30 June 2022

The Precious Blood

Perhaps even more than the Sacred Heart, tomorrow's great Feast represents the instincts embodied in the old English affection for the cult of the Redeemer's Five Wounds. Here is Fr Caswall's translation of the Lauds Office Hymn for July 1:

Hail, wounds! which through eternal years The love of Jesus show; Hail, Wounds! from whence unfailing streams Of grace and mercy flow.
More precious than the gems of Ind, Than all the stars more fair; Nor honeycomb, nor fragrant rose, Can once with you compare.
Through you is open'd to our souls A refuge safe and calm, Whither no raging enemy Can reach to work us harm.
What countless stripes did Christ receive Naked in Pilate's hall! From his torn flesh how red a shower Did all around him fall!
How doth th'ensanguined thorny crown That beauteous brow transpierce! How do the nails those hands and feet Contract with tortures fierce!
He bows his head, and forth at last His loving spirit soars; Yet even after death His heart For us its tribute pours.
Beneath the winepress of God's wrath His Blood for us He drains, Till for Himself, oh wondrous love! No single drop remains.
Oh, come, all ye on whom abide The deadly stains of sin! Come! wash in this encrimsoned tide, And ye shall be made clean.
Praise Him, who with the Father sits Enthroned upon the skies; Whose blood redeems our souls from guilt, Whose Spirit sanctifies.

Not as sure-footed as translations by John Mason 'Patrimony' Neale, is it? Incidentally, with regard to the antepenultimate stanza, Neale claimed, on physiological grounds, that the word 'roseo' in the hymn Ad coenam Agni related to the 'fact' that the last drop or two from a body almost totally drained of blood ... are rosy rather than red. A recent correspondent, a doctor in A & E, confirmed the accuracy of this.

1 comment:

Chris said...

A couple of thoughts:

For me the critical difference between Neale and Caswall as translators is that Neale almost always translates into the original metre, so his versions can be used with the chant melodies. Caswall, working with only extra-liturgical use in mind, never does so.

On the roseate blood, when the Latin was originally written and, though even then diminishing, in Neale's time, a far greater proportion of the population than now were involved with agriculture and animal husbandry/slaughter/butchery, so would have known that.