1 February 2021

A Preface for the Gesimas? (1)

Around this time last year, the CDF took action. Interested readers will know that this dicastery has the role of the nice old Sacred Congregation of Rites with regard to the Authentic Form of the Roman Rite. And there is a bonus: their intervention caused fury to some "liturgist" called Grillo. His view is that it is wrong  to make any alterations to the Authentic Form because that is already crystalised into immutable obsolescence. How do we know that it is so crystalised? Because it has not been changed ... a fine example, yes, of a circular argument? 

The CDF changes (which were all optional) related to Prefaces (and, in a separate Decree, to the Calendar). Introduction of more prefaces had been encouraged by Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum. And, indeed, by indult certain additional prefaces of eighteenth century French origin ('Gallican') had already long been used within the SSPX and elsewhere. So what did the CDF do?

It consulted.

In one of its consultation documents, it had included a 'Gallican' preface for Advent. And also a preface for the Gesima Sundays. But in its final Decree, it omitted these two prefaces (but dropped a hint that this did not preclude the possible granting of other prefaces). The change, it explaind, was because the spirit of the Authentic Form in the twentieth century had become inimical to additional  seasonal prefaces (All the new twentieth century prefaces had been for feasts, or requiems, not for seasons).

The rest of this post concerns the Gesima preface which the CDF had tentatively proposed but then abandoned.

This is an old preface tinkered with in the 1970s when it was included in the Novus Ordo. It is provided, in several old Sacramentaries, either for the last Sunday after Epiphany or for Septuagesima itself. So I suppose it is ... sort of ... seasonal. My problem with it is that the Novus Ordo took liberties with the ancient texts. Same old story ...

Novus Ordo 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 spot: why are the subjunctive verbs put into 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, also called the Leonine Sacramentary, which I suspect has the earliest known version of this preface (at the 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".

Well, that solves my problems about Sequence of Tenses, doesn't it. These nice healthy perfect subjunctives seem already to have mutated into imperfects in the Sacramentarium Bergomense and the 'Gregorian' Missal. [Salvaris is by a common syncope for salvaveris. One source, incidentally, has its knickers in a real twist: it reads succurras.]

Are we to interpet the Verona Sacramentary 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 (I suspect) subsequent alterations. It is, indeed, roughly how current ICEL actually translates the formula.

I floated this question a couple of years ago, and was blessed with two very good comments, which I retain. Tomorrow I will offer a little exegesis ... or, you may feel, eisegesis.


Andreas Meszaros said...

The 1896 Cambridge Missal of St. Augustine’s Abbey, has it as: "ad cujus immensam pertinet gloriam ut non solum mortalibus tua PIETATE succurreres ..."

Oxford Leofric Missal of 1883 follows the same wording and so does the Migne Patrologia Latina.

Stephen v.B. said...

One might imagine that the textual corruption (for that does indeed seem the most likely option) of the perfect subjunctives in [-ris] to imperfect subjunctives in [-res] could have been triggered by a copyist who failed to recognize the syncopated form salvaris (rare, I think, in this particular form). The whole situation reminds me a bit of the occasional corruption of [-erant] into [-erunt], as dealt with by A.E. Housman in his lecture 'On the Application of Thought to Textual Criticism'.

As an aside: on the rhythmical level, the final salvaris delivers a nice cursus planus to contrast with the cursus tardus of the preceding four cola. That might have been an incentive to use the syncopated form in the first place, instead of the full salvaveris. Just a thought!

Stephen said...

More evidence of our devolution to something less that we are today. If culture is based on the cult, and the cult is debased, so too will be the culture. A friend alerted me to a film, not well received, but nonetheless remarkable for its prescience.
"...it follows an American soldier who takes part in a classified hibernation experiment, only to be accidentally frozen for too long and awaken 500 years later in a dystopian[2] world where dysgenics and commercialism have run rampant, mankind has embraced anti-intellectualism, and society is devoid of such traits as intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, justice, and human rights."