Sunday, 1 December 2013

The First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.

Whilst the experts on the Pray,Tell blog are quick to proclaim that Advent is not a time of penance, I demur.   

Having discussed this last year with my friend the Part Time Pilgrim, I threw down the gauntlet again on Twitter, and this time we made some progress.  After a bit of to and fro, he explained that his concern with my position is that Advent should not be seen as the same as Lent.  I agree: the two are different.  Advent is a time of joyous preparation for the coming of Our Lord (memories of his first coming, and looking forward to his second, of course). But both of these considerations naturally lead us to listen to the words of St John the Baptist: Repent!

We think it important to keep our Advent Celebrations quite distinct from our Christmas Celebrations - though they are related, they are two different seasons of the Church's cycle, with different themes and moods.

So as ever, we will celebrate Advent by saying our prayers around the Advent Wreath, singing O Come O Come Emmanuel and having a reading as we add another character to our Jesse Tree. We will also say the wonderful collect from the traditional Roman rite of the Mass:

Arise in thy strength we beseech thee O Lord and come; from the dangers which threaten us because of our sins, be thy presence our sure defence, be thy deliverance our safety for ever more. 

For those who love Latin, or those who fondly remember my introduction to Liturgical Latin, here is the collect in Latin. too:

Excita, quǽsumus, Dómine, poténtiam tuam, et veni: ut ab imminéntibus peccatórum nostrórum perículis, te mereámur protegénte éripi, te liberánte salvári.

The Marian Antiphon changes today from the Salve Regina to the Alma Redemptoris Mater, which we will sing until the Feast of the Purification (February 2nd).

Alma Redemptoris Mater

Alma redemptoris mater, 
quae pervia caeli porta manes,
et stella maris succurre cadenti
surgere qui curat populo.  
Tu quae genuisti, 
natura mirante, 
tuum sanctum Genitorem.  
Virgo prius, ac posterius, 
Gabrielis ab ore, 
summens illud ave, 
peccatorum miserere.

Mother of the Redeemer, who art ever of heaven
The open gate, and the star of the sea, aid a fallen people, 
Which is trying to rise again; thou who didst give birth, 
While Nature marveled how, to thy Holy Creator, 
Virgin both before and after, from Gabriel's mouth 
Accepting the All hail, be merciful towards sinners.

(Translated by Blessed John Henry Newman)

(For those who prefer a more contemporary sound, try The Dogma Dogs: It's Lent - but note that this is not for Liturgical Use!)

So today we will be out in the frost, collecting holly for the wreath, up in the attic looking for the advent calendars, Jesse Tree book etc, and I will be singing the Alma Redemptoris throughout the day...

Anna's Jesse Tree blog, means that Bernie, at university, can be with us spiritually at the end of each day as we recall Salvation History.  Ant is currently in residence, having finished her degree in the summer.


Part-time Pilgrim said...

I prefer this translation:

Mother of Christ! Hear thou thy people’s cry,
Star of the deep, and portal of the sky!
Mother of him who thee from nothing made,
Sinking we strive, and call to thee for aid:

Oh, by that joy which Gabriel brought to thee,
Thou Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.

"Sinking we strive" is much more powerful than "Which is trying to rise again".

Ben Trovato said...

Yes, that is a good rendering: as you say, 'sinking we strive' is more powerful.

Which raises the question, of course: what is a good translation?

There is no 'sinking' in the Latin: but I agree the rhetorical force of this translation renders the meaning well at that point.

On the other hand, this translation glosses over the fact that we are sinners…

You may recall I blogged a while ago about Bellos' fascinating book on the business of translation;

Part-time Pilgrim said...

I certainly wouldn't claim it was a better translation - that would be well beyond my competence. I am just expressing a preference.

More than likely I am seduced by the poetry of "sinking we strive" which seems to express the human condition well.

Normally I don't like rhyming translations of Latin prayers (as you will remmember from our discussion of Knox's translation of Bede. I don't like Newman's translation of the Anima Christe either).

Btw I think "glosses over" is a bit harsh. "Implies our sinfulness rather than explicitly stating it unlike the original" would be a better criticism. After all why would we ask for mercy if not for our sins?

Ben Trovato said...

Yes, perhaps 'glosses over' was a poor translation of what I was actually thinking...