11 February 2014

The Feast of our lady of Lourdes: for Latinists

At an early stage in the reforms which led from the Breviarium Romanum to the Liturgia Horarum, the genius presiding over Hymnology, Dom Anselmo Lentini, proposed to assign a Proper hymn, Omnis expertem, to this feast. Taken from the pre-Conciliar Propers, its ultimate origin was a local Office of our Lady of Lourdes granted to the Diocese of Tarbes (now 'Tarbes et Lourdes') in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII (extended to the Universal Roman Rite by Pope S Pius X in 1907). Its interest is increased by the fact that there are grounds for strongly suspecting that this hymn was composed by the Pontiff himself, Leo XIII, who was (like Pope S Leo the Great) a Latinist of distinction, as well as being an enthusiast promoter of the cultus of our Lady of Lourdes. (I wonder how Pope Francis spends his evenings!) Its text is at the bottom of the page.

Other hymns to our Lady which you might like to compare are these***; do you think a stylistic study supports, or otherwise, the attribution of Omnis expertem to Pope Leo?

*Te dicimus praeconio: Also perhaps by Leo XIII, and also composed for the Office of our Lady of Lourdes. Lentini transferred it in the Liturgia Horarum to the Immaculate Conception. Sadly, he changed the stately second line (Intacta Mater Numinis) to the somewhat prosaic Mater Dei purissima, on the grounds that Numinis "sapit mythologiam". (Vide Sacrosanctum Concilium 93; I can see the point when it applies to Olympus or Iuppiter tonans, but is there much wrong with numen?) 

*O lux beata and *Sacra iam splendent for the Feast of the Holy Family: certainly by Leo; Lentini knocked a couple of stanzas off the beginning of Sacra, thus turning it into Dulce fit. These two hymns survive from the Breviary into the Liturgia Horarum.

Here is the text of the hymn to our Lady of Lourdes, for those of you who lack a pre-Conciliar Breviary.

Omnis expertem maculae Mariam
edocet summus fidei magister;
Virginis gaudens celebrat fidelis
     terra triumphum.

Ipsa se praebens humili puellae
Virgo spectandam, recreat paventem,
seque conceptam sine labe sancto
     praedicat ore.

O specus felix, decorata divae
matris aspectu! veneranda rupes,
unde vitales scatuere pleno
     gurgite lymphae!

*Huc catervatim pia turba nostris,
huc ab externis peregrina terris
affuit supplex et opem potentis
     Virginis orat.

*Excipit mater lacrimas precantum,
donat optatam miseris salutem;
compos hinc voti patrias ad oras
     turba revertit.

Supplicum, Virgo, miserata casus,
semper o nostros refove labores,
impetrans maestis bona sempiternae
     gaudia vitae.

Sit decus Patri, genitaeque Proli,
et tibi, compar utriusque virtus,
Spiritus semper, Deus unus, omni
     temporis aevo.

* Lentini proposed to omit these two stanzas. Huc, hinc seemed to him to imply a Gallocentric world view!


viterbo said...

here is an online breviary:


Francis Arabin said...

Thanks, Father. This only serves to increase my admiration for Papa Pecci. Indeed, intacta mater numinis is certainly less sinning, and more beautiful than "alto ex olympi vertice". I like "columba formosissima".

Stan Metheny said...

For those of us who chant the _Liturgia Horarum_, _Omnis expertem_ is also in the 'Proprium monasticum' of the Liber Hymnarius.

Anonymous said...

For all of us who are no latinists but still remember some rudiments of their school latin, a translation can be found in www.divinumofficium.com and several latin explanations under