Thursday, 29 May 2014

Bright Maximinus...



A dove looked in
through the lattice windows,
where, before its face,
balm exuded
from bright Maximinus.

The warmth of the sun kindled
and in the shadows shone brightly,
whence a jewel arose
in the building of the temple,
a heart of the purest rich devotion.

He, the lofty tower,
of Lebanon's wood and cypress wrought,
with jacinth and carnelian was adorned,
the city surpassing the arts
of other artists.

The swift hart himself hastened
to the fountain of the purest water,
flowing from the strongest stone
which has diffused the sweet spices.

O painters*,
ye which be in the sweetest green
of the gardens of the king,
ascending to the height,
when ye have finished the holy sacrifice
with the rams.

This artist shines among you
the wall of the temple
he who desired the wings of an eagle
by kissing the nurse Wisdom,
in the glorious fecundity of the Church.

O Maximinus
thou art a mountain and a valley,
and in both thou appearest a high edifice,
where the he-goat with the elephant went out
and Wisdom has been in sweetness.

Thou art strong
and sweet in the ceremonies
and in the gleaming* of the altar
ascending as an aromatic smoke
to the column of praise.

Where thou intercedest for the people
who reach out to the mirror of light
to whom there is praise on high.

This is a translation of bl. Hildegard of Bingen's famous Sequence Columba Aspexit I made five years ago. It might read like gibberish to you but the Latin itself is hardly of the stuff of Catullus, even if the musick is exquisite. It seems that Emma Kirkby's superb rendering has disappeared from YouTube, never mind. I must say I bewail the loss of so many Sequences from the Roman Rite. I always admired the "florid imprecision" (to borrow from Fr Hunwicke) of the divers uses of that once glorious rite.

*Painters is used here to denote "pigmentarii."
*Coruscatione denotes tremulous light, as of light seen through the leaves of trees.

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