The LION & the CARDINAL by DANIEL MITSUI


The LION & the CARDINAL
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12 January 2013


ATHANASIUS KIRCHER ~ MUSURGIA UNIVERSALIS

























Glasgow University Library:
The book is one of the seminal works of musicology and was hugely influential in the development of Western music – in particular on J.S. Bach and Beethoven.

Its author [Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher] lived and worked at the Collegio Romano in Rome for most of his life and his position at the hub of a huge international organisation – the 40000 or so strong Society of Jesus - had two very important effects: first of all he received thousands of letters from Jesuits and others in places as far apart and little-known as China and Mexico, giving him access to unparalleled sources of knowledge mostly unknown to the western world.

The second effect was the converse of this: Kircher’s books were printed in large numbers – there were 1500 copies printed in 1650 of the Musurgia Universalis alone – and widely distributed through Jesuit channels. In 1652, for example, more than 300 Jesuits came to Rome from all over the world to elect a new Superior General: every one of them took back one of these sumptuous volumes, which explains the astonishing diaspora of these books even today.

The Musurgia Universalis then is hugely famous and has been since it appeared in 1650. Its most famous image is probably that of the birds with their songs written out in musical notation beside their pictures... The nightingale's song is given first, followed by those of the cock, the hen laying eggs and calling her chicks, the cuckoo, quail and parrot; the latter says Hello in Greek. The cockerel's music has the familiar portamento at the end of each phrase; as usual the cuckoo's call is notated as a falling minor third.

The rest of the content of the book, however, is much less well-known... The German publishing house of Olm produced a facsimile edition of it in 1990 but it is already out of print. Perhaps most strangely of all, apart from a nineteenth century translation of the work into German, there are no translations of the book, which is written in rather ponderous Latin with occasional excursions into Greek and Hebrew. Some of the musical scores printed in the book are found in no other form, despite the fame of some of the composers.

The frontispiece to the first volume was engraved by Baronius of Rome after a drawing by John Paul Schor. It makes reference to similar pages in some of Kircher's other volumes, particularly the triangle and globe symbols...

The triangle at the top is the symbol of the Holy Trinity and sheds its rays over the whole of the top of the picture. Kircher held to the mediaeval idea that music is a reflection of the essential mathematics and proportions inherent in all Creation... Under the Trinity we find the nine angelic, four-voice choirs, singing a 36-part canon by Romano Micheli. The canon is properly described as canoni sopra le vocali di piu parole (on the vowels of a few words) although in the present case the words ascribed are those of the angelic choirs in the Trishagion, Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus, as described in Revelation. The strip of text reads: Angelic choir of 36 voices [then the Sanctus music notated in staff notation] distributed in 9 choirs.

The middle section is dominated by a globe of the World, on which is seated Musica, holding the lyre of Apollo and the panpipes of Marsyas. The globe is encircled by the Zodiac, and Musica holds also a streamer bearing the legend Of Athanasius Kircher of the Society of Jesus, Universal Musicmaking or the Art... [being the beginning of the full title of the work]. Round the last part of the streamer is displayed the dedication To His Serene Highness Leopold William, Archduke of Austria. Other symbols in this section include rings of dancing mermaids on the shore, a shepherd trying out the echo and the winged horse of the Muses, Pegasus.

The lowest part of the picture shows blacksmiths in a cave: the sound of blacksmiths hammering had led Pythagoras to important conclusions about the nature of pitch and the blacksmiths are acknowledged in the picture by being pointed out by Pythagoras, who also holds an illustration of his theorem, also using triangles, and hence referring obliquely once again to the top of the picture. The muse on the right may be Polymnia who appears in standard pose surrounded by musical instruments of various kinds.

11 January 2013


EVAGATIONES SPIRITUS



Christian Museum:
This painting by an Austrian or perhaps a Hungarian painter has an unusual iconography. Originally, the panel was joined with another one that closely correlated to it also in its content. In the other, now lost panel, a praying man was depicted. The red lines that once departed from his figure and continue in this picture represent his erring thoughts. The attention given to clothes, drinking, worldly treasures, and women is shown here as morally reproachable. It is possible that also a third panel was joined to these which showed the correct direction of the praying man’s thoughts and the desirable virtues. Tempera on wood, 1430s.

9 January 2013


ANATOMICAL MAN







From the MacKinney Collection of Mediaeval Medical Illustrations.

6 January 2013


EPIPHANY of OUR LORD



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

Hymn by Prudentius:

Quicumque Christum queritis,
Oculos in altum tollite,
Illic licebit visere
Signum perennis glorie.

Hec stella, que solis rotam
Vincit decore ac lumine,
Venisse terris nuntiat
Cum carne terrestri Deum.

Non illa servit noctibus
Secuta lunam menstruam,
Sed sola celum possidens
Cursum dierum temperat.

Arctoa quamvis sidera
In se retortis motibus
Obire nolint, attamen
Plerumque sub nimbis latent.

Hoc sidus eternum manet,
Hec stella nunquam mergitur,
Nec nubis occursu abdita
Obumbrat obductam facem.

Tristis cometa intercidat,
Et si quod astrum Sirio
Fervet vapore, iam Dei
Sub luce destructum cadat.

En Persici ex orbis sinu,
Sol unde sumit ianuam,
Cernunt periti interpretes
Regale vexillum Magi.

Quod ut refulsit, ceteri
Cessere signorum globi,
Nec pulcher est ausus suam
Conferre formam Lucifer.

Quis iste tantus, inquiunt,
Regnator astris inperans,
Quem sic tremunt celestia,
Cui lux et ethra inserviunt.

Inlustre quiddam cernimus,
Quod nesciat finem pati,
Sublime, celsum, interminum,
Antiquius celo et chao.

Hic ille rex est gentium
Populique rex Iudaici,
Promissus Abrahe patri
Eiusque in evum semini.

Equanda nam stellis sua
Cognovit olim germina
Primus sator credentium,
Nati inmolator unici.

Iam flos subit Davidicus
Radice Iesse editus,
Sceptrique per virgam virens
Rerum cacumen occupat.

Exin sequuntur perciti
Fixis in altum vultibus,
Qua stella sulcum traxerat
Claramque signabat viam.

Sed verticem pueri supra
Signum pependit inminens,
Pronaque submissum face
Caput sacratum prodidit.

Videre quod postquam Magi,
Eoa promunt munera,
Stratique votis offerunt
Tus, myrrham, et aurum regium.

Agnosce clara insignia
Virtutis ac regni tui,
Puer o, cui trinam Pater
Predestinavit indolem.

Regem Deumque adnuntiant
Thesaurus et fragrans odor
Turis Sabei, ac myrrheus
Pulvis sepulcrum predocet.

Hoc est sepulcrum, quo Deus,
Dum corpus extingui sinit
Atque id sepultum suscitat,
Mortis refregit carcerem.

O sola magnarum urbium
Maior Bethlem, cui contigit
Ducem salutis celitus
Incorporatum gignere.

Altrice te summo Patri
Heres creatur unicus,
Homo ex tonantis spiritu
Idemque sub membris Deus.

Hunc et prophetis testibus
Isdemque signatoribus,
Testator et sator iubet
Adire regnum et cernere:

Regnum, quod ambit omnia
Diva et marina et terrea
A solis ortu ad exitum
Et tartara et celum supra.

Audit tyrannus anxius
Adesse regum principem,
Qui nomen Israel regat
Teneatque David regiam.

Exclamat amens nuntio,
Successor instat, pellimur;
Satelles i, ferrum rape,
Perfunde cunas sanguine.

Mas omnis infans occidat,
Scrutare nutricum sinus,
Interque materna ubera
Ensem cruentet pusio.

Suspecta per Bethlem mihi
Puerperarum est omnium
Fraus, ne qua furtim subtrahat
Prolem virilis indolis.

Transfigit ergo carnifex
Mucrone destricto furens
Effusa nuper corpora,
Animasque rimatur novas.

Locum minutis artubus
Vix interemptor invenit,
Quo plaga descendat patens
Iuguloque maior pugio est.

O barbarum spectaculum!
Inlisa cervix cautibus
Spargit cerebrum lacteum
Oculosque per vulnus vomit.

Aut in profundum palpitans
Mersatur infans gurgitem,
Cui subter artis faucibus
Singultat unda et halitus.

Salvete flores martyrum,
Quos lucis ipso in limine
Christi insecutor sustulit,
Ceu turbo nascentes rosas.

Vos prima Christi victima,
Grex inmolatorum tener,
Aram ante ipsam simplices
Palma et coronis luditis.

Quid proficit tantum nefas,
Quid crimen Herodem iuvat?
Unus tot inter funera
Inpune Christus tollitur.

Inter cevi sanguinis
Fluenta solus integer
Ferrum, quod orbabat nurus,
Partus fefellit virginis.

Sic stulta Pharaonis mali
Edicta quondam fugerat
Christi figuram preferens
Moyses, receptor civium.

Cautum et statutum ius erat,
Quo non liceret matribus,
Cum pondus alvi absolverent,
Puerile pignus tollere.

Mens obstetricis sedule
Pie in tyrannum contumax
Ad spem potentis glorie
Furata servat parvulum:

Quem mox sacerdotem sibi
Adsumpsit orbis conditor,
Per quem notatam saxeis
Legem tabellis traderet.

Licetne Christum noscere
Tanti per exemplum viri?
Dux ille ceso Egyptio
Absolvit Israel iugo.

At nos subactos iugiter
Erroris inperio gravi
Dux noster hoste saucio
Mortis tenebris liberat.

Hic expiatam fluctibus
Plebem marino in transitu
Repurgat undis dulcibus,
Lucis columnam preferens:

Hic preliante exercitu,
Pansis in altum brachiis,
Sublimis Amalech premit,
Crucis quod instar tunc fuit.

Hic nempe Iesus verior,
Qui longa post dispendia
Victor suis tribulibus
Promissa solvit iugera.

Qui ter quaternas denique
Refluentis amnis alveo
Fundavit et fixit petras,
Apostolorum stemmata.

Iure ergo se Iude ducem
Vidisse testantur Magi,
Cum facta priscorum ducum
Christi figuram finxerint.

Hic rex priorum iudicum,
Rexere qui Iacob genus,
Domineque rex ecclesie,
Templi et novelli et pristini.

Hunc posteri Efrem colunt,
Hunc sancta Manasse domus
Omnesque suspiciunt tribus
Bis sena fratrum semina.

Quin et propago degener
Ritum secuta inconditum,
Quecumque dirum fervidis
Baal caminis coxerat,

Fumosa avorum numina
Saxum, metallum, stipitem,
Rasum, dolatum, sectile,
In Christi honorem deserit.

Gaudete quidquid gentium est,
Iudea, Roma, et Grecia,
Egypte, Thrax, Persa, Scytha,
Rex unus omnes possidet.

Laudate vestrum principem
Omnes beati, ac perditi,
Vivi, inbecilli ac mortui:
Iam nemo posthac mortuus.

Englished by R. Martin Pope:

Lift up your eyes, whoe'er ye be
That fare the new-born Christ to see:
For yonder is the shining sign
Of grace perennial and divine.

What means this star, whose piercing rays
Outshine the sun's resplendent blaze?
'Tis token sure that God is come
In mortal flesh to make His home.

No courtier of the realms of night
Nor monthly moon's bright acolyte,
This star directs the course of day,
Sole sovereign of the heavenly way.

Although the Bears their track retrace,
Nor wholly their clear beams efface,
Yet ofttimes 'neath the dun cloud's haze
They hide themselves from mortal gaze.

But yon Star's glory hath no end,
Nor to the depths can it descend:
It ne'er is whelmed by envious cloud
That seeks its beauty to enshroud.

Now let the baleful comet die,
The brood of blazing Sirius fly:
God's orb shall quench their sultry heats
And drive them from their haughty seats.

Lo! from the regions of the morn
Wherein the radiant sun is born,
The Persian sages see on high
God's ensign shining in the sky.

Soon as its rising beams prevail
The starry hosts in order pale:
E'en Lucifer durst not upraise
The silvery splendours of his face.

Who is this sovereign (they enquire)
That lords it o'er the ethereal choir?
'Fore whom the heavens bow down afraid,
Of all the worlds of light obeyed?

Sure 'tis the sign most reverend
Of Being that doth know no end:
Of One in state sublime arrayed
Ere sky and chaos yet were made.

This is the King of Israel,
Of all in Gentile lands that dwell:
The King to Abram and his seed
Throughout all ages erst decreed.

To him 'twas given his progeny
As stars innumerous to see:
First of believers! moved to slay
His only son, so God to obey.

Behold the Flower of David shine,
Of Jesse's root the Branch benign:
The sceptre spread with blossoms rare
Wields o'er the world its lordship fair.

Roused by the portent of the sky
The sages fix their gaze on high,
And speed them 'neath the furrowed way
Marked by the star's effulgent ray.

At length its flaming steps it stayed
Poised over where the Child was laid:
Straightway with downcast mien it shed
Its splendours on the sacred Head.

Whereat the travellers outpour
Of Eastern gifts their treasure-store,
Myrrh and sweet-smelling frankincense,
Gold meet for regal opulence.

Behold herein the triple sign
Of Thy pure being, King divine:
Seeing the Father willed in Thee
To plant a threefold majesty.

The gift of gold thee King proclaims:
Thee God the fragrant incense names:
The myrrh declares that Death shall thrust
Within the tomb Thy body's dust.

Ah! that dark sepulchre, whose fold
God's body quenched in death doth hold:
Yet shall He from that durance wake
And Death's strong prison-fetters break.

O Bethlehem! no longer thou
The least of cities: all shall vow
That thou art greatest on the earth:
For thou man's King didst bring to birth.

Yea thou didst on thy bosom bear
The All-loving Father's only heir:
Man of the Thunderer's Spirit made
And God in human flesh arrayed.

The prophets witnessed to the bond
Which sealed to Him the realm profound:
The Father's Kingdom He received
And the vast legacy perceived.

All things are His in sea and sky,
In hell beneath, in heaven on high:
From East to setting sun, in fee
He holds the earth's immensity.

Distraught, the tyrant base doth hear
That now the King of Kings draws near
To reign in David's seat of state
And Israel's empire dominate.

"Betrayed are we," he maddened cries,
"Our throne's usurper doth arise:
Go, soldiers, go with sword in hand
And slay all babes within my land.

"Spare no male child: each nurse's robe
Your scrutinizing steel must probe:
Spare not the suckling infant, though
O'er mother's breast its life-blood flow.

"On Bethlehem our suspicion falls,
On every hearth within its walls:
Lest mothers with love's tender zeal
Some manly scion may conceal."

With daggers drawn the infuriate crew
Upon their murderous errand flew:
Each latest offspring of the womb
To bloody death they foully doom.

Ah tiny limbs! 'twas hard to know
How best to strike the fatal blow:
Too wide the sword-blades are to smite
Those throats so silken-fragile, slight.

O horrid sight! the tender bones
Are dashed against the jaggèd stones:
Sightless and mangled there they lie,
Poor babes! untimely doomed to die.

Perchance the still deep river laves
Their bodies thrust into the waves:
The current with their sighing sighs,
Sobs with their latest, broken cries.

Ye flowers of martyrdom, all hail!
Of rising morn pure blossoms frail!
By Jesu's foe were ye downcast,
Like budding roses by the blast.

Lambs of the flock too early slain,
Ye first fruits of Christ's bitter pain!
Close to His very altar, gay
With palms and crowns, ye now do play.

Of what avail is deed so vile?
Doth Herod gain by murderous guile?
Of all to death so foully done
Escapes triumphant Christ alone.

Amidst that tide of infant gore
Alone He wins the sheltering shore:
The virgin's Child survives the stroke,
When every mother's heart was broke.

Thus Moses 'scaped the mad decree
Of evil Pharaoh and set free
The flock of God, prefiguring so
Christ spared from fate's malignant blow.

Vain too the king's hostility
Who framed the pitiless decree
That Israel's mothers should not rear
To manhood's strength their offspring dear.

Quickened by love, a woman's mind
Found means to thwart that law unkind,
And, falsely true, the child concealed
Destined to be his people's Shield.

On him it was that God did place
The august priesthood's holy grace,
The law on stony tablets writ
Did to his trembling hands commit.

And may we not with prophet's eye
In such a hero Christ descry?
The proud Egyptian's might he broke
And freed his kinsmen from the yoke.

So we by Error's might hemmed round
Were by our Captain's strength unbound:
His foe He wounded in the fight
And saved us from Death's horrid night.

Cheering by sign of flame their feet,
Moses renewed with waters sweet
His folk, albeit purified
From stain, what time they crossed the tide.

And he, remote on peaceful height,
Amalek's banded hosts did smite:
He prayed with arms stretched out above,
Foreshadowing the Cross of Love.

Yet truer Jesus surely he,
Who after many a victory
And labours long the tribes' renown
With promised heritage did crown;

Who when the waters rose on high
And now the Jordan's bed was dry,
Set up twelve stones of memory,
Types of apostles yet to be.

Rightly the Wise Men said, I ween,
That they Judaea's King had seen,
Since noble deeds of other days
Prophetic chant the Saviour's praise.

Of those old rulers He is King
Who did to Jacob judgment bring,
King of the Mother Church divine,
God's ancient and God's present Shrine.

Of Ephraim's sons He is adored:
Manasseh's sacred house as Lord
Reveres Him: to His might the seed
Of brethren twelve their fealty plead.

Nay, each degenerate race hath fled
Its shameful rites and orgies dread:
Grim Baal in glowing furnace cast
Sinks to the earth, forsook at last.

Idols smoke-blackened, wooden-hewn,
Of brass and stone, in dust are strewn:
The chiselled deities downtrod:
For all confess in Christ their God.

Rejoice all peoples, Jewry, Rome,
Fair Hellas, Thrace, Aegyptus' home:
Persians and Scythian land forlorn,
Rejoice: the world's great King is born!

Behold your Chief! His praise forth tell:
Ye sick, ye hale, all heaven and hell:
Ay, you whose vital spark hath sped:
For lo! in Him e'en Death is dead.


4 January 2013


SPANISH FORGER

These fourteen miniatures added to an early 16th century Cistercian epistolary form the largest extant illustrative cycle by the late 19th or early 20th century medievalist known as the Spanish Forger, whose true name and nationality remain unknown. The manuscript is now owned by Yale University.




























3 January 2013


ST. GENEVIEVE



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

Sequence by Adam of St. Victor:



Genovefe solemnitas
Solemne parit gaudium;
Cordis erumpat puritas
In laudis sacrificium!

Felix ortus infantule,
Teste Germano presule:
Quod previdit in spiritu,
Rerum probatur exitu.

Hie ad pectus virgineum,
Pro pudoris signaculo,
Nummum suspendit eneum,
Crucis insignem titulo.

Genovefam divinitus
Oblato dotat munere,
In templum Sancti Spiritus
Sub Christi dicans federe.

Insontem manu feriens,
Mater privatur lumine;
Matri virgo compatiens
Lucis dat usum pristine.

Genovefa magnanimis
Carnem frangit jejunio,
Terramque rigans lacrymis,
Jugi gaudet martyrio.

Celesti duce previo,
Celos lustrat et tartara,
Civesque precum studio
Servat a gente barbara.

Divino diu munere
Sitim levat artificum;
Confractum casu misere
Matri resignat unicum.

Ad primam precem virginis
Contremiscunt demonia;
Pax datur energuminis,
Spes egris, reis venia.

In ejus manus cerei
Reaccenduntur celitus;
Per hanc in sinus alvei
Redit amnis cercitus.

Ignem sacrum refrigerat,
Post mortem vivens meritis,
Que prius in se vicerat
Estus interni fomitis.

Morti, morbis, demonibus,
Et dementis imperat:
Sic Genovefa precibus
Nature leges superat.

Operatur in parvulis
Christi virtus magnalia:
Christo, pro tot miraculis,
Laus frequens, jugis gloria! Amen.


Englished by Digby S. Wrangham:

Genevieve a holy mirth
Brings forth upon her holy day;
Then let the chastened heart break forth,
The sacrifice of praise to pay!

Blest was that infant's birth of yore,
As Bishop Germain witness bore.
And what in spirit he foreknew
The issue of events proves true.

Upon the virgin's bosom laid,
To mark her spotless chastity,
A medal, that of bronze was made.
Stamped with a cross suspendeth he.

Genevieve he then endows
With gifts that heaven-sent power can boast,
And consecrates through Christian vows
A temple for the Holy Ghost.

For striking at the guileless maid
Her mother's eyes lose all their light
The virgin, for her mother sad,
Restores to them their former sight.

Genevieve, the great-souled, wears
Her fleshly frame by fasts away,
And joys, bedewing earth with tears,
In martyrdom from day to day.

'Neath angel guidance she surveys
The heavens above and hell below;
And saves, so fervently she prays.
The people from a barbarous foe.

Long doth she with unearthly power
Some workmen's thirst alleviate;
And at a mother's tears restore
Her only son, struck down by fate.

At the pure maiden's earliest prayer
Trembles and quakes all Satan's race;
While rest and peace demoniacs share,
The sickly hope, the guilty grace.

Some waxen tapers in her hand
With heaven-sent flame are made to burn;
Its waters too at her command
Back to a river's bed return.

She by her merits, - living still
When dead, - cools down "the Ardents'" fire,
Who in herself before could quell
The flames within of hot desire.

Disease, death, powers of the air,
And elements, all own her sway;
So Genevieve by force of prayer
Makes Nature's laws her will obey.

In very babes Christ's power alone
Works mighty deeds effectually:
To Christ for such great wonders done
All praise and endless glory be! Amen.

2 January 2013


CISIOJANUS



Institute for Studies of Illuminated Manuscripts in Denmark:
The Cisiojanus is a medieval composition of 24 hexametrical verses with a syllable for each day in the year. Its purpose is to memorize the most important feasts. The name is taken from the incipit Cisio Janus Epy... (Circumsision, January, Epiphany...). It originated probably in Northern Germany (Cologne or Aachen) in the 12th century, and spread to Eastern Europe and Scandinavia... After a Cisiojanus in the Speculum Humane Salvationis I have demonstrated how it is possible in some cases to reconstruct a calendar on basis of the Cisiojanus alone. In France was it not commonly known before the end of the 15th century, when vernacular versions began to circulate, mainly spread with the calendars in printed books of hours.
Cisiojanus attributed to the Venerable Bede:

Januarius
Cisio Janus Epiphaniis die dona magorum
Vincit ovans Agne nova Paulum lumina vertunt.

Februarius
Et purgata parens ad templum ducit Jesum
Sede doces sacra cum Petro Matthia gentes.

Martius
Evocat ad studium puerile Gregorius agmen
Eterni Patris gratum Marie tenet alvus.

Aprilis
Presulis Ambrosii laudes imitare sacerdos.
Et pellant equites Georgi more tyrannos.

Maius
Leta Crucis Helene reperit pia cura trophea
Vinea quam floret plebs Urbanum celebrabit.

Junius
Ardua solis equos trahis ad fastigia Vite
Agni monstrat onus sed Baptistes tibi Petre.

Julius
Jam Marie sobolem Baptista salutat in alvo
Afacit Herodes nece Jacobum Zebedeum.

Augustus
Vincula post Petri patitur Laurentius ignes
Impie meche dabas meretrici colla Joanni.

September
Egidius celebrat Marie virginis ortum
Quo combusta die Solymorum menia narrant.

October
Christe tuas leges Celtis Dionysius affert
Scriptis Luca tuis fruimur docuit Simo Persas.

November
Pannonius docuit Gallorum Martius oras
Fertilis Elisabeth cantat Turingia laudes.

December
Post casti sacra Nicolei longissima nox est
Fausta dies celebrat tibi Christum virgine natum.

1 January 2013


CIRCUMCISION of OUR LORD



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 
Intonet, 
Consonet 
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


CHANCEL SCREENS and ROOD LOFTS

A.W.N.Pugin:
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]


ST. SYLVESTER



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

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