25 July 2019

S Anne (and S Joachim?)

I feel it was dreadfully sexist and patriarchal that the Novus Ordo should make the obscure S Joachim play first fiddle to his illustrious Spouse on today's Festival. After all, S Anne is the Patron of Lesser Britain; Titular of my wife's College here in Oxford; so popular a Saint in Medieval England and iconographically associated with the cause of female literacy. Even if the Novus Ordo did borrow the idea from the Benedictines, that is no excuse!

In the Library of the Dean and Chapter at Exeter is an unpublished fragment of a medieval liturgical book. It survived by being reused as scrap paper after that amusing episode which we call the 'Reformation'; it is closely associated with the great bishop John Grandisson, who dominated fourteenth century Exeter. Grandisson was a micromanaging control-freak with an immense and intense devotion to our Blessed Lady Matri Misericordiae. He codified and reformed the worship of his Cathedral; in doing this he provided carefully for the cultus of our Lady in her own chapel at the East end of the Cathedral. Every day there was to be Full Service there of the Mother of God; except that on a small number of days this was replaced by the Service of someone very closely associated with her. For example, S Gabriel ... and S Anne.

The fragment which survives at Exeter is clearly from a Mary Missal created for use in either that chapel or in the corresponding chapel in his collegiate foundation at Ottery. It gives us the Mass of S Anne. And what is interesting is that Grandisson was not content to provide it for his clergy to use; he checked and carefully corrected the text in his own handwriting. The Secret prayer shows this happening; it is a variant of a prayer we find in other medieval sources such as Sarum. This is how the scribe left it:

Sanctifica, Redemptor mundi, munera praesentis sacrificii, et beatae precibus Annae nobis eadem effice salutaria de cuius utero mater tua virgineae puritatis est egressa.

The genitive 'virgineae puritatis' appears to have nothing upon which to depend. Sarum suggests that after 'tua' there was the word 'aula' - our Lady was the 'Dwelling' of Virginal purity; 'aula' would easily slip out because of parablepsis resulting from homoeoteleuton. Grandisson spotted the omission but, I suspect, lacked an archetype from which to correct it*. So he supplied, ad sensum, the word 'flos' - flower.

This sort of thing somehow brings one very close to the dear, devout old tyrant. Incidentally, he ordered the Octave of the Assumption, which he selected for the date of his enthronement, to be kept for ever as a day of high rank. Three cheers for John 'Patrimony' Grandisson [pronounced Grahns'n].

Here is a rendering of the Collect in that Mass:

God, who didst make blessed Anna, barren so long, fruitful with a glorious and saving offspring: grant we beseech thee; that all who, for love of the Daughter venerate the Mother, may deserve, in the hour of death, to rejoice in the presence of each.


*Logically, of course, it may be that he possessed a master copy which gave a different reading from what eventually got into Sarum.

1 comment:

Todd said...

What an absolutely beautiful Collect !