Wednesday, November 11, 2015

For the Feast of St. Martin of Tours: Ecce Sacerdos Magnus ("Behold the Great Priest")

Today is the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, and this is the beautiful Gradual at the Mass for Feasts of Confessor Bishops:

These are the words for the Gradual:
Ecce sacerdos magnus, qui in diebus suis, placuit Deo;
Non est inventus similis illi, qui conservaret legem excelsi.

Behold the great priest, who in his days, pleased God;
No one has been found to be like him in the keeping of the laws of the Most High.

Here's the chant score:

Ecce Sacerdos Magnus is or can be used several times on these Feast days:  it's a "Responsory for the reception of a Bishop"; it's, as here, the Gradual at the mass; and it's the first Psalm antiphon at 2nd Vespers.   For each of these, a different text is used.

The odd thing, to me, is that the Mass Epistle reading is given as Ecce sacerdos magnus, too, noted as taken from "Ecclesiasticus 44:16-27; 45:3-20."  I've seen this not only at Divinum Officium, but in several other places as well - including the Liber Usualis.    The only problem is that, as far as I can tell, the reading itself takes extreme liberties with the actual verses from Scripture!

Here's Divinum Officium, 11-11-2015, Rubrics 1960 for the Sancta Missa:
Léctio libri Sapiéntiæ.
Eccli 44:16-27; 45:3-20
Ecce sacérdos magnus, qui in diébus suis plácuit Deo, et invéntus est iustus: et in témpore iracúndiæ factus est reconciliátio. Non est inventus símilis illi, qui conservávit legem Excélsi. Ideo iureiurándo fecit illum Dóminus créscere in plebem suam. Benedictiónem ómnium géntium dedit illi, et testaméntum suum confirmávit super caput eius. Agnóvit eum in benedictiónibus suis: conservávit illi misericórdiam suam: et invénit grátiam coram óculis Dómini. Magnificávit eum in conspéctu regum: et dedit illi corónam glóriæ. Státuit illi testaméntum ætérnum, et dedit illi sacerdótium magnum: et beatificávit illum in glória. Fungi sacerdótio, et habére laudem in nómine ipsíus, et offérre illi incénsum dignum in odórem suavitátis.
R. Deo gratias.

Lesson from the book of Ecclesiasticus
Sir 44:16-27: 45:3-20
Behold, a great priest, who in his days pleased God, and was found just; and in the time of wrath he was made a reconciliation. There was not found the like to him, who kept the law of the Most High. Therefore, by an oath, the Lord made him to increase among his people. He gave him the blessing of all nations, and confirmed His covenant upon his head. He acknowledged him in His blessings; He preserved for him His mercy; and he found grace before the eyes of the Lord. He glorified him in the sight of kings, and gave him a crown of glory. He made an everlasting covenant with him, and gave him a great priesthood; and made him blessed in glory. To execute the office of the priesthood, and to have praise in His name, and to offer Him a worthy incense for an odor of sweetness.
R. Thanks be to God.

And here are those actual verses taken directly from the Douay-Rheims:
[16] Henoch pleased God, and was translated into paradise, that he may give repentance to the nations. [17] Noe was found perfect, just, and in the time of wrath he was made a reconciliation. [18] Therefore was there a remnant left to the earth, when the flood came. [19] The covenants of the world were made with him, that all flesh should no more be destroyed with the flood. [20] Abraham was the great father of a multitude of nations, and there was not found the like to him in glory, who kept the law of the most High, and was in covenant with him.
[21] In his flesh he established the covenant, and in temptation he was found faithful. [22] Therefore by an oath he gave him glory in his posterity, that he should increase as the dust of the earth, [23] And that he would exalt his seed as the stars, and they should inherit from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. [24] And he did in like manner with Isaac for the sake of Abraham his father. [25] The Lord gave him the blessing of all nations, and confirmed his covenant upon the head of Jacob.
[26] He acknowledged him in his blessings, and gave him an inheritance, and divided him his portion in twelve tribes. [27] And he preserved for him men of mercy, that found grace in the eyes of all flesh.

[3] He glorified him in the sight of kings, and gave him commandments in the sight of his people, and shewed him his glory. [4] He sanctified him in his faith, and meekness, and chose him out of all flesh. [5] For he heard him, and his voice, and brought him into a cloud.
[6] And he gave him commandments before his face, and a law of life and instruction, that he might teach Jacob his covenant, and Israel his judgments. [7] He exalted Aaron his brother, and like to himself of the tribe of Levi: [8] He made an everlasting covenant with him, and gave him the priesthood of the nation, and made him blessed in glory, [9] And he girded him about with a glorious girdle, and clothed him with a robe of glory, and crowned him with majestic attire. [10] He put upon him a garment to the feet, and breeches, and as ephod, and he compassed him with many little bells of gold all round about,
[11] That as he went there might be a sound, and a noise made that might be heard in the temple, for a memorial to the children of his people. [12] He gave him a holy robe of gold, and blue, and purple, a woven work of a wise man, endued with judgment and truth: [13] Of twisted scarlet the work of an artist, with precious stones cut and set in gold, and graven by the work of a lapidary for a memorial, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. [14] And a crown of gold upon his mitre wherein was engraved Holiness, an ornament of honour: a work of power, and delightful to the eyes for its beauty. [15] Before him there were none so beautiful, even from the beginning.
[16] No stranger was ever clothed with them, but only his children alone, and his grandchildren for ever. [17] His sacrifices were consumed with fire every day. [18] Moses filled his hands and anointed him with holy oil. [19] This was made to him for an everlasting testament, and to his seed as the days of heaven, to execute the office of the priesthood, and to have praise, and to glorify his people in his name. [20] He chose him out of all men living, to offer sacrifice to God, incense, and a good savour, for a memorial to make reconciliation for his people:

Truly strange!  This oddity goes back awhile, too; I found the same thing in the Tridentine Sancta Missa.  I have no explanation at all for this; will post again here if I find one!

Many composers have set Ecce Sacerdos Magnus; here's Bruckner's setting (he's using the text from the Responsory):

The words here are:
Ecce sacerdos magnus, qui in diébus suis plácuit Deo: Ideo jure jurando fecit illum Dóminus crescere in plebem suam.

Benedictiónem ómnium géntium dedit illi, et testaméntum suum confirmávit super caput ejus. Ideo jure jurando fecit illum Dóminus crescere in plebem suam.

Gloria patri et filio et spiritui sancto. . .

Behold a great priest who in his days pleased God: Therefore by an oath the Lord made him to increase among his people.

To him He gave the blessing of all nations, and confirmed His covenant upon his head. Therefore by an oath the Lord made him to increase among his people.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. . .

You can read at Wikipedia for more about Martin of Tours.  But I'll quote a bit from Full Homely Divinity's "Saints of Advent" page:
St. Martin was born about 316 in Pannonia (modern Hungary). At the age of 10 he became a catechumen and at 15 he joined the army, serving under the emperors Constantius and Julian. The most famous story about Martin tells how on a cold day he met a beggar who asked for alms. Having nothing else to give, Martin drew his sword and cut his cloak in two, giving half to the beggar. Christ appeared to him in a dream the following night, clothed in half a cloak, and said, "Martin, the catechumen, has clothed me with this mantle!" At the age of 18, he was baptized and wished to leave the military, but stayed for two more years at the request of his commander. Following a successful campaign against the Teutons, he went before the emperor who was distributing rewards to his men. Martin, however, declined the bounty and asked instead that he be released from military service. He said, "Up to now, I have served you as a soldier; allow me henceforth to serve Christ. Give the bounty to these others who are going out to battle. I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight." Julian accused him of cowardice and imprisoned him for a time. When he was released, Martin sought out the saintly Bishop Hilary of Poitiers, under whose direction Martin lived a solitary life for a time, until he was joined by others and founded a Benedictine monastery at Ligugé.

Martin became famous for his holiness of life, his preaching, and for his gifts of healing and spiritual discernment. People often sought him out for help and when the bishop of Tours died, they chose Martin to be their new bishop. He declined the honor and responsibility and hid from the people when they came looking for him. However, a goose revealed his whereabouts with her honking and Martin was unable to resist the will of the Church that he become a bishop. The goose is one of Martin's symbols. It is also a popular food on his feast day. Martinmas is the last day before the traditional 40 day fast before Christmas (St. Martin's Lent). The new wine is usually ready to drink on Martinmas, which is also the traditional day for slaughtering livestock for the winter, so it is a kind of harvest festival and a late fall Mardi Gras all rolled into one.

St. Martin was an exemplary bishop, and much loved by his people. He visited every church in his diocese once a year and founded several more religious communities, including the monastery of Marmoutier near Tours, where he lived with 80 monks. He lived to the great old age of 81 and was so renowned that he came to be known as the "Glory of Gaul." The hymn Iste confessor was composed in honor of St. Martin in the eighth century, and was later appointed to be sung as the Office Hymn on the feasts of confessors. Click here for an English translation by Laurence Housman, set to a metrical tune.

For a modern observance of the feast, this would be a good day to sort through drawers and closets to gather good used clothing that could be donated to a local ministry to the needy, or to a thrift shop. Contributions to a food pantry or soup kitchen would be in order, as well. In many communities in the U.S., churches or other service organizations provide a free Thanksgiving dinner to any and all. Martinmas would be a good day to find out if there is such a meal served in your community and to sign up to help or to contribute money or food to the effort. If you are keeping St. Martin's Day at home, roast goose and a bottle of this year's Nouveau Beaujolais might top the menu, especially if you will be starting the St. Martin's Lent fast the next day.

This comes from the site AllesGerman:
St. Martin’s Day or Martinstag is one of the most popular saint’s days in Germany, particularly celebrated by children and young people.

Martin of Tours was born in the 4th Century and started out as a Roman soldier, later becoming a monk, and because of his exemplary way of life was later appointed Bishop of Tours. Many legends surround his life, the most famous of which tells how he cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar who was dying in the cold.

Taking place on November 11th, the day is particularly popular with children, with many German schools celebrating the life of the Saint through reenactments and plays. Later in the evening children carry candle-lit lanterns (usually homemade) and sing “lantern songs” in celebration of St. Martin’s Day, as they walk around the streets in a procession after darkness falls. The procession often ends with a bonfire after which they may go from door to door singing songs. Much like trick or treating in the USA, the children are given gingerbread men, money and other goodies as a reward for their singing and the beauty of their homemade or purchased lanterns.

One of the most popular St. Martin’s Day children songs is “Ich geh’ mit meiner Laterne” or “I walk with my lantern”:

“Ich geh’ mit meiner Laterne
Und meine Laterne mit mir.
Dort oben leuchten die Sterne,
Hier unten, da leuchten wir.
Mein Licht ist aus,
Wir geh’n nach Haus,
Rabimmel, rabammel, rabum.

English Translation

I walk with my lantern
And my lantern goes with me.
Up above the stars are glowing,
And glowing, too, are we.
My light is out,
We’re going home,
Rabimmel, rabammel, rabum.”

Here is an image, from the same site, of German kids with their lanterns:

Here's a colorful painting called "St. Martin and the Beggar"; Wikipedia says that it's from an "Unknown Master, Hungarian (active around 1490)."  The painting hangs in the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest.   As in almost every representation of the saint, Martin is cutting his cloak in two, to give half to the beggar, as described above.

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