Sunday, December 11, 2011

Propers for the Third Sunday of Advent: Psalm 84

Creation and the expulsion from paradise
Giovanni di Paulo 1445

The verse for today’s Introit, as well as the Offertory come from Psalm 84, which prophesies our redemption. St Alphonsus Liguori explains:

“The psalmist goes to show us, on the one hand, the Jewish people delivered from slavery; on the other hand, mankind redeemed from the slavery of Satan. He enumerates, moreover, the fruits of the Redemption.”

A cause for rejoicing indeed!

Introit and Offertory text

The verses used in the propers for the Third Sunday of Advent are:

Benedixísti, Dómine, terram tuam: avertísti captivitátem Jacob (Introit, Offertory).
Lord, you have blessed your land: you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.

Remisísti iniquitátem plebis tuæ (Offertory only)
You have forgiven the iniquity of your people

Through Christ comes forgiveness of sins

As is often the case with the propers, the full significance of it depends on knowing what comes next.

Though the psalm can in part be taken as a reference to God leading his people out of Exile in Egypt, and numerous other deliverances, it is clear from the text here that the liberation talked about is primarily spiritual.

In fact the second half of the second verse is the key: ‘you have covered all their sins’, as Our Lord did through the Cross.  St Augustine explains this verse as follows:

"Behold how He has turned away their captivity, in that He has remitted iniquity: iniquity held them captive; your iniquity forgiven, you are freed. Confess therefore that you are in captivity, that you may be worthy to be freed: for he that knows not of his enemy, how can he invoke the liberator? You have covered all their sins. What is, You have covered? So as not to see them. How did You not see them? So as not to take vengeance on them. You were unwilling to see our sins: and therefore You saw them not, because You would not see them: You have covered all their sins."

The psalm goes on to explain the context for the Incarnation, albeit in a rather anthropomorphic way:

You have mitigated all your anger: you have turned away from the wrath of your indignation.

Advent is a call to conversion

The psalm then reminds of the purpose of Advent, namely the call to continuing conversion:

“Convert us, O God our saviour: and turn off your anger from us.
Will you be angry with us for ever: or will you extend your wrath from generation to generation?”

Yet through we wait and prepare, we know the outcome:

“You will turn, O God, and bring us to life: and your people shall rejoice in you."

Show us, O Lord, your mercy; and grant us your salvation.”

The psalm then speaks of Christ and the fruits of his redeeming mission more directly:

I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me: for he will speak peace unto his people:
And unto his saints: and unto them that are converted to the heart.
Surely his salvation is near to them that fear him: that glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed.
Truth is sprung out of the earth: and justice has looked down from heaven.
For the Lord will give goodness: and our earth shall yield her fruit.
Justice shall walk before him: and shall set his steps in the way.

Here is the Latin:

1 Benedixísti, Dómine, terram tuam: * avertísti captivitátem Jacob.
2 Remisísti iniquitátem plebis tuæ: * operuísti ómnia peccáta eórum.
3 Mitigásti omnem iram tuam: * avertísti ab ira indignatiónis tuæ.
4 Convérte nos, Deus, salutáris noster: * et avérte iram tuam a nobis.
5 Numquid in ætérnum irascéris nobis? * aut exténdes iram tuam a generatióne in generatiónem?
6 Deus, tu convérsus vivificábis nos: * et plebs tua lætábitur in te.
7 Osténde nobis, Dómine, misericórdiam tuam: * et salutáre tuum da nobis.
8 Audiam quid loquátur in me Dóminus Deus: * quóniam loquétur pacem in plebem suam.
9 Et super sanctos suos: * et in eos, qui convertúntur ad cor.
10 Verúmtamen prope timéntes eum salutáre ipsíus: * ut inhábitet glória in terra nostra.
11 Misericórdia, et véritas obviavérunt sibi: * justítia, et pax osculátæ sunt.
12 Véritas de terra orta est: * et justítia de cælo prospéxit.
13 Etenim Dóminus dabit benignitátem: * et terra nostra dabit fructum suum.
14 Justítia ante eum ambulábit: * et ponet in via gressus suos.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Propers of the Second Sunday of Advent: Psalm 49

The Gradual for this Sunday's Mass is taken from Psalm 49, a psalm which prophesies the second coming of Christ according to St Alphonsus Liguori:

"This psalm describes the second coming of Jesus Christ, which will be public and full of majesty, in contrast with his first coming, which was humble and hidden."

The verses around the text used in the Gradual give the psalm some important context pointing to God's coming as judge, so here they are, first in the Vulgate, then the Douay-Rheims, with the Gradual text bolded:

Deus deórum, Dóminus locútus est: * et vocávit terram,
A solis ortu usque ad occásum: * ex Sion spécies decóris ejus.
Deus maniféste véniet: * Deus noster et non silébit.
Ignis in conspéctu ejus exardéscet: * et in circúitu ejus tempéstas válida.
Advocábit cælum desúrsum: * et terram discérnere pópulum suum.
Congregáte illi sanctos ejus: * qui órdinant testaméntum ejus super sacrifícia.
Et annuntiábunt cæli justítiam ejus: * quóniam Deus judex est.

The God of gods, the Lord has spoken: and he has called the earth.
From the rising of the sun, to the going down thereof: Out of Sion the loveliness of his beauty.
God shall come manifestly: our God shall come, and shall not keep silence.
A fire shall burn before him: and a mighty tempest shall be round about him.
He shall call heaven from above, and the earth, to judge his people.
Gather together his saints to him: who set his covenant before sacrifices.
And the heavens shall declare his justice: for God is judge.
Hear, O my people, and I will speak: O Israel, and I will testify to you: I am God, your God.

The verses set for the day also refer to the beauty of God, a reminder that beauty is not entirely a cultural construct, and to the extent that it is, it is one that can be guided by God, both through the talents he gives to men, and the inspirations he gives directly and indirectly, including through nature.  The chant is a good example of this!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Where to next?

I'd appreciate any feedback you may have on this series, particularly on issues such as:
  • how many verses to cover in a post - was it too much t do two or more at a time as I did with Psalm 137?
  • is the level of detail on the Latin about right, or would you like more parsing (starting what case/tense etc is being used), alternative translations?
  • are the commentaries helpful?
  • are the Latin study hints posts helpful or not?
Any other more general comments or reactions are also welcome.

I'd also be particularly interested in hearing how you are using this series.  Has anyone taken up my suggestion to use the Simplicissimus course for example?  Is anyone sitting down systematically and trying to learn these psalms phrase by phrase, or are you just reading through the notes and absorbing what you can as you go?  Are you more interested in the Latin or the context/commentary material?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Psalm 137: Latin study hints Part B

By way of a tag to the mini-series on Psalm 137, some materials to help you with your Latin studies.


If you are keeping up with the Simplicissimus Reading Latin Course (see link to the materials in the sidebar), you will hopefully have reached unit 8, which deals with the present indicative perfect tense ('I have _') . One thing to look out for in the Vulgate are contracted forms of the perfect tense (ie dropping a letter or two), of which there are a couple of examples in this psalm. There is no difference in meaning in these cases.

I’ve bolded the examples of the perfect to look out for in Psalm 137:

1. Confitébor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: * quóniam audísti [audio, contracted form] verba oris mei.
2. In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
3. Super misericórdia tua, et veritáte tua: * quóniam magnificásti [magnifico, contracted form] super omne, nomen sanctum tuum.
4. In quacúmque die invocávero te, exáudi [exaudio] me: * multiplicábis in ánima mea virtútem.
5 Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ: * quia audiérunt [contracted] ómnia verba oris tui.
6. Et cantent in viis Dómini: * quóniam magna est glória Dómini.
7. Quóniam excélsus Dóminus, et humília réspicit: * et alta a longe cognóscit.
8. Si ambulávero in médio tribulatiónis, vivificábis me: * et super iram inimicórum meórum extendísti [extendo] manum tuam, et salvum me fecit déxtera tua.
9. Dóminus retríbuet pro me: * Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum: ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias.

Looking up words in the dictionary

And this seems a good point at which to point to a very handy online dictionary tool.

As you may have noticed, Latin words, especially (but not exclusively) verbs, sometimes change form in uses such that it is sometimes hard to recognize the root word, or find it in a dictionary.

A quick solution to this problem is the excellent Perseus Latin Headword Search Tool.
It allows you to type in any word, and searches for it in a dictionary (generally Lewis and Short). If the word is in its most common form, it will take you to straight to the dictionary entry. But if it is inflected, it gives you the option of using the ‘word study tool’: click on the word and it will parse the word for you.

So to use an example from the list above, type in audio, and you get a short definition (to hear), a link to the full dictionary entry, and some frequency statistics t tell you how common a verb it is.

Type in audierunt, however, and you will be told your search turned up no results, but you can try the word study tool. Do that, and it will link you to ‘audio’ and tell you that audierunt is [a] verb 3rd [person] pl [plural] perf[ect] ind[icative] act[ive].

It does require you to know a little grammar, but hopefully you will have picked that up from your reading of Simplicissimus in any case…


And finally, here is the complete vocab list for Psalm 137, in alphabetical order:

adoro, avi, atum, are, to worship, adore
altus deep (=deceitful), high (=proud)
ambulo, avi, atum, are to walk; the manner in which one orders one's life;
angelus, i, angel, spirit, messenger.
anima, ae, f soul
audio, ivi or li, Itum, ire to hear; to hear gladly; sound forth, utter, announce; hear favorably, to grant,
canto, avi, atum, are to sing, to praise in song
cognosco, gnovi, gnitum, ere 3, to know, see, learn, perceive, be come acquainted with.
confiteor, fessus sum, eri 2 to praise, give thanks; to confess, acknowledge one's guilt.
conspectus, us, m. sight, presence;
cor, cordis, n., the heart, regarded as the seat of the faculties, feelings, emotions, passions; the mind, the soul.
despicio, spexi, spectum, ere 3 to look away from, not to look at, to slight; to despise; to look down upon
dexter, tera, terum; the right hand.
dies, ei, m. and /.; fem. a day, the natural day
exaudio, ivi, Itum, ire, to hear, hearken to, listen to, give heed to; to regard, answer.
excelsus, a, um high, august, sublime, towering aloft ; uplifted; heights, high places; billows, high waves
extendo, tendi, tentum, ere 3, to stretch out or forth; to extend, prolong, protract, continue;
gloria, ae, /. glory, honor, majesty
humilia, the lowly, God's people and their affairs.
inimicus, i, m., a foe, enemy
invoco, avi, atum, are, to invoke, call upon (God); to put trust in
ira, ae, f., anger, wrath
longe, adv. far off, at a distance; as a substantive with a and de, afar off, from afar.
magnifico, avi, atum, are to praise, glorify, extol, magnify
magnus, a, um, great, mighty; elders
manus, us, f, the hand
medius, a, um in the middle, midst
misericordia, ae,, mercy, kindness, favor, compassion, loving-kindness.
multiplico, avi, atum, are to multiply, increase; to grow, flourish
nomen, mis, n. name; God himself; the perfections of God, His glory, majesty, wisdom, power, goodness
omnis, e, all, each, every; subst., all men, all things, everything
opus, eris, n., work.
os, oris, n., the mouth.
pro, prep, with abl., for; instead of, in lieu of; because of, on account of
psallo, ere 3 to sing to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument,; to sing the praises of God.
quacumque - by whatever way, wherever, wheresoever
quoniam, conj., for, because, since, seeing that, whereas.
respicio, spexi, spectum, ere 3 to look upon, behold, consider; take thought for, heed, have regard to;
retribuo, tribui, tributum, ere 3, to repay, requite, reward, recompense, render; give back, return; make requital for
rex, regis, m. a king, ruler, lawgiver
saeculum, i, n., a lifetime, generation, age; an indefinite period of time; forever, eternity; from of old, i.e., in ages past.
salvum facere, to save, keep safe, preserve from harm..
sanctus, a, um, holy, holy person
super +acc=above, upon, over, in, on;+abl= about, concerning; with, on, upon, for, because of.
templum, i, n. the Sanctuary or new Tabernacle on Mount Sion; a temple-like structure; heaven; a palace.
terra, ae, f. (1) the earth, in both a lit. and a fig. sense. (a) orbis terrae, the world. (2) a country, esp. the Land of Israel
totus a um, the whole, entire
tribulatio, onis, f. , trouble, distress, anguish, affliction, tribulation
verbum, i, n.,word, command, edict, also a promise; saying, speech; Law, the Eternal Son.
veritas, atis, truth. grace, kindness ,goodness, fidelity to promises, Faithfulness
via, ae, a way, road, path, street. God's way, God's policy, way of life
virtus, utis, f strength, power, might; an army, host; the angels.; the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars
vivifico, avi, atum, are to quicken, give life to, vivify.