Monday, November 19, 2012

Edmund Vaughan, Translator

Yesterday at Mass we sang this hymn, "O God of Loveliness":

O God of loveliness, O Lord of Heaven above,
How worthy to possess my heart’s devoted love.
So sweet Thy countenance, so gracious to behold
That one, one only glance to me were bliss untold.

Thou art blest Three in One, yet undivided still,
Thou art the One alone, whose love my heart can fill.
The heav’ns and earth below were fashioned by Thy Word,
How amiable art Thou, my ever dearest Lord.

To think Thou art my God—O thought forever blest!
My heart has overflowed with joy within my breast.
My soul so full of bliss, is plunged as in a sea,
Deep in the sweet abyss of holy charity.

O Loveliness supreme, and Beauty infinite,
O ever flowing Stream and Ocean of delight,
O Life by which I live, my truest Life above,
To Thee alone I give my undivided love.

The hymn was originally written in Italian by St. Alphonsus Liguori and I noted the translator had a familiar last name: Edmund Vaughan (reminded me of Henry Vaughan, one of the Metaphysical Poets and Herbert Vaughan, the third Archbishop of Westminster, succeeding Henry Manning). According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Edmund Vaughan (1827-1908) was a:

Catholic priest, [. . .] born at Courtfield, Herefordshire, England, son of William Vaughan and his wife Theresa, daughter of Thomas Weld of Lulworth Castle, Dorset. He was the uncle of Archbishop Roger Vaughan [Archbishop of Sydney, 1877-1883] and related to Governor Sir Frederick Weld [Premier and Governor in New Zealand]. Educated at Stonyhurst College, he taught science for a few years at St Mary's College, Oscott near Birmingham, before preparing for the priesthood. He was in deacon's orders when he applied for admission to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, known as the Redemptorists, and spent his year of initiation at St Trond near Liège, Belgium; in 1852 he took his religious vows and was ordained priest. He devoted himself to popular preaching, the principal work for which St Alphonsus Liguori had founded the Order. Quickly showing his aptitude for work among all classes and as a kindly superior, in 1867 he introduced the Redemptorists into Scotland, his foundation at Perth being the first Catholic monastery there since the Reformation.

Bishop James Murray of Maitland, New South Wales, arranged for a Redemptorist community in his diocese, and in 1882 Vaughan, as superior, with four priests and two Brothers took up residence at Singleton. They used the summer for campaigns in New Zealand, leaving the preachers free for the rest of the year to meet the requests that came from all the eastern colonies. The inconvenience of Singleton and the burden of parish duties led in 1887 to the community being established at Waratah near Newcastle. Next year a new foundation was made at Ballarat; by 1894 the Redemptorists had conducted missions in every diocese from Cooktown to Adelaide.

When Archbishop Vaughan died suddenly in 1883, Fr Edmund was told confidentially that cardinals Manning and Howard were negotiating to have him named archbishop of Sydney. Although his candidature remained unknown, expressions of partisanship in the Australian press and strong feeling against English superiors made Vaughan's position uncomfortable. His letters showed his awareness of the intensely Irish sentiment of most Australian Catholics. Although he rarely experienced any personal animosity, he insisted that it seemed necessary that ecclesiastical offices in Australia be held by Irishmen; but he readily encouraged Australian candidates for the priesthood and urged his superiors to disregard the contrary arguments of the Irish bishops.

Recalled to England in 1894, Vaughan became English provincial, the major superior of Redemptorists in England, Ireland and Australia. He negotiated the establishment of a separate province in Ireland to assume responsibility for the Australian houses. Aged 80 he died of heart disease and congestion of the liver on 1 July 1908 at Bishop Eton, Liverpool.

He translated at least two other hymns of  his order's founder: "O bread of heaven, beneath this veil" and "O Mother blest, whom God bestows", and composed his own verses. You'll notice that Father Vaughan was raised and educated deeply in the former Recusant community of England after being born two years before Emancipation in 1829--educated at Stonyhurst; teaching at St. Mary's College.

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