October 26, 2013

O Most Holy One / O Sanctíssima

Ora, Ora Pro Nobis!

O Most Holy One is an anonymous translation of the traditional Latin hymn, O Sanctissima. First published in 1794, O Sanctissima is believed to have originated in Sicily. According to a story associated with the it, Sicilian seaman would close their day by singing in unison this hymn; hence, it is sometimes called the Sicilian Mariners Hymn or Mariners Hymn. The tune for O Sanctissima is also used for the popular German Christmas carol: O du Fröhliche.

Tune: O Sanctissima (Instrumental)

O MOST HOLY ONE - Anonymous translation by C.W.L. (Public Domain)

O most holy one,
O most lowly one,
Loving Virgin, Maria!
Mother, Maid of fairest love,
Lady, Queen of all above,
Ora, ora pro nobis!

Virgin ever fair,
Mother, hear our prayer,
Look upon us, Maria!
Bring to us your treasure,
Grace beyond all measure;
Ora, ora pro nobis!

Gregorian, Sung by the Cathedral Singers of Richard Proulx

O SANCTISSIMA - Anonymous (Public Domain)

O sanctíssima,O piíssima,
Dulcis Virgo María;
Mater amáta, intemeráta,
Ora, ora pro nobis.

Tota pulchra es, O María, et
 Mácula non est inte;
Mater amáta, intemeráta,
Ora, ora por nobis.

In miséria, in angústia,
Ora, Virgo, pro nobis;
Pro nobis ora, in mortis hora,
Ora, ora pro nobis.

Tu solátium et refúgium,
Virgo Mater María;
Quidquid optámus perte sperámus,
Ora, ora pro nobis.

October 20, 2013

Hail Queen of Heaven, Beyond Compare / Ave Regina Caelorum

To Whom the Angels, Homage Pay

Hail Queen of Heaven, Beyond Compare is a translation by the Benedictine Nuns of Stanbrook Abbey of the 12th century Latin hymn, Ave Regina Caelorum which has been traditionally sung as a Marian Antiphon after Compline in the Roman Breviary; used from the Feast of the Presentation (Feb. 2) to the Wednesday of Holy Week. The Collect, or Prayer (included below) that is associated with the hymn was said by St. Jerome (c.347-420) to have originated with St. Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373). The text to Hail Queen of Heaven, Beyond Compare can be found here (then scroll to the bottom of the linked page). In the Divine Office and the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Antiphon is sung or recited at the conclusion of Night Prayer.

Gregorian Chant


Ave, Regina Caelorum,
Ave, Domina Angelorum:
Salve, radix, salve, porta
Ex qua mundo lux est orta:

Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
Super omnes speciosa,
Vale, o valde decora,
 Et pro nobis Christum exora.

V. Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata.
R. Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.

Oremus: Concede, misericors Deus, fragilitati nostrae praesidium: ut, qui sanctae Dei Genitricis memoriam agimus; intercessionis eius auxilio, a nostris iniquitatibus resurgamus. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

October 18, 2013

Now It is Evening, Time to Cease From Labour

Be Thou Our Guardian Through the Hours of Darkness

Now It is Evening, Time to Cease From Labour is a translation of the hymn Die Nacht ist Kom­men Drin Wir Ruh­en Sol­len by Peter Herbert (c.1530-1571) of Moravia. It was first published in the Brethren's German Hymn Book of 1566 of which he was one of the editors, contributing over 100 hymns. Also known as Petrus Herbertus, he was an ordained Priest of the Unity of the Brethren. He played a important role in this early Protestant denomination; as a member of the Select Council, and as an emissary to prominent people of the day including to Emperor Maximilian II and John Calvin. The full text of Now It is Evening, Time to Cease From Labour can be found here, used as the hymn for Night Prayer. It is sung to the tune, Christe Sanctorum from the Par­is An­ti­phon­er of 1681.

Tune: Christe Sanctorum

October 13, 2013

Sweet Savior, Bless Us

O Gentle Jesus, Be Our Light

Sweet Saviour, Bless Us was written in 1849 by Father Fredrick William Faber (1814-1863) to be sung as an evening hymn. He was the founder and first Provost of the London Oratory. It was established in 1849 at the request of Cardinal John Henry Newman. The Oratorio's first home was in a converted liquor store and dance hall. That same time period saw an influx into London of Irish fleeing the Great Famine. Many were destitute, and Fr. Faber worked tirelessly as their Pastor until his death in 1863. The present Neo-Baroque building was consecrated in 1884 and remained the focal point of the Catholic Church in London until the opening of Westminster Cathedral in 1903.

Tune: Sunset

SWEET SAVIOR, BLESS US ERE WE GO by Frederick Faber, 1852 (Public Domain)

1. Sweet Savior, bless us ere we go;
Thy Word into our minds instill,
And make our lukewarm hearts to glow
With lowly love and fervent will.

Refrain: Through life’s long day and death’s dark night,
              O gentle Jesus, be our Light.

2. The day is done, it's hours have run,
And Thou hast taken count of all,
The scanty triumphs grace hath won,
The broken vow, the frequent fall.

3. Grant us, dear Lord, from evil ways
True absolution and release:
And bless us, more than in past days,
With purity and inward peace.

4. Do more than pardon; give us joy,
Sweet fear, and sober liberty,
And simple hearts without alloy
That only long to be like Thee.

5. Labor is sweet, for Thou hast toiled,
And care is light, for Thou hast cared;
Let not our works with self be soiled,
Nor in unsimple ways ensnared.

6. For all we love, the poor, the sad,
The sinful, unto Thee we call;
O let Thy mercy make us glad:
Thou art our Jesus, and our All.

7. Sweet Savior, bless us; night is come;
Through night and darkness near us be;
Good angels watch about our home,
And we are one day nearer Thee.

Alternate Tune: Stella

October 11, 2013

The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended

The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended is by the Anglican clergyman and hymn-writer, John Ellerton (1826-1893). It was first published in 1870 as part of the collection, A Liturgy for Missionary Meetings. In 1897 the hymn was chosen by Queen Victoria (1819-1901) to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. It is set to the tune, St. Clement by the Anglican clergyman and musician, Clement C. Scholefield (1839-1904). First published in 1874 as part of the Arthur Sullivan edited hymnal, Church Hymns with Tunes; it was composed specifically for Ellerton's text. It has been suggested by some music historians, that Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) may have collaborated with Scholefield on the tune. In the Divine Office, The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended is used with Evening Prayer.

Tune: St. Clement

THE DAY THOU GAVEST, LORD, IS ENDED by John Ellerton, 1870 (Public Domain)

1. The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended,
The darkness falls at Thy behest;
To Thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall hallow now our rest.

2. We thank Thee that Thy Church unsleeping,
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping,
And rests not now by day or night.

3. As o'er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.

4. The sun, that bids us rest, is waking
Our brethren 'neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.

5. So be it, Lord; Thy throne shall never,
Like earth's proud empires, pass away:
But stand, and rule, and grow for ever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.

October 5, 2013

I Bind Unto Myself This Day (St. Patrick's Breastplate)

Christ Behind Me, Christ Before Me

I Bind Unto Myself This Day is a translation of the ancient Gael­ic po­em, St. Pat­rick’s Breast­plate, also known as St. Patrick's Lorica (the word 'lorica', is Latin for armour). Attributed to the famous 5th century Irish Missionary and Bishop, St. Patrick; the oldest written copy is an 8th century manuscript included in the collection, Liber Hymnorum. Scholars have noted that it is similar in style to a Druidic incantation for protection on a journey. St. Patrick is therefore utilizing a form of prayer that the Irish people of his time would have understood to invoke the Christian's 'spiritual lorica': the armour of God that St. Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6:10-17: "Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness." (v.14). In 1889, working from existing prose translations in English, the Irish hymn-writer and poet, Mrs. Ce­cil Francis Al­ex­an­der (1818-1895) penned I Bind Unto Myself This Day. Her husband, William Alexander was a Bishop in the Church of Ireland. In 1902, the Irish composer Charles V. Stan­ford (1852-1924) arranged the piece by adapting two traditional Irish folk tunes: St. Patrick and Deirdre (note the change in melody for verse #8 below).

Choir Version (Verses: 1-5, 8-9)

ST. PATRICK’S BREASTPLATE translated by Ce­cil F. Al­ex­an­der, 1889 (Public Domain)

1. I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

2. I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

3. I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the
Lord And purity of virgin souls.

4. I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

5. I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

6. Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

7. Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

8. Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

9. I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Instrumental Version (Organ)