Friday, 1 July 2016

Feast of the Visitation (2 July)

Matins readings for the feast in the traditional Benedictine Office are set out below.

Nocturn I (Song of Songs 2)

Reading 1: Count me no more than wild rose on the lowland plain, wild lily on the mountain slopes. A lily, matched with these other maidens, a lily among the brambles, she whom I love! An apple-tree in the wild woodland, shade cool to rest under, fruit sweet to the taste, such is he my heart longs for, matched with his fellow. Into his own banqueting-hall the king has brought me, shewn me the blazon of his love. Cushioned on flowers, apples heaped high about me, and love-sick all the while!

R. Rise up, make haste, my love my fair one and come away For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
* The voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land.
V. Mary entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elizabeth.
R. The voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land.

Reading 2: His left hand pillows my head; his right hand, even now, ready to embrace me. An oath, maidens of Jerusalem! By the gazelles and the wild fawns I charge you, wake never from her sleep my heart’s love, till wake she will! The voice I love! See where he comes, how he speeds over the mountains, how he spurns the hills! Gazelle nor fawn was ever so fleet of foot as my heart’s love. And now he is standing on the other side of this very wall; now he is looking in through each window in turn, peering through every chink.

R. Who is this that cometh up like the sun This, comely as Jerusalem
* The daughters of Zion saw her, and called her blessed the queens also, and they praised her.
V. And about her it was as the flower of roses in the spring of the year, and lilies of the valleys.
R. The daughters of Zion saw her, and called her blessed the queens also, and they praised her.

Reading 3: I can hear my true love calling to me: Rise up, rise up quickly, dear heart, so gentle, so beautiful, rise up and come with me. Winter is over now, the rain has passed by.  At home, the flowers have begun to blossom; pruning-time has come; we can hear the turtle-dove cooing already, there at home.  There is green fruit on the fig-trees; the vines in flower are all fragrance.

R. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost and she spake out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb
* And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
V. For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
R. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Reading 4: Rouse thee, and come, so beautiful, so well beloved, still hiding thyself as a dove hides in cleft rock or crannied wall. Shew me but thy face, let me but hear thy voice, that voice sweet as thy face is fair.How was it they sang? Catch me the fox, the little fox there, thieving among the vineyards; vineyards of ours, all a-blossoming! All mine, my true love, and I all his; see where he goes out to pasture among the lilies, till the day grows cool, and the shadows long. Come back, my heart’s love, swift as gazelle or fawn out on the hills of Bether.

Nocturn II (St John Chrysostom)

Reading 5: As soon as our Redeemer was come among us, He went with haste, while as yet He was in His mother's womb, to visit His friend John. And John, in the one womb, becoming conscious of the Presence of Jesus in the other womb, dashed himself impatiently against the narrow walls of his natural prison, as though crying out: I see the very Lord who hath given nature her bounds, and I wait not for the due season of my birth. There is no need for me to linger here till nine months are ended, for He That is Eternal is with me! I will break out of my dark cell; I will proclaim my full knowledge of many wonders. I am the sign. I will show that the Christ is here. I am the trumpet; let me peal forth the news that the Son of God is come in the flesh. Let me give my trumpet-note, let me bless my father's tongue, and make it to speak again. Let me give my trumpet-note, let me quicken my mother's womb.

R. Behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills;* My beloved is like a gazelle or a young roe-buck!
V. He rejoiceth as a giant to run his course, his going-forth is from the end of the heavens.
R. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young roe-buck!

Reading 6: Thou seest, O beloved, how new and how strange a mystery is here! John is not born, but by leaping he speaketh; he is yet unseen, and he giveth warning; he is not yet able to cry, but by his acts he is heard. He draweth not yet the breath of life, but he preacheth God. he seeth not yet the light, but he maketh known the Sun! He is not come out of the womb, but he hasteth to play the Fore-runner in the Presence of the Lord. He cannot restrain himself; he rebelleth against the bounds set by nature, and struggleth to break out of the prison of the belly. His longing is to herald the coming Saviour. He saith, as it were: Behold, the Deliverer cometh and am I to remain still bound to abide here? The Word cometh, that He may set right all things and am I still to tarry in prison? I will go forth. I will run before Him, and cry aloud to all men: “Behold the Lamb of God Which taketh away the sin of the world.”

R. Rejoice with me, rejoice with me, all ye that love the Lord, for, while I was yet a little one, I pleased the Most High,
* And I have brought forth from my bowels God and man.
V. All generations shall call me blessed, for God hath regarded the low estate of His hand-maiden.
R. And I have brought forth from my bowels God and man.

Reading 7: But do thou tell us, O John, how it came to pass that while thou wast still in the darkness of thy mother's womb, thou didst see and hear? How didst thou behold the things of God? How didst thou leap and bound for joy? Great, saith John, is the mystery of that which taketh place here, far from the understanding of men are these doings. It is meet that I should do a new thing in nature for the sake of Him Who is making new things which are beyond nature.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. Blessed art thou that hast believed, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told thee from the Lord. And Mary said:* My soul doth magnify the Lord.
V. Come, hear, and I will declare what God hath done for my soul.
R. My soul doth magnify the Lord.

Reading 8: I see in the womb, because I see the Sun of righteousness in a womb. I hear, because I am coming as the herald of the Great Word. I cry out, because I espy the Only-begotten Son of the Father clad in Flesh. I bound for joy, because I see that He by Whom all things were made, hath taken upon Him the form of a servant. I leap, because I think of the Redeemer of the world being made Flesh. I run before His coming, and herald His approach unto you with this, as it were, my confession.

Nocturn III (St Ambrose)

Reading 9: We must here consider that the greater cometh unto the lesser, Mary unto Elizabeth, Christ unto John. And again afterwards, to hallow the baptism of John, the Lord came unto him to be baptized. It was soon that the blessings of the coming of Mary and of the Presence of God were made manifest. Have regard here to the distinction made, and to the special weight of every word. Elizabeth was the first to hear the voice of Mary's salutation, but John was the first to receive grace.

R. All generations shall call me blessed,* For the Lord, That is mighty, hath done to me great things, and holy is His Name.
V. And His mercy is on them that fear Him, from generation to generation.
R. For the Lord, That is mighty, hath done to me great things, and holy is His Name.

Reading 10: She heard naturally, but he leaped mystically. She hailed the coming of Mary, he that of the Lord, Mary and Elizabeth spake words full of grace, but Jesus and John worked, and commenced their mystery of godliness from their mothers' beginnings, and so by twin miracles the mothers prophesied from the spirit of their unborn offspring. The babe leaped, and the mother was filled with the Holy Ghost. The mother was not filled before the son, but when the son was filled with the Holy Ghost, he filled his mother also.

R. O Holy Virgin Mary, happy indeed art thou, and right worthy of all praise,* For out of thee rose the Sun of righteousness, * Even Christ our God.
V. Pray for the people, plead for the clergy, make intercession for all women vowed to God; may all that make remembrance of thine holy Visitation feel the might of thine assistance.
R. For out of thee rose the Sun of righteousness.

Reading 11: And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? That is to say, How cometh it to pass that so great a good should befall me, as that the Mother of my Lord should come to me I feel the miracle, I acknowledge the mystery the Mother of my Lord, pregnant with the Word, is full of God. And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house. It is meet to record how Mary showed this kindness, and abode this mystic number of months.

Reading 12: She tarried long, not only for friendship's sake, but also for the good of the Great Prophet. For if the first coming of Mary so blessed him, that even as a babe in the womb he leapt for joy, and his mother was filled with the Holy Ghost, what blessedness must we not deem to have flowed upon him from so long neighbourhood of Mary. Thus was the Prophet anointed, and trained by exercise like a strong wrestler, in his mother's womb, for his sinews were being braced for a hard battle.

Gospel: Luke 1:39-47

Exsurgens autem Maria in diebus illis, abiit in montana cum festinatione, in civitatem Juda: et intravit in domum Zachariæ, et salutavit Elisabeth. Et factum est, ut audivit salutationem Mariæ Elisabeth, exsultavit infans in utero ejus: et repleta est Spiritu Sancto Elisabeth: et exclamavit voce magna, et dixit: Benedicta tu inter mulieres, et benedictus fructus ventris tui. Et unde hoc mihi, ut veniat mater Domini mei ad me?  Ecce enim ut facta est vox salutationis tuæ in auribus meis, exsultavit in gaudio infans in utero meo. Et beata, quæ credidisti, quoniam perficientur ea, quæ dicta sunt tibi a Domino. Et ait Maria: Magnificat anima mea Dominum:  et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.

 And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth.  And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:  And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For behold as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said: My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 

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