Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell to 2013; Hail to 2014!

John Mason Neale included this translation of the medieval hymn (Anonymous; Germany; 12th century), In hoc anni circulo in his 1853 Carols for Christmas-tide:

In the ending of the year
Life and light to man appear;
And the Holy Babe is here,
De Virgine;
And the Holy Babe is here,
De Virgine Mariâ.

What in ancient days was slain
This day calls to life again;
God is coming, God shall reign,
De Virgine;
God is coming, God shall reign,
De Virgine Mariâ.

From the desert grew the corn,
Sprang the lily from the thorn,
When the Infant King was born
De Virgine;
When the Infant King was born
De Virgine Mariâ.

On the straw He lays His head,
Hath a manger for His bed,
Thirsts and hungers and is fed
De Virgine;
Thirsts and hungers and is fed
De Virgine Mariâ.

Angel hosts His praises sing,
Three Wise men their off'rings bring,
Ox and ass adore the King,
Cum Virgine;
Ox and ass adore the King,
Cum Virgine Mariâ.

Wherefore let us all to-day
Banish sorrow far away,
Singing and exulting aye,
Cum Virgine;
Singing and exulting aye,
Cum Virgine Mariâ.

As 2013 draws to a close, thank you for your attention to and comments on this blog!

Image source.

King of Angels or King of the English? Adeste Fideles/O Come All Ye Faithful

Because I sent a contribution to the Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst in England, they sent me a Christmas card, signed by Lord and Lady Windsor, Nicholas and Paola. The art for the outside of the Christmas card is one of the manuscript copies of John Francis Wade's "Adeste, Fideles". My husband took the pictures below:


The most familiar translation of this hymn, which was written by Wade in 1750, is by Frederick Oakeley, an Oxford Movement follower of Blessed John Henry Newman, who joined the Catholic Church in 1845.

There is a very common theory that this hymn contains a code referring to Bonnie Prince Charlie--Wade was a Jacobite, and an exile in Europe after the '45. The BBC cites this expert, Bennett Zon of Durham University:

He said "clear references" to the prince were in the lyrics, written by John Francis Wade in the 18th Century. The prince was defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 after raising an army to take the British throne.Born shortly before Christmas in December 1720, Bonnie Prince Charlie was the grandson of England's last Catholic monarch, James II. He was born in exile in Italy and became the focus for Catholic Jacobite rebels intent on restoring the House of Stuart to the British throne.

Prof Zon, said there was "far more" to the carol - also known as Adeste Fideles - than was originally thought.
He said: "Fideles is Faithful Catholic Jacobites. Bethlehem is a common Jacobite cipher for England, and Regem Angelorum is a well-known pun on Angelorum, angels and Anglorum, English.
"The meaning of the Christmas carol is clear: 'Come and Behold Him, Born the King of Angels' really means, 'Come and Behold Him, Born the King of the English' - Bonnie Prince Charlie." Professor Zon said the Jacobite meaning of the carol gradually faded as the cause lost its grip on popular consciousness.

This interpretation has been around for a long time, however, according to this site. I can accept the possible code in the first verse, but wonder about the rest of the hymn. Did John Francis Wade really intend his fellow Jacobites to think of Bonnie Prince Charlie as "Deum de Deo" (God from God), "Lumen de Lumine" (Light from Light)? I have my doubts about that! Canon Oakeley's translation:

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him
Born the King of angels;

Chorus:O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

God of God,
Light of Light;
Lo, He abhors not the Virgin's womb:
Very God,
Begotten, not created; Chorus.

Sing, choirs of angels;
Sking in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
Glory to God
In the highest; Chorus.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning:
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Late in flesh appearing; Chorus.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Forty Days of Christmas? Oh, Yeah!

I agree with A Clerk of Oxford:

As a lover of carols, I'm much in favour of the medieval practice of keeping Christmas celebrations going all through the dark days of January, so today I thought I would post a carol which encourages us to keep singing throughout this season. It runs through not just the twelve days of Christmas but also the forty days of the Christmas season, all the way up to Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification, on February 2. It's a fifteenth-century carol (from Bodleian MS Eng. poet. e. I), and the unmodernised text can be found on this site, which also lists the various feasts mentioned: St Stephen on the 26th, St John on the 27th, the Holy Innocents on the 28th, St Thomas Becket on the 29th (check back soon for more carols about him!), the Circumcision of Christ on January 1st, Epiphany and Candlemas.

Make we mirth
For Christ's birth,
And sing we Yule til Candlemas.

1. The first day of Yule have we in mind,
How God was man born of our kind;
For he the bonds would unbind
Of all our sins and wickedness.

2. The second day we sing of Stephen,
Who stoned was and rose up even
To God whom he saw stand in heaven,
And crowned was for his prowess. [bravery]

3. The third day belongeth to Saint John,
Who was Christ's darling, dearer none,
To whom he entrusted, when he should gone, [when he had to die]
His mother dear for her cleanness. [purity]

4. The fourth day of the children young,
Whom Herod put to death with wrong;
Of Christ they could not tell with tongue,
But with their blood bore him witness.

5. The fifth day belongeth to Saint Thomas,
Who, like a strong pillar of brass,
Held up the church, and slain he was,
Because he stood with righteousness.

6. The eighth day Jesu took his name,
Who saved mankind from sin and shame,
And circumcised was, for no blame,
But as example of meekness.

7. The twelfth day offered to him kings three,
Gold, myrrh, and incense, these gifts free,
For God, and man, and king was he,
Thus worshipped they his worthiness.

8. On the fortieth day came Mary mild,
Unto the temple with her child,
To show herself clean, who never was defiled,
And therewith endeth Christmas.

Read the rest of the commentary here.

And this year, Candlemas is on Sunday!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

David Starkey's "Music and Monarchy"

This Christmas, my husband gave me a copy of the DVD set of the BBC's series, "David Starkey's Music & Monarchy", a beautifully produced overview of musical history in England, considering the influence of the monarchy on mostly ceremonial church music.
Starkey begins with Henry V, who even wrote music for parts of the Mass, and ends the series with the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953. During the four episodes, choirs and ensembles perform great music by well known composers like Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, Orlando Gibbons, Henry Purcell, George Handel, Thomas Arne, Hubert Parry, Charles Villiers Stanford, Edward Elgar, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Also, there are works by lesser known composers like Thomas Tomkins, William Lawes, Henry Lawes, Pelham Humphrey, William Croft, and Albert, Prince Consort of Queen Victoria. Eton College, King's College, Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, and Canterbury Cathedral are among the venues, while the Choirs of Eton, King's College, Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul's Cathedral perform in situ. Fretwork, Alamire, the Academy of Ancient Music, The Parley of Instruments, The Band of the Life Guards, and several soloists also perform.
The musical selections and the performance are uniformly excellent, and Starkey's narration and his interviews with performers, conductors, and music historians are enlightening. The story of English music and monarchy basically follows, from Henry VIII on, the outline of English Reformation history during the Tudor dynasty, with the repercussions of religious division during the Stuart Dynasty, the Interregnum, Restoration, Glorious Revolution, Protestant succession through the House of Hanover, the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and finally, the House of Windsor succeeding. In the latter part of the history, Starkey considers the impact of the Oxford Movement on English church music, but he really does not consider the impact of secularization on English church music.
There were a couple of very great surprises: that Willliam and Mary dissolved the Chapel Royal and ended Henry Purcell's career as a royal composer of religious music--and that Thomas Arne wrote both "Rule, Britannia" and "God Save the King" in the midst of conflict between George II and his estranged son, Frederick the Prince of Wales (who was the father of King George III). Arne wrote "Rule, Britannia" for Frederick as part of a masque honoring King Alfred the Great and supporting the expansion of the British Navy, and then wrote "God Save the King" to support George II.
To me, the most noticeable gap is how little he considers the crucial restoration of Tudor church music during the reign of Mary I--when Tallis and Byrd and others were able to write polyphony again. That gap also means that Starkey does not consider the influence of great Spanish composers like Victoria, de Monte and Guerrero on English polyphony, or the exile of Catholic composers like Peter Philips, John Bull, and others. Starkey would only have had to consult Harry Christophers and The Sixteen to explore that crucial period through their CD The Flowering of Genius. Instead, Starkey skips over that period, perhaps because it does not fit his rather Whiggish narrative of English history.
That issue aside, the musical performances and the venues make this two-disc set a prized possession. As my husband commented, we could watch the first episode over and over again:

The Second Howard Martyr on the Block

Blessed William Howard, who was St. Philip Howard's grandson, was beheaded on December 29, 1680 on Tower Hill as a result of the Popish Plot; he had been tried in the House of Lords and found guilty. He protested his innocence throughout the trial and on the scaffold:
Next he lift up his hands, standing up, and said. "I beseech Thee, God, not to avenge my innocent blood upon any man in the Whole kingdom ; no, not against those who by their perjuries have brought me here. For I profess before Almighty God that I never combined against the King's life, nor any body else, but whatever I did was only to procure liberty for the Romish religion. And, as for the Duke of York, I do here declare, upon my Salvation, I know of no design that he ever had against the King, but hath ever behaved himself, for ought I know, as a loving, loyal brother ought to do.
So now, upon my Salvation, I have said true all that I have said. And I pray God to have mercy upon my soul." . . .
After which he went round the scaffold and spake to the multitude thus, "I pray God, bless the King, and bless you all, especially the King's loyal subjects (such as I am myself) for I know you have a good and gracious King as ever reigned. God forgive me my sins, I forgive all the world, even those fellows that brought me here, and pray God to send them no worse punishment than to repent and tell the truth. And so, God bless you all."
And some replyed, "God have mercy upon your soul." Then a minister applyed himself, and said, "Sir; you did disown the indulgences of the Romish Church."
To which he answered, with a great passion.
" Sir ; what have you to do with my religion? Pray do not trouble me. However, I do say that the Church of Rome allows no indulgences for murder, lying, &c., and whatever I have said is true. What need you trouble yourself? "
Min. "Have you received no absolution?"
Answ. "I have received none at all. Sir, trouble not yourself, nor me."
Min. "You said that you never saw those witnesses."
Answ. "I never saw any of them but Dugdale, and that was at a time when I spoke to him about a footboy, or a foot match."
Then his man took off his periwig and upper coat, and with a pair of sizers (sic) cut off the collar of his masters shirt, after which, W.S. lyes down in a white satin waistcoat, a quilted sky-coloured silk cap, with lace turn 'd up, &c.
He gave his watch to a gentleman, crucifix to his page, his staff and paper to another.
Having fitted his neck to the block, rise up upon his knees and prayed to himself, then takes the block and embraced it, then 'his servants cut off more of the linen, in all which time he sent up short prayers, that Christ would receive his spirit. Then lying down and praying upon the block, the sheriff Cornish askt' of the headsman, in kindness to W.S., if he had given him any sign. He answered "No." Whereupon W.S. rose up in a consternation and asked what they wanted. To which it was answered, "What sign will you give, Sir?"
Answ. "No sign at all. Take your own time. God's will be done."
Whereupon the executioner said, " I hope you forgive me?"
He made answer, "I do." Then lying down again, two of his servants came with a piece of black silk to receive the head. Then the headsman took the Axe in 'his hand, and after some pause gave the blow, Which was cleverly done, save the cutting off a little skin, which was cut off immediately with a knife. 
Pope Pius XI beatified William Howard in 1929.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Feast of the Holy Innocents and the Coventry Carol

The Coventry Carol was part of a 16th century mystery play depicting the slaughter of the young boys in Bethlehem as described in St. Matthew's Gospel, chapter 2, verses 16-18:

Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry; and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning; Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. (Douai-Rheims translation).

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor Youngling for
Whom we sing
By, by, lully, lullay?

Herod the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever morn and day
For Thy parting neither say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Because Henry VIII proscribed these mystery plays, and the last authentic manuscript was burned in the 19th century, the words we have now are based on transcriptions. Here is a performance from Westminster Cathedral.

There is another famous hymn for this Feast, very ancient, by Prudentius, Salvete flores Martyrum.
John Mason Neale collaborated on a translation:

1. All hail! ye infant Martyr-flowers,
Cut off in life’s first dawning hours:
As rosebuds, snapt in tempest strife,
When Herod sought your Saviour’s life.

2. You, tender flock of lambs, we sing,
First victims slain for Christ your King:
Beneath the Altar’s heav’nly ray
With Martyr-palms and crowns ye play.

3. For their redemption glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee,
With Father, and with Holy Ghost,
For ever from the Martyr-host. Amen.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Survivor of the English Monastic Tradition: Brother Petroc

A dear friend gave me, as a birthday present, Brother Petroc's Return, a historical fantasy novel by S.M.C., Sister Mary Catherine Anderson, first published in 1937 by Little, Brown and Company. It was also published as an Image Books paperback:

The current edition is from the Dominican Nuns of Summit (New Jersey). The convent's website is down until January 2, 2014: www.nunsopsummit.org:

S.M.C. was born in Cornwall (an Anglican clergyman's daughter) and became a Catholic with her family while still a young girl, according to the biography at the back of the paperback. She wrote several historical novels set in Cornwall, especially about the Prayer Book Rebellion. I think the Dominicans in Summit intend to publish more of her works, but only the coming of the new year will confirm that information, since they have shut down their website during the Octave of Christmas (amazon.com does offer another work, The Chronicles of Thomas Frith, O.P.). I would be pleased to read S.M.C.'s historical novels.

She is a sophisticated and brilliant historical novelist based on my reading this book, at least. Using the "Hypothesis" as she calls it of a miracle, she demonstrates some great changes in religious life from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Brother Petroc dies on August 14, 1549 in the midst of the Prayer Book Rebellion after learning that his two brothers have died fighting against Edward VI's imposition of the Book of Common Prayer. The Benedictine monastery in which he professed was saved from the Dissolution of the Monasteries because it was so hidden and unknown, perched at the top of a cliff on the Atlantic coast. He is buried in haste since the monks must flee from Edward's troops.

Four hundred years later, Benedictines have purchased and restored the ruined monastery and then the Abbot, Prior and Subprior discover Brother Petroc, not just incorrupt, but alive! S.M.C. carefully details the long recovery of the man who was buried 400 years before, and along the way, as this review from The Tablet in 1937 notes, reveals what really separates him from his Benedictine brothers, in spite of the fact they are living according to the same Rule:

The process of adjustment, as Brother Petroc again takes his place in his community, gives the author her opportunity of showing the great changes which have taken place in spiritual method during the last four hundred years. Before the Reformation, in the ages of Faith, the Christian, and especially the contemplative, thought more directly in terms of God's Will and less directly in terms of his own soul ; today, in Petroc's words, "People of this generation seem to place themselves in the centre of their universe, and to look at life from that standpoint." The pre-Reformation attitude is extrovert, the post-Reformation introvert. . . .

And the kindly but unimaginative Dom Maurus, who unwittingly did so much harm by bringing Petroc too suddenly into contact with a flood of new impressions, expresses the point well : "St. Benedict and the older Masters of the Spiritual Life had started with God and viewed the soul from that standpoint. Self-knowledge came through a comparison of their own souls with God, at Whom they were looking, and the desire that arose therefrom of rendering themselves as little unworthy of Him as possible. . . . Now the later exponents started with the soul itself and cleansed and disciplined it systematically, in order to make it fit for the entrance of God."

When I say that S.M.C. is a "sophisticated and brilliant historical novelist" I mean that she conveys this rather abstract and even academic fact through character development and plot. It is worked into the story as Brother Petroc amazes the Novices with whom he studies with his calmness, understanding, and holiness. Among those who think him merely simple and slow, the Prior comes to appreciate his wisdom and even his gifts as a poet, as he finds one of Brother Petroc's poems by chance:

Of winter-thorn and white-thorn
Fain would I sing,
Of Marye Flower of Heaven,
Of Chryste our King.

It fell about the Yule-tide,
When winds are starke and wilde,
That of a mayden stainless
Was born a littyl Child.

It fell about the Spring-time,
When flowers are freshe to see,
That Chryste, the Sonne of Marye,
Did die uponne a tree . . .  (pp. 147-148)

Not wishing to spoil the plot, I won't offer any more synopsis. Reading Brother Petroc's Return allows the reader, like the Novices, to be "in contact with a survival of the ages of faith, the great ages of the world", and like them will find it "so unusual and interesting" (p. 73). Highly recommended. As The Tablet reviewer said in 1937:

Brother Petroc's Return is a book of quite exceptional merit, for it shows not only a profound and deep comprehension of the ways of the Christian spirit, but is in itself a book of great beauty, a joy to read, and a profit to study.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Feast of Saint Stephen and "Good King Wenceslaus"

John Mason Neale composed this carol for St. Stephen's Day, Good King Wenceslas. According to this site:

Today, Dec. 26, is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian church.

But while this is an interesting and doubtless profound commemoration in the calendar of the liturgical churches, the day is better known by the reference in the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas,” written by the Rev. John Mason Neale and published in 1853. It is a very odd sort of song in a number of ways. The tune appears in popular culture even more often than the words do and is played in the background to almost every film set at Christmas time that I have ever seen.

In the first place, it is not a traditional carol, a song sung by generations in honor of Christmas, although Neale published it in a book titled “Carols for Christmas.” It was entirely composed in Victorian England and was set to the tune “Tempus adest floridum,” which is an Easter song that dates to the 13th century with entirely different lyrics. The Latin title means “The time is near for flowering.” The subject of the song, King Wenceslas, who immortalizes St. Stephen’s Day, was not even a king, nor was he English, and he actually died a rather nasty death in Bohemia, in what is now the Czech Republic. It is a song immortalizing a medieval Catholic saint, written by an Anglican clergyman in Protestant England. . . .

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even.
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel.

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather.

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.

The Feast of St. Stephen and the English Catholic Martyrs

St. Stephen is course the proto-martyr and his imitation of Christ was so exact that he spoke the same words of forgiveness for his executioners. Because the Venerable English College in Rome was like "a nursery for martyrs", the custom arose of one of their seminarians preaching on the feast of St. Stephen, according to this blog:

The English College gained a reputation as a nursery of martyrs. Owing to the number of its martyred students, the custom arose of a student of the college preaching, on the theme of martyrdom, before the Pope on St Stephen’s Day.

On St Stephen’s Day, 1581, Blessed John Cornelius, who had entered the English College, Rome, in April 1580, preached before Pope Gregory XIII. (Pope Gregory XIII is best remembered for producing, with the help of Christopher Clavius S J, the Gregorian calendar.) In his sermon, John called the College the “Pontifical Seminary of Martyrs”. Thirteen years later, on 4th July 1594, John Cornelius was martyred at Dorchester, Oxfordshire. He was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929.

On St Stephen’s Day 1642, the recently ordained Welshman, David Lewis, preached before Pope Urban VIII in the Lateran Basilica. He preached in Latin and his sermon, entitled “Corona Christi pro spinis gemmea” was on the Martyrdom of St Stephen, the first Christian Martyr. David Lewis was martyred at Usk on 27th August 1679. He was canonised in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

Here is the College's Litany of Martyrs:

St Ralph Sherwin, 1581
St Luke Kirby, 1582
Blessed John Shert, 1582
Blessed William Lacey, 1582
Blessed Thomas Cottam, 1582
Blessed William Hart, 1583
Blessed George Haydock, 1584
Blessed Thomas Hemerford, 1584
Blessed John Munden, 1584
Blessed John Lowe, 1586
Blessed Robert Morton, 1588
Blessed Richard Leigh, 1588
Blessed Edward James, 1588
Blessed Christopher Buxton, 1588
Blessed Christopher Bales, 1590
Blessed Edmund Duke, 1590
St Polydore Plasden, 1591
St Eustace White, 1591
Blessed Joseph Lambton, 1592
Blessed Thomas Pormort, 1592
Blessed John Cornelius S J, 1594
Blessed John Ingram, 1594
Blessed Edward Thwing, 1594
St Robert Southwell S J, 1595
St Henry Walpole S J, 1595
Blessed Robert Middleton, 1601
Blessed Robert Watkinson, 1602
Venerable Thomas Tichborne, 1602
Blessed Edward Oldcorne, 1606
St John Almond , 1612
Blessed Richard Smith, 1612
Blessed John Thules, 1616
Blessed John Lockwood, 1642
Venerable Edward Morgan, 1642
Venerable Brian Tansfield S J, 1643
St Henry Morse S J, 1645
Blessed John Woodcock O F M, 1646
Venerable Edward Mico S J, 1678
Blessed Antony Turner S J, 1679
St John Wall O F M, 1679
St David Lewis S J, 1679

More on the College and the Age of Martyrs here.

Barton Swaim on Jay Parini's "Jesus: The Human Face of God"

I don't know if Barton Swaim would like this comparison or not, but I thought of G.K. Chesterton when I read his review of the novelist and critic's book about Jesus (from The Wall Street Journal):

One of the wonderful qualities of the New Testament's four Gospels is that they force you either to embrace or reject them. You can study the Gospels as "literature" if you like, but their logic subverts any attempt to treat them as you would treat other literary texts. "Hamlet" may reach dizzying heights of sublimity and repay a lifetime of study, but it doesn't ask for radical changes in your thought and behavior and has no power to compel them.

Three centuries of critical New Testament scholarship haven't changed this. The Quest for the Historical Jesus, an attempt to interpret the canonical Gospel texts without reference to supernatural explanations, began with German scholarship in the 18th century, gradually took hold of universities and divinity schools elsewhere in Europe and America during the 19th century, and exploded in popularity during the latter half of the 20th century. Hundreds, probably thousands, of books purporting to explain the identity and intentions of Jesus of Nazareth have been published since the "quest" began in the 1770s; and yet, despite scholars' confident pronouncements about how Jesus went from political revolutionary or peaceable philosopher to Eternal Son of God, the Gospels' claims about him are neither more nor less plausible than they were before. . . .

The point here isn't that the Gospels must be true. It is that the Gospels offer no easy way to explain away their content. They therefore demand one of two choices. Either they relay things that Jesus actually said and did, in which case he really is who the New Testament claims he is, or they are haphazard collections of deliberately fabricated stories about a man who may have said some extraordinary things in first-century Judea but who has no more claim on your attention than Socrates.
C.S. Lewis, among others, made a similar argument about Jesus' self-descriptions: "Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse." And while that argument has often been dismissed on the grounds that it assumes all the Gospels' quotations of Jesus to be authentic, its logic applies with equal or greater force to the four Gospel texts themselves. Either they are true or they are collections of precious fables. There is no third option. They cannot be somehow factually false but metaphorically true—the human mind rightly rejects that kind of reasoning as highfalutin cant.
This point is powerfully made by Jay Parini's "Jesus," although Mr. Parini didn't intend to make that point at all.
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

From the Cambridge Lessons and Carols Yesterday

After the Annunciation reading from the Gospel according to St. Luke, the Choir of King's College Cambridge sang this happy hymn:

1. Angelus ad virginem
Subintrans in conclave.
Virginis formidinum
Demulcens inquit "Ave."
Ave regina virginum,
Coeliteraeque dominum
Et paries
Salutem hominum.
Tu porta coeli facta
Medella criminum.

2. Quomodo conciperem,
quae virum non cognovi?
Qualiter infringerem,
quae firma mente vovi?
'Spiritus sancti gratia
Perficiet haec omnia;
Ne timaes,
sed gaudeas,
quod castimonia
Manebit in te pura
Dei potentia.'

3. Ad haec virgo nobilis
Respondens inquit ei;
Ancilla sum humilis
Omnipotentis Dei.
Tibi coelesti nuntio,
Tanta secreti conscio,
Et cupiens
factum quod audio,
Parata sum parere
Dei consilio.

4. Angelus disparuit
Etstatim puellaris
Uterus intumuit
Vi partus salutaris.
Qui, circumdatus utero
Novem mensium numero,
Hinc Exiit
Et iniit
Affigens humero
Crucem, qua dedit ictum
Hosti mortifero.

5. Eia Mater Domini,
Quae pacem reddidisti
Angelis et homini,
Cum Christum genuisti;
Tuem exora filium
Ut se nobis propitium
Et deleat
Praestans auxilium
Vita frui beta
Post hoc exsilium.

This site gives some background:

The cheerfully sounding song about the Annunciation, Angelus ad Virginem or, in its English form, Gabriel, From Heven King Was To The Maide Sende, was a popular Medieval carol that is still popular today. The text of this song is a poetic version of Hail Mary, full of dramatic tension and theological profundity.

It appeared in an Dublin Troper (c. 1361, a music book for use at Mass) and was found in a Sequentiale (Vellum manuscript, 13th or 14th century), possibly connected with the Church of Addle, Yorks. This lyric also appears in the works of John Audelay, in a group of four Marian poems. Audelay may have been a priest; he spent the last years of his life at Haghmond, an Augustinian abbey, and wrote for the monks there.

It is said to have originally consisted of 27 stanzas, with each following stanza beginning with the consecutive letter of the alphabet.

Chaucer mentions it in his Miller's Tale, where poor scholar Nicholas sang it in Latin to the accompaniment of his psaltery:

And over all there lay a psaltery
Whereon he made an evening's melody,
Playing so sweetly that the chamber rang;
And Angelus ad virginem he sang;
And after that he warbled the King's Note:
Often in good voice was his merry throat.

Both the Oxford Book of Carols and, especially, the New Oxford Book of Carols contain musical settings and additional historical notes.

In addition to the translations provided, there is the translation by John Macleod Campbell Crum, 1932, which is reproduced as #547 in Hymn Ancient & Modern, Revised.

The site also notes:

The carol was probably Franciscan in original and brought to Britain by French friars in the 13th century. There is a 14th Irish source for the latin version and, from the same period, a middle-English version which begins:

Gabriel fram Heven-King / Sent to the Maide sweete,
Broute hir blisful tiding / And fair he gan hir greete:
'Heil be thu, ful of grace aright! / For Godes Son, this Heven Light,
For mannes love / Will man bicome /And take / Fles of thee,
Maide bright, / Manken free for to make / Of sen and devles might.'

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

From G.K. Chesterton's "The Everlasting Man"

Part II, Chapter One, "The God in the Cave":

Chesterton demonstrates the glorious beauty of Our Mother Mary and her Child: if we ignore Mary when we try to understand Who Jesus Christ  is ("God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God", who "came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man") we will end up taking "Christ out of Christmas or Christmas out of Christ":

Bethlehem is emphatically a place where extremes meet. Here begins, it is needless to say, another mighty influence for the humanization of Christendom. If the world wanted what is called a non-controversial aspect of Christianity, it would probably select Christmas. Yet it is obviously bound up with what is supposed to be a controversial aspect (I could never at any stage of my opinions imagine why); the respect paid to the Blessed Virgin. When I was a boy a more Puritan generation objected to a statue upon my parish church representing the Virgin and Child. After much controversy, they compromised by taking away the Child. One would think that this was even more corrupted with Mariolatry, unless the mother was counted less dangerous when deprived of a sort of weapon. But the practical difficulty is also a parable. You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a newborn child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a newborn child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a newborn child in the void or think of him without thinking of his mother. You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother, you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows I as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.

(I think the Giotto portrayal of the Blessed Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, with their heads so close together and their eyes so clearly meeting, represents the haloes mingling and crossing very well.)

Chesterton examines the roles of the shepherds (who find their Shepherd), the Three Kings of Orient (who find Someone greater than their philosophy), and Herod the King (who fears a Baby born in a manger and slaughters the Innocents), and then looks at our role today, as we find "something more human than humanity" in the story and reality of Christmas--God With Us.

This is the trinity of truths symbolised here by the three types in the old Christmas story; the shepherds and the kings and that other king who warred upon the children. It is simply not true to say that other religions and philosophies are in this respect its rivals. It is not true to say that any one of them combines these characters; it is not true to say that any one of them pretends to combine them. Buddhism may profess to be equally mystical; it does not even profess to be equally military. Islam may profess to be equally military; it does not even profess to be equally metaphysical and subtle. Confucianism may profess to satisfy the need of the philosophers for order and reason; it does not even profess to satisfy the need of the mystics for miracle and sacrament and the consecration of concrete things. There are many evidences of this presence of a spirit at once universal and unique. One will serve here which is the symbol of the subject of this chapter; that no other story, no pagan legend or philosophical anecdote or historical event, does in fact affect any of us with that peculiar and even poignant impression produced on us by the word Bethlehem. No other birth of a god or childhood of a sage seems to us to be Christmas or anything like Christmas. It is either too cold or too frivolous, or too formal and classical, or too simple and savage, or too occult and complicated. Not one of us, whatever his opinions, would ever go to such a scene with the sense that he was going home. He might admire it because it was poetical, or because it was philosophical, or any number of other things in separation; but not because it was itself. The truth is that there is a quite peculiar and individual character about the hold of this story on human nature; it is not in its psychological substance at all like a mere legend or the life of a great man. It does not exactly in the ordinary sense turn our minds to greatness; to those extensions and exaggerations of humanity which are turned into gods and heroes, even by the healthiest sort of hero-worship. It does not exactly work outwards, adventurously, to the wonders to be found at the ends of the earth. It is rather something that surprises us from behind, from the hidden and personal part of our being; like that which can some times take us off our guard in the pathos of small objects or the blind pieties of the poor. It is rather as if a man had found an inner room in the very heart of his own house, which he had never suspected; and seen a light from within. It is as if he found something at the back of his own heart that betrayed him into good. It is not made of what the world would call strong materials; or rather it is made of materials whose strength is in that winged levity with which they brush us and pass. It is all that is in us but a brief tenderness that is there made eternal; all that means no more than a momentary softening that is in some strange fashion become a strengthening and a repose; it is the broken speech and the lost word that are made positive and suspended unbroken; as the strange kings fade into a far country and the mountains resound no more with the feet of the shepherds; and only the night and the cavern lie in fold upon fold over something more human than humanity.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Commissioned Carol for King's College, Cambridge

On Christmas Eve, the great Choir of King's College, Cambridge will present its annual Lessons and Carols. Since 1982, the Choir has commissioned a new Christmas carol for the service: this year, Thea Musgrave wrote the music for a Willliam Blake poem:

 This year's commissioned carol for A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols has been composed by Thea Musgrave. It is a setting of the William Blake poem 'Hear the voice of the Bard' (1794).

The composer said: "It was with the greatest pleasure that I accepted a commission to write a carol for the famous choir of King's College, Cambridge, and their conductor Stephen Cleobury.

"After much consideration I chose one of the poems from the Songs of Experience by William Blake.

"The poem speaks of how the 'Bard's Voice' calls out to the 'lapséd soul' and for the 'Holy Word' to renew the 'fallen light'. It also calls for the earth to return after a long night; for the dawn to come and so for the sun to reappear."

Musgrave has won numerous awards for her large and varied body of work and received a CBE in 2002.

The poem she selected:

HEAR the voice of the Bard,
Who present, past, and future, sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walk’d among the ancient trees;

Calling the lapsèd soul,
And weeping in the evening dew;
That might control
The starry pole,
And fallen, fallen light renew!

‘O Earth, O Earth, return!
Arise from out the dewy grass!
Night is worn,
And the morn
Rises from the slumbrous mass.

‘Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor,
The watery shore,
Is given thee till the break of day.’

In keeping with my fascination with Dickens' A Christmas Carol, I think I should note that Thea Musgrave wrote an operatic adaptation, with optional children's chorus!

More about the Lessons and Carols from the College website. I appreciate the clarity of the instructions for the queue for possible admittance to the service:

If you would like to attend the service, please join the queue at the main entrance to the College. Normally anyone joining the queue before 9am will get in, but we cannot guarantee this. The queue is admitted into the Chapel at 1.30pm and the service begins at 3pm. The service ends at around 4.30pm. Please note that the service is not suitable for young children. There is no charge for attending, as with any service in the Chapel. A retiring collection is taken after the service for the maintenance of the Chapel.

Arrangements for those who want to queue are as follows:
  1. The only entrance to the College will be via the main gate on King's Parade. All other gates will be locked.
  2. Members of the public in the queue will be admitted to the College grounds via the front gate from 7.30am.
  3. The Porters will monitor the number of people joining the queue and, once there are as many people in the queue as there are seats available, members of the public will be advised that it is unlikely that they will be able to attend the service.
  4. Bags and packages cannot be taken into the Chapel and must be deposited with the Porters in the designated area.
  5. Once inside the College grounds toilet facilities are available and refreshments can be purchased from the College coffee shop.
Then the program has more detailed instructions about silence and decorum for those attending, since the service is broadcast live on the BBC:

In order not to spoil the service for other members of the congregation and radio listeners, please do not talk or cough unless it is absolutely necessary. Please turn off chiming digital watches and mobile phones. . . .
And, whatever you do, don't talk during the organ prelude!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Speaking of Persecution: In the WSJ

Philip Jenkins reviews John L. Allen, Jr.'s book, The Global War on Christians for The Wall Street Journal:
On Oct. 31, 2010, a dozen Islamist gunmen stormed the Catholic cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation, in Baghdad. Striking during a service, they butchered some 60 priests and worshipers, notionally in revenge for insults to Islam. Ghastly as that crime might be in its own right, atrocities of this kind are quite commonplace around the world. Mobs sack churches in Egypt, Nigerian suicide bombers target worshiping congregations, and Eritrea has its hellish concentration camps for Christians. "Christians today," writes John L. Allen Jr. , "indisputably are the most persecuted religious body on the planet." So widespread and systematic are the attacks, he explains, that they amount to a global war, which he proclaims "the transcendent human rights concern" in the modern world.
Mr. Allen is by no means the first writer to address this phenomenon, but he may be the best qualified. He has through the years established himself as among the best-informed commentators on the Vatican and the state of the Roman Catholic Church, and hearing so many contacts recount stories of persecution and discrimination has naturally sensitized him to anti-Christian campaigns, and by no means only those directed against Catholics. . . .
In cruder hands, "The Global War on Christians" could easily have turned into an anti-Islamic rant. Yet while Mr. Allen devotes full attention to the evil deeds of Islamists in Iraq, Nigeria and elsewhere, he also refutes the myth "that it's all about Islam." Over the past century, some of the very worst anti-Christian persecutors have been fanatically anti-religious, commonly driven by Marxist-Leninist ideology. Islam, evidently, has nothing to do with the atrocities of the North Korean regime, which has made its country perhaps the worst single place in the world to be a Christian: The government has killed thousands of Christians and imprisoned tens of thousands more, in hideous conditions. Nor does Mr. Allen succumb to the common temptation to concentrate so much on Muslim misdeeds that we ignore savage and persistent persecutions by Hindu fanatics—the pogroms, the forced conversions, the mob attacks against churches, often committed with the tacit acquiescence of police and local governments.
Read the rest here. Coming from Philip Jenkins of Baylor University, that's a trust- and attention worthy review.

And It Arrived on My Birthday! A Review Copy from Gracewing

This looks like a fascinating study of a period that's not so well known in the history of Catholicism in England after the English Reformation--and I do agree that the usual view of that era is that it was very quiet and stagnant:

Persecution Without Martyrdom: The Catholics of North-East England in the Age of the Vicars Apostolic 1688-1850, by Leo Gooch
Publisher's Blurb: Until comparatively recently, historical studies of English Catholicism have lavished attention on the ‘Age of Martyrs’ of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries or on the ‘Second Spring’ of the nineteenth century, while the eighteenth, a century of ‘persecution without martyrdom’ as Edwin Burton described the life and times of Richard Challoner, is largely passed over. That neglect is wholly unwarranted. The creation of the four Vicariates Apostolic in 1688 marks the foundation of the modern Roman Catholic Church in England AND Wales and a series of significant ecclesiastical developments affecting the disposition and operation of the mission followed over the next century and a half: its emergence from ‘seigneurial’ rule, its shift from its rural strongholds into the towns, and its metamorphosis into a centrally-managed organization. In the secular field, this was the age when major political crises relating to Catholicism arose, when Catholics threw off discrimination and oppression and by degrees emerged from recusancy to full citizenship; and when the sociological character of the English Catholics changed completely. Theses were all important enough singly, but cumulatively they amounted to nothing less than a radical transformation of the structure and outlook of the English Catholics. The later achievements of the Church of Cardinals Manning, Wiseman and Newman could not possibly have been won without the perseverance and vigour of the eighteenth century recusants.

I look forward to reading it and reviewing it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

"A Christmas Carol" on the Silver Screen

Last night, TCM showed several film adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, starting with the Albert Finney musical and then moving on to the classic Alistair Sim version, the first sound version, the Reginald Owen version, and a Rod Serling adaptation.

As with all film adaptations of literary works, the different versions take liberties with the text: Scrooge!, the musical, adds a scene with Marley and Scrooge in Hell--Scrooge is to be Satan's clerk and finds himself wrapped in heavy chains in a ice cold office, colder than the office he kept for his clerk, Bob Cratchit.

Except for the rousingly ironic "Thank You Very Much", I don't think the musical numbers are that memorable, and the Ghost of Christmas Present does not reveal the boy and girl, Ignorance and Want before he departs his time on earth. Once he's transformed and converted, Ebenezer visits the Cratchit house to deliver the prize turkey and presents, all dressed up as Father Christmas.

The Reginald Owen version also shows Scrooge visiting the Cratchit house on Christmas Day--I think both of those changes are mistakes because it eliminates the tension and surprise on December 26 when poor Bob Cratchit arrives late to work and fears he'll lose his job.

The Alistair Sim version is excellent, including the young Ebenezer, George Cole, and includes that most Dickensian scene of the undertaker, housekeeper, and laundress selling Scrooge's few earthly possessions.

Truly, my favorite is the 1984 George C. Scott version, made for television (CBS). The cast is very strong throughout from the protagonist to Susannah York (Mrs. Cratchit), David Warner (Bob), Roger Rees (Fred, Scrooge's nephew), Frank Finlay (as Marley's Ghost), and another good younger Scrooge, Mark Strickson, who once played a Doctor Who sidekick (the Fifth Doctor).

Through the movie adaptations, the impact of A Christmas Carol continues.

God bless us, everyone!

Old English O Antiphons: O Key of David

 A Clerk of Oxford posts this fascinating background to the O Antiphons, including the Old English versions from the Exeter Book:

We are now in the last days of Advent, the season of the O Antiphons. These ancient antiphons, sung at Vespers in the week before Christmas, retain a remarkable hold on the imagination today - just as they did twelve hundred years ago for one Anglo-Saxon poet, who turned them into a series of short poems in English. For the next few days I want to post the Old English poetic versions of the O Antiphons, which are much more than translations of the Latin texts: they are exquisite poetic meditations on the rich imagery of the antiphons, responding to them in subtle and creative ways. In translating them to post here I've been astonished anew by their beauty and interest, and I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I do.

They survive in a manuscript known as the
Exeter Book, an anthology of English poetry on all kinds of themes and in all kinds of forms: elegies, saints' lives, riddles, wisdom poetry, philosophical reflections, heroic laments, and many poems which resist classification. The O Antiphons are the first poems in the collection, and they were probably composed some time earlier than the date of the tenth-century manuscript, perhaps around the year 800. They are anonymous, though once attributed by scholars to Cynewulf, and they long suffered from being lumped together with the poems which follow them in the manuscript (which also concern Christ, so you will sometimes find them being called 'Christ I' or 'Christ A'). However, they deserve to be treated, and appreciated, separately and on their own terms, as a collection of individual poems linked by their common source in the O Antiphons.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cosmo Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury

I watched The King's Speech on DVD last night, and noted again the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, played by Sir Derek Jacobi. Cosmo Lang was the Archbishop who buried George V, excoriated Edward VIII after his abdication, and crowned George VI and his wife Elizabeth--and Elizabeth II, too. He is not portrayed very sympathetically in the movie: a bit of a prig about Lionel Logue, etc--and this reviewer of a biography of an Archbishop of Canterbury who reigned over the Church of England during a crucial modern era notes that portrayal:

'I HATE Cosmo Lang!’ exclaimed a member of the audience when Robert Beaken spoke to a seminar at the IHR about Lang, archbishop of Canterbury and subject of this important reassessment. As Beaken rightly notes, Lang’s reputation has suffered in the years since his death. His time as archbishop (1928–42) spanned years of economic depression, the rise of fascism, a royal abdication and the outbreak of world war. But, despite this, the prevailing picture has been of a figure caught in the headlights, reactive rather than in the lead, a puritan and a snob; this image has not been altered by his portrayal (by Derek Jacobi) in the recent film, The King’s Speech. Lang’s case was not helped by the biography by J. G. Lockhart, published in 1949. Written without any particular acquaintance with Lang or access to his official papers, Lockhart’s book has long been unsatisfactory, but it has taken until now for a replacement to appear; and Beaken’s study goes a long way towards superseding Lockhart and presenting Lang afresh.

The book has three primary concerns: with Lang’s relationship with the monarchy; with the disputed process of liturgical reform within the Church of England; and with the Second World War. Chapter seven deals with the last, presenting a panoramic view of Lang’s work in the first and darkest days of the war, when Lang was in his mid-70s. Beaken very effectively documents Lang’s interventions at the highest level: in the articulation of peace aims; in negotiating the rhetorically difficult transformation of Soviet Russia from enemy to ally; in articulating the need for national intercession and for remembrance of the 1914–18 conflict in changed circumstances. There are important refinements to the literature in relation to Lang’s early opposition to the obliteration bombing of Germany (191–3), and (in response to the work of Tom Lawson) concerning who knew what and when within the Church in relation to the Holocaust (206–7).

But these national affairs were not the limit of an archbishop’s concerns. Beaken very effectively documents Lang’s interventions in relation to refugees, evacuees and conscientious objectors, to venereal disease in the army abroad, and to the observance of the Sabbath at home. Lang was supportive of the government and the war effort because he strongly believed that the struggle was a just and necessary one. At the same time, there were limits to what could be morally acceptable even in war, and Lang intervened in private and public as far as there was any likelihood of those efforts being effective.

Read the rest here, including the author's response to the review.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent Ember Days

As this site reminds us:

Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent) are known as "Advent Embertide," and they come near the beginning of the Season of Winter (December, January, February). Liturgically, the readings for the days' Masses follow along with the general themes of Advent, opening up with Wednesday's Introit of Isaias 45: 8 and Psalm 18:2 :
Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior. The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the work of His hands.
Wednesday's and Saturday's Masses will include one and four Lessons, respectively, with all of them concerning the words of the Prophet Isaias except for the last lesson on Saturday, which comes from Daniel and recounts how Sidrach, Misach, and Abdenago are saved from King Nabuchodonosor's fiery furnace by an angel. This account, which is followed by a glorious hymn, is common to all Embertide Saturdays but for Whit Embertide.

The Gospel readings for the three days concern, respectively, the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-28), Visitation (Luke 1:37-47), and St. John the Baptist's exhorting us to "prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths" (Luke 3:1-6).
The Rorate Caeli performed above at Hereford Cathedral is from William Byrd's Gradualia:
Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum
(Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just)
Aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem"
(Let the earth be opened and send forth a Saviour").
Ps. Benedixisti, Domine, terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Iacob
O Lord thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto . . .
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit . . .
It is part of a Votive Mass for Our Lady during Advent and you may find the sheet music here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dom Prosper Gueranger on the First O Antiphon: O Sapientia

This site has the prayers composed by Dom Prosper Gueranger for the O Antiphons for the Magnifcat canticle at Vespers, December 17 through 23, starting with "O Wisdom, that proceedest from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end mightily, and disposing all things sweetly, come
and teach us the way of prudence.":

O uncreated Wisdom, who art so soon to make Thyself visible to Thy creatures, truly Thou disposest all things. It is by Thy permission that the emperor Augustus issues a decree ordering the enrollment of the whole world. Each citizen of the vast empire is to have his name enrolled in the city of his birth. This prince has no other object in this order, which sets the world in motion, but his own ambition. Men go to and fro by millions, and an unbroken procession traverses the immense Roman world; men think they are doing the bidding of man, and it is God whom they are obeying. This world-wide agitation has really but one object; it is, to bring to Bethlehem a man and woman who live at Nazareth in Galilee, in order that this woman, who is unknown to the world but dear to heaven, and who is at the close of the ninth month since she conceived her Child, may give birth to this Child in Bethlehem; for the Prophet has said of Him: ‘His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity. And thou, 0 Bethlehem! art not the least among the thousand cities of Judah, for out of thee He shall come.’O divine Wisdom! how strong art Thou in thus reaching Thine ends by means which are infallible, though hidden; and yet, how sweet, offering no constraint to man’s free-will; and withal, how fatherly, in providing for our necessities! Thou choosest Bethlehem for Thy birth-place, because Bethlehem signifies the house of bread. In this, Thou teachest us that Thou art our Bread, the nourishment and support of our life. With God as our food, we cannot die. O Wisdom of the Father, living Bread that hast descended from heaven, come speedily into us, that thus we may approach to Thee and be enlightened by Thy light, and by that prudence which leads to salvation.

OSV's The Catholic Answer Magazine features this article describing the O Antiphons and the well-known translation by John Mason Neale.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Kings Over the Water and their Supporters' "Material Culture"

Coming soon from Cambridge University Press: The Material Culture of the Jacobites by Neil Guthrie:

The Jacobites, adherents of the exiled King James II of England and VII of Scotland and his descendants, continue to command attention long after the end of realistic Jacobite hopes down to the present. Extraordinarily, the promotion of the Jacobite cause and adherence to it were recorded in a rich and highly miscellaneous store of objects, including medals, portraits, pin-cushions, glassware and dice-boxes. Interdisciplinary and highly illustrated, this book combines legal and art history to survey the extensive material culture associated with Jacobites and Jacobitism. Neil Guthrie considers the attractions and the risks of making, distributing and possessing ‘things of danger’; their imagery and inscriptions; and their place in a variety of contexts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Finally, he explores the many complex reasons underlying the long-lasting fascination with the Jacobites.

The Cambridge University Press website contains several .pdfs of excerpts from the book, including the Table of Contents:

1. 'By things themselves': the danger of Jacobite material culture
2. 'Many emblems of sedition and treason': patterns of Jacobite visual symbolism
3. 'Their disloyal and wicked inscriptions': the uses of texts on Jacobite objects
4. 'Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis': phases and varieties of Jacobite material culture
5. 'Those who are fortunate enough to possess pictures and relics': later uses of Jacobite material culture

The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia has an exhibition now of one of the most common Jacobite objects: the glassware used to toast the true Kings of England:

So the Stuart supporters, or Jacobites, instituted, amongst other things, the practice of drinking toasts to their King “over the water” in glasses engraved with cryptic symbols which reflected their Stuart loyalties.

The NGV possesses an extensive and important collection of these rare glasses, many of them generous gifts from the Morgan family of Melbourne.
Kings over the water will explore the fascinating hidden symbolism of these beautiful objects, created as part of a doomed political adventure whose tragic history continues to cast a romantic spell even today. 

The exhibition site includes an essay on the glassware's manufacture and use, detailing the symbols etched in glass to represent the Stuart claimants:

Jacobite glasses were decorated with engraved cryptic symbols and mottos which, to those who understood their coded messages, spoke of the drinker’s loyalty to the Stuart dynasty. By far the most common symbol was the six-petalled white heraldic rose, an ancient emblem of the Stuarts. The white rose also had connotations of strict legitimacy. Its adoption by James III as his personal badge was particularly appropriate as rumours of his illegitimacy had been circulated by political enemies since his birth.

On its own, the white rose is believed to have stood for the exiled king. A rose bud to the right of the rose represented his heir apparent, Prince Charles Edward Stuart. A second rosebud, to the left of the rose, represented Prince Henry Benedict Stuart, Princes Charles’s younger brother. When there are two rosebuds, that representing Prince Charles is often larger and on the verge of opening.

And the Latin mottoes:

  • Audentior Ibo (I shall go more boldly). This motto probably derived from the sixth book of Virgil’s Aeneid, in which Aeneas consults a mystic who warns him of grim fighting to come, but adds ‘sed contra audentior ito’ (‘but go forth against it with great daring’).
  • Radiat (It shines).
  • Redeat (May he return). This motto appears on a medal with a bust of Prince Charles, struck in 1752 for the Oak Society.
  • Rede (Return!).
  • Redi. Perhaps an abbreviation of Redii (I have returned).
  • Reditti (Restore).
  • Revirescit (It revives).
  • Fiat (May it come to pass). This is also a Latin equivalent of ‘Amen’.
  • Turno Tempus Erit (For Turnus there shall be a time). Turnus is a character in Virgil’s Aeneid who struggles against Aeneas for mastery of Italy. Aeneas defeats Turnus in battle and is inclined to spare his life, but notices that Turnus wears the sword of a friend of his whom he has killed. Aeneas slays Turnus in revenge. Turnus may be meant to stand for the Duke of Cumberland, who defeated the Jacobites at Culloden. The glass warns that the Hanoverian victory may be short lived.
  • Hic Vir Hic Est (This, this is the man). This motto derives from the sixth book of Virgil’s Aeneid. After the fall of Troy, Aeneas escapes to Italy where he is permitted to descend into the underworld in order to gain a glimpse of the future. He sees the coming glory of Rome, and the appearance of Augutus Caesar is heralded with the phrase Hic Vir Hic Est.
  • French Romantic Catholics

    In this well-written and imaginatively structured book, Carol E. Harrison brings to life a cohort of nineteenth-century French men and women who argued that a reformed Catholicism could reconcile the divisions in French culture and society that were the legacy of revolution and empire. They include, most prominently, Charles de Montalembert, Pauline Craven, Amélie and Frédéric Ozanam, Léopoldine Hugo, Maurice de Guérin, and Victorine Monniot. The men and women whose stories appear in Romantic Catholics were bound together by filial love, friendship, and in some cases marriage. Harrison draws on their diaries, letters, and published works to construct a portrait of a generation linked by a determination to live their faith in a modern world.

    Rejecting both the atomizing force of revolutionary liberalism and the increasing intransigence of the church hierarchy, the romantic Catholics advocated a middle way, in which a revitalized Catholic faith and liberty formed the basis for modern society. Harrison traces the history of nineteenth-century France and, in parallel, the life course of these individuals as they grow up, learn independence, and take on the responsibilities and disappointments of adulthood. Although the shared goals of the romantic Catholics were never realized in French politics and culture, Harrison's work offers a significant corrective to the traditional understanding of the opposition between religion and the secular republican tradition in France.

    The Table of Contents:

    Introduction: Romantic Catholics and the Two Frances
    1. First Communion: The Most Beautiful Day in the Lives and Deaths of Little Girls
    2. The Education of Maurice de Guérin
    3. The Dilemma of Obedience: Charles de Montalembert, Catholic Citizen
    4. Pauline Craven's Holy Family: Writing the Modern Saint
    5. Frédéric and Amélie Ozanam: Charity, Marriage, and the Catholic Social
    6. A Free Church in a Free State: The Roman Question
    Epilogue: The Devout Woman of the Third Republic and the Eclipse of Catholic Fraternity

    Looks fascinating.