should not die: 
It is grace alone, not merit, 
Gives us new life through the Spirit, 
Visiting God's family. 

Infinite and in all places, 
He, whom sense and earth's wide spaces 
Comprehend not nor contain, 
Though eternal, time obeyeth, 
And, though everywhere, here stayeth, 
All things to restore again! 

He sin's form, without sin, weareth, 
And, to be made like us, shareth 
Our worn-out existence here; 
That the temporal and eternal, 
That the spiritual and carnal, 
Natures might thus linked appear. 

So the Word and Flesh and Spirit 
Doth one Person thus inherit 
In mysterious union, 
That no change its nature showeth, 
Nor two-fold that Person groweth, 
But is altogether one. 

This great mystery lies ever 
Hidden from man's base deceiver, 
And at fault his malice is: 
That the wisdom of the Godhead 
'Neath the veil of flesh is shrouded 
Our blind enemy ne'er sees. 

This deep mystery's complication 
No abstruse investigation 
By induction can explain. 
'Tis not mine to know its measure, 
But I wot that God's good pleasure 
Rules where reason cannot strain. 

O how deep the counsel of God appears! 
How sublime the mystery it declares! 
Rod a flower, 
Fleece a shower, 
And a Son a Virgin bears. 

Her conception hurt not her chastity, 
Nor its blooming that ever verdant tree; 
In conceiving 
And birth-giving, 
Lily-like, still pure is she! 

Mary, star of ocean! giving 
To this shipwrecked age we live in 
After God its hope alone! 
See what rival machinations, 
And what fierce and dire temptations 
Vex us sorely every one. 

Virtue unto us be given, 
And demonic pride be driven 
Far away from us by Thee; 
To thine offspring O commend us, 
Lest His brief but most tremendous 
Sentence crush us utterly. 

Jesu, Who art our salvation, 
Who its wondrous operation 
With such wisdom watchest o'er! 
Those, who keep this day, defending, 
Here Thy help to them extending,
Grant them joy for evermore!

24 December 2012


Emile Mâle:
The sibyl to medieval men is a profound symbol. She is the voice of the classical world. Through her mouth the whole of antiquity speaks, and she testifies that the Gentiles themselves were not left without visions of Christ. While the prophets were announcing the Messiah to the Jew, the sibyl was promising a Savior to the pagan, and the two people were filled with the same desire.
In the Eritrean Sibyl's oracle, one passage describing the end of the world contains an acrostic; the letters at the beginning of each line, read vertically, spell out in Greek Jesus Christ Son of God Savior. A Latin translation, quoted by St. Augustine in City of God, preserves part of the acrostic. This was chanted in the medieval Christmas Eve Matis liturgy of the Processus Prophetarum:

Iudicii signum tellus sudore madescet.

E celo rex adveniet per secla futurus
Scilicet ut carnem presens ut iudicet orbem.

Unde deum cernent incredulus atque fidelis
Celsum cum sanctis evi iam termino in ipso.

Sic anime cum carne aderunt quas iudicat ipse
Cum iacet incultus densis in vepribus orbis.

Reicient simulacra viri cunctam quoque gazam
Exuret terras ignis pontumque polumque.

Inquirens tetri portas effringet averni
Sanctorum sed enim cuncte lux libera carni.

Tradetur sontes eterna flamma cremabit
Occultos actus retegens tunc quisque loquetur.

Secreta atque deus reserabit pectora luci
Tunc erit et luctus stridebunt dentibus omnes.

Eripitur solis jubar et chorus interit astris
Voluetur celum lunaris splendor obibit.

Deiciet colles valles extollet ab imo
Non erit in rebus hominum sublime vel altum.

Iam equantur campis montes et cerula ponti
Omnia cessabunt tellus confracta peribit.

Sic pariter fontes torrentur fluminaque igni
Sed tuba tum sonitum tristem demittet ab alto.

Orbe gemens facinus miserum variosque labores
Tartareumque chaos monstrabit terra dehiscens.

Et coram hic domino reges sistentur ad unum
Reccidet e celo ignisque et sulphuris amnis.

Englished by Marcus Dods:

Judgment shall moisten the earth with the sweat of its standard.

Ever enduring, behold the King shall come through the ages.
Sent to be here in the flesh, and Judge at the last of the world.

O God, the believing and faithless alike shall behold Thee
Uplifted with saints, when at last the ages are ended.

Seated before Him are souls in the flesh for His judgment.
Hid in thick vapors, the while desolate lies the earth.

Rejected by men are the idols and long hidden treasures.
Earth is consumed by the fire, and it searches the ocean and heaven.

Issuing forth, it destroys the terrible portals of hell.
Saints in their body and soul freedom and light shall inherit.

Those who are guilty shall burn in fire and brimstone for ever.
Occult actions revealing, each one shall publish his secrets.

Secrets of every man's heart God shall reveal in the light.
Then shall be weeping and wailing, yea, and gnashing of teeth.

Eclipsed is the sun, and silenced the stars in their chorus.
Over and gone is the splendor of moonlight, melted the heaven,

Uplifted by Him are the valleys, and cast down the mountains.
Utterly gone among men are distinctions of lofty and lowly.

Into the plains rush the hills, the skies and oceans are mingled.
Oh, what an end of all things! earth broken in pieces shall perish.

Swelling together at once shall the waters and flames flow in rivers.
Sounding the archangel's trumpet shall peal down from heaven,

Over the wicked who groan in their guilt and their manifold sorrows.
Trembling, the earth shall be opened, revealing chaos and hell.

Every king before God shall stand in that day to be judged.
Rivers of fire and brimstone shall fall from the heavens.

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