Genesis and Responsories, Cont.: And They’re Back…

After a hiatus for the First Sunday in Lent, the responsories on Genesis return with the Second Sunday in Lent:

Tolle arma tua (CAO 7767)
R: Take up your weapons, quiver and bow, bring [something] from [your] hunting that I may eat, and my soul will bless you.
V: And when you bring back some game, then make me savory meat that I may eat. And my soul will bless you.
Sources: Gen 27:3-4. (Isaac prepares to bless Esau.)

Ecce odor filii (CAO 6601)
R: Behold the odor of my son is as the odor of a plentiful field that the Lord blessed. May my God make you increase as the sands of the seas and give to you the blessing of the dew of heaven.
V: The one who curses you, let him be cursed, and the one who blesses you, let him be filled with blessings. And give to you…
Sources: Gen 27:27b, 28, 29b. (The blind Isaac blesses Jacob.)

Det tibi Deus de rore coeli (CAO 6415)
R: May the Lord give to you the dew of heaven and the abundance of the fatness of the earth. Peoples, tribes will serve you; you will be lord over your brothers.
V: And the sons of your mother will bow before you. You will be lord over your brothers.
Sources: Gen 27:28, 29a. (The blind Isaac blesses Jacob.)

Dum exiret Jacob (CAO 6540)
R: When Jacob went out of his land, seeing the glory of God he said, “How terrible is this place! It is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven.”
V: “Truly the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. It is none other…”
Sources: Starts with a quick summary of the action (Jacob leaves home, sleeps, sees the ladder to heaven), then Gen 28:17, 16b.

Si Dominus Deus meus fuerit (CAO 7650)
R: “If the Lord my God will be with me in the way that I walk, guard me, and give me bread to bring forth and a garment that covers me, and recall me when I hail him, he will be my God as a refuge and this stone will be a sign.
V: “Truly the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. He will be my God…”
Sources: Gen 28:20, 21b, 22a.

Erit mihi Dominus in Deum (CAO 6668)
R: “He will be my God and this stone which I raise as a pledge I will call the house of God; and out of everything that you give me, a tenth part and peace offerings I will give to you.”
V: “If the Lord my God will be with me in the way that I walk and guard me. A tenth part and peace offerings I will give to you…”
Sources: Gen 28:22, 20.

Oravit Jacob et dixit (CAO 7334)
R: Jacob prayed and said, “Lord who said to me, ‘Return to the land of your birth’ deliver me from the hand of my brother, for I fear him greatly.”
V: “God in whose sight my fathers walked, Lord who gave me peace from my youth. Deliver me…”
Sources: Gen 32:9, 11. (The now wealthy Jacob returns to face the wrath of Esau)

Dixit angelus ad Jacob (CAO 6465)
R: The angel said to Jacob, “Release me, it is dawn.” He responded, “I will not release you unless you bless me.” So he blessed him in that place.
V: “Blessing, I will bless you.” So he blessed him…
Sources: Gen 32:26, 29b. The beginning of the verse is not a direct quote from this location but is thematically pervasive especially given the selections of the previous responsories. (The Angel of the Lord blesses Jacob after a whole night of wrestling.)

Vidi Dominum facie ad faciem (CAO 7874)
R: “I saw the Lord face to face, and my soul has been saved.”
V: And he said, “No longer will you be called Jacob, but Israel will be your name.” And my soul…
Sources: Gen 32:30b, 28a. (The Angel of the Lord renames Jacob as Israel.)

So, this whole set hits the high points of the Jacob narrative. Clearly the high points for early medieval liturgists are the scenes of blessing—the blessing of Isaac upon the trickster Jacob, the vision at Bethel and Jacob making a covenant with God, then the blessing at Phanuel.


Genesis and Responsories, Cont.: A Pause for Quadragesima

Continuing yet again with our look at how the Genesis readings are contextualized and framed by the responsories with which they are paired in the early medieval monastic Night Office, we come to a not unexpected break in the interpretive flow. Liturgically, Lent does not begin on Ash Wednesday but with the First Vespers of Quadragesima so, sure enough, the first Matins of Lent hammers the Lenten themes and makes no reference whatsoever to Genesis. This too teaches us something: the responsories serve to interpret the Scriptures, yes, but their primary obligation is to the rhythms of the year. When the continuous reading of the Scripture is the most seasonally thematic part, the responsories work with them; when it’s not, it does something else.

Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile (CAO 6600)
R: Behold–now is the acceptable time; behold–now is the day of salvation. Let us commend ourselves in much patience, in much fasting, through the weapons of the righteousness of the power of God.
V: In all things let us exhibit ourselves as ministers of God that our ministry not be blamed. Through the weapons…
Sources: 2 Cor 6:2b, 4, 5, 7, 4, 3. This is a section of the appointed Epistle for the day.

Paradisi portas aperuit nobis (CAO 7348)
R: The time of fasting will open to us the gates of Paradise. Let us receive it, with prayer and supplication, that we may glory in the day of resurrection with the Lord.
V: Behold–now is the acceptable time; behold–now is the day of salvation giving no one any offense. That we may glory…
Sources: The first two sentences have no clear Scriptural parallels that I can think of; as for the rest… 2 Cor 6:2b, 4, 5, 7, 4, 3.

Emendemus in melius (CAO 6653)
R: Let us change ourselves for the better because we sinned in ignorance. Lest the day of our death overtake us suddenly, let us beseech a time of penitence and may we not be found [unready]. Harken, Lord, and have mercy for we have sinned against you.
V: We, with our fathers, have sinned, we have done injustice, we have committed iniquities. Harken, Lord…
Sources: Again, lots of Scriptural language but no compelling parallels that I can think of.

In jejunio et fletu orabant (CAO 6910)
R: In fasting and prostrations the priests prayed, saying, “Spare, Lord, spare your people, and do not give your inheritance over to destruction.”
V: Between the vestibule and the altar the priests implored. “Spare, Lord…”
Sources: Joel 2: 12a, 17b. In the Tridentine Breviary, Joel 2:17 is the Little Chapter for Vespers during Lent. According to the Office Chapter lectionary for Lent in Cod. Sang. 342 it was not the Vespers reading there—but the Little Chapter for the Night Office was Joel 2:12.

In omnibus exhibeamus nos (CAO 6920)
R: In all things let us exhibit ourselves as ministers of God with much patience that our ministry not be blamed.
V: Behold—now is the acceptable time; behold—now is the day of salvation. Let us commend ourselves in much patience. That our ministry…
Sources: 2 Cor 6:4a, 3b, 2b. This responsory contains most of the same elements as the first, merely reversing the order in the response and verse.

Abscondite eleemosynam (CAO 6012)
R: Hide your alms in the bosom of the poor and they [the alms] will pray for you to the Lord. For just as water quenches fire, so alms quench sin.
V: Honor the Lord out of your substance, and out of your first fruits give to the poor. For just as water…
Sources: I can’t locate a source for the first sentence but the second is Sir 3:33 and the verse is from Prov 3:9.

Tribularer si nescirem (CAO 7778)
R: If in tribulation I were ignorant of your mercy, Lord, you said, “I do not wish the death of the sinner, but repent and live”, the one who calls the Canaanite and tax collector to penitence.
V: But you received Peter weeping, merciful Lord. The one who calls…
Sources: Ezekiel 18:32 contains the quotation, the rest is built around gospel material, particularly the tears of Peter after the crowing of the cock in Matt 26:75|Mark 14:72|Luke 22:62.

Angelis suis mandavit de te (CAO 6087)
R: He commanded his angels concerning you, that they guard you in all of your ways; they will carry you in their hands lest you strike your foot against a stone.
V: Upon the asp and basilisk you will walk; you will tread on the lion and the dragon. They will carry you in their hands…
Sources: VgPs 90:11-13. The appearance of this psalm is fascinating as it pulls together a whole bunch of liturgical threads. While it is cited from the psalms, it actually makes its entrance through the Gospel of the Day, Matthew 4:1-11; this psalm is referred to in the debate between Jesus and the devil found there. If you then look at the data from Hesbert’s Antiphonarium Missarum Sextuplex where he pulls together the Propers from six early sources you’ll see that every single one of them from the Introit to the Tract to the Offertory to the Communion are based on this psalm.

Pater, peccavi in coelum (CAO 7362)
R: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired hands.”
V: “Do not the hired hands in my father’s house abound with bread, but here I perish from hunger? I will rise and I will go to my father and I will say to him. Make me as one of your hired hands.”
Sources: Luke 15:18b-19, 17b-18a. The repentance of the prodigal son.

Ductus est Jesus in desertum (CAO 6529)
R: Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit that he might be tested by the devil, and drawing near the Tempter said to him, “If you are the Son of God, speak that these stones may become bread.”
V: And when he had fasted for forty days and forty nights, afterward he hungered. And drawing near the Tempter said…
Sources: Matthew 4:1, 3, 2. A portion from the Gospel of the Day.

Looking over the choice of texts, we see a real confluence here between the appointed Mass texts and the Night Office; this is one of those points where the cross-over is not just notable but extensive. The Epistle, Gospel, and the Psalm featured in the Mass liturgy all feature quite heavily here. Once again we’re reminded that the different liturgies despite their different functions are interwoven—even more so at the main points of the Church Year.

What Every Medievalist Should Bookmark: Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts

Playing off the popular What Every Medievalist Should Know series, I’ve been thinking about some digital resources that every medievalist should have bookmarked. Larry recently pointed to this one and it definitely belongs on the list.

With the explosion of medieval manuscripts on the web, it was just a matter of time before someone got around to doing this and this site, the Catalogue of Digitized Medieval Manuscripts, represents a good start. However, more remains to be done for this site to reach its full potential.

It incorporates and catalogues some of my favorite sites, such as the Cologne Cathedral Library and the Library of St Gall, and looks to add more as they become available. Because it catalogues these sites that I use, I do wonder about their interface, their data tagging practices, and its limitations.

Disclaimer: While I am a New Testament Medievalist, I feed my family as a database programmer. I really do understand the complications of building an engine of this sort—trust me, I’ve done it before both for public and private consumption. Criticisms follow, but they are intended to be completely constructive and should not detract from both the promise and need for this site.

Because the site works with my favorite libraries which tend to be both biblical and liturgical, I quickly notice some lacunae and potential conceptualization issues.

  1. Not all of the manuscripts on the identified sites are contained in the catalogue. For instance, only one missal (the Leofric Misal), one Gospel Book (the Bodleian’s Auct. D.2.16), and one gradual appear. There are no antiphoners catalogued. Or sacramentaries. Or lectionaries. From my own personal lists I know that quite a number of all of these appear at the St Gall and Cologne sites. So—this catalogue is a work in progress.
  2. The complex relationship between author, editor, and scribe is not tackled. I saw the name “Notker” as I was browsing authors and started to worry. Notker Balbus is a seminal figure for the study of chant. He’s the author of a treatise on chant and is also responsible for notating some of the best surviving chant manuscripts—which are online at the St Gall site. How, I wondered, would these manuscripts be identified? Would he be listed as the author of these antiphoners and sacramentaries? After all, he didn’t write them or even edit them, but it is crucial that his name be connected with them in some fashion. It turns out, though, that Notker’s name leads to only one manuscript, the one with his treatise in it. The issue of linking him with the sacramentary and antiphoners is side-stepped for the time being.
  3. The site appears to rely on external summaries for title and author data leading to duplicates. That is, it seems that the site catalogues its materials based on however the host site catagorizes them. Thus, when you browse “Titles” you’ll come across duplicates where a title appears in both English and Latin. (I didn’t see any German language duplicates introduced but the potential certainly exists given the available collections.)  “Dupes” are database designers recurrent nightmares. They’re almost inevitable in *any* unscrubbed data set and—we hates them… They appear here in Titles, but also in Authors:  for instance, there are separate entries for “Gregory”, “Gregory I”, and “Gregory the Great”.
  4. The date system is inconsistent. A search for “Provenance equals England” reveals a large potential problem. The first entry has a date of  “c. 1200”, the second has a date of “s. xvi 1/3”. It turns out that the date search box appears as a drop down (good choice!) so that as you type it will attempt to auto-populate and in doing so shows you the available dates in the database. Unfortunately, if you want to see the manuscripts from around 1000 you have to run three searches, one that looks for “10..”, one for “c. 10..” and one for “s. xi…”  The only way to fix this is to build a new date column in the database maximized for searching. My own suggestion would be to leave in the date column they currently have, and to add one that groups manuscripts by general period—then populate the date search drop-down with *that* field rather than the field from the manuscripts’ hosts.
  5. The shelfmark lookup system is clunky. Clicking on “Browse by: Shelfmark” brings up a string of numbers sorted as text. Thus we get “1”, “10”, “100” as the first three entries with no indication of in which library the numbered shelf might exist. Personally, I’d love to see this tweaked by simply doing a join between the location field and the shelfmark field. Whilke it might make this search somewhat reduant with the “Browse by: Location” I think it’d make the Shelfmark system much more user-friendly.

As I consider what’s on the site and what’s not, it seems to me that what I would offer them is more a caution than a critique. Because so much of the liturgical material is not yet up, they have the opportunity to think through exactly how to present it. Me, I think it’d be great to be able to search for “Mixed Gelasian” or “Hadrianum” for sacramentaries/missals but I’m not sure how that would fit into their current conceptualization.

A further issue not yet taken up is the inevitable problem of homiliaries—do you simply lump them under the name of the editor (which is quite necessary to be sure) but do you break out the individual patristic authors as well?

Kvetching aside, this site is definitely one to watch. It’s a great start to a much needed index and I look forward to seeing how they decide to tackling some of the issues ahead of them that makes manuscript study the fascinating and sometimes frustrating field that it is.

Update: I received a very nice email from the head of the project. He assured me that the site is a first draft and that future improvements are indeed in the wings pending further funding.

More Genesis and Responsories: Quinquigesima

Continuing with the theme and texts from the last post, I’m still looking at the responsories of pre-Lent and how they serve as interpretive lenses for early medieval liturgical communities as they read through the book of Genesis.

As we saw, the responsories of Sexagesima got us through creation and up to the murder of Abel by Cain. Remember, we’re heading into Lent here, so images that can be read as pointing to the crucifixion and passion will be thrown into relief by the season as a whole.

The responsories for Quinquigesima begin (in our book of choice…) with:

Quadraginta dies et noctes (CAO 7454)
R: For forty days and nights the heavens were opened, and out of all flesh having the spirit of life they entered into the ark, and the Lord closed the door of the entrance.
V: Namely Noah and his wife and his sons and the wives of his sons. They entered into the ark…
Sources: Gen 7:4b, 11b, 15b, 16b, 7a.

Ponam arcum meum (CAO 7391)
R: “I have placed my bow in the clouds of heaven,” said the Lord to Noah, “And I will be mindful of my covenant that I pledge with you.
V: And when I produce clouds in the heavens, my bow will appear in the clouds. And I will be mindful…
Sources: Gen 9:13, 15, 14.

Per memetipsum juravi (CAO 7375)
R: “I have sworn by my own self,” says the Lord, “I will not increase the flood-waters upon the earth; I will be mindful of my pact that I shall not destroy all flesh with the flood-waters.
V: “I have placed my bow in the clouds of heaven, and I will swear by my right hand. That I shall not destroy…
Sources: Gen 9:11. While most of the earlier responsories have been almost word-for-word cut-n-paste events from Scripture, the language here departs from the vocabulary of the Vulgate. Creative license or tracks of the Old Latin…?

Aedificavit Noe altare (CAO 6055)
R: Noah built an altar to the Lord, offering upon it a burnt-offering. God smelled the pleasant odor and blessed him: “Be fruitful and multiply, refill the earth.”
V: “Behold–I establish my pact with you and with your seed after you. Be fruitful and multiply…”
Sources: Gen 8:20a, 21a, 9:1b.

Locutus est Dominus ad Abraham (CAO 7097)
R: The Lord spoke to Abraham saying, “Go out from your land and kinsman and go to the land that I will show you, and I will make you to increase into a great nation.”
V: “Those blessing you, I will bless you and will multiply you. I will make you to increase into a great nation…”
Sources: Gen 12:1,2a, 3a.

Tentavit Deus Abraham (CAO 7762)
R: God tested Abraham and said to him, “Take your son whom you love, Isaac, and offer him as a burnt-offering upon a mountain that I will show you.”
V: Make to God a sacrifice of praise and repay your vows to the Most High. upon a mountain…
Sources: Gen 22:1-2; VgPs 49:14. (Of course, the juxtaposition in the second half also contains strong resonances to the style of Deuteronomy and is intended to bring Mt. Zion into clear focus.)

[Antiphon for the canticles for Nocturn 3]

Angelus Domini vocavit Abraham (CAO 6098)
R: The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham saying, “Do not extend your hand against the boy, for you fear the Lord.”
V: And all the tribes of the earth shall be blessed in you. For you fear the Lord.”
Sources: Gen 22:11, 12; 12:3b.

Vocavit angelus Domini Abraham (CAO 7911)
R: The Angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven saying, “I will bless you, and I will multiply you like the stars of heaven.”
V: “And all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in your seed because you obeyed my voice. And I will multiply you…”
Sources: Gen 22:15, 17, 18.

Deus domini mei Abraham (CAO 6420)
R: “God of my lord Abraham, direct my way that I may return in health to the house of my lord.”
V: “I pray you, Lord, have mercy upon your servant. That I may return…”
Sources: Very loosely connected to Gen 24:12.

Veni hodie ad fontem (CAO 7827)
R: Today I came to the fountain of water and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Lord, God of Abraham, make my desire prosperous.”
V: “Therefore the girl to whom I shall say ‘Give me water from your jar that I might drink’ and she shall say, ‘Drink, lord, and I will give a drink to your camels’ she it will be whom the Lord prepared for the son of my lord.” Lord, God of Abraham…”
Sources: Gen 24:42-44.

Caecus sedebat secus viam (CAO 6260)
R: A blind man used to sit beside the road and, the Lord having passed by, he cried out to him. The Lord said to him, “What would you like me to do for you?” “Rabbouni, that I might see light.”
V: But those who went before rebuke him that he would be silent, but he called out more and more. “Rabbouni, that I might see light.”
Sources: Luke 18:35b, 38, 41, 39. Light is an addition to the biblical text (and not commonly found in this responsory either).

Dum staret Abraham (CAO 6563)
R: While Abraham remained at the root of Mambre, he saw three boys coming down the road; he saw three but he worshiped one.
V: The Lord said to Abraham, “Behold, your wife Sara shall bear you a son and you shall call his name Issac.” He saw three…
Sources: loosely based on Gen 18:1-2, 17:19. The R appears to have been created mostly whole-cloth from the substance of 18:1-2 highlighting the Trinitarian possibilities in the text, playing off the Vulgate’s use of “adoravit” as a form of welcome.

We begin with a nocturn-full of Noah materials that both begins with “40 days” and foregrounds the everlasting covenant not to destroy the earth by water.

Moving to Abraham, we note that there is not a continuous narrative here. Rather, it jumps a bit from place to place. For instance, we have Isaac’s almost sacrifice before we have him being born. Indeed, we have the search for his wife before he’s even been born! And that is, perhaps, one of the more puzzling sections of this group of responsories–why two responsories on the search for Rebecca?

Too, we have the injection of material from Luke. Luke 18:31-43 is the Gospel appointed for the day and sure enough on the next page are five antiphons labelled “In Ev” (i.e., to be used with the Magnificat at Vespers) that are all extracts from the healing of the blind man in Luke 18, a typical treatment for the Gospel of the day. I would think this reponsry would function best as the first responsory in the third nocturn but the order doesn’t work quite that neatly. At any case, here we see one of the not uncommon cross-overs that place the Night Office lectionary in connection with the Mass lectionary.

I’m tempted to suggest that the placement of this Gospel-inspired responsory is intended as a pregnant juxtaposition in connection with the pleas of Abraham’s servant, given the common theme of beseeching but that may be stretching a bit…

In any case, the responbsories here show the same pattern that we saw at Sexagesima, namely responsories that are intended to shape, focus and fundamentally interpret the continous reading of Scripture.

Genesis and the Responsories

No posts in way too long—time for some substance.

My central premise here is that Scripture interpretation in the early medieval period is fundamentally a liturgical event. To try and look at early medieval materials without reference to the liturgy and the interpretive lenses it puts on Scripture is a big mistake. Looking at EM sermons is great, but without a sense of the background, you’ll miss why certain interpretive choices were made and not others.

I’m looking today at Ælfric’s Letter to the Monks at Eynsham (LME) and his recommendations for how Scripture ought to be read in the Night Office. Remember, this is where monks would hear the whole of Scripture being read through each year (a goal Ælfric is quite explicit about in LME 78).

The first thing to notice is the immediate contextualization of Scripture. Each time Ælfric mentions a biblical book, it is placed in relation to two data-points: a liturgical season, and the responsories that are to be sung in relation to it. Thus you don’t get “it’s January 1st, let’s start at Genesis 1!” but rather:

“In Septuagesima we should read Genesis until mid-Lent and we sing the history ‘Alleluia: While it is present’ [Alleluia dum praesens est (CAO 6071)] first and for one day only, and for the week as a whole we sing the responsories from the psalms, ‘O how great is the multitude’ [Quam magna multitudo (CAO 7459)] and so forth. Then, in other weeks, we sing what is found in the antiphoner. But from mid-Lent we read Exodus and sing ‘The Lord said to Moses’…” (Christopher Jones, LME, 144-5)

There’s actually more focus on the correct responsories than on the text and this will become important in a moment. Glancing at the identified responsories, they don’t seem immediately relevant or interpretive of the Genesis texts. Alleluia dum praesens est is a responsory in praise of the word “Alleluia”, fitting as this day is the last time it will be sung until Easter.  Quam magna multitudo is taken directly from VgPs 30:20: “O how great is the multitude of thy sweetness, O Lord, which thou hast hidden for them that fear thee! Which thou hast wrought for them that hope in thee, in the sight of the sons of men.” (D-R)

But then we check out “what is found in the antiphoner…” Our task is, of course, complicated by the fact that we have no antiphoners from Anglo-Saxon England (Cf. Pfaff & Gneuss).  Thus we turn to a representative example of an EM antiphoner which just happens to be one of the most nicely written and important chant manuscripts in the world, the St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 390 written exactly contemporary with Ælfric, having been produced between 990 and 1000. It also just happens to be online…

So, Ælfric has given us the week of Septuagesima. Moving to the next Sunday, Sexagesima, we find the following responsories:

[Nocturn I]
In principio Deus creavit (CAO 6925):
R: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and the Spirit of the Lord passed over the waters, and God saw all the things that he had made, and they were very good.
V: Therefore the heavens and the earth were completed with all their adornments. And God saw…
Sources: a mash-up of Gen 1:1, 2b, 31a, 2:1.

In principio fecit Deus (CAO 6928 )
R: In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth, and he created upon it a man in his image and likeness.
V: Therefore God formed a man from the dirt of the earth and breathed into his form the breath of life. In his image…
Sources: a mash-up of Gen 1:1, 26a/27a, 2:7a.

Formavit igitur Dominus hominem (CAO 6739)
R: Therefore God formed a man from the dirt of the earth and breathed into his form the breath of life and a man with a living soul was made.
V: Therefore the heavens and the earth were completed with all their adornments. And a man…
Sources: Gen 2:7, 1.

[Nocturn II]
Tulit ergo Dominus hominem (CAO 7798 )
R: Then God took the man and placed him in the paradise of delight that he might work and keep it.
V: Therefore God formed a man from the dirt of the earth and placed him in paradise. That he might work…
Sources: Gen 2:15, 7a.

Dixit Dominus Deus: Non est bonum (CAO 6473)
R: God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. Let us make him a helper like himself.”
V: For none was found like to Adam, thus said God. “Let us make him…”
Sources: Gen 2:18, 20b.

(Next page…)

Immisit Dominus soporem (CAO 6883)
R: The Lord sent sleep upon Adam and took one of his ribs and God constructed with the rib he had taken from Adam a woman and led her to Adam so that he might see what he might call her. And he called her name Woman (Virago) because she was taken out of a man (de viro).
V: “Now this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” And he called her name…
Sources: Gen 2:21-23.

Dum deambularet Dominus (CAO 6537)
R: When the Lord was walking in paradise in the breeze of the evening, he called and said, “Adam, where are you?” “Lord, I heard your voice and hid myself.”
V: “Lord, I heard your sound and I feared, I beheld your works. And hid myself.”
Sources: Gen 3:8a, 9, 10.

[Nocturn III]
In sudore vultus (CAO 6937)
R: “In the sweat of your brow you will feed on your bread,” said the Lord to Adam. “When you work the ground it will not give you its fruits, but it will grow spines and thorns for you.”
V: “Because you obeyed the voice of your wife more than mine, cursed be the earth regarding your works. It will grow…”
Sources: Gen 3:19, 18, 17. With a theologically significant modification of 17 that introduces the concept of obedience.

Ecce Adam quasi (CAO 6937)
R: “Behold Adam has become as one of us, knowing good and evil. See that he does not by chance take from the tree of life and live forever.”
V: A Cherubim and a flaming sword that turns guarding the way to the tree of life. [Will] see that he does not…
Sources: Gen 3:22, 24b.

(Next page…)

Ubi est Abel (CAO 6937)
R: “Where is your brother Abel?” said the Lord to Cain. “I do not know, Lord, for am I my brother’s keeper?” And he said to him, “What have you done? Behold–the voice of the blood of your brother Abel calls to me from the earth.” V: Cursed be the earth regarding your works because it has opened its mouth and has received the blood of your brother from your hand. Behold–the voice of the blood…
Sources: Gen 4:9-11.

So–what we have here is a Scriptural pastiche that summarizes the story of Creation & Fall, hitting certain high points in order to accentuate certain themes. Others are absent entirely…

This is a narrativethat focuses upon three characters: God, Adam, and the earth. Eve gets a mention, but the heart of the story is that the man, who is the completeion and perfection of the created order, fell fundamentally through his disobedience. The fault is not that the woman took the fruit (though that’s part of it) but that Adam disobeyed. [Note that the exchange we tend to find most significant–Eve and the Serpent/Satan–does not appear and is not even referred to!] As a result of the human actions of Adam and Cain, the earth was cursed not once but twice.

I don’t know about you but I hear strongly here the main notes that Ælfric strikes in his many narrative summaries of Creation & Fall, particularly the disobedience of the created towards the Creator.

Remember, then, these are sung throughout the following week until a new set is picked up at Quinquagesima. That gives this narrative a bit of time to sink in and to form an interpretive frame through which the events of Genesis 1-4 will be remembered and shaped.

[Edit: oh yeah, don’t forget the Invitatory Antiphon, either: “Let us adore the Lord who made us…”]

Godwinson’s Law

“As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Normans approaches one.”


Dissertating is back on track; hopefully more posts here soon…

Missal Comparison: Nativity of the BVM

As today is the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, I checked out the propers for the feast among my usual suspects: The Leofric Missal (LM), the Missal of Robert of Jumieges (MRJ), the Sarum Missal (SM), York Missal (YM) and the Liber Usualis (LU). However, my copy of the York Missal doesn’t have a Sanctorale, so you’ll only get four of the five…

  • Great agreement across the sources! The two Anglo-Saxon missals (LM, MRJ) had exactly the same materials: 2 collects, secret, preface, and postcommunion. The LM had incipits to the “other” material, the MRJ doesn’t.
  • The SM agreed on the major missal material (collect  1, secret, and postcommunion) with only minor additions–a “Jesus Christ our Lord” into the Secret and a phase on the BVM into the postcommunion. The preface was that of the BVM (N.B.: This is a major difference between early medieval sacramentaries and the medieval/late-medieval missals: a move to the use of prefaces proper to certain occasions–like feasts of the BVM). The Epistle and Gospel were also identical. The “other” material started the same with an identical introit and psalm but after that they diverged. Typical of the SM, it also started with a procession…
  • The LU used collect 2 of the LM/MRJ mass-set, the same Gospel as the above three, the same proper preface as the SM, and the Secret and Postcommunion were identical. Again, the “other” material was different. Interestingly, the common introit/psalm from the earlier three can be found together for the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (July 16th) in the LU, and the SM Alleluia verse appears as the first antiphon of the Second Vespers…
  • Texts:
    • (LM/SM) Introit/Psalm: Gaudeamus omnes/Eructavit- Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating this feast day in honor of the Virgin Mary, concerning whose solemnity the angels rejoice and praise together the Son of God /  VgPs 44 (This psalm–in the literal sense about a princess marrying the king–frequently appears for virgins and virgin martyrs who are brides of Christ; in this context it represents nothing less than the BVM as the bride of the Holy Spirit.)
    • Collect 1: Supplicationem seruorum – Hear the supplications of your servants, compassionate God, that we who gather for the nativity of the mother of God and virgin, may be rescued by you from the presence of danger on account of her favorable intercessions.
    • Collect 2: Famulis tuis, domine, – Direct your gift of heavenly grace, Lord, upon your servants to whom the birth of the Blessed Virgin appears the beginning of salvation the consecrated solemnity of her birth may bestow an increase of peace.
    • Epistle:Ecclesiasticus 24:23-31. Ego quasi uitis fructificaui (This is a great Marian text, and one that even regular Bible-readin’ Christians have generally never encountered as it’s different in the Vulgate than most modern translations of the Apocrypha. Even the KJV is a little different. Pull out your Vulgate or Douay-Rheims and check it out!)
    • Graduale (SM [V in LM]): Audi filia – Listen, daughter, hear, and incline your ear because the king desires your appearance. V: Your appearance and your beauty set out, proceed prosperously, and rule. (This is a mash-up of VgPs 44:11 and 5. Again, the marital psalm reconfigured by a new liturgical context.)
    • Alleluia (SM) : Nativitas gloriose uirginis – Alleluia. The birth of the glorious Virgin Mary is sprung from the seed of Abraham, from the well-known tribe of Judah, from the stem of David. Alleluia V: Through you are we ruined given life; in heaven you receive your offspring, on earth you bore our savior. (The first portion recalls the Magnificat or Song of Mary sung every evening at Vespers with its mention of “Abraham and his seed”; the biblical figures mentioned also recall the opening of the Gospel: “The book of the generations of Jesus Christ, son of David, Son of Abraham”; this may also remind you of the Christmas carol Lo How a Rose–which is simultaneously about both Jesus and Mary. The second has overtones of the Salve Regina, a Marian antiphon that followed Compline in the long Time after Pentecost.)
    • Gospel: Matthew 1:1-17 (The genealogy of Jesus beginning with Abraham)
    • That’s all for today–I’ll post the rest later…

Missal Comparison: 15th Sunday after Pentecost

Out of curiosity, I checked out this week’s propers as presented in five sources: The Leofric Missal (LM), the Missal of Robert of Jumieges (MRJ), the Sarum Missal (SM), York Missal (YM) and the Liber Usualis (LU). That is, two early medieval sources used in England, two late medieval English sources, and the “modern” pre-Vatican II form.

A few interesting things:

  • The sources quickly fell into three groups: the LM, the MRJ-SM-YM agreed with one exception, and the LU.
  • The MRJ-SM-YM collect and post-communion prayer had some common concept in increase (augmentum):
    •  Almighty Eternal God, give to us an increase of faith, hope, and love and, that we may be worthy to obtain that which is promised, make us to love what you command.Through etc.
    • We beseech you, Lord, may the reception of these heavenly sacraments assist the increase to our eternal redemption. Through the Lord etc.
  • In terms of the chant propers, the Introit and Offertory for the 15th Sun appeared in the LU on the 14th Sun; however the Gradual and the Communio were the same across the three. All had different psalm texts following the Alleluia, though.
  • Many of the propers have strong biblical allusions or outright citations. I’m intrigued at how they don’t correspond to one another. On one hand that’s not entirely surprising: the time after Pentecost/Trinity was the last to be nailed down liturgically and was rearranged several times but it’s still strange to me to see so many direct echoes. For instance:
    • the MRJ-SM-YM Introit is VgPs 83:10-11; the Ps is Quam dilecta (VgPs 83:2)–so far, so good.
    • The collect contains the virtues most clearly lined out in 1 Cor 13:13 but these are so common and generic that this one almost doesn’t count…
    • the Gradual begins with VgPs 91:2-3
    • then, after the Alleluia in the great divergence the SM has VgPs 104:1; YM has VgPs 89:1, and the LU has an odd mashup of Vg Ps 46:3 and 94:3 (or else a very convenient case of haplography to remove a henotheistic perspective…)
    • The Offertory is VgPs 33:8-9a,
    • the Communio is a direct citation of John 6:52
  • What does all of that mean? It means there’s a whole lot of biblical interpretation going on. What I don’t see, though, is any immediate connection to the lections for the day (SM-YM&Lenker Luke 17:11-19/LU Luke 7). It easy to see from just this cursory look why some suggest that that there was an original point where everything matched up. I’d like to believe it too, but the only way to solve it/convince myself will be with a database that can demonstrate it…


Regular posting should be resuming shortly…

In the meantime, I’ve been reflecting once again on the perennial issue of generalists and interdisciplinarians: core materials and canons. Each semester when I teach preaching I hammer in the fact that everyone has a theology–whether they know it or not. Everyone from The Archbishop of Canterbury to the Dalai Lama to Richard Dawkins to the average person sitting in the pew has a theology. The issue is whether it is explicit. The biggest problem for preachers and clergy is whether it is coherent, consistent (within reason) and communicable. That is, if a preacher isn’t aware of what she believes, she may find herself unconsciously preaching contradictory concepts–sometimes in the same sermon! (Yes, I’ve witnessed this more than once…)

I’m coming to believe that the same is true of most academics; we all have canons out of which we research, and teach, and generate our central concepts–the question is the degree to which these are explicit. People who reside in a single field may be able to get away with leaving it implicit. After all, most fields have implicit canons. Or–to be precise–most Ph.D. granting institutions form their students around implicit canons which are then replicated, challenged, merged, whatever as the students spread out through academia in various ways. For generalists and interdisciplinarians, however, I think it’s a much more complicated picture.

The simple fact is that it’s virtually impossible these days to stay up-to-date in “New Testament”. Most of the folks I know, do well to stay up-to-date in their specialties. How, then, to keep tabs on several fields, each of which churn out large amounts of scholarly material each year? …And I’m wondering out loud here. Not only am I not claiming to have solved this problem, I’m just now trying to address it in a coherent fashion going forward.

I think one answer is to be restrictive. Yes, that answer flies in the face of my tendencies to diversify but–that tendency is part of the problem, isn’t it? As a result, I’m trying to construct for myself a canon by means of which I can root myself in the midst of my fields, establish a solid scholarly self-identity and have a prayer of a chance to stay up-to-date on work in my fields going forward.

Right now, I’m conceiving of my prospective canon as a set of concentric circles aligned around the idea of primary sources. I’m a literary guy; I went into New Testament as opposed to one of several other fields because I chose to be trained as an exegete. As a result, this whole concept is very textually-based (I recognize that as a possible danger, but honestly it doesn’t worry me very much…). So here are my thoughts:

The Inner Circle. This consists of my most basic and most important primary sources. These are the ones that I ought to know inside and out; these are the ones I should be able to quote from memory without difficulty; these are the ones that I should be engaging equally well in Modern English and their primary languages. (I say “primary” because the “original” is not always the most important or influential. For instance, my primary languages for the Psalter are Greek and Latin, not Hebrew…)

I’m thinking a corollary inner circle might identify some core secondary sources and journals that directly pertain to the inner core.

The Middle Circle. This group reflects works that I should know fairly well–the texts that I can comfortably speak to off the top of my head. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have contact with these in the primary languages, but that’s not necessarily essential. It be good to have a sense of the secondary literature here, but not feel the need to be obsessive.

The Outer Circle. This group reflects works that I really should have at least a passing acquaintance with. Know that they’re important, know where to go for resources on them, but not to feel like a failure or fraud if I don’t know them inside and out…

Alright–with those categories in place, here are the primary texts that I’m considering for my first two categories:

Inner Circle

  • The New Testament (with a special focus on the Gospels)
  • The Psalter
  • The Rule of Benedict
  • Gregory the Great
    • the XL Gospel Homilies
    • Pastoral Care
  • Augustine
    • On Christian Doctrine
    • On the Instruction of the Uneducated
    • Gospel Homilies
    • On the Sermon on the Mount
  • Bede
    • Homilies on the Gospels
  • The Mass as represented in the mixed Gelasian tradition
  • The Office as represented in the Hyde Abbey tradition (?)
  • Ælfric
    • The Catholic Homilies
    • The other homilies
    • Letter to Sigeweard
    • Letter to the Monks of Eynsham

Middle Circle (by category)

  • Biblical:
    • The Old Testament (aside from the psalter, clearly)
    • New Testament Apocrypha
    • Old Testament Apocrypha
    • Qumran Literature
  • Monastic
    • John Cassian
    • Lives of the Fathers
    • Sayings of the Fathers
    • Rule of the Master
    • Smaragdus
      • Commentary on the Rule
      • Diadem of Monks
    • Regularis Concordia
  • Patristic/Homiletical
    • The Rest of Gregory
    • The Rest of Bede
    • Augustine
      • Tractates on John
      • On the Harmony of the Gospels
      • Tractates on First John
      • Homilies on the Psalms
    • Homilies of Caesarius of Arles
    • Cassiodorus on the Psalms
  • Medieval
    • The Rest of Ælfric
    • The anonymous OE homilies
    • the Vercelli Book(poetry as well as homilies)
  • Theory
    • The Progymnasmata
    • Isidore
    • Cicero

Hmmm… I look at these lists and they seem simultaneously massive and too restricted.

What are your thoughts?

Gregory the Great’s Forty Gospel Homilies: A Brief Introduction

Gregory the Great (540-604) is only one of two popes to ever receive the epithet “Great” (I’ll deal with Leo later) and he earned it through a vast amount of labor as well as godliness. Some of that labor is in written form and it has been found sufficient to the point that Gregory is one of the four original Doctors of the Latin Church (along with Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine). Perhaps best known in Anglo-Saxonist circles for his Cura Pastoralis which earned a place in Alfred’s translation project, he also left behind a multitude of letters and exegetical works, especially his works on Job, Ezekiel, and the Song of Songs. His Forty Gospel Homilies were probably preached in the early years of his pontificate at public masses (Hurst suggests 591-2).

As Evans notes in her entry on Gregory in the Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation (DBI, vol 1. p. 465) Gregory’s exegesis is not especially original, rather he was a talented synthesist of earlier material, especially Augustine. Gregory, of course, would be horrified at the suggestion that he either was or ought to be original. Instead, the whole point was to pass on the teachings faithful as they had been received. Many’s the time that I’ve read through a passage in the writings of Leo or John Cassian only to stop and think, “Waitaminute…I thought Gregory said that…” only to find upon checking that he had. Indeed, given the state of Augustine’s sermons, we should be quite thankful that Gregory took the time to untangle the line of reasoning amongst all the side-references and hare chases that Augustine so effortlessly tosses out. As a synthesist, Gregory falls fully within the monastic tradition as one concerned to transmit the tradition clearly.

He’s also fully monastic in the purpose of his exegesis. Gregory can talk doctrine and is comfortable doing so, but that’s neither his strength nor his passion. Rather, he is interested in the spiritual life which, in his time and place, went hand in hand with the moral life. His sermons are very hortatory, constantly calling for amendment of life and behavior. In doing so, he also often “descends” from pure exegesis to relate a colorful story about a local figure who presents an example of some sort—either positive or negative. Furthermore, these tend to come right towards the end as he’s moving towards a final paranetic statement.

Gregory is probably best known exegetically for his use of allegory. It’s frequent and can be quite fanciful at times. Especially for those taught in modernist settings that eschew the allegorical as a departure from the “plain sense of the text”, it can get hard to swallow at times. Remember, though, that Gregory is here at play and, following the Augustinian dictum, finds nothing in allegory that is not plainly stated elsewhere in the Scriptural text. Furthermore, he’s taking 2 Tim 3:16 quite literally and is trying to find nuggets of instruction anywhere and everywhere in the text—and he’s not a bit afraid to dig for them, either.

Gregory’s sermons were well received by the tradition and were further aided by the fact that the heart of the Roman Gospel lectionary of the late 6th century was to become normative for the next thirteen or so centuries in the West. Paul the Deacon’s original homiliary contains 33 selections from Gregory. One is an excerpt from the Dialogues (Dial. 4.60), the other 32 are from the Gospel Homilies. Only 8 were excluded (4, 17, 22, 28, 33, 38, 39, 40 [which makes you wonder if PD had a defective copy lacking its end…]). Ælfric used 32 of Gregory’s homilies in his Catholic Homilies according to Godden’s commentary. Of those, Ælfric based his sermons on Gregory’s for 19 of them. (Unlike PD, he uses Gregory’s Hom 38-40)

Despite its success in the medieval period, this work has not been well received in the modern. No critical edition currently exists; we must still rely on Migne for a Latin text. Clemens points us to a critical edition I hadn’t known about: Gregorivs Magnvs, Homiliae in Evangelia cura et studio Raymond Étaix. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers 1999 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 141). As far as English goes, there’s a translation by Dom Hurst in the Cistercian Studies series (CS 123). Hurst notes that in preparation of the English, he noted that the first 20 homilies appear to be out of liturgical order in the earliest manuscript (and Migne) whereas the last 20 follow it scrupulously. Thus, he rearranged them to a more logical sequence. Be aware of this, as it means that there are two quite different numbering systems for the lower 20; Godden refers to the PL’s numbers. I’ll have to see what the Étaix edition does with these homilies…

[Hopefully as we move through July, I’ll be posting some pieces on a few representative sermons from this collection and aim to give a further wrap-up on the whole thing towards its end. I’ll also be moving out of state them, so we’ll see how much of this happens…]