29 March 2024

EXSULTET: some notes (1)

piaculi ... pio cruore is nice little Latin pun which won't go into English (?).

patres nostros filios Israel educens de aegypto. I am glad that patres nostros (ICEL: 'our forebears, Israel's children') survived; it is very important to remember and to emphasise the identity between the 'Fathers' who escaped through the Red Sea; and ourselves. 'Our Religion' is not some sort of successor to Judaism; we are the authentic people of God, the old promises now having been fufilled. That is why the Canon of the Mass so confidently refers to Abraham as 'our  Patriarch'.

Later in the Exsultet, the authentic text blesses warmly the Night which 'despoiled' the Egyptians, but enriched the Hebrews'. That, again, is a reference to us; and it is a shame (anti-semitic?) that the post-Conciliar 'reformers' eliminated it.

Haec nox est ... The Exsultet treats the Night as if it were a person ('hypostasisation'?). This is particularly striking when the words proclaim that this Blessed Night is the only one (sola) which meruit scire tempus et horam of the Resurrection (ICEL: 'worthy alone to know'). Hypostasisation ... what parallels are there; how far back does the usage go? The parallel which sticks in my mind is the beginning of Job chapter 3, where the Night of Job's Birth is hypostasised so that it can be roundly cursed! It occurs to me that this literary trope should not be ticked off as ... a literary trope, but viewed as an example of the realism with which we embrace the gifts of the God who has created Day and Night; the seasons ...

O felix culpa ... I recollect that, some time ago, the C of E produced a silly little book called Lent Holy Week and Easter, which omitted this passage. It also encouraged the antisemitic nonsense of not lighting the Paschal Candle until after the Prophecies ... as if the centuries of the 'Old Covenant' were just a deplorable period of unrelieved Darkness. (ICEL: 'O happy fault, that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer'. Knox [vide infra]: 'O blessed Iniquity'.)

curvat imperia ... I love this bit. Imperium means the power of a lawful Magistrate to command with the right to be obeyed. It was a concept taken very seriously both during the Republic and during the Principate/Empire. In these words of the Exsultet, subversion reaches its boldest pitch. (ICEL: 'brings down the mighty').

curvat means 'to force to bow down'; 'to bend over'. Knox rendered it "boweth down mighty princes". Knox's translation, incidentally, was used at the Church of England's most Tridentine seminary, St Stephen's House, and now has its proper place in the Ordinariate Missal.

On Saturday, I plan the second half of these Notes, when I hope to write a few words about the Missing Beasties: the Bees, which make only the most fugitive appearances in modern versions of the Exsultet.


vetusta ecclesia said...

I do not know what happens now but at one time, at Worth Abbey, the OT readings preceded the Lucenarium

Belfry Bat said...

Benedicite omnia opera Domini Domino...