Liturgy of Lent: March 2012 Archives

Audi, Benigne Conditor

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As Holy Lent goes forward, I am offering my own translation of some of the hymns for the Divine Office. Although not strictly literal, my translations do adhere to the sense of the traditional Latin texts. I have prayed with these texts and sung them for a number of years. The melodies given in the Liber Hymnarius work well, although minor adaptations of the neums are needed in a few instances.

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Vespers I

Kind Maker of the world, give ear,
Accept the prayer and own the tear,
Before your Seat of Mercy spent
In this most holy fast of Lent.

The secrets of each life you see:
You measure our infirmity;
Teach wisdom in the inward parts;
Refresh and heal our broken hearts.

Our sins are manifold and sore;
Our spirits now to health restore;
And for your Name’s sake, make each soul,
That feels and owns its sickness, whole.

Give watchfulness o’er every sense
Give grace for outward abstinence,
That far from Egypt’s spread of sin
The soul may keep her fast within.

Hear us, O Blessed Trinity!
Shine bright within, O Unity!
That at the end of Forty Days
Our healing may become your praise. Amen.

Iam, Christe, Sol Iustitiae

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Norham Castle, Sunrise.jpg

This is, I think, my favourite Lenten Office hymn. I cannot help but pair it with one of Turner's magnificent sunrises. You can find the melody in the Liber hymnarius.

The third strophe makes an incisive petition: "Remove the things that, of ourselves, / We cannot reach, or put aside." It reminds me of the prayer of Mère Yvonne-Aimée of Malestroit: "O my Jesus, do Thou in me whatsoever Thou desirest to find in me."

Lauds II

The darkness flees, and dew-kissed earth
Sings welcome to the waking day;
Hope holds to Christ the mirror high
To catch the Dayspring's healing ray!

You fill with light this sacred time,
Give tears as well to purify;
Give flames of love to purge our hearts;
In us your mercy magnify.

The hidden wound whence flow our sins,
Wash clean by bathing in the tide;
Remove the things that, of ourselves,
We cannot reach, or put aside.

The Day draws near when all re-blooms --
Your Day, O Christ, life-giving Lord!
We too will joy, by your right hand
From death's dark tomb to joy restored.

To God, the loving Trinity,
Let earth and sky adoring bend;
And evermore from hearts renewed
Let songs fresh sprung of praise ascend. Amen.

Precemur Omnes Cernui

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Lauds I

Come, weep before the Judge, and seek
With broken hearts his grace to win;
Be bold, and trusting meet his gaze,
And trembling claim the hope within.

Much have we sinned, O Lord! and still
we fall again and seek to rise;
Look down in pity from on high;
Be dawning light to searching eyes.

Remember that we yet are yours
Though fashioned of a fragile frame;
And take not from our gasping souls
The Breath by which we praise your Name.

Undo past evil; heal the wounds,
And guide our steps in faith’s dark night;
So may we now and ever find
Joy pure and boundless in your sight.

Blest Trinity in Unity!
Uphold our weakness in your love,
That we to death may die with Christ
and rise with Christ to life above. Amen.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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