Monday, April 15, 2013

Tenebrae psalms/35 - Canticle of Hezekiah

The canticle for Tenebrae of Holy Saturday (also used at Lauds on Tuesday in the Benedictine Office as well as the Office of the Dead) is the Song of King Hezekiah, who was told by the prophet Isaiah that he was about to die.

Scriptural context

At first he resisted the message out of pride (2 Chron 32: 24).  But then he repented, and prayed desperately to God for more time.  His prayer was granted, a miracle confirmed by the sign of the sundial winding backwards (Is 38:7-8; 2 Kings 20).  The story of Hezekiah’s miraculous restoration to health appears three times in the Old Testament, signaling its importance: as well as Isaiah 38, the story appears in 2 Kings 20 and 2 Chron 32.

In the context of the Office of Holy Saturday, Hezekiah's story functions as typology: for Christ did indeed go down to the gates of hell; yet his death is but temporary, until he rises again in glory.

Canticle of Hezekiah

Is. 38:10-20

Ego dixi: in dimídio diérum meórum * vadam ad portas ínferi.
10 I said: In the midst of my days I shall go to the gates of hell:
2  Quæsívi resíduum annórum meórum. * Dixi : Non vidébo Dóminum Deum in terra vivéntium.
I sought for the residue of my years. 11 I said: I shall not see the Lord God in the land of the living.
3  Non aspíciam hóminem ultra, * et habitatórem quiétis.
I shall behold man no more, nor the inhabitant of rest.
4  Generátio mea abláta est, et convolúta est a me, * quasi tabernáculum pastórum.
12 My generation is at an end, and it is rolled away from me, as a shepherd's tent.
5  Præcísa est velut a texénte, vita mea: dum adhuc ordírer, succídit me: * de mane usque ad vésperam fínies me.
My life is cut off, as by a weaver: whilst I was yet but beginning, he cut me off: from morning even to night you will make an end of me.
6  Sperábam usque ad mane, * quasi leo sic contrívit ómnia ossa mea:
13 I hoped till morning, as a lion so has he broken all my bones:
7  De mane usque ad vésperam fínies me: * sicut pullus hirúndinis sic clamábo, meditábor ut colúmba:
from morning even to night you will make an end of me. 14 I will cry like a young swallow, I will meditate like a dove:
8  Attenuáti sunt óculi mei, * suspiciéntes in excélsum:
my eyes are weakened looking upward
9  Dómine, vim pátior, respónde pro me. * Quid dicam, aut quid respondébit mihi, cum ipse fécerit?
Lord, I suffer violence; answer for me.
15 What shall I say, or what shall he answer for me, whereas he himself has done it?
10  Recogitábo tibi omnes annos meos * in amaritúdine ánimæ meæ.:
I will recount to you all my years in the bitterness of my soul.
11  Dómine, si sic vivítur, et in tálibus vita spíritus mei, corrípies me et vivificábis me. * Ecce in pace amaritúdo mea amaríssima
16 O Lord, if man's life be such, and the life of my spirit be in such things as these, you shall correct me, and make me to live. 17 Behold in peace is my bitterness most bitter:
12  Tu autem eruísti ánimam meam ut non períret: * projecísti post tergum tuum ómnia peccáta mea.
but you have delivered my soul that it should not perish, you have cast all my sins behind your back.
13  Quia non inférnus confitébitur tibi, neque mors laudábit te: * non exspectábunt qui descéndunt in lacum, veritátem tuam.
18 For hell shall not confess to you, neither shall death praise you: nor shall they that go down into the pit, look for your truth.
14  Vivens vivens ipse confitébitur tibi, sicut et ego hódie: * pater fíliis notam fáciet veritátem tuam.
19 The living, the living, he shall give praise to you, as I do this day: the father shall make the truth known to the children.
15  Dómine, salvum me fac, * et psalmos nostros cantábimus cunctis diébus vitæ nostræ in domo Dómini.
20 O Lord, save me, and we will sing our psalms all the days of our life in the house of the Lord.

Tenebrae of Holy Saturday

Nocturn I: Psalms 4, 14, 15
Nocturn II: Psalms 23, 26, 29
Nocturn III: Psalms 53*, 75*, 87*
Lauds: 50*, 91, 63, [Is 38], 150

And for the final part in this series, go here.

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