January 25, 2015

Benedictus (Canticle of Zechariah)

Medieval Fresco of Zechariah with John the Baptist - Wikipedia

The Benedictus is the Canticle of Zechariah from Luke 1:68-79.  It takes it's title from the opening line of the Latin Vulgate translation by St. Jerome: "Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel" (Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel).  A popular passage since ancient times in the Church, it is believed to have been first introduced into daily prayer by St. Benedict of Nursia (c. 480-543 or 547). In the Roman Breviary it is sung at Lauds (Morning Prayer).

Latin (begins at 2:00 min.)


Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel;
quia visitavit et fecit redemptionem plebi suae

Et erexit cornu salutis nobis,
in domo David pueri sui,

Sicut locutus est per os sanctorum,
qui a saeculo sunt, prophetarum eius,

Salutem ex inimicis nostris,
et de manu omnium, qui oderunt nos;

Ad faciendam misericordiam cum patribus nostris,
et memorari testamenti sui sancti,

Iusiurandum, quod iuravit ad Abraham patrem nostrum,
daturum se nobis,

Ut sine timore, de manu inimicorum liberati,
serviamus illi

In sanctitate et iustitia coram ipso
omnibus diebus nostris.

Et tu, puer, propheta Altissimi vocaberis:
praeibis enim ante faciem Domini parare vias eius,

Ad dandam scientiam salutis plebi eius
in remissionem peccatorum eorum,

Per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri,
in quibus visitabit nos oriens ex alto,

Illuminare his, qui in tenebris et in umbra mortis sedent,
ad dirigendos pedes nostros in viam pacis.



Blessed be the Lord, God of Israel,
because He has visited us and wrought redemption for His people.

And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the House of David, His servant.

As He hath promised through the mouths of His holy ones,
the prophets of old:

Salvation from our enemies,
and from the hand of all who hate us.

To show mercy to our forefathers
and to be mindful of His holy covenant:

The oath, which He swore to Abraham, our father,
that He would grant us,

That being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
we may serve Him without fear.

In holiness and justice before Him
all our days.

And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Most High;
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways,

To give knowledge of salvation to His people
through forgiveness of their sins.

Because of the compassionate kindness of our God,
the dawn from on high shall break upon us

To shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet in the way of peace.

January 17, 2015

Nunc Dimittis (Canticle of Simeon)

Aert de Gelder (1645-1727)
Painting by Aert de Gelder (1645-1727) - Courtesy of Wikipedia

Nunc Dimitttis is the Canticle of Simeon from Luke 2:29-32.  It takes it's title from the opening line of the Latin Vulgate translation by St. Jerome: "Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine" (Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord).  It has been traditionally sung at the conclusion of daily prayer since the 4th century. In the Roman Breviary it is sung at the end of Compline (Night Prayer). It is accompanied by an antiphon fitting for the liturgical season, such as the commonly sung: "Salva Nos Domine" featured in the following video:

Gregorian Chant

NUNC DIMITTIS (with Salva Nos Domine)

Salva nos domine vigilantes,
custodi nos dormientes;
ut vigilemus cum Christo,
et requiescamus in pace.

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,
et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Contemporary English Version


Now dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, in peace, according to Thy word:
For mine own eyes hath seen Thy salvation,
Which Thou hast prepared in the sight of all the peoples,
A light to reveal Thee to the nations and the glory of Thy people Israel.

January 1, 2015

Poem: The Flower

The Flower is a poem by George Herbert (1593–1633).  It was published posthumously in 1633 as part of his collection, The Temple. The version of The Flower included in the Poems for Advent and Christmas Appendix of the Divine Office (1974) is an abridgement of Herbert's original 7 stanza poem.

THE FLOWER by George Herbert, 1633

Who would have thought my shrivel’d heart
Could have recover’d greenness? It was gone
Quite under ground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown;
Where they together
All the hard weather,
Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

These are thy wonders, Lord of power,
Killing and quickning, bringing down to hell
And up to heaven in an houre;
Making a chiming of a passing-bell,
We say amiss,
This or that is:
Thy word is all, if we could spell.