19 March 2019

Te Ioseph ...

Naturally you want to know all about the hymn Te Ioseph celebrent agmina caelitum, found in the Breviary Office of S Joseph.

The lyric metre is (what Nisbett and Hubbard classified as) the "Second Asclepiad". It was used in Greek by the early Lesbian lyric poet Alcaeus, but the form we find in the Breviary is that standardised by Horace in Latin. Each stanza consists of three 'minor Asclepiads' followed by a 'Glyconic'.

Unlike the Sapphic metre (also of Lesbian origin), this metre did not attain the same enormous popularity among Christian hymnographers, although those of you who use the Liturgia Horarum will find, if you turn to S Jerome on the 30th of September, a modern hymn in this metre probably written by Dom Anselmo Lentini. He explained that this was the only metre in which S Jerome's name could be metrically included!! Whether you deem the name to be, with five syllables, Hi-er-on-ym-um, or with four syllables, Je-ro-ny-mum, you can fit it in after laude. Geddit?

What a lot of trouble Dom Anselmo and his coetus did go to in order to fulfil the Conciliar mandate with regard to the Hymnology of the Office ... little knowing that in half a decade the recitation of the Office in Latin would, to all intents and purposes, have disappeared ... disappeared despite the explicit mandate in Sacrosanctum Concilium that the use of Latin by clerics in the Office should be maintained. What a corrupt decade that was. Whenever I hear the mendacious sectaries, the lying herd, claim that the liturgical "reforms" did what the Council had ordered, it makes me want to kick people.

However, one should not go around kicking poor deceived deluded people who have been taught a pack of diabolical lies by others far wickeder than themselves. So back to S Joseph ...

Te Ioseph  was written by a Carmelite, John Escallar a Conceptione, about whom I only know that he died in 1700. In other words, this composition is the fruit of the classicising Counter-Reformation. An exquisitely elegant fruit.

One oddity. The line Post mortem reliquos sors pia consecrat. Lentini explained that the original text was Post mortem reliquos mors pia consecrat. Others deserve their rewards after their deaths, because of the sanctity of their deaths. But S Joseph got his goodies during his earthy life as he guarded the Holy Family. Dom Anselmo explains that the original line won't do, because it contains a certain word-play, mortem ... mors, acceptable in that century but unpopular (invisus) nowadays.

Oh dear ...


E sapelion said...

I wish I could follow this essay, however I never advanced beyond the /soldierly simplicties//political self aggrandisement/ of Caesar. Eheu, even that has faded over 65 years of little use, and that decreasing.

Unknown said...

Lentini in Te decet hymnus (1984) says that the noble hymn had been ascribed to John Escallar O.Carm. but that of the hymns proposed by him only one was accepted while for the other three the Congregation of Rites used the ones composed by the famous Girolamo Casanate (+1700), of which Te Joseph is one. He refers to Estudios Josephinos, Valladolid, 1957, 92ss. and P. Fuentes Valbuena, Hymni..., in Palaestra Latina, Caesaraugustae 1969, 115ss.

The hymn as modified by Lentini fixes the mors/sors problem by changing the line to

Electos reliquos mors pia consecrat

For what it's worth. Fr Alban

Richard Chonak said...

Dear Fr. Hunwicke,

We needn't give Don Anselmo sole credit or fault for the use of "sors pia" in the fourth stanza. It also appears in the 1912 Liber Antiphonarius. Apparently someone wanted to improve on the text already then, or perhaps earlier.

With best regards.