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They may be plain, even crude but they are full of force. They have the verve of patriotic hymns or battle-songs. Devoid of mystic devotion they have, nevertheless, a vigor and at times a majesty truly Roman. Of the many Ambrosian hymns, authorities differ as to the probable and the possible ones that belong to Am- brose himself, but all agree that four are his on the au- thority of Augustine and Celestine. March in his collection of Latin hymns puts twelve under the name of Ambrose, one of them a remarkable prayer for rain. This poem, for it is rather a poem than a hymn, is a graphic description of a drought in a southern country, and is almost too realistic.
It has been put into English very satisfactorily by Bishop Van Buren. Among the hymns of uncertain authorship of this first A Study of Latin Hymns 21 period, Mone, the scholarly editor of "Hymns of the Middle Ages," attributes the "Hie est dies verus Dei" to Ambrose, using doubtless the method of the higher criti- cism. Daniel whose Thesaurus is one of the best available reference books for students of early hymns thinks that the famous "Ad coenani Agni providi Et stolis albis candidi" is a hymn that was sung by newly baptized catechumens and one of the most ancient extant.
It is a comparison of the Feast of the Passover with the sacrament of the Holy Communion. The "Aurora lucis rutilat" is an Easter hymn which tells the Resurrection story simply but beautifully. The direct narrative of many early hymns must have served the purpose of fixing in the minds of the common people the fundamental facts of their religion, and throughout the controversial ages, the doctrines founded on these facts.
They teach plainly that the Church's doctrine has Scrip- tural foundation. They have not the smoothness of the mediaeval hymns but they ring with triumphant faith and give expression to a living theology. Their blunt sweet- ness has in it the freshness of the dawn. They are not beautiful, nor in the ordinary sense, emotional, but their simplicity is refreshing. Their writers accept what the Church teaches and exult in every detail of the great song of Redemption with loyal gratitude. The morning and evening hymns of this period possess a perennial charm and are still sung.
The number of hymns increases, but dates, as well as authors, are lacking in the great majority of the oldest hynms that have been preserved to us. There is a ten- dency to group hymns around famous names. Kings and Popes come in for a full share, possibly because the actual poets were of their courts. There is no evidence that the great Bishop of Hippo ever wrote a hymn, but never- theless we find Augustiniani in the collections. The "Antidotum contra tyranni- dem peccati," whose title certainly might be that of a theological treatise, is from internal evidence of much later date and although named Augustinian, is credited by Anselm to Pietro.
Its rhymed refrain is: "Duke mihi cruciari, Parva vis doloris est: 'Malo mori quam foedari! A few centuries made little difference to early compilers of hymns when the A Study of Latin Hymns 23 whole of the material was in a state of dire confusion. Prudentius was a follower afar of Vergil and the sing- ers of the Golden Age of Latin verse. He has even been called the Horace and Vergil of the Christians, but this extravagant praise is a detriment to him. Though none of his contemporaries descend to the barbarism of Latin rhyme, he follows the most closely the classic meters.
He belonged to a period between the literary ages of Rome and the time when Latin was known only as an ecclesiasti- cal or scholastic language yet, in the opinion of S. He always has been popular with scholars, and several editions of his works have appeared. His long poems with Greek titles have earned him the name of the first Christian poet. In reading the hymns of this cul- tured writer of the beginning of the fifth century, it is a delightful experience to find Christian thought expressed in the language and style endeared to us by the master- pieces of our favorite Roman poets.
His "Da, puer, plectrum choreis" 24 A Study of Latin Hymns brings to mind Horace though the motive of the one who calls for music is so unlike that of the other, an Epicurean poet who is quaffing wine in the shade, and whose wreath of roses is for himself, and whose praise is for the muses. The fourth watch of the Romans, the dawn of day, was called by the Christians "cock-crow.
Tu, Christe, somnum disiice; Tu rumpe noctis vinculo; Tu solve peccatum vetus, Novumque lumen ingere! Duffield translated the first stanza: "The bird, the messenger of day, Cries the approaching light A Study of Latin Hymns 25 And thus doth Christ, who callcth us, Our minds to Life incite. Crux pellit omne crimen; Fugiunt crucem tenebrae; Tali dicate signo Mens fluctuare nescit. Thirty-two hymns generally are admitted to be from the pen of Prudentius; the two greatest are the "Nox et tenebrae et nubila" and the "Quicumque Christum quaeritis.
Depart, confusions of the earth! Light comes, the sky so dark and wan Brightens — it is the Saviour's birth! Duffield's transla- tion of the first and last stanzas of " Quicumque Christum quaeritis" is as follows: "O ye who seek our Lord to-day, Lift up your eyes on high, And view Him there, as now you may, Whose brightness cannot die. Duffield says Prudentius "brightened Latin prosody by the presence of a living faith. What we know of his life of adventure is interesting, for he was one of the first troubadours. He was the last great hymn- writer whose native tongue was Latin.
He won dis- A Study of Latin Hymns 27 tinction by composing an Epithalamium for one queen, and at the height of his popularity he became a priest at the desire of another. To Queen Radigunda, who later was canonized, and her Abbess Agnes, he wrote many amusing lines which do not belong to this study save as they go to prove that our poet's inspiration sometimes was due to dainties sent him by his lady friends who, greatly to their credit, were good cooks as well as good religieuses.
The hymns of Fortunatus reveal genius though they have not the simple truth of those of the Ambrosian period and are at times marred by too much glitter. The skill of the secular singer of the court appears in artifices and elegant details. He wrote in the Latin of the decadence, but his artistic merit is so great that five of his hymns are well known and deservedly famous.
Charles gives us the following version, "The banner of the King goes forth, The Cross the radiant mystery, Where in a frame of human birth, Man's Maker suffers on the Tree. It has eight stanzas. Of these three hymns of Fortunatus the first has twenty-four English trans- lators, the second found an imitator in Thomas Aquinas and all are widely known. A fine early hymn on the cross is assigned to him "Crux benedicta nitet" and the "Quern terra, pontus, aethera" which the hymnographer Thomas- ius attributes to him is one of the earliest hymns devoted to the praise of the Virgin Mary.
Its subject as given by Daniel is "De Beata Virgine. His treatment of the cross is very unlike that of early writings where it is called "the ac- cursed tree" and the change may be observed in his own work in which he first speaks of it as patibulum or gallows and later as the blessed Cross the venerated symbol of the Passion.
It may have been the friendship of two gifted and saintly women that made Fortunatus capable of a true appreciation of feminine qualities for it certainly is true that a prominent place is given in his hymns to ascriptions of praise to the Blessed Virgin as the ideal of womanhood and the personification of spiritual grace. The Sixth Century The sixth century has among its hymn-writers one whose name is associated with a great advance in church music, Gregory the Great. Under him, because of the higher development of church music, the choir became much more prominent and the singing often was done for the people rather than by them.
From a devout monk, Gregory became a great statesman and held the keys of Saint Peter for thirteen years. He materially aided the Benedictine foundations whose order of schol- ars deserves the grateful admiration of the world of let- ters. He sent Augustine who was afterwards the Arch- bishop of Canterbury to be a missionary in Britain; his attention being attracted by the golden hair of the Anglo- Saxon slaves in Rome, he determined to make Angeli of the Angli.
The prose works of Gregory are numerous, filling sev- eral volumes of Migne's Patrologia. Nine hymns are attributed to him. Luther thought his "Rex Christe, factor omnium" the best hymn ever written. The "Nocte surgentes, vigilemus omnes" has Keble and Newman among its many translators and the "Ex more docti mystico" Dryden and Neale. The "Ecce jam noctis tenuatur umbra" has many English versions, the "Audi benigne Conditor" even more. His "Ecce tempus idoneum" is a noble hymn, and the power- ful "Nox atra rerum" is assigned to him by Mone.
His style is Ambrosian. He uses phrases all can understand. The poetic utterance of this time is well described by Gui- zot who says "it is an action , having ceased to be a litera- ture. The "Veni, Creator Spiritus" in its simple grandeur seems a work of inspira- tion. It is small wonder that it is made a matter of ser- ious controversy.
In English one can read it in twenty- seven versions, although that of Bishop Cosin ranks first because nearest the original in spirit. Duffield puts the hymn two centuries later than Gregory's time, and believes that it was written by Rabanus, a pupil of Al- cuin. One of the grounds of his opinion is that Gregory never wrote another hymn the equal of this. This disputed point illustrates the great difficulty of obtaining authentic authorship for any hymn which has not contemporary reference to its origin. It is, after all has been said, a question of little moment since the proof of the value of a hymn lies in itself.
No greatness of an author can make a poor hymn a good one. Witness Glad- stone's "Jesus pro me perforates! Bede and Alcuin recall all that is worthiest in the his- tory of mediaeval education. Bede the Venerable studied at the monastery connected with what is now Durham Cathedral. He became a great Greek scholar, having six A Study of Latin Hymns 31 hundred monks for pupils, many of whom came from across the Channel to study with him.
Charles, "Such was the calm of a Christian's death-bed in England over eleven hundred years ago. The latter is a very beautiful hymn for Holy Innocents' day. Duffield sees what he considers traces of the influence of Caedmon and Beowulf, but hints of Anglo-Saxon parallelism and allit- eration are much less marked than in Alcuin.
A few lines will illustrate Alcuin's style : "Te homo laudet alme creator Pectore, mente, pads ambre Nou modo parva pars quia mundi est. All authorities admit that there have been later additions to this hymn and so competent a critic as Neale believes the whole from Spain and of a later date than the seventh century. His reason is that its meter is the same as that of the forty-eight hymns peculiar to the Mozarabic Brevi- ary which is of Spanish origin.
This Breviary contains many Ambrosiani which were evidently favorite hymns in Spain and their meter the iambic dimeter invariably was employed. Its use in Seneca's tragedies may have made it familiar to the early Christian writers of Latin hymns. The mediaeval Latin hymns originating in Ireland form another national group.
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Sanguis Christi, inebria me. Aqua lateris Christi, lava me. Passio Christi, comforta me. Intra vulnera absconde me, Et ne permittas me separari a te. Ab hoste maligno defende me. In hora mortis meae, voca me, Et jube me venire ad te, Ut cum Sanctis tuis laudem te, In saecula saeculorum. The most beautiful hymn of Irish origin is also a com- munion hymn: "Sancti venite Christi corpus sumite," admired both by Daniel and by Neale for its noble sim- plicity.
It is a favorite with many in Neale's excellent translation.
Our Repertoire by date
The Eighth Century Towards the close of the eighth century at the court of Charlemagne, besides the teacher Alcuin there was an- other distinguished hymn-writer, — Paul the Deacon. It is a strange coincidence that his three best known hymns are about Saint John the Baptist. Caswell has made English versions of all three: "O nimis felix meritique celsi" "Antra deserti teneris," and "Ut queant laxis.
Its tune must have been of such a nature that each of these short lines began a degree of the scale higher than the preceding one, so that it was adopted as a mnemonic device for recalling pitch. Its use is associated with the name of Guido of Arezzo a musician of the eleventh century. The Ninth Century The ninth century opened with Charlemagne as Em- peror and continued the advance in education recently made.
Rabanus Maurus as Abbot of Fulda permitted laymen to study with the monks. He shares with John Scotus Erigena the intellectual pre-eminence of the age. His writings fill six volumes of Migne's Patrologia and his Codex contains twenty hymns which Duffield thinks are his own compositions. This Hymnodia has an ap- propriate sacred song for every season, among them is the "Veni, Creator Spiritus" which seems the work of a poet rather than a scholar. The very reason given that he is the learned author of a treatise on the Offices of the Holy Spirit is against the probability of such poetic in- spiration being his.
His well known hymns are but two, A Study of Latin Hymns 35 "Tibi, Christe Splendor Patris" which Neale has trans- lated and his "Christe, sanctorum decus angelorum" of which one of the several English versions can be found in the Hymns of the Ages. Walafrid Strabo who was a pupil of Rabanus after- ward became the Abbot of Reichenau, an abbey situated on an island in Lake Constance. Here when a youth he was a student and he gives in a series of letters the program of a nine years' course of study at the monastery.
Anno Domini , Latin and German primers kept the pupils busy; in , grammar, Bible history, and conver- sational Latin; in , orthography and memorizing the entire Psalter in Latin; in , Bede's prosody, Cato, Sedulus and other Latin poets; in , rhetoric and practice in teaching begun; in , Bede's histories, the Latin writers of the Golden Age, and the Christian poets, Prudentius and Fortunatus; in , Boethius, dialectics and the codes of law; in , rhetoric and logic; and in , Homer, music, geography, geometry, and astron- omy.
Strabo wrote a few hymns but they are of little value compared with this detailed account of mediaeval education. Strabo was also a voluminous prose writer; biography, a treatise on the Divine Offices, and a Bible commentary help to make up the catalogue of his works. Of the few ninth century hymns the famous "Gloria, laus, et honor tibi sit, rex Christe redemptor," a hymn for Palm Sunday, was, according to tradition, sung in prison on that day in the year by its author Theo- dolph the persecuted Bishop of Orleans.
The story goes that the tyrant in passing heard the song and impressed either by it, or the triumphant faith of the imprisoned 36 A Study of Latin Hymns Bishop, brought about his release. The "Ave Maris Stella' the great hymn of the An- nunciation and the parent of all the hymns to the Virgin Mary, probably belongs to this age, although its exact date and its authorship are unknown. Mediaeval Music The ninth century gives us the sequence fully developed by Notker of the Monastery of St. It previously had been the custom to prolong the last syllable of the Alleluia to cover the time spent in carrying the Missal from one side of the altar to the other between the read- ing of the Epistle and the Gospel.
The sequence in rhyth- mic prose gave a syllable to each tone sung and was a great improvement over the older artificial expedient of prolong- ing the ia through dozens of notes. He says further it takes the place of the "mill-groaning. A -men. The sequence " Cantemus cuncti melodum nunc Alle- luia" is believed to be Notlcer's and the famous "Victimae paschali laudes" which has ten translations also is at- tributed to him by some authorities.
It is one of the few preserved in the Roman Missal. More famous yet is the wonderful "Antiphona in morte" which in transla- tion still is used in the burial service of the Church of England and her branches: "Media vita In morte sumus; Quern quaerimus ad utorem, Nisi te, Do mine, Qui pro peccatis nostris Juste irasceris! Sancte Deus, sancte jortis, Sancte et misericors Salvator, Amarae morti Ne tradas nosl" Rabanus makes this interesting allusion to antiphonal singing : " Alternantes concrepando melos damns vocibus," A Study of Latin Hymns 39 which Neale translates: "Meetly in alternate chorus Bearing our responsive part" Antiphonal singing undoubtedly was used by the early Christians as there was precedent in Greek antiphons and the responsive rendering of the Hebrew Psalter in the synagogue worship.
Pliny the younger refers to the Christians singing "secum invicem. When Ambrose introduced the use of hymns he un- doubtedly added melodies to the music which had been simple chants. The wider range of the scales which he is believed to have founded on the Greek tetrachords indicates this higher development of musical form. Gregory besides introducing Eastern innovations, in order to reform abuses, established a definite method of singing for all the services of the Church. He caused an authoritative Antiphonary to be made which was chained to the desk of St.
Peter's Cathedral and the only form permitted. Copies of it were made and the Gregor- ian chant spread throughout the West. An Antiphony came into the possession of the Abbey of St. Gall where music especially was studied and Notker's work is an evi- 40 A Study of Latin Hymns dence of the advances made there. It may not be ill-timed to state briefly what music was at the time of the earliest hymns and sequences.
Isidore, a writer in Gregory's time, gives this definition in his Sen- tence on Music, "Harmonious music is a modulation of the voice. It is also the union of simultaneous sounds. He declares no more wonderful succession of single notes ever had been strung into melodies so adapted to the words which were sung. What was inaugurated in Gregory's time, if tradition is right, became highly developed by the thirteenth century when the "Tenebrae" of Holy week and the "Exultet" of Easter Eve reach the depth of woe and the height of exultation.
Judging by the plain chant of "Le Paroissien Note" — a note-book for priests now in use in the Roman Catholic Church — the tones succeed each other in intervals that harmonize with each other, with chromatic turn effects interspersed and ending with a major interval for the expression of joy, a minor interval for lamentation. To the ninth century belongs the first known attempt at a metrical treatment of the Psalms in a collection en- titled "Ad Dominum clamaveram.
This method of the so-called School of Romanus fell into disuse by the tenth century and its ex- istence was unknown to so thorough a student of ancient hymns as Neale. These dialogues must have been adapted to use in the mystery and miracle plays, and were pos- A Study of Latin Hymns 41 sibly the germ of the oratorio and even of the opera.
They were, like the sequences, rhythmic but not in strict metre. There is a mediaeval hymn, "De XI mille virginibus," which is divided into what are called "responsoria et ver- sus j" for instance: Resp. The introit, a sentence sung before and after the ap- pointed Psalm, sometimes was introduced by a little verse or phrase known as the tropus.
It was later made the unit of a system of strophes called the troparium. Three, four, or five made an ode, and eight or nine odes made a canon.
This was probably an adjustment of words to the tune or melody. At the beginning of the tenth century, Hucbald of Flanders gives rules for the organum or diaphony which seem to authorize the use of successive fourths, fifths, and octaves now forbidden, but Dr. Paul believes this was a sort of counter-point, the voices only starting at these in- tervals. When true harmony began is not known.
Ritter says in his History of Music that the Gregorian plain chant and the folk-song are "the two factors which form the foundation upon which all forms of our musical art rest. The neumae, crooks and strokes of various shapes and in various posi- tions, were placed over the words to indicate pitch and duration of sound. Until the eleventh century only two lines of the staff were used when Guido of Arezzo who introduced solemnization added two more and so gave the neumae a more definite place.
These signs are still used in the plain song books of priests and no measures indicated. Franco of Cologne at this date men- tions two kinds of time: the imperfect and the perfect, which was triple-time, the trinity being the symbol of perfection. There was also in the Middle Ages a kind of counter-point, generally for three voices, which was called faux-bourdon.
It consisted of a succession of chords of the sixth accompanying the cantus firmus of a Gregorian chant. This was considered a frivolous invention in the fourteenth century. It certainly gave opportunity for mischievous choir boys to sing secular words as variations to the original chant and so to desecrate worship. The Tenth Century By the tenth century the invocation of the Virgin and the Saints became prominent and from that time on, hymns to their honor are in the majority.
In Notker's sequence "De nativitate Domini" the fourth line reads, "Hodie seculo maris Stella est enixa novae salutis gaudia;" this is the first use of the words maris Stella known. I 10, "appellavit maria et vidit Deus quod esset bonum" and Psalm XXIV 2, "super maria fundavit eum" were regarded as symbolic of Maria the Blessed Virgin, and she often is referred to as the sea or of it. This earliest known hymn addressed to her, while praying to her for peace, light, protection, and bona cuncta gives glory to her Son and contains these beautiful verses: "Vitam praesta pur am, Iter para tutum, Ut videntes Jesum Semper collaetemur" and closes with a doxology.
Hemans's Evening Hymn is the best known of the hymns translating "Ave Maris Stella" or written in imitation of it. This famous hymn has at least eight versions in English, many in every modern language, and is one of the few hymns of the kind to find a place in March's collection.
Anne, for instance, has twenty-five hymns or sequences dedicated to her glory as mother of Mary and thus intimately connected with the scheme of salva- tion. Tributes are paid to saints and martyrs for their good works or their especial gifts and graces and their aid invoked in harmony with these qualities. Ambrose reads, "Vitae meae rege cursum," an evident allusion to his wisdom and piety. The numer- ous hymns of this character indicate the direction in which the church in the West was developing. Often in these hymns to be used on Saints' days, the ascriptions of praise to the Deity are confined to the doxology at the close and even there the name of the Blessed Virgin sometimes is found.
To the latter half of the tenth century belongs the "Chorus novae Jerusalem" which has a place in the old Breviary of England, but not in the Roman Breviary. It is a fine Whitsuntide hymn and has attracted a dozen English translators. This hymn is attributed to Fulbert of Chartres, also the "Nuntium vobis fero de supernis" which March assigns to Gregory under the title "De epiphania. Gothic architecture, musical notation, and the invention of rag- paper illustrate the varied activities of the age, while troubadours and crusaders flourished and a great religious revival brings to the fore Hildebrand, Anselm of Canter- bury, and Pietro Damiani, the flagellant.
Veni, pater pauperum. Veni, dator muncrum. Veni, lumen cordium. Consolator optime, Dulcis hospes animae, Duke refrigerium; In labore requies, In aestu temperies, In fletu solatium. Sine tuo numine Nihil est in homine, Nihil est innnoxium. Lava quod est sordidum, Riga quod est aridum, Sana quod est saucium; Flecte quod est rigidum, Fove quod est frigidum.
Rege quod est devium!
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Da tuis fidelibus In te confitentibus Sacrum septenarium; Da virtutis meritum, Da salutis exitum, Da perenne gaudium! It is included in "the seven great hymns," and is beyond question one of the three most beautiful hymns 46 A Study of Latin Hymns to the Holy Spirit. Hymns so addressed are not numer- ous, but are remarkable for elevation of tone and depth of feeling. It has been the general belief that Robert II of France, whom historians portray as an inefficient king but a beautiful character, was the author of the "Veni, Sancte Spiritus.
Duffield and others believe it was written by Hermann the Cripple, a scholarly and saintly monk of Reichenau, who was a celebrated writer on music. The famous sequence "Salve Regina mater miser- icordiae" is certainly Hermann's. He is known to have made a translation from the Arabic of Aristotle's Poetics. His unusual character is shown in the fact that he, who is surnamed Contractus the cripple , is also called hilaris- simus most cheerful. Pietro Damiani already has been referred to as illus- trating Augustinian influence. Besides the hymns previ- ously mentioned as his, he wrote "Gravi me terrore pulsas, vitae dies ultimata" which has been described as the "Dies Irae" of the day of death instead of the day of judgment.
It is awful in its details of horror. His Easter hymn "Paschalis festi gaudium" and his "Paule, doctor egregie" are of admitted merit. He wrote many hymns to the Virgin and the saints but his greatest hymn is "Ad per- ennis vitae fontem" which Daniel calls a pearl for our treasury. It is not one of the seven hymns, but it might well be, as it is certainly superior to the "Stabat Mater speciosa.
Charles has translated it adequately and there are fourteen other English versions. Pietro, cardinal and flagellant, was an earnest reformer. He was the author of the "Liber Gemorrhianus" address- A Study of Latin Hymns 47 ed to Pope Leo IX exposing prevalent abuses, The flagellation which he advocated and practised was to be the antidote to self-indulgence. The Psalter was recited to an accompaniment of blows of the scourge. Every Psalm called for one hundred strokes, and so the whole required fifteen thousand!
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Of the hymns of unknown authorship of this century a very interesting "Cantus peregrinantium" has these lines : "Ducem nobis praebe, angelum adhibe, qui nos deducat ante tel Iter nostrum rege, ab hoste defende et ad propriam reduce! Dexter am extende, sinistram submove, et adversis nos defende! Defend our onward path, Protect from hostile wrath And to our land return our feet. Thy right hand be stretched out, Thy left be round about, In every peril that we meet!
Much of this Pilgrim's Song is as suitable a prayer for a traveler now as it was nine hundred years ago. The Twelfth Century In Latin hymnody no century was more productive of great things than the twelfth. The work of Marbod who was acknowledged to be the foremost poet of his day overlaps the preceding century. Quid est homo, proles Adaef Germen necis dignum clade. Quid est homo, nisi vermis, Res in fir ma, res inermis? Ne digneris huic irasci, Qui non potest mundus nasci: Noli, Deus, hunc damnare, Qui non potest non peccare; Iudicare non est aequum Creaturam, non est tecum: Non est miser homo tanti, Ut respondeat Tonanti.
Sicut umbra, sicut fumus, Sicut foenum facti sumus: Miserere, Rex coelorum, Miserere miserorum. A Study of Latin Hymns 49 There are no more musical couplets in any tongue than these eleven pairs of verses. It is evident that in Mar- bod's time the diphthong ae rhymed with e, vid. Adae, clade. This is doubtless regarded as a late-Latin corrup- tion by the restorers of the Roman method of pronuncia- tion. A specimen of Marbod's dactylic hexameter verse may be found in March's collection, a hymn on the Resurrection beginning, "Credere quid dubitem fieri quod posse probatur.
He was a good Bishop as well as a popular poet, governing wisely his diocese of Rennes. It is a rare experience to find an early hymn written by a woman. Besides the "A urea luce" of Elpis whose date is uncertain, we have in this century one hymn at- tributed to Hildegard, "O ignis Spiritus" and one to the noted Heloise, "Requiescat a labore. It speaks well for the training in Latin in the monasteries that it could be used so artistically by men of genius of whom it was not the native language.
Trou- badours were singing in the tongues of the Northwest but churchmen were loyal to the language of Constantine and to the Western Church. They consecrated their talents to sacred song in the language made sacred by ecclesiastic association. Hildebert, Archbishop of Tours, wrote ten thousand verses. His prem to the three Persons of the Trinity is 50 A Study of Latin Hymns laden with theological distinctions that are ill-adapted to poetical treatment.
Whatever the artistic defects of the "Alpha et Omega, magne Deus" a creed in rhyme, it is very lofty in tone and of deep import. It is difficult to imagine how so profound a theme could be better handled in verse. It has attracted several translators and its closing verses, beginning "Me receptet Sion ilia" are found in modern hymnals. Archbishop Trench and Neale rank them very high.
The foremost churchman of his age was Bernard of Clairvaux. He was in his youth under the English abbot, Stephen Harding, at Citeaux and from there went out to found Clairvaux, turning a desolate valley into a veritable garden of the Lord. Like Augustine, this twelfth century saint had a saintly mother. His four brothers followed him into the monastic life. Of a magnetic per- sonality, tall, thin and very fair, an earnest preacher, he was a marked figure in the world of his day. His life was full of activity, his hymns are full of quiet trustful- ness. This energetic missionary was a man of deep devo- tion and sincere piety.
His famous hymn The Name of Jesus has come down to us in different forms. March gives ninety-six of the best verses.
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The hymn is divided easily into groups of stanzas, each group making a hymn of ordinary length. The first twenty lines are familiar to all in the beautiful version in English by Caswell which may be found in the Hymnal of the Episcopal Church : Jesus, the very Thought of Thee with Siveetness Fills the Breast.
Iesu, spes poenitentibus Quam pius es petentibus, Quam bonus te quaerentibus Sed quid invenientibus? Nee lingua valet dicere, Nee litera exprimere Expertus potest credere Quid sit Iesum diligere. These verses are a good illustration of iambic dimeter rhyming in fours. Thou Fount of life! Thou Light of men! From the best bliss that earth imparts We turn unfilled to Thee again," "Iesu, dulcedo cordium,, Fons vivus, lumen mentium, Excedens omne gaudium, Et omne desiderium.
Other parts of this remarkable series of hymns are injured by painful details, especially the "Ad Latus" While the merit of St. Bernard's hymns is beyond ques- tion, their tone of intimacy, even of familiarity, led to dangerous extremes, and introduced a tendency to be lamented. They were, however, the utterance of an un- bounded love, of a faith new-born. It is said that the Gospel had a new meaning to him when he discovered "it was intended to comfort the human heart.
Two of the sayings of Bernard are worth recording, "He does not please who pleases not himself" and "Hold the middle line, unless you wish to miss the true method. His opponent Abelard was a contrast to him in more than mere opinion. A brilliant thinker who overthrew the Scholastic doctrine of "universals," Abelard was of a domineering nature and harsh even to those he loved.
Pride of intellect was his pitfall. His one hundred and six hymns are little known. To create songs that others A Study of Latin Hymns 53 will sing, one must have the heart of a singer. In Neale's Mediaeval Hymns may be found a translation of Abe- lard's "Mittit ad Virginem," a hymn in dactylic dimeter verse on the Annunciation. Quite different was the character of his generous friend Peter the Venerable who received Abelard into the Abbey of Cluny when other doors were closed to him. Peter's "Mortis portis fractis fortis" is a stirring Easter hymn. The black monks of Cluny had a greater poet in the other Bernard whose long poem of three thousand lines, "De Contemptu Mundi" contains the verses on the Heav- enly Land which have given him enduring fame.
Neale also gives in The World is very Evil a version of the verses beginning : "Hora novissima, tempora pessima sunt, vigilemus. Ecce minaciter imminet arbiter Hie supremus. The Church is indebted to the Prior of Cluny for the most radiant picture of the City of the Christian's hope outside the Apocalypse. Adam of St. Victor was a poet whom the dialectical atmosphere of a theological school could not spoil.
His fault to the ordinary reader is that his allusions are ob- scure and his thought full of difficult symbolism. He is a theologians' poet a favorite of both Neale and Trench rather than one for the people, excepting in his master- 54 A Study of Latin Hymns pieces. In , by the discovery of a manuscript, the number of his known hymns was increased from thirty- six to one hundred and eight. Of these March publishes eight, and translations of eleven are given in Neale's Mediaeval Hymns.
His "Zyma vetus expurgituf" and "Simplex hi essentia" may not attract many readers but two of his hymns rank among the best, "Heri mundus exultavit" about St. A remarkable hymn whose author is unknown, belongs to this period, the "Cum revolvo toto corde" which is plainly the precursor of the "Dies lrae. It is more personal than the "Dies lrae" and has more about the rewards of the blessed.
Charles has an excellent translation of the last part. A Study of Latin Hymns 55 v Of anonymous hymns, we notice "Recolamus sacram coenam," which is found in translation in the Lyra Eu- charistica. It contains the stanza: "He spake, before them all Still perfect Man He stood, Though what he ate and drank he named His very flesh and blood. Very early in this century disciples began to gather around Francis of Assisi, one of the most beautiful char- acters in the history of the Church.
Among them was Thomas of Celano, who wrote the life of St. Francis and to whom is attributed the finest Latin hymn ever written, the "Dies Irae. Goethe, Scott, and Dr. Johnson are merely representative admirers of its greatness. Its use in the closing scenes of Faust and in The Lay of the Last Minstrel shows how universal is its application.
That Scott repeated parts of it on his deathbed and that Dr. Johnson could not read the stanza beginning "Quaer- ens me" without tears, show the strength of its appeal. It is used in the Roman Catholic ritual, and is as suitable for a burial service as for All Souls' day. Mozart's Requiem, completed as he was dying, is a worthy setting for this sublime hymn. Written a century before the Divina Comedia by a countryman of Dante, it rises to the same height in its appreciation of the great issues of life from the mediaeval Christian standpoint.
The popularity of the "Dies Irae" has brought it many translators, whose zeal has been out of all proportion to their ability as poets. One reads these versions from cur- iosity, but turns away in utter dissatisfaction. Students who attempt a translation, even with humiliating results, gain familiarity with every phrase, every word, which is worth securing at any price. In English, the triple rhym- ing verses have an artificial sound which detracts from the solemnity of the effect, and the closing trochaic foot is a weak ending without finality.
DufiEeld mentions one hun- dred and fifty-four published English versions of which ninety-six are by American authors. In Latin the three rhyming words, from the repetition of the same vowel sounds, are like a solemn knell and remind one of the mu- sic of cathedral chimes. A few other hymns are accred- ited to Thomas of Celano, but will not bear comparison with this masterpiece. Some features of WorldCat will not be available. Create lists, bibliographies and reviews: or. Search WorldCat Find items in libraries near you.
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Series: Archivio della Cappella civica di Trieste , quaderno 5. Subjects Gregorian chants -- Italy -- Aquileia. Liturgical dramas -- Italy -- Aquileia. Gregorian chants.