Saturday, 12 May 2012

Liturgical Latin 3 - Gloria and getting started with verbs

So, first things first, here's this week's test.  Translate the following:

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.  Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus.  Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Good!  You're really getting the hang of this.

Today we are going to look at the Gloria.

Glória in excélsis Deo
Glory in the highest to God
et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.
and on earth peace to men of good will
Laudámus te,
We praise thee,
benedícimus te,
we bless thee,
adorámus te,
we adore thee,
glorificámus te,
we glorify thee
grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam,
Thanks we give to thee on account of the great glory of thine,
Dómine Deus, Rex cæléstis,
O Lord God, King of Heaven
Deus Pater omnípotens.
God the Father almighty.
Dómine Fili Unigénite, Iesu Christe,
O Lord, Son, Only-begotten, Jesus Christ,
Dómine Deus, Agnus Dei, Fílius Patris,
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father
qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis;
Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
qui tollis peccáta mundi, súscipe deprecatiónem nostram.
Who takest away the sins of the world, hear the prayers of us.
Qui sedes ad déxteram Patris, miserére nobis.
Who sittest at the right of the Father, have mercy on us.
Quóniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dóminus, tu solus Altíssimus,
For thou only art Holy, thou only art Lord, thou only are the Most High,
Iesu Christe, cum Sancto Spíritu: in glória Dei Patris. Amen.
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit: in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

This time we are not going to go through it word by word:  instead I have put a very literal translation, practically word for word (and hence the strange word order in the English) under each line, so you can see what each word means - I hope.

I have chosen the Gloria as it gives us some good verb endings to look at, and I want to focus on verbs as our first real dive into Latin Grammar.

So we shall collect together all the verbs we have encountered over the three lessons so far and have a look at them.  Before we do that, however, it is worth noticing that the Ave Maria only has one verb, and the Gloria has none in the first two lines.  In Liturgical Latin the verb is often understood, rather than expressed: Glória in excélsis Deo et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis has no verb. I have made that clear in my pigeon translation.  But a better English translation might be Glory be to God...  Likewise Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.  Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus, has no verb at all; but we understand the verb 'to be' implied where necessary; thus Dominus tecum is literally The Lord with you, but we know it means The Lord is with you.  

This is not too hard when one knows what a text means in advance, but when one is translating, it can be puzzling, because a good rule of thumb for translating is to start by identifying the main verb - so if there isn't one...  However, that is not our problem, or at least not today.

So let's look at the verbs we have come across so far.  I have grouped them according to their form, and immediately some patterns become clear:

Present tense, second person singular: end in -s

es  - thou art, you (singular) are
inducas  - you lead
tollis - thou takest, you (singular) take
sedes - thou sittest, you are sitting

Present tense, first person plural: end in -mus

dimittimus  - we forgive
Laudámus - we praise
benedícimus - we bless
adorámus - we adore
glorificámus - we glorify
ágimus - we give


da - give
dimitte - forgive
libera - free
ora - pray
súscipe  -  hear

Infinitive, used as imperative: ends in -ere (other infinitives may end in -are or -ire)

miserére  - have mercy

Subjunctive, third person singular: end in -at


I suspect that some of my readers will understand all those terms, and others won't, so I will give a brief explanation (if you know this already, there are all sorts of things you can do whilst I enlighten those who don't -  feed the cats, empty the teapot, that kind of thing.  Come back in a minute,though,because I am going on a bit further...)

When we talk about verbs that change their endings (conjugate is the technical term) , we use the terms first, second and third person to indicate who is doing the action of the verb.

The first person means the person who is speaking is doing the action;  if on his own, it is first person singular (I sing), if with others, it is first person plural (we sing).]

The second person means the person (singular) or people (plural) being addressed: (you sing).

The third person means anyone or anything else: he, she or it sings (singular)  or they sing (plural).

Thus the verb 'to be' in English is conjugated as follows, in the present tense:

1st person singular:  I am
2nd person singular: You are (or thou art)
3rd person singular: He/she/it is

1st person plural: we are
2nd person plural: you are
3rd person plural: they are

The infinitive is the unconjugated form of the verb. In English it takes the form 'to' + verb (to be, to sing etc).  In Latin, regular verbs end in -are, -ere,  or -ire. 

The imperative is the form used to give an order or make a request: (Sing!)

The Subjunctive 
The Subjunctive is a mood of a verb, that expresses what may be, rather than what is. Adveniat regnum tuum: May thy kingdom come! Fiat voluntas tua: May thy will be done!

So let us look at some regular verbs in the present tense, and how they conjugate (and relax: you don't need to memorise these as you are not going to have to compose Latin. but recognising them will help you to make sense of Latin texts...)

Infinitive: Laudare: to praise

1st person singular:  laudo  (I praise, I am praising)
2nd person singular: laudas  (you praise, you are praising)
3rd person singular: laudat (he, she or it praises or is praising)
1st person plural: laudamus (we praise, or we are praising)
2nd person plural: laudatis (you praise, or you are praising)
3rd person plural: laudant (they praise, or they are praising)

Infinitive: Sedere: to sit

1st person singular:  sedo  (I sit, I am sitting)
2nd person singular: sedes  (you sit, you are sitting)
3rd person singular: sedet (he, she or it sits or is sitting)
1st person plural: sedemus (we sit, or we are sitting)
2nd person plural: sedetis (you sit, or you are sitting)
3rd person plural: sedent (they sit, or they are sitting)

If that first person singular ending looks familiar, go to the top of the class.  You are clearly thinking of Credo - I believe.

Infinitive: Agere: to give or grant (agere is one of those words which can mean many things according to the context and the noun that is the object of the sentence.  Gratias agere means to give thanks, so I will translate it as to give for now.)

1st person singular:  ago  (I give, I am giving)
2nd person singular: agis  (you give, you are giving)
3rd person singular: agit (he, she or it gives or is giving
1st person plural: agimus (we give, or we are giving)
2nd person plural: agitis (you give, or you are giving)
3rd person plural: agunt (they give, or they are giving)

(so note that some verbs in -ere take an -i-  or -u- rather than an -e- in some endings)

That feels like enough to be going on with.  As ever, questions can be left in the Comms box.


Idle Rambler said...

Very well and clearly explained. Thank you.

Anyone who has studied another language, at any level, would be familiar with the grammatical terms you use.

I must say, I'm glad I fall into this category. I wouldn't like to be starting from scratch at my advanced age!

Will you at some stage be giving us a 'rough guide' to pronunciation too? Most of it is obvious, I expect, but I have been caught out once or thrice already in my fledging attempts to use a 'bit of Latin'.

Ben Trovato said...

Thanks. I hadn't thought of a pronunciation guide, but now that you have suggested it, that seems a good idea. I will turn my might brain to it in my leisure moments... (so don't hold your breath!)