10 November 2015

My problems with a Novus Ordo Preface (only for the Latinate)

Praefatio III de Dominicis per Annum.

VD ... omnipotens aeterne Deus: Ad cuius immensam gloriam pertinere cognoscimus ut mortalibus tua Deitate succurreres; sed et nobis provideres de ipsa mortalitate nostra remedium, et perditos quosque unde perierant, inde salvares, per Xtm Dnm nostrum.

I first started thinking about this ... you know how it is  ... because I couldn't think of the answer to a rather obvious question which a III Former could probably suss: why are the subjunctive verbs in Historic Sequence (i.e. Imperfect Subjunctives)? I still haven't shifted this log-jam in my mind ...

In despair, I ended up, as one does, looking at the Verona Sacramentary, which I suspect has the earliest known version of this preface (beginning of October). Basic differences are these: for the "pertinere cognoscimus" VS simply had "pertinet"; and the subjunctive verbs were in the Perfect Subjunctive: "succurreris ... provideris ... salvaris". These perfect subjunctives seem already to have mutated into imperfects in the Sacramentarium Bergomense and the 'Gregorian' Missal.

Are we to interpet the VS version as "It pertains to your ginormous glory that you have succoured ... have provided ... have saved ...?" This seems to me to make better sense and grammar than the subsequent alterations. It is, indeed, roughly how current ICEL renders the formula. Did 'they' change 'pertinet' to 'pertinere cognoscimus' so that 'pertinere' could stand for an aorist 'pertinuit' in  Oratio obliqua?

You see what a whirl my poor wrinkly mind is going round in ... it's Old Age ... I'm sure sharp young things out there will be able to explain everything in a trice ... it would be nice if somebody would ...


Zephyrinus said...

"Sharp Young Thing" here, dear Fr.

Further to your plea to explain in a trice, it's obvious (you've mentioned it yourself): It's IMPERFECT.

Next question ?

Andreas said...

Fr. Hunwicke:

There is also this, which makes perfect sense:

Gregorii Magni Liber Sacramentorum: Dominica VI post Theophaniam: praefatio:

Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus: ad cujus immensam pertinet gloriam, ut non solum mortalibus tua pietate succurreres, sed de ipsa etiam mortalitate nostra nobis remedium provideres, et perditos quosque unde perierant, inde salvares.

Kathleen1031 said...

Sorry Father, I know you're speaking English because I recognize the word "the", but the rest is undecipherable to me. My brain is wrinkly too, I'm afraid.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Kathleen

I thought it courteous to warn, in the title, that this was a plea for help addressed only to those who know a lot of Latin. I have no desire in the world to irritate people who honour me my being kind enough to visit my blog: Thank You! But from time to time I come across something technical and I know that there are people out there who may be able to help me. You wouldn't ban me from doing this, would you?

John Hunwicke

Philip said...

Dear Father Hunwike,

What about this: Though not strictly following the Sequence of Tenses, don't the imperfects--as well as the main clause's present tense--well express the timelessness of some "results" of God's immense glory? Could these clauses be described as Substantive Clauses of Result following an impersonal use of "pertinere"? Thus, rendering the Latin: "We know it pertains to your infinite glory to give aid to...; to provide for..., and to save... ." The ongoing action of imperfect tenses provides immediacy to the prayer, as opposed to the perfects' meaning of past action extending into the present, and using the timeless infinitive to translate seems to fit the Latin imperfects' sense nicely to the English.

Please excuse my ignorance if I have shown it, for my comments are based solely on the Latin, as I am not familiar with the sources you mention. I thought it would be fun to work on and just maybe helpful.


Kathleen1031 said...

Oh! My dear Father Hunwicke, and I do mean that in all sincerity, I am happy, happy as a clam, to read your questions and commentary on any topic you are so inclined to broach, knowing that, just like the dog that benefits from the crumbs that fall from the table, I can benefit as well from the conversation here. I have only been visiting your blog a short time, yet have derived an out-of-proportion amount of good from it, and I thank you. Your writing and commentary is edifying and enjoyable, and I am grateful. Please know my comment was just a joke on myself, that I did recognize the word "the". Attempts at humor do not always translate well in type.
God bless you!

Martin said...

Sometimes past tense can mean remoteness in likelihood rather than time, as in English, when 'would' can be part of a conditional, rather than just the past of will.
So it could be something like that - an attempt to make the request sound more indirect and polite - perhaps with influence from developments in Romance languages, if this is late Latin (in Spanish, for example, the past subjunctive which derives from this Latin imperfect subjunctive sometimes substitutes for the conditional tense).

Dale Crakes said...

From Dr Daintree in response to my sending him your blog entry.

I suppose the misreading of two perfect subjunctives as imperfects could happen easily enough when the present and perfect roots are virtually identical, but the change from salvaveris to salvares is not so easily accounted for.

I think this is a case in which the lectio simplicior might be potior! It is not much of a stretch to see an aorist implicit in the phrase pertinere cognoscimus.

It is, by the way, a very nice piece of writing whose author appears to know exactly what he is doing.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Dale,

Dr Daintree's remark rather puzzles me. Kennedy's Latin Primer, produced for schoolboys, points out that " ... we sometimes find shorter forms, in which -vi-, -ve-, do not appear", and, for an example, gives "amarim" instead of "amaverim". Indeed we do, and often. I doubt , in fact, if the -ve- was actually pronounced in spoken Latin.

The original form of the preface in the Verona ms has "pertinet". I fail to see how there can be an "aorist implicit" in "pertinet".

The Verona original, with pertinet, succurrerit, providerit, and salva[ve]rit, makes good sentence and is grammatically impeccable. I fail to see how Dr Daintree has elucidated or satisfactorily defended the mutated form.

John Hunwicke

Dale Crakes said...

A response from Dr Daintree Fr, an RC of your vintage an Latinist.
Dear Dale,

I have progressed a little beyond schoolboy Latin (just a little, mind), and of course I understand the frequent use of syncope in the first conjugation and I agree that the -ve– was probably not sounded in the spoken language – in the classical and late-classical periods. However in post-carolingian times, following the government-sponsored ‘regularisation’ of Latin usage, it is much more likely that the characteristic -v– of the perfect would have been pronounced, and as a fricative v, too, not a consonantal u. Syncope is therefore much less common in medieval Latin.

I agree that the Verona original (if it is in fact the original) makes good grammatical sense. But are we to understand that the editors of the Gregorian Missal (for example) deliberately changed the perfect subjunctives to imperfects, and substituted pertinet for pertinere cognoscimus? Or did they do so negligently? Though I cannot prove it from my Lewis and Short, I think that a case may be made for pertinere cognoscimus having an historic connotation: we know things now because we learned them in the past.

Best wishes,

Dr Daintree is the director of http://www.dawsoncentre.org/