Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Laus Trinitati.

A month after my first Mass, here is one more souvenir of the event, brought to you through the kindness of a member of the schola who recorded the Mass for posterity. As I mentioned in an earlier post on the subject, the only piece of music performed at the Mass which I did not choose personally was St. Hildegard of Bingen's votive antiphon Laus Trinitati. The director of the schola suggested using Laus Trinitati as an offertory hymn after the completion of the Gregorian offertory verse Benedícam Dóminum, correctly anticipating that we would need more music to cover the offertory rites and the incensation of the gifts as well as the lavabo. I loved the piece as soon as I heard it in rehearsal, and I believe that it will continue to stand out in my memory as one of the highlights of my first Mass.

To accompany the video, here is the text of the antiphon, together with my own English translation:
Laus Trinitati, quae sonus et vita
ac creatrix omnium in vita ipsorum est,
et quae laus angelicae turbae
et mirus splendor arcanorum,
quae hominibus ignota sunt, est,
et quae in omnibus vita est.


Praise to the Trinity, who is the sound and the life
and the Creator of all things in their very life,
and who is the praise of the angelic throng,
and wonderful splendor of mysteries
which are unknown to men,
and who is the life of all things.
Some might be struck by the use of the feminine creatrix to describe the Trinity, but this merely reflects the fact that trinitas (trinitati in the dative) is a feminine noun. For my part, I like the description of the angels as a turbae, which can be translated as a "crowd" or a "throng," much as the chorus is identified as a turbae in the Good Friday Passion settings. In my mind's eye, the image of the angelicae turbae is that of a teeming and somewhat unpredictable group, very unlike the well-disciplined military unit evoked by the image of "the heavenly host." Of course, the action of the angels that remains so unpredictable to us is known fully by the Triune God, that "wonderful splendor of mysteries which are unknown to men."

May Hildegard's words and music bring peace and consolation to those who hear them. AMDG.


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