Saturday, 28 January 2017

Matins readings for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

The readings and responsories for Matins in the Benedictine Office for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany are set out below.

Nocturn I  Philippians 1

Reading 1:  Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ; to all the saints in Christ Jesus, who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God in every remembrance of you, Always in all my prayers making supplication for you all, with joy; For your communication in the gospel of Christ from the first day until now. Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus. As it is meet for me to think this for you all, for that I have you in my heart; and that in my bands, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my joy.

R. O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thine hot displeasure.
* Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak.
V. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and darkness hath overwhelmed me.
R. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak.

Reading 2:  For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge, and in all understanding:That you may approve the better things, that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ, Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

R. O God, Which seatest in the throne judging right, be Thou a refuge for the poor, a refuge in times of trouble.* For Thou alone beholdest mischief and spite.
V. The poor leaveth himself unto thee; Thou wilt be the helper of the fatherless.
R. For Thou alone beholdest mischief and spite.

Reading 3:  Now, brethren, I desire you should know, that the things which have happened to me, have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel: So that my bands are made manifest in Christ, in all the court, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, growing confident by my bands, are much more bold to speak the word of God without fear.

R. The Lord is at my right hand, I shall never be moved.* Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoiceth.
V. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup.
R. Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoiceth.

Reading 4: Some indeed, even out of envy and contention; but some also for good will preach Christ. Some out of charity, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. And some out of contention preach Christ not sincerely: supposing that they raise affliction to my bands.  But what then? So that by all means, whether by occasion, or by truth, Christ be preached: in this also I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

R: Keep me O Lord as the apple of an eye * Hide me under the shadow of your wings
V: Show your marvellous loving-kindness, thou that art the saviour of them that put their trust in you
R: Hide me under the shadow of your wings
V: Glory be...
R: Hide me under the shadow of your wings

Nocturn II: From the book of morals of St Gregory

Reading 5: We refresh the body lest it should grow too weak and fail us; we chasten it by abstinence, lest it should wax gross, and become lord over us; we strengthen it with exercise, lest it perish by the not using; and straightway we give it rest, lest it faint through weariness; we succour it with raiment, lest the cold should blight it; and we strip it of the raiment wherewith we have clothed it, lest the heat should afflict it.

R. O Lord, Thou hast shown me the path of life. * Thou shalt fill me with joy in thy presence, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
V. Thou art He That shalt restore mine inheritance unto me.
R. Thou shalt fill me with joy in thy presence, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Reading 6: In all these so many offices what do we but serve the corruptible? Upon what is all this care spent but upon that wherover hangeth the doom of weakness and change? Therefore saith Paul tells: For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him Who hath subjected the same in hope because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

R. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my rock * And my fortress.
V. My Deliverer, my God, mine Helper.
R. And my fortress.

Reading 7: The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly for when man had of his own free will abdicated his state of unchangeable blessedness, the just sentence of death was passed upon him, and whether he willed or not, he became subject to the state of change and corruption. But the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption when it shall rise again incorruptible and be made partaker of the glory of the children of God.

R. The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof * The world, and they that dwell therein.
V. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
R. The world, and they that dwell therein.

Reading 8: Where, then, the elect are still subject to sorrow, being yet bound by the sentence of corruption; but when we shall have put off this corruptible we shall be loosed from that sentence, and shall sorrow no more. For though we earnestly desire to appear before God, we are still hindered by the burden of this dying body. Rightly then are we called prisoners, since we are not free to go whither we will, that is to say, to God; and rightly did the prisoner Paul, yearning after the things which are eternal, and still weighed down with the burden of this corruptible, rightly did he cry out I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ. He would not have felt this keenness if he had not felt himself bound down.

R Show me your ways O Lord and teach me your paths; lead me forth in your truth * For you are the God of my salvation; in you has been my hope all the day long
V: O remember not the sins and offences of my youth, O Lord
R:For you are the God of my salvation; in you has been my hope all the day long
V Glory be...
R:For you are the God of my salvation; in you has been my hope all the day long

Nocturn III:  Homily of St Jerome

Reading 9: In that time when Jesus entered into the boat, his disciples followed him: And behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but he was asleep. And so on.

The fifth sign that He did was when He took ship at Capernaum, and commanded the winds and the sea the sixth, when, in the country of the Gergesenes, He suffered the devils to enter into the swine the seventh, when, as He came into His own city, He cured the man sick of the palsy lying on a bed. The first man sick of the palsy that He cured was the centurion's servant.

R. Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.* O my God, I trust in thee, let me not be ashamed.
V. O keep my soul and deliver me.
R. O my God, I trust in thee, let me not be ashamed.

Reading 10: But He was asleep; and His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying Lord, save us. There is a type of this in the history of Jonah, who, when the storm arose, was lying fast asleep, and whom the sailors woke to help them; who also saved the sailors by commanding them to throw him into the sea, the said casting of him into the sea, being, as we know, a figure of Christ's Passion.

R: You have afflicted us for our sins, every day we expect our end with tears; let the sorrows of our heart come before you O Lord * That you may deliver us from the evils that have come upon us
V: O Lord God of Israel, hear our prayers, hearken unto the sorrows of our heart
R: That you may deliver us from the ills that are come upon us

Reading 11: Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea. From these words we understand that all things, which have been made, are sentient to their Maker. All things which He rebuketh or commandeth, hear His voice. This is not the error of the heretics who will have it that everything is quick, but part of the majesty of the Creator, Who maketh to feel Him things which we cannot make to feel us.

R. My sins, O Lord, are fixed in me, like arrows, but before they caused wounds in me,
* Heal me, O God, with the medicine of repentance.
V. For I know my iniquity, * and my sin is always before me.
R. Heal me, O God, with the medicine of repentance.

Reading 12: But the men marvelled, saying What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him? It was not His disciples that marvelled, but the sailors, and the others that were in the ship. tf r however, any one willeth to withstand this our interpretation and to maintain that it was the disciples who marvelled, we are ready to answer them that they who knew not before the power of the Saviour deserve to be stripped of the title of disciples, and to be called simply the men.

R: One Seraph cried unto another * Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts the whole earth is full of His glory.
V. There are Three That bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost and these Three are One.
R. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. The whole earth is full of His glory.

Gospel: Matt 8:23-27

And when he entered into the boat, his disciples followed him: And behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves, but he was asleep. And they came to him, and awaked him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish.  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.  But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Numbers in Scripture and translation issues - grrr!

Looking at the rest of the chapter for today's first Nocturn readings, Galatians 1, I came across one of those really annoying translation problems with otherwise excellent texts, namely the Knox version of Galatians 1:18.

Galatians 1:18

The Knox Bible version gives it as:
Then, when three years had passed, I did go up to Jerusalem, to visit Peter, and I stayed a fortnight there in his company;
Where does the reference to a fortnight come from?

The translator's imagination it would seem.

The Greek gives it as fifteen days, as does the Vulgate:
ἔπειτα μετὰ ἔτη τρία ἀνῆλθον εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ἱστορῆσαι Κηφᾶν, καὶ ἐπέμεινα πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡμέρας δεκαπέντε:
deinde post annos tres veni Jerosolymam videre Petrum, et mansi apud eum diebus quindecim:
Fortunately the Douay-Rheims provides a more literal translation:
Then, after three years, I went to Jerusalem, to see Peter, and I tarried with him fifteen days.
The significance of numbers in Scripture

Does it matter?

Well yes in my view.

We tend to forget that numbers in Scripture are important.

When the inspired writer includes a specific number, we have to assume there is a reason for that, not least because Scripture itself often records instruction to the effect that these numbers are significant.

Scripture tells us that God 'hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight' (Wisdom 11:21), and we are frequently reminded that the recurrence of certain key numbers is meant to tell us something important.

In Matthew 16:8-10, for example, Our Lord asks the apostles to ponder the significance of the number of baskets of bread left over from the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000 - the numbers in question being the symbolically laden 12 (the 5,000 perhaps standing for those covered by the Pentateuch the five books of the Old Law; twelve for the twelve tribes of Israel) and 7 (the four thousand standing for those brought in by the four books of the Gospel; seven standing for perfection or completion, from the days of creation, or perhaps expansion and the going into the world) respectively.  In Acts, the importance of those numbers is reinforced again in the election of a new apostle to restore the number to twelve, and the appointment of the seven deacons.

Similarly, in 2 Peter 2, St Peter points out that eight people were saved from the Great Flood; the Resurrection that reopened the way to heaven was on the 'eighth day', creating a symbolism that led to baptisteries and baptismal fonts traditionally having eight sides.

The symbolism of fifteen 

The number fifteen used in Galatians is rather less prominent in Scripture than 7, 8 and 12 (which recur hundreds of times through the Old and New Testaments) but it does have several key uses in Scripture that are probably meant to be understood here.  Let me just point to a few of them.

First, the life of King Hezekiah was extended by fifteen years after he prayed when being told he should repent as he was about to die.

Secondly, there were fifteen steps from the outer to the inner temple, and the temple was viewed as a microcosm of heaven, so the steps mark the ascent from this world to the next.

And thirdly, corresponding to the steps of the temple there are fifteen 'psalms of the Ascent' or Gradual psalms, often interpreted as marking the ascent to God through grace.

There are other key Scriptural associations with 15 as well, particularly in its multiples, such as the 150 days that it rained during the Great Flood, symbolising the cleansing from sin; and the 150 psalms, which summarise all of the Bible.

So when Galatians tells us that St Paul stayed with St Peter for fifteen days, St Paul is telling us not that it was only a short time that he spent with the Apostle, in my view, but rather that it was a grace-filled time, a great gift of God; a time that marked the cleansing of the sins of his previous life.

Fathers and Theologians

And indeed, if you check the commentaries of the Fathers and Theologians on the verse, they make exactly these kind of points.  Let me provide just two reference points by way of illustration.

 St Jerome, comments:
And though it seems excessive to some to investigate numbers in Scripture, yet I think it is not beside the point to note that the fifteen days that Paul spent with Peter signifies the fullness of wisdom and the perfection of doctrine, seeing that that there are fifteen [decades of] psalms in a psalter and fifteen steps by which people go up to sing to God.
St Thomas Aquinas adds:
 And I tarried with him fifteen days, because that number is the sum of eight and seven. Eight is the number of the New Testament, in which the eighth day of those who will rise is awaited; but seven is the number of the Old Testament, because it celebrates the seventh day. And so he stayed with Peter fifteen days, conversing with him on the mysteries of the Old and New Testament.
Numbers, it is clear, matter in Scripture, and translations that hide them from us contribute to the undermining of tradition that has become so endemic in our time, with Christmas no longer having days, and the invention of  'Ascension Sunday'.

Working with translations

 I actually do like the Knox translation for many purposes, but alas this particular example is by far from the only place where significant numbers are obscured by the translation.  The number of people saved from the Great Flood in the letter of St Peter I cited above, for example, is not eight in the Knox Bible, rather Noah and 'seven others with him'.

The moral of the story is, if you are using a translation, crosscheck it!  Ideally, use the Latin (and/or Greek).  But failing that (or as a supplement depending on how strong your language skills are) also look at a more literal translation such as the Douay-Rheims and/or use one of the excellent online resources (my personal favourite due to its clear layout is Blueletter bible but there are many others) that can provide multiple translations for comparison purposes, as well as breakdown the Greek or Hebrew for you via links to Strong's Concordance. 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Matins readings for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany



Nocturn I (Galatians 1:1-14)

Reading 1: Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead, And all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia. Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present wicked world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom is glory for ever and ever. Amen.

R. (Domine ne in ira tua) O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thine hot displeasure.
* Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak.
V. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and darkness hath overwhelmed me.

R. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak.

Reading 2: I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.

R. (Deus qui sedes) O God, Which satest in the throne judging right, be Thou a refuge for the poor, a refuge in times of trouble.* For Thou alone beholdest mischief and spite.
V. The poor leaveth himself unto thee; Thou wilt be the helper of the fatherless.
R. For Thou alone beholdest mischief and spite.

Reading 3: As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

R. (A dextris) The Lord is at my right hand, I shall never be moved.
* Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoiceth.
V. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup.
R. Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoiceth.

Reading 4:  For I give you to understand, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For neither did I receive it of man, nor did I learn it; but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion: how that, beyond measure, I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it. And I made progress in the Jews' religion above many of my equals in my own nation, being more abundantly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

R (Custodi me) Keep me O Lord as the apple of an eye * Hide me under the shadow of your wings
V: Show your marvellous loving-kindness, thou that art the saviour of them that put their trust in you
R: Hide me under the shadow of your wings
V: Glory be...
R: Hide me under the shadow of your wings

Nocturn II Exposition of St Augustine on the Letter to the Galatians

Reading 5: The reason of the Apostle's writing to the Galatians was this that they might understand that the grace of God had worked in them that they were no longer under the law. For when the grace of the Gospel was preached to them, there had not been wanting to them some of them of the circumcision, Christians indeed in name, but who had not yet apprehended that great benefit of grace, and desiring still to be bound with burdens of the law burdens which the Lord God had laid, not upon such as serve righteousness, but upon such as serve sin, laying, that is to say, upon the unrighteous a righteous law, whereby their unrighteousness was made manifest, not taken away. For there is not anything which taketh away sin, save only the grace of faith which worketh by love.

R.(Notas mihi) O Lord, Thou hast shown me the path of life.
* Thou shalt fill me with joy in thy presence, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
V. Thou art He That shalt restore mine inheritance unto me.

R. Thou shalt fill me with joy in thy presence, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Reading 6: The men of the circumcision would have the Galatians, who were under grace, to be under the burdens of the law, persuading them that the Gospel profited them nothing, unless they should be circumcised, and take on them the other outward observances of the Jews' religion.

R. (Diligam te) I will love thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my rock * And my fortress.
V. My Deliverer, my God, mine Helper.
R. And my fortress.

Reading 7: Whence the Galatians began to have doubts of the Apostle Paul, by whom the Gospel had been preached to them, as one that held not the doctrine of the other Apostles, who compelled the Gentiles to come under the law.

R. (Domini est terra) The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof
* The world, and they that dwell therein.
V. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
R. The world, and they that dwell therein.

Reading 8: The same question is discussed in the Epistle to the Romans, but with this difference in that case the Apostle putteth an end to the discussion, and stilleth the strife which had arisen between the Jewish and the Gentile converts, in consequence of the Jews holding that they had earned the knowledge of the Gospel as a reward for their observance of the law, and grudging the same knowledge to the uncircumcised, as to men who had done nothing to deserve it; and the Gentiles, on the contrary, maintaining that they were superior to the Jews, in that they were not the murderers of the Lord. Now, in this Epistle to the Galatians, the Apostle addresseth himself to those who were troubled by the authority claimed by them who were of the circumcision, and sought to bring into subjection to the law them who were of the uncircumcision.

R (Vias tuas) Show me your ways O Lord and teach me your paths; lead me forth in your truth * For you are the God of my salvation; in you has been my hope all the day long
V: O remember not the sins and offences of my youth, O Lord
R:For you are the God of my salvation; in you has been my hope all the day long
V Glory be...
R:For you are the God of my salvation; in you has been my hope all the day long

Nocturn III: Homily of St Jerome

Reading 9: From the holy Gospel according to Matthew - In that time when Jesus was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him: And behold a leper came and adored him. And so on.

"When the Lord was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. They were not able to follow Him when He went up. And first there came a leper. This poor creature's disease had prevented him from hearing the Saviour's long sermon on the Mount. Let it be noted that he is the first person specially named as being healed. The second was the Centurion's servant; the third was Peter's wife's mother, who was sick of a fever at Capernaum; the fourth were they who were brought unto Christ as being troubled with evil spirits, from whom He by His word cast out the evil spirits, at the same time that He healed all that were sick.

R. (Ad te Domine) Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. * O my God, I trust in thee, let me not be ashamed.
V. O keep my soul and deliver me.
R. O my God, I trust in thee, let me not be ashamed.

Reading 10: And, behold, there came a leper, and worshipped Him, saying Properly after preaching and doctrine cometh occasion for a sign, that the power of the miracle might confirm in the hearers the truth of the teaching that had gone before. Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. He that prayeth the Lord to have the will, doubteth not but that He hath the power.

R (Afflicti pro peccatis nostris) You have afflicted us for our sins, every day we expect our end with tears; let the sorrows of our heart come before you O Lord * That you may deliver us from the evils that have come upon us
V: O Lord God of Israel, hear our prayers, hearken unto the sorrows of our heart
R: That you may deliver us from the ills that are come upon us

Reading 11: And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying I will; be thou clean. As soon as the Lord put forth His Hand the leprosy departed. Let us remark how lowly and unbragging is the Lord's language. The leper had said, If Thou wilt; the Lord answereth, I will. The leper, Thou canst make me clean, the Lord, Be thou clean. Most Latin readers, misled by the identity of form in that language between the Present Infinitive Active and the Second Person Singular Present Imperative Passive of the Verb, read Christ's answer as if it were, I will to make thee clean. This is wrong. The sentences are separate. First cometh the expression of volition, I will, then the command, Be thou clean.

R. (Peccata mea) My sins, O Lord, are fixed in me, like arrows, but before they caused wounds in me,
* Heal me, O God, with the medicine of repentance.
V. For I know my iniquity, * and my sin is always before me.
R. Heal me, O God, with the medicine of repentance.

Reading 12: And Jesus saith unto him See thou tell no man. What need was there to tell what his body showed? But go thy way, show thyself to the Priest. There were divers reasons why Christ should send him to the Priest. First, for humility's sake, that He might show reverence to God's Priest. Then there was a command in the law that they that were cleansed of leprosy should make an offering to the Priests. Moreover, that, when the Priests saw the leper cleansed, they might either believe in the Saviour, or refuse to believe; if they believed, that they might be saved, and, if they believed not, that they might have no excuse. Lastly, that He might give no ground for the accusation that was so often brought against Him, that He was unobservant of the law."

R. One Seraph cried unto another * Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts the whole earth is full of His glory.
V. There are Three That bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost and these Three are One.
R. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. The whole earth is full of His glory.

Gospel: Matthew 8:1-13

And when he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him:  And behold a leper came and adored him, saying: Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.  And Jesus stretching forth his hand, touched him, saying: I will, be thou made clean. And forthwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him: See thou tell no man: but go, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them.  And when he had entered into Capharnaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grieviously tormented.  And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him.  And the centurion making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.  For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.  And Jesus hearing this, marvelled; and said to them that followed him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel.  And I say to you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  And Jesus said to the centurion: Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.

St Agnes, Class II

For those saying the feast of St Agnes as a Class II feast, the readings are as set out below.

Nocturn I (Ecclesiastes 51:1-7)

(Psalms from the Common of Virgins, viz Ps 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10)

Reading 1:  A PRAYER of Jesus the son of Sirach. I will give glory to thee, O Lord, O King, and I will praise thee, O God my Saviour. I will give glory to thy name: for thou best been a helper and protector to me. And hast preserved my body from destruction, from the snare of an unjust tongue, and from the lips of them that forge lies, and in the sight of them that stood by, thou hast been my helper.

R. Let us keep with joy and gladness the feast of this most saintly maiden, let us call to mind the holy passion of the blessed Agnes in her thirteenth year she conquered, losing death and finding life * Because she loved the Only Giver of Life.
V. Reckoned but a child in this world, she understood more than the ancients.
R. Because she loved the Only Giver of Life.

Reading 2: And thou hast delivered me, according to the multitude of the mercy of thy name, from them that did roar, prepared to devour. Out of the hands of them that sought my life, and from the gates of afflictions, which compassed me about: From the oppression of the flame which surrounded me, and in the midst of the fire I was not burnt.  From the depth of the belly of hell, and from an unclean tongue, and from lying words, from an unjust king, and from a slanderous tongue:

R. My right hand and my neck hath He clasped with precious stones, and put pearls beyond price in mine ears,
* And hath crowned me with the bright blossoms of the eternal spring-time.
V. He hath sealed me in my forehead, that I may let in no other lover but Him.
R. And hath crowned me with the bright blossoms of the eternal spring-time.

Reading 3: My soul shall praise the Lord even to death. And my life was drawing near to hell beneath. They compassed me on every side, and there was no one that would help me. I looked for the succour of men, and there was none. I remembered thy mercy, O Lord, and thy works, which are from the beginning of the world. How thou deliverest them that wait for thee, O Lord, and savest them out of the hands of the nations.

R. Christ is my Lover, and I am entering with Him into the marriagechamber. His Mother is a Virgin, and His Father knoweth not a woman. The instruments of His music sound sweetly together in my ears.* If I love Him I shall be chaste, if I touch Him I shall be clean, if I embrace Him I shall be a virgin indeed.
V. He hath espoused me with a betrothal ring, and adorned me with a necklace of great price.
R. If I love Him I shall be chaste, if I touch Him I shall be clean, if I embrace Him I shall be a virgin indeed.

Reading 4: Thou hast exalted my dwelling place upon the earth and I have prayed for death to pass away. I called upon the Lord, the father of my Lord, that he would not leave me in the day of my trouble, and in the time of the proud without help. I will praise thy name continually, and will praise it with thanksgiving, and my prayer was heard. And thou hast saved me from destruction, and hast delivered me from the evil time. Therefore I will give thanks, and praise thee, and bless the name of the Lord.

R: Come, bride of Christ, receive the crown which the Lord has prepared for you for all eternity;
for whose love you have shed your blood. *And you will enter into the Paradise among the angels.
V: Come, O you my chosen one, and I will set my throne within you: so shall the King have pleasure in your beauty.
R: And you will enter...
V: Glory be...
R: And you will enter...

Nocturn II: Book of St Ambrose on Virgins

(Psalms 14, 44, 45, 47, 84, 86)

Reading 5: This is a virgin's birthday; let us then follow the example of her chastity. It is a Martyr's birthday; let us then offer sacrifices. It is the birthday of the holy Agnes; let men then be filled with wonder, little ones with hope, married women with awe, and the unmarried with emulation. But how shall I set forth the glory of her whose very name is an utterance of praise? It seemeth to me that this being, holy beyond her years, and strong beyond human nature, received the name of Agnes, not as an earthly designation, but as a revelation from God of what she was to be. For this name Agnes is from the Greek, and being interpreted, signifieth Pure. So that this saintly maiden is known by the very title of Chastity and when I have added thereto the word Martyr, I have said enough. She needeth not the praise which we could utter, but do not. None is more praiseworthy than she for whose praise all mouths are fitted. As many as name her, so many praise her, by the noble title of martyr.

R. The Lord hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, and covered me with the robe of righteousness:* And hath set a crown upon my head, as the crown of his bride.
V. He hath put pearls beyond price in mine ears, and hath crowned me with bright blossoms of the eternal springtime.
R. And hath set a crown upon my head, as the crown of his bride.

Reading 6: We learn by tradition that this holy martyr testified in the thirteenth year of her age. We will pass by the foul cruelty which did not spare her tender years, to contemplate the great power of her faith, whereby she overcame the weakness of childhood, and witnessed a good confession. Her little body was hardly big enough to give play to the instruments of their cruelty, but if they could scarce sheathe their swords in her slight frame, they found in her that which laughed the power of the sword to scorn. She had no fear when she found herself grasped by the bloody hands of the executioners. She was unmoved when they dragged her with clanging chains. Hardly entered on life, she stood fully prepared to die. She quailed not when the weapons of the angry soldiery were pointed at her breast. If they forced her against her will to approach the altars of devils, she could stretch forth her hands to Christ amid the very flames which consumed the idolatrous offerings, and mark on the heathen shrine the victorious Cross of the Lord. She was ready to submit her neck and hands to the iron shackles, but they were too big to clasp her slender limbs.

R. Honey and milk have I received from his mouth, * And his Blood is red upon my cheeks.
V. He hath shewn me countless treasures, and hath sworn to endow me therewith.
R. And his Blood is red upon my cheeks.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

Reading 7: Behold a strange martyr! She is not grown of stature to fight the battle, but she is ripe for the triumph; too weak to run in the race, and yet clearly entitled to the prize; unable from her age to be aught but a learner, she is found a teacher.She went to the place of execution a virgin, with more willing and joyful footsteps than she would have gone with to the nuptial chamber as a bride. The spectators were all in tears, and she alone did not weep. They beheld her with wonder, laying down that life of which she had hardly begun to taste the sweets, as freely as though she had drained it to the dregs and was weary of its burden. All men were amazed when they saw her whose years had not made her her own mistress, arise as a witness for the Deity.

R. His holy Body is already united to me, and his Blood is red upon my cheeks:  * He it is whose Mother is a virgin, and whose Father hath not known a woman.
V. I am wedded to the Lord of Angels, at whose beauty the sun and the moon do wonder.
R. He it is whose Mother is a virgin, and whose Father hath not known a woman.

Reading 8: Consider how many threats her murderer used to excite her fears, how many arguments to shake her resolution, how many promises to bribe her to accept his offers of marriage. But she answered him It is an insult to Him Whom I have wedded to expect me to comply. He That first chose me, His will I be. Headsman, why waitest thou? Perish the body which draweth the admiration of eyes from which I would turn away. She stood, prayed, and then bent her neck for the stroke. Now mightest thou have seen the murderer trembling as though he himself were the criminal, the executioner's hand shake, and the faces of them that stood by turn white at the sight of her position, and all the while herself remain without fear. This one victim brought God a double offering, that of her purity, and that of her faith. She preserved virginity and achieved martyrdom.

R. Grace is poured into thy lips, therefore;* God hath blessed thee for ever.
V. In thy comeliness and thy beauty, go forward, fare prosperously, and reign.
R. God hath blessed thee for ever.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. God hath blessed thee for ever.

Nocturn III: (Readings from the common of Virgins, St Gregory Homily 12 on the Gospels)

(Canticles: Ecclesiasticus 39:17-21; Isaiah 61:10-11, 62: 1-3; Isaiah 61:4-7)

Reading 9: Dearly beloved brethren, oftentimes do I warn you to fly corrupt conversation, and to keep yourselves unspotted from the world. But the portion which is this day read from the Holy Gospel doth oblige me to say that even to these good things which ye do, ye must needs take all careful heed. Look ye well to it, that, when ye work righteousness, ye do it not as seeking the praise and admiration of men, for if the lust of praise do once creep in, that which seemeth so fair without, loseth its reward within.

R. I am wedded to the Lord of Angels, at Whose beauty the sun and the moon do wonder.
* I keep my troth to Him alone, and commit me altogether to Him.
V. My right hand and my neck hath He clasped with precious stones, and put pearls beyond price in mine ears.
R. I keep my troth to Him alone, and commit me altogether to Him.

Reading 10: Behold how the Redeemer speaketh of these ten virgins. He calleth them all virgins, yet entered not all of them into the door of blessedness, for there were some of them who sought outwardly the honour of virginity, but would take no oil within their vessels with their lamps.First of all, it is for us to ask What is the kingdom of Heaven? And wherefore shall the same be likened unto ten virgins, whereof, albeit five were wise, yet five were foolish For if the kingdom of heaven be such that there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, how can it be like unto five virgins which were foolish?

R. O Thou Who Alone art Almighty! Who Alone art to be adored! Who Alone art to be worshipped! Who Alone art to be feared! I bless thee,* Because that through thine Only-begotten Son Thou hast delivered me from the threatenings of wicked men, and hast made me to walk with clean feet through the filthy haunts of devils.
V. My lips praise thee, my heart and all that is within me do long after thee.
R. Because that through thine Only-begotten Son Thou hast delivered me from the threatenings of wicked men, and hast made me to walk with clean feet through the filthy haunts of devils.

Reading 11: But we must know that, in the word of God, the kingdom of heaven doth oftentimes signify the Church as she now is, touching the which the Lord saith in another place " The Son of Man shall send forth His Angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend." In that kingdom of Blessedness, wherein peace shall have her perfect reign, there shall be nothing found that offendeth for the angels to gather out.

R. In thy comeliness and thy beauty;* Go forward, fare prosperously, and reign.
V. Grace is poured into thy lips, therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
R. Go forward, fare prosperously, and reign.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Go forward, fare prosperously, and reign.

Reading 12: The body of every man doth consist of five senses, and five being doubled, is ten. Forasmuch, therefore, as the whole body of the faithful doth consist of two sexes, the Holy Church is likened unto ten virgins. And forasmuch as in the Church the good are for the present mingled with the bad, and the reprobate with the elect, it is rightly said that, of the ten virgins, five are wise and five are foolish. There are many who have self-control, which do keep themselves from lusting after things outward, whose hope beareth them to things inward, who chastise the flesh, who long with intense home-sickness for their Fatherland which is in heaven, who seek an eternal reward, and who will not to receive for their labours the praise of men. These are they who reckon their glory, not in the mouths of men, but in the testimony of their own conscience. And many there be likewise who afflict the body by self-control, and yet who seek for their self-control applause from men.

R. Haec est virgo prudens* Quae veniente sponso accepit oleum in vasis suis, et ornatis lampedibus introivit cum eo ad nuptias
V. Haec est virgo sapiens, et una de numero prudentum
R. Quae veniente sponso accepit oleum in vasis suis, et ornatis lampedibus introivit cum eo ad nuptias
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. Quae veniente sponso accepit oleum in vasis suis, et ornatis lampedibus introivit cum eo ad nuptias

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Matins readings for the Second Sunday after Epiphany

The readings and responsories for Matins in the Benedictine Office for the Second Sunday after Epiphany are set out below.

Nocturn I (2 Corinthians 1)

Reading 1:   Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother: to the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints that are in all Achaia:  Grace unto you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation; that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.

R. O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thine hot displeasure.
* Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak.
V. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and darkness hath overwhelmed me.
R. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak.

Reading 2:  Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation: or whether we be exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation, which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.  That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation.

R. O God, Which seatest in the throne judging right, be Thou a refuge for the poor, a refuge in times of trouble.
* For Thou alone beholdest mischief and spite.
V. The poor leaveth himself unto thee; Thou wilt be the helper of the fatherless.
R. For Thou alone beholdest mischief and spite.

Reading 3:  For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, of our tribulation, which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure above our strength, so that we were weary even of life. [But we had in ourselves the answer of death, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.  Who hath delivered and doth deliver us out of so great dangers: in whom we trust that he will yet also deliver us. You helping withal in prayer for us: that for this gift obtained for us, by the means of many persons, thanks may be given by many in our behalf.

R. The Lord is at my right hand, I shall never be moved.
* Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoiceth.
V. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup.
R. Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoiceth.

Reading 4:  For our glory is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity of heart and sincerity of God, and not in carnal wisdom, but in the grace of God, we have conversed in this world: and more abundantly towards you.  For we write no other things to you than what you have read and known. And I hope that you shall know unto the end:

R: Keep me O Lord as the apple of an eye * Hide me under the shadow of your wings
V: Show your marvellous loving-kindness, thou that art the saviour of them that put their trust in you
R: Hide me under the shadow of your wings
V: Glory be...
R: Hide me under the shadow of your wings

Nocturn II: Sermon of St John Chrysostom (Preface for the letters of St Paul)

Reading 5: As I listen intently to the reading of S.Paul's Epistles, often two or three times a week, whenever we commemorate the holy martyrs, I am filled with joy, delighting in the sound of that spiritual trumpet. And as I recognize the voice of a friend, I am roused, and enkindled with love so that I almost seem to see him present, and to hear him speaking. But nevertheless I am grieved, and am troubled, that all do not know this great man as he desrves to be known. Indeed, many are so ignorant that they do not even know how many epistles he wrote. But this ignorance is not due to a want of intelligence on their part, but because they will not carefully study the writings of this great man.

R. O Lord, Thou hast shown me the path of life.
* Thou shalt fill me with joy in thy presence, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
V. Thou art He That shalt restore mine inheritance unto me.
R. Thou shalt fill me with joy in thy presence, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Reading 6: For what we know, if we know anything, we do not know it owing to any superlative talent or penetration, but, being strongly drawn towards this great man, we never cease from reading his works. For so it is that those who love any one usually know better than others what he has done, because they take the trouble to learn all about him. The blessed Paul himself shows that this is so, when he says to the Philippians: As it is meet for me to think this for you all : for that I have you in my heart; and in my bands, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel.

R. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my rock
* And my fortress.
V. My Deliverer, my God, mine Helper.
R. And my fortress.

Reading 7: And if you also will diligently attend to the reading, you will have no need of other instruction. Most true are those words of Christ : Seek and you shall find : knock and it shall be opened unto you.

R. The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof
* The world, and they that dwell therein.
V. For He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
R. The world, and they that dwell therein.

Reading 8: For the rest, since many of those who are assembled here are charged with the care of a wife, and with providing for a family, and with the bringing-up of children, and therefore cannot devote themselves wholly to this study; let them at least bestir themselves to receive what others have gathered; showing as much eagerness in listening to what is said about him as in acquiring wealth. For though it is unseemly to demand from you no more than this, yet it is to be wished that you do this at least.

R Show me your ways O Lord and teach me your paths; lead me forth in your truth * For you are the God of my salvation; in you has been my hope all the day long
V: O remember not the sins and offences of my youth, O Lord
R:For you are the God of my salvation; in you has been my hope all the day long
V Glory be...
R:For you are the God of my salvation; in you has been my hope all the day long

Nocturn III: Sermon of St Augustine on John 2 (Tract 9)

Reading 9: From the holy Gospel according to John (John 2:1-11)
In that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage. And so on.

Even setting aside any mystical interpretation, the fact that the Lord was pleased to be asked, and to go to a marriage, showeth plainly enough that He is the Author and Blesser of marriage. There were yet to be those of whom the Apostle hath warned us as forbidding to marry ; who say that marriage is a bad thing in itself, and a work of the devil. Yet we read in the Gospel that when the Lord was asked, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? He answered that it was not lawful, except it were for fornication. In which answer ye will remember that He used these words : What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

R. Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
* O my God, I trust in thee, let me not be ashamed.
V. O keep my soul and deliver me.
R. O my God, I trust in thee, let me not be ashamed.

Reading 10: They who are well instructed in the Catholic religion know that God is the Author and Blesser of marriage ; and that, whereas joining together in marriage is of God, divorce is of the devil. But it is lawful for a man to put away his wife in case of fornication, for by not keeping a wife's faith to her husband she herself hath first willed not to be wife.

R: You have afflicted us for our sins, every day we expect our end with tears; let the sorrows of our heart come before you O Lord * That you may deliver us from the evils that have come upon us
V: O Lord God of Israel, hear our prayers, hearken unto the sorrows of our heart
R: That you may deliver us from the ills that are come upon us

Reading 11: They also who have made a vow of their virginity to God and have thereby attained to an higher degree of honour and holiness in the Church, are not unmarried, for they are a special part of the marriage of the whole Church, which is the Bride of Christ.

R. My sins, O Lord, are fixed in me, like arrows, but before they caused wounds in me,
* Heal me, O God, with the medicine of repentance.
V. For I know my iniquity, * and my sin is always before me.
R. Heal me, O God, with the medicine of repentance.

Reading 12: Lord, being asked, went to the marriage, to strengthen the marriage tie, and to shed light on the hidden meaning of matrimony. In that marriage feast the Bridegroom to whom it was said, " Thou hast kept the good wine until now," was a figure of the Lord Christ, Who hath kept until now the good wine, namely the Gospel.

R: One Seraph cried unto another
* Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts the whole earth is full of His glory.
V. There are Three That bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost and these Three are One.
R. Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. The whole earth is full of His glory.

Gospel: St John 2:1-11


And the third day, there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee: and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, to the marriage.  And the wine failing, the mother of Jesus saith to him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is that to me and to thee? my hour is not yet come.  His mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.  And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now, and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it.  And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water; the chief steward calleth the bridegroom,  And saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee; and manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

Monday, 9 January 2017

New translation resource - Vulgate, Douay-Rheims and Knox side-by-side

A reader has kindly alerted me to a new translation resource, from Baronius Press, providing the Vulgate, Knox and Douay-Rheims translations side-by-side online.

These are my three 'go to' translations, and having them in one place is extremely helpful.

Three key comparison points

The Vulgate is the key text as far as I'm concerned, since it is the language of the breviary and Missal, and used by most of the Western Fathers and Theologians for centuries.

I have to admit that I like New Advent's provision of the Greek  (Septuagint for the Old Testament) as well, but their shift from Douay-Rheims to the Knox version was problematic for me.  the problem is that while the Knox translation is very beautiful and often very clear, it is not very literal, and sometimes follows the Hebrew Masoretic Text version rather than the Septuagint-Vulgate tradition.

The new 'Catholic Bible Online' solves this problem by putting the two English translations side-by side with the Vulgate.

This is what it looks like:

Vulgate><Douay-Rheims><Knox Bible
1

In principio creavit Deus cælum et terram.
1

In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.
1

God, at the beginning of time, created heaven and earth.
2

Terra autem erat inanis et vacua, et tenebræ erant super faciem abyssi: et spiritus Dei ferebatur super aquas.
2

And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters.
2

Earth was still an empty waste, and darkness hung over the deep; but already, over its waters, stirred the breath of God.

You can also look at the three versions on their own, and the Douay-Rheims version has an option to show the Challoner notes.

Format

The site's layout is clear and simple, and very nicely done.

While the side-by-side version is in a table, the individual versions are not, making it easy to cut and paste (much more so than New Advent) for one's own lectio purposes.

The only minor quibble I have is in names for books of the Bible in the index column, which follow the traditional format - so Books 1-IV of Kings (instead of 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings); 1&2 Paralipomenon (instead of Chronicles), etc. This will be puzzling to those used to  modern editions of the Bible.  In some cases they have added the alternative name, such as Nehemiah for 2 Esdras, but it would be nice to include them all, for the benefit of newcomers to tradition.

All in all though, a wonderful resource.

Fathers and the tradition

Once you've looked at the translations of the text though, you will want to look at the commentaries on the text; how it has been understood by the tradition, and for that purpose, New Advent has some fantastic resources, with more translations of Patristic sources being added all the time.  So do go check it out as well!