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Articles on this Page
- 11/02/18--15:06: _The Premonstratensi...
- 11/03/18--05:00: _The Feast of All Sa...
- 11/03/18--15:27: _A New English Gradu...
- 11/04/18--05:00: _The Feast of All Sa...
- 11/04/18--13:45: _St Charles’ Final R...
- 11/05/18--06:03: _How Contrary Orient...
- 11/05/18--20:36: _The Feast of All Sa...
- 11/06/18--05:00: _A New Adoration Cha...
- 11/06/18--13:00: _Two Articles on Gre...
- 11/06/18--14:32: _The Feast of All Sa...
- 11/07/18--12:29: _Clear Creek Abbey C...
- 11/07/18--14:00: _The Feast of All Sa...
- 11/08/18--02:42: _St Charles’ Final R...
- 11/08/18--08:06: _The Octave of All S...
- 11/08/18--11:51: _Solemn Requiem in K...
- 11/08/18--14:11: _All Saints and All ...
- 11/09/18--05:00: _Christ the King wit...
- 11/09/18--09:00: _All Saints and All ...
- 11/09/18--16:48: _A Troped Epistle fo...
- 11/11/18--03:00: _The Feast of St Martin
- 11/02/18--15:06: The Premonstratensian Libera me, Domine
- 11/03/18--15:27: A New English Gradual for the Ordinariate
- 11/04/18--05:00: The Feast of All Saints 2018: The Angels
- 11/04/18--13:45: St Charles’ Final Retreat: The Monte Sacro di Varallo
- 11/05/18--06:03: How Contrary Orientations Signify Contradictory Theologies
- 11/05/18--20:36: The Feast of All Saints 2018: The Patriarchs and Prophets
- 11/06/18--05:00: A New Adoration Chapel Inspired by the Portiuncula in Assisi
- 11/06/18--13:00: Two Articles on Gregorian Chant
- Primacy of the word.
- Free rhythm.
- Unison singing.
- Unaccompanied vocalization.
- Emotional moderation.
- Unambiguous sacrality.
- 11/06/18--14:32: The Feast of All Saints 2018: the Apostles
- 11/07/18--12:29: Clear Creek Abbey Chant Weekend
- 11/07/18--14:00: The Feast of All Saints 2018: the Martyrs
- 11/08/18--02:42: St Charles’ Final Retreat: The Monte Sacro di Varallo (Part 2)
- 11/08/18--08:06: The Octave of All Saints 2018: The Confessors
- 11/08/18--14:11: All Saints and All Souls Photopost 2018 (Part 1)
- 11/09/18--05:00: Christ the King with St Ann Choir in Palo Alto, California
- 11/09/18--09:00: All Saints and All Souls Photopost 2018 (Part 2)
- 11/09/18--16:48: A Troped Epistle for the Dedication of a Church
- 11/11/18--03:00: The Feast of St Martin
R. Líbera me, Dómine, de morte aeterna * in die illa tremenda, * Quando caeli movendi sunt et terra, * dum véneris judicáre sáeculum per ignem.
V. j. Dies illa, dies irae, calamitátis et miseriæ, dies magna et amára valde, quando caeli movendi sunt et terra.
V. ij. Tremens factus sum ego et tímeo, dum discussio vénerit atque ventúra ira in die illa tremenda.
V. iij. Quid ego misérrimus, quid dicam, vel quid faciam, cum nil boni pérferam ante tantum júdicem in die illa tremenda?
V. iv. Plangent super se omnes tribus terrae; vix justus salvabitur, et ego miser ubi parebo in die illa tremenda?
V. v. Nunc, Christe, te déprecor, miserére, pie; qui venisti redímere nos, perpetim veni salvare in die illa tremenda, quando caeli movendi sunt et terra, dum véneris judicáre sáeculum per ignem.
R. Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death on that awful day * when the heavens and the earth shall be shaken, when Thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
V. j. That day shall be a day of wrath, of calamity and misery, a great day, and exceeding bitter. When the heavens and the earth shall be shaken.
V. ij. Trembling do I become, and fearful, when the trial and wrath shall come on that awful day.
V. iij. What shall I say or do, most wretched man that I am, since I have no good to bring before so great a judge on that awful day?
V. iv. All the tribes of the earth shal weep for themselves, the just man shall scarcely be saved, and where shall, a wretched man, appear on that awful day?
V. v. Now, o Christ, I beseech Thee, have mercy, o Good one; Thou who came to redeem us, come ever to save us on that awful day when the heavens and the earth shall be shaken, when Thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the continuation of the sermon for the second day in the Octave of All Saints.
|The Virgin and Child with Ss Catherine and Barbara, by Simon Bening (1483/4-1561), ca. 1520. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons)|
The Gradual uses hieratic English (Prayer Book English), that elevated form of English that is most familiar to Catholics when they pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be (Lesser Doxology) and the Hail Holy Queen. It employs modern notation, which certainly aids accessibility for most contemporary readers. Its size and weight makes it entirely manageable in the hand, and the printing is easily readable. Readability is further aided by the tone or hue of the paper.
If someone is planning to order 10 or more copies, the price drops from $25 US to $15 US per copy (40% discount). Simply send an email to Fr Peter Stravinskas (firstname.lastname@example.org) with all of your contact information and the quantity you wish to order. He will forward that to the printer, who will contact you to arrange billing and shipping. Our thanks to Mr Wendell Clayton for sharing this information with us.
From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the continuation of the sermon for the second day in the Octave of All Saints.
The Cantoria, or Cantors’ Gallery of Florence Cathedral, by Donatello, 1433-38, now kept in the Cathedral Museum. (Public domain image from Wikimedia)
|A representation of St Charles praying at the chapel of Christ’s Agony in the Garden.|
For starters, the custom of all Christians either offering or participating in the Eucharistic liturgy facing East has the same apostolic roots and the same universality in Church history as the use of water baptism, the praying of the Psalms, the worship of the risen Christ on Sunday, the veneration of the Mother of God and the saints, and of their relics. As a matter of fact, eastward orientation predates the use of official priestly vestments, consecrated church buildings, and the very Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed that we recite every Sunday. Does that make it old enough and widespread enough to take seriously? If not, why do we take the other things seriously? They should be just as dispensable, or more so.
Think of it this way: Would you, if you are a practicing Catholic, want Sunday to be abolished, replaced by another day of the week, or simply taken off the roster? That would be an unthinkable deviation from Christian practice. Would you want all the Psalms removed from the Mass and the Divine Office? Should we replace water baptism with a civil naming ceremony, or stop honoring our Blessed Mother because it might make us feel like immature children or offend anti-maternal feminists? Have priests celebrating in jeans and T-shirts, because that's the common clothing of our day, as robes and cloaks were the common clothing of ancient times? Impossible! It cannot be that something we have done for millennia should suddenly be dropped.
But this is exactly what we have done with ad orientem worship. For nearly 2,000 years, clergy and faithful together faced in the same direction in expectation of Christ and in adoration of Him, the One who already comes in mystery in the Most Holy Eucharist, the One who is to come manifestly at the end of the world to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.
Ad orientem preserves the eschatological orientation of the liturgy. When Christians first gathered on Sundays to worship the Lord, they were anticipating the second coming of Christ — this seems to be the very oldest characteristic of our corporate worship. As Dom Gregory Dix notes, the “primordial form” of Sunday was not so much a feast looking back to the resurrection of Christ on the first Easter, or to any particular mystery or moment of His earthly life, but rather a looking forward with longing to the Lord’s return in glory, imploring Him to deliver us from the evils of sin, death, and hell. Sunday Mass was about the life of the world to come, which the early Christians, suffering bitter and horrific trials, must have thought about a great deal as they hoped and prayed that they would remain faithful: “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” For this reason, the eastward focus of prayer was a poignant symbol: after the dark and cold night, the sun will rise gloriously on the eastern horizon, shedding light and warmth.
Not to mention all the Scripture passages, repeatedly commented on by the Church Fathers, that either call Christ the East, or say that He ascends to the East, or that He will come from the East (cf., inter alia, Ps. 67:34; Acts 1:10–11; Mt. 24:27; Zech. 6:11–12).
In turning the priest towards the people, we decisively severed ourselves from that which was most ancient, most intrinsic, and most distinctive in our worship as Christians. When we return to ad orientem, we return decisively to the fundamentals of Christian faith and its original practice. Ironically, in adopting the novelty of versus populum — a supposed “return to the earliest practice” in the judgment of mid-20th century scholars, whose conclusions have all been overturned by the work of subsequent scholars — we ended up losing the most ancient element of all.
Hence, the ad orientem stance simply expresses the act of worship as such, whereas the versus populum stance contradicts it outright. This is why it is not merely unfitting but antithetical to religion. The theologian Max Thurien, writing (somewhat surprisingly) in the official Vatican journal Notitiae, observed, in a statement that anticipated Ratzinger’s similar and more famous remark in The Spirit of the Liturgy:
The whole celebration [of Mass] is often conducted as if it were a conversation and dialogue in which there is no longer room for adoration, contemplation, and silence. The fact that the celebrants and faithful constantly face each other closes the liturgy in on itself.Along the same lines, the papal master of ceremonies Guido Marini remarked at a conference in Rome:
In our time, the expression “celebrating facing the people” has entered our common vocabulary. … [S]uch an expression would be categorically unacceptable the moment it comes to express a theological proposition. Theologically speaking, the holy Mass, as a matter of fact, is always addressed to God through Christ our Lord, and it would be a grievous error to imagine that the principal orientation of the sacrificial action is the community. Such an orientation, therefore, of turning towards the Lord must animate the interior participation of each individual during the liturgy. It is likewise equally important that this orientation be quite visible in the liturgical sign as well.Marini helps us to see not only that the object of liturgy should always be God, or the God-man Jesus Christ, never mere man, but also that this objective orientation (we cannot avoid the East even in our ordinary way of speaking!) should be visible, evident to the senses, easily grasped by the intellect, and easily translated into the movement of the will that we call love, which is ordered to the good — to a good outside of ourselves, in the case of our ultimate end.
I will characterize the contrast between the contradictory postures in terms of their subject/object signification.
In the ad orientem arrangement, the subject/object appears as man/God. The priest both looks and acts like an image of Christ, the mediator between God and man. Paradoxically, the ceremonial centrality of the priest in the old rite serves to emphasize that God is the one and only object of worship, since the priest is so obviously assimilated to his office as alter Christus.
In the versus populum arrangement, the subject/object appears as people/priest. The priest, even with the best of intentions and behavior, looks and acts like an empowered facilitator of a communal event; the vis-à-vis positioning confers on him a sort of autocratic prominence as the one to whom the congregation is subordinated and beholden. This may be the psychological reason why some priests overcompensate with informality, jokes, banter, smiles, waves, applause, or what have you — the priest’s very “over-againstness” in versus populum seems to demand a downplaying of the over-against by means of emphasizing that he’s really “one of us,” after all! How sad that the one true and obvious way of representing that the priest is “one of us” — namely, by having him face in the same direction as everyone else and offer the sacrifice on their behalf, the very same sacrifice they are offering in the hearts — has been discarded as an opaque and expired symbol, to be replaced by a format that turns the Mass into something done towards the people and, in a sense, imposed upon them. In reality, the Mass is something Jesus Christ according to His human nature does towards the Most Holy Trinity, as the great prayer “Suscipe, Sancta Trinitas” perfectly expresses — and we are permitted to join in.
Kathleen Pluth brilliantly captures the problem and the solution. Having said that she hates being a cause of distraction to others by cantoring in the front of a church and that she much refers finding refuge in a choir loft (singers should be heard and not seen), she then turns to the celebrant of the Mass:
The role of the priest is exponentially more complex. He cannot hide. His role is inherently, and in some regards primarily, visible, leading the congregation through the veil, into the Holy of Holies. We follow him, as he expresses in the highest possible way his conformity to Jesus, our advocate before the Father. For centuries the symbolism of our “following” the priest was clear. However, in the postconciliar period, and without a direct referrent in the Council’s documents themselves, the character of the priest’s relationship to the people has been visibly distorted by the versus populum posture.Accordingly, it was much to the devil’s advantage to turn the priest around to the people, creating a charmed circle of neighborly affirmation that brought the experience of the Mass down to the level of a horizontal exchange, a back-and-forth in everyday speech. There is nothing transcendent about that; on the contrary, God is domesticated, tamed, manipulable — not a recipient of sacrifice but a subject of conversation.
When people face each other, they aim to please. They make eye contact; they smile encouragingly. There is a word for such gestures: flattery. People flatter their priests and their priests flatter them, at an average ratio of, say, 500 to 1. None of this is encouraged in the Council documents. The versus populum posture is specifically worldly. It sets up the priest, not as a model to follow, but as a talk show host to be flattered insofar as he delights us. There are no good reasons for this.
The lines of sight to God should be made clear in the Liturgy (see Pseudo-Dionysius’ Ecclesiastical Hierarchy for a beautiful exposition of how this should work), but instead our path towards God is obscured by the distracting cycle of eye-contact and feedback. The Sunday liturgy is for everyone their primary and for many their only contact with the Church. As such, its symbols should express the truth, including the truth about ecclesial relationships, which should not be a matter of flattery but of service. The Psalmist sings, “Let your priests be clothed with holiness/The faithful shall ring out their joy.” Ad orientem posture lets priests be priests and the people be themselves too, all facing God together.
In the Western context, moreover, where the use of a sacral language had been the nearly universal and exceptionless practice for most of the Church’s history, the sudden introduction of the vernacular — until recently, a bland and boorish vernacular, at that — contributed to this serpentine leveling as well. Ad orientem, use of Latin and plainchant, and kneeling for communion are simple but potent ways to repudiate the democratic horizontalism that has afflicted the liturgy for the past fifty years. The dismantling of these things — the removal of communion rails, the practice of communion standing (again, I speak within the Western experience as it developed over the second millennium), the reception of communion in the hand, the abolition of the acolyte with the paten, and so forth — all of these are consistent with a larger perspective of the warping of the act of worship into an act of precipitous self-esteem, one that is hauntingly reminiscent of the scenario played out in the Garden of Eden.
 Of course, this topic has been taken up many times at NLM, but there are always more angles from which to pursue it, and we will never leave it alone. Here are some earlier articles: “Why Does Facing Ad Orientem Matter?”; “The Marian Character of Ad Orientem Worship”; “The Priestly Character of Ad Orientem Worship”; “Fr. Dwight Longenecker on Worship Ad Orientem”; “The Normativity of Ad Orientem Worship According to the Ordinary Form’s Rubrics.”
 See Dom Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer, “Towards the Second Coming: Facing the Liturgical East.”
 All these texts and more, with good commentary, may be found in this article: “Convertere, Israël, ad Dominum Deum Tuum!: A Benedictine Monk Defends Worshiping Eastwards.”
 This argument is developed at greater length in my article “Mass ‘Facing the People’ as Counter-Catechesis and Irreligion.”
 Max Thurian, “La Liturgie, contemplation du mystère,” Notitiae 32 (1996), 692; reprinted in English in L’Osservatore Romano, 24 June 1996, p. 2.
 The full text may be found here.
 The article may be found here.
From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the continuation of the sermon for the second day in the Octave of All Saints.
We are not out of the woods yet in regard to the recovery of our art and architectural traditions in the Church in the West. Steadily, however, we are seeing more and more projects like this, at ordinary parishes (I mean that as a compliment) which want to put resources into creating places of beauty. Many of these, in the Roman Church at least, tend to focus on artistic styles derived from classical naturalism. That is absolutely fine. But there are other traditions, and I am particularly pleased to see a congregation looking to the Gothic period for inspiration as well.
Here are some images of the original in Assisi, interior and exterior.
Sara told me, “I often pray for a Catholic Renaissance (faith, culture, arts, etc.), so if you feel inclined to mention the names of some of the talented people who brought it to fruition, and could help others, they are: Rodney Fager (architect), Chris Castrop (Lead Designer), Straub Construction, Byrne Custom Woodworking (altar, pews, and spiral columns on reredos), New Guild Studios (oil paintings), Lynchburg Studios (stained glass).”
Happy to do so!
From “A brief history of chant from King David to the present”:
The tradition of chanting Scripture, a practice known as cantillation, began at least 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. Various Old Testament books, especially the Psalms and the Chronicles, testify to the central function of music in temple worship. Some Gregorian melodies still in use are remarkably close to Hebrew synagogue melodies, most notably the “tonus peregrinus” used for Psalm 113, In exitu Israel; the ancient Gospel tone; and the Preface tone.Its sequel, “What makes Gregorian chant uniquely itself—with recommended recordings,” eight characteristics are identified and discussed:
Since the Psalter of David was composed for the very purpose of divine worship and was seen as the messianic book par excellence, we find Peter, Paul, and the Apostolic Fathers citing it heavily in their preaching. The first Christians spontaneously chose the Psalter for their “prayer book.” The Christian liturgy as a whole, then, sprang from the combination of Psalter and Sacrifice. The psalter is the “verbal incense” of our prayers and praises, the homage of our intellects. The bloody sacrifice, the death and destruction of an animal, is the total surrender of our being to God. In the Mass these two are wondrously combined into the rational sacrifice consisting of the perfect offering of Jesus Christ on the altar, who unites our prayers and praises to His and makes them worthy of the Ever-Blessed Trinity.
|Christ and the Twelve Apostles, by the Master of Seu d’Urgell, ca. 1100. Altar panel, now in the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona. (Public domainimage from Wikimedia Commons.)|
|Clear Creek Abbey, Hulbert, Oklahoma|
I arrived on Friday afternoon just in time to check in and get a quick bite to eat at Bethany House (the quarters for visiting women) before going over to the Abbey for Vespers with the monks; this was followed by introductions, an instruction session on the singing of Compline, and the singing Compline in the upper church.
Br. Bachmann took us through the basics of the Gregorian staff, the pattern for singing the Divine Office, and the basics of the simpler neumes. When we left the abbey to go back to our respective guest quarters, it was pitch dark on the secluded grounds of the abbey – very conducive to a good night’s rest for an early start on Saturday morning.
Not wanting to miss anything, I rose early to go to low Mass at 7 am at the Abbey, after which I returned for a quick breakfast at Bethany House before our 8:30 class. The peace and silence of attending low Mass with the monks gave a wonderful start to the day. Watching the monks at the various altars offering the Mass was something like watching a sequenced choreography. Observing their prayers, gestures, the assistance of the servers for each priest… especially for those of us from dioceses where no regular Extraordinary Form liturgies are available, was an amazing experience.
Note: For the men staying at the abbey, attending Lauds with the monks before low Mass is also possible; women are requested to refrain from entering the abbey until after the morning Angelus bells are rung, according to custom.
|Morning view from the Abbey after Low Mass|
Many attending the course were local to the area, including families who moved specifically to be able to live near to the abbey. Others traveled from within Oklahoma to attend; a few, like myself, had a bit of a longer journey to get there.
|Class session in the lower level.|
|St. John the Baptist icon|
With each new chant, we learned 1) correct Latin pronunciation, as well as the translation of the text, 2) speaking the solfeggio for the melody, 3) singing the solfeggio with the melody and 4) singing the Latin text with the melody. During this short course, Br. Bachmann gave us a nice foundation in understanding the neumes (groups of notes, sung on a single syllable of text), rhythmic markings, the meaning of the bar markings (quarter bar, half-bar, full and double bar lines) and an understanding of the shape of the melody for each chant.
Br. Bachmann is a masterful teacher, easily adapting to the varying skill levels of the attendees to make it an enjoyable course for all.
|Saturday Mass in the upper level.|
Following Mass, the class participants enjoyed a nice lunch at St Martha’s, the guesthouse for married couples and families, just a short walk from the Oratory. Soon we all said our goodbyes and returned home, having enjoyed a wonderful, peaceful weekend with the monks of Clear Creek and learning more about Gregorian chant.
This weekend course is an ideal way to learn the basics of how to sing Gregorian chant in an absolutely beautiful setting, experiencing the wonderful Benedictine hospitality. The abbey offers this course each fall. Make plans to join them next year!
|Construction on the Abbey continues year by year...|
Clear Creek Abbey is located in Hulbert, Oklahoma, not far from Tulsa. For information about making a visit to the Abbey, visit their website at http://clearcreekmonks.org.
From the Breviary according to the use of the Roman Curia, 1529, the end of the sermon for the second day in the Octave of All Saints.
What does it profit the Saints that we should praise them or glorify them? What does this solemnity of ours benefit them? What are earthly honors to them whom, according to faithful promise of the Son, the heavenly Father honors? What are our commendations to them? They are full. It is indeed so, dearly beloved; the Saints have no need of our goods, and our devotion gives them nothing. It is for our sake, and not for theirs, that we honor their memory. … It is commonly said, “Out of sight, out of mind”. (literally “What the eye sees not, the heart does not long for.”) The memory is a kind of sight, and to think of the Saints, is to see them in a certain way. Such is our portion in the land of the living; no small portion, indeed, if love accompany remembrance as it ought. And so I say, our dwelling is in heaven, though in manner very different from theirs. For they are truly there, where we long to be; they are there in presence, we only in thought.
The Glory of All the Saints, by the Tuscan painter Giovanni da San Giovanni, 1630; fresco in the apse of the church of the Four Crowned Martyrs, Rome.
On Wednesday, December 5, at 7:30 p.m. the Stanford Early Music Singers will sing a concert titled “The Beginning and End of the Renaissance: Music from Dunstable to Monteverdi, including Josquin, Rore, Gallus, Lasso, & Palestrina.” The free concert will be held at the Stanford Memorial Church, 450 Serra Mall (on the Stanford University campus), in Stanford, California.
|A page of the Missal according to the Use of Cologne printed in 1494, with the troped Gloria for Masses of the Virgin in the left column, introduced by the rubric “Another (version of the) angelic hymn, of Our Lady on Saturdays and her feasts.”|
Ad decus ecclesiae recitatur hodie lectio libri Apocalypsis Johannis Apostoli, cui revelata sunt secreta caelestia. In diebus illis: talis divinitus ostensa est visio: Vidi civitatem sanctam Jerusalem novam, quae constituitur in caelis, honos ex lapidibus, descendentem de caelo nuptiali thalamo a Deo, paratam sicut sponsam ornatam viro suo super solem splendidum. Et audivi vocem magnam nuntiantem nova gaudia de throno dicentem: Veni, ostendam tibi, ecce tabernaculum Dei cum hominibus, et ad eum venient omnes gentes et dicent: Gloria tibi, Domine, et habitabit cum eis, nunc et in aevum. Et ipsi populus eius erunt, omnes Dei gratia, quos a morte redemit perpetua, et ipse Deus cum eis erit eorum Deus, qui moderatur cuncta creata: et absterget Deus omnem lacrimam ab oculis eorum, quorum non sol, luna, sed Christus vera est lucerna: et mors ultra non erit, sed caeli praemia perpetua, neque luctus, neque clamor, ubi cum beatis gloriantur, nova canunt Deo carmina, neque dolor erit ultra, gaudia permanent sempiterna, quia prima abierunt, justi florebunt. Et dixit, qui sedebat in throno in supernae majestatis arce: Ecce nova facio omnia. duo simul:
Sancti Spiritus gratia,
Per sacra mysteria
For the glory of the church is recited today a reading from the book of the Revelation of the Apostle John, to whom heavenly secrets were revealed.  In those days, a vision of this sort was divinely shown: I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, which is built in the heavens, honor from the stones,  coming down out of heaven, the bridal chamber, by God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, more splendid than the sun. And I heard a great voice, proclaiming new joys, saying from the throne: Come, I will show thee:  Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and all the nations will come to it, and say, “Glory to Thee, o Lord.”  And he will dwell with them now and forever. And they shall be his people, all by God’s grace, those whom He hath redeemed from everlasting death; and God himself with them shall be their God, who ruleth over all creaed things. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, whose true light is not the sun or moon, but Christ : and death shall be no more, but the rewards of heaven, everlasting, nor mourning, nor crying, where they glory with the blessed, and sing new songs to God, nor sorrow shall be any more, everlasting joys abide, for the former things are passed away. And he that sat on the throne in the height of supreme majesty, said: Behold, I make all things new. The two together:
By divine Providence,
And the Holy Spirit’s grace
Through the holy mysteries
The Church is renewed.
|The right wing of the St John Altarpiece, by Hans Memling, 1474-79.|
 A citation of the Vesper hymn for the Dedication of a Church, Urbs Jerusalem Beata. The cantors in this recording seem to have replaced the word “vivis” in “vivis ex lapidibus” with “honos - honor”.
 Apocalypse 21, 19
 A citation of the second responsory in the Office of a Dedication. “Fundáta est domus Dómini supra vérticem móntium, et exaltáta est super omnes colles: Et venient ad eam omnes gentes, et dicent: Gloria tibi, Dómine. - The house of the Lord is founded upon the height of the mountains, and exalted above all the hills, and all the nations will come to it, and say, ‘Glory to Thee, o Lord.’ ”
 Apocalypse 21, 23
Gaude Sion, quae diem recolis / Qua Martinus, compar Apostolis, / Mundum vincens, junctus caelicolis / Coronatur.
Rejoice, o Sion, who recall the day when Martin, equal to the Apostles, overcoming the world, is crowned among those that dwell in heaven.
|The full text of the sequence, here called “Prosa”, is given from the Paris Missal of 1602. (Click to enlarge)|
R. Hic est Martínus, electus Dei Póntifex, cui Dóminus post Apóstolos tantam gratiam conferre dignátus est, * Ut in virtúte Trinitátis Deíficae mererétur fíeri trium mortuórum suscitátor magníficus. V. Sanctae Trinitátis fidem Martinus confessus est. Ut.
R. This is Martin, God’s chosen Priest, upon whom, after the Apostles, the Lord deigned to bestow such great grace, * that in the power of the divine Trinity, three times he merited gloriously to raise the dead to life. V. Martin confessed the faith of the Holy Trinity. That.
The medieval liturgical commentator William Durandus explains why the liturgy refers to him in this fashion.
He is called “equal to the Apostles” not, as some people think, because he raised people from the dead, since many other martyrs and confessors have done the same; nor because of the multitude of his miracles, but especially because of one particular miracle... (while he was celebrating Mass) a globe of fire appeared over his head, by which it was shown that the Holy Spirit had descended upon him… as He came upon the Apostles at Pentecost. Whence he is rightly called “equal to the Apostles,” and is indeed equal to them in the liturgy. (VII, 37)Durandus also notes that among the feasts of Confessors, only Martin’s was considered important enough to be kept with an octave, as was the general custom in the Middle Ages, and in many places well beyond that. It was also the only feast of a Confessor kept with a proper Office in the medieval use of the Papal chapel at Rome, which formed the basis of the Tridentine liturgical books; not even the four great Doctors or Saint Benedict have their own Offices in the Roman Use.
The hymns of this Office, however, are taken from the Common of Confessor Bishops, in part because the Church has always been very conservative about new hymns, but also because the Vesper hymn Iste confessor was originally composed for St Martin. The original version of the third stanza (later changed under Pope Urban VIII) reads as follows:
Ad sacrum cujus túmulum frequenter / Membra languentum modo sanitáti, / Quólibet morbo fúerint graváti, / Restituuntur.
At whose sacred tomb the members of the sick are now often restored to health from whatsoever ailment weighed them down.
The basilica of St Martin at Tours was one of the most important pilgrimage shrines of the Middle Ages, and as the hymn notes, particularly renowned for miracles of healing. Not by coincidence does the Mass of St Martin share some of its parts with that of another famous wonder-worker, St Nicholas, who is named right after him in the Litany of the Saints. A great many medieval Uses also kept a second feast of the Saint on July 4, which commemorated two events: his episcopal ordination in 371, and the translation of his relics on the same day about a century later, roughly 70 years after his death, from his original burial place to a large basilica built over it. This church was rebuilt twice, in 1014, and again in 1230 after a fire, each time on a larger scale.
It was not, however, the cathedral of Tours, which is dedicated to St Gatian, Martin’s predecessor-but-one as bishop; his own church, while very important, was at first a monastery, and later a collegiate church. For much of the Middle Ages, the area around it was known as “Martinopolis,” later “Chateauneuf” (New Castle), and legally a separate city from Tours. An indication of its importance is the fact that the abbey had the right to mint its own coinage, known as the “livre tournois” (the “pound of Tours”, like the English pound-sterling), which became the coin of the realm in France, and remained so until the Revolution. Sadly, both the tomb and the relics of St Martin were mostly destroyed when the church was sacked by Protestants in 1562; the basilica itself was then razed during the French Revolution. A modern church was built to replace it in the later 19th-century; of the original there remains only the towers built on either side of it.
|Engraving showing the basilica of St Martin above. and the ruins of it after the first wave of destruction in the Revolution.|
Although St Martin lived to be about eighty, and was famous for many miracles both in life and after death, he is most commonly represented in an episode that took place when he was a young soldier, even before he was baptized, the famous story of the cloak. As told by his biographer Sulpicius Severus,
Once, when he had nothing but his weapons and the simple cloak of a soldier, in the midst of a colder-than-usual winter, such that many had already died, he met at the gates of Amiens a naked beggar. And since this man prayed the passers-by to have mercy on him, and they all just passed him by, the man of God understood that that man was reserved for him, since others showed him no mercy. But what could he do? He had nothing but the cloak with which he was clothed. … Therefore, taking his sword, … he cut it in half, gave part to the beggar, and clothed himself with the rest. … On the following night, when he had gone to sleep, he saw Christ clothed with the part of his cloak in which he had clothed the beggar. … Then he heard Jesus clearly say to the multitude of Angels that stood about Him: Martin, though yet a catechumen, covered me with this garment. (Vita Beati Martini, cap. 3. These words spoken by Christ are sung as the first antiphon of Matins of St Martin: “Martinus adhuc catechumenus hac me veste contexit.”)
|St Martin Divides His Cloak with a Beggar, by Simone Martini, in the lower basilica of St Francis of Assisi, 1320-25.|
The liturgical calendar also served the Middle Ages as an almanac for weather and agriculture, with many rules, customs and proverbs bound to certain feasts. One French tradition says that if there is a full moon on St Martin’s day, the winter will be very snowy. In Italy, his feast is connected with the opening of the “vino novello – the young wine”, which is to say, wine made earlier in the same year, generally very light in alcohol content. An Indian summer may also be called “St Martin’s summer” in England, and this is the standard term in Portugal and Italy. In Milan and Toledo, his feast is the key to the beginning of the liturgical year, since the six-week long Advent of the Ambrosian and Mozarabic liturgies starts on the Sunday after his feast.