16 April 2014

(For classicists) Pange lingua ...

... gloriosi; and how glorious Venantius' hymn is. And how admirable that Dom Lentini's boys gave us back, in the Liturgia Horarum, something approaching the authentic text. The nominative (or accusative) absolute in Lustra sex ... peracta even survives: cleverly promoted to the licit status of a praedicativum obiecti!

But I am a bit disappointed by the survival of the old emendation ferre saecli pretium. The original is ferre pretium saeculi*, which was the text offered in the first draft Hymni instaurandi Breviarii Romani of Coetus VII. Here pretium is to be pronounced pretzum. This is to be expected in Late Latin: texts survive in which negotiator is spelt, by someone writing his Latin phonetically in the Greek alphabet, as nagouzatro; we even find gaudioso written as gauzioso. Saecli, of course, is a perfectly acceptable syncope for saeculi; but why replace the words of Venantius? Is it not part of the joy of saying one's office in Latin that linguistic markers survive from all the different centuries through which the Latin liturgy has made its august way? A permanent monument to the Hermeneutic of Continuity?
*The same problem arises in the Vexilla regis. The problem of course is that, in chant, if one pronounces pretium as having three syllables, the line is one syllable too long for the rhythm. The Coetus got round this in their first draft by printing preti in italics.


Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

The only Hour of the Office I can pray with reasonable fluency and understanding in Latin is Compline, yet I persevere, and hope that one day, I will be able to manage the full horarium :-)

Heath said...

One of the delightful moments in my undergraduate education was translating the hymns in my mediaeval Latin class for Dr. Eaker at Rice university, then showing up at the next class able to sing them from memory. (We both sang in choir.) I was hooked from then on.