Saturday, April 1, 2017

Lamentations over Jerusalem:

Tenebrae for The Darkness of Church and Nation

For many centuries the book of Lamentations over Jerusalem was read during Matins on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. These were usually anticipated on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings. Thiswas before the liturgical reforms moved all the main liturgies of those days to the evening.  The revision of the Divine Office replaced these readings with readings from the NT Book of Hebrews.
Some parishes still keep portions of the old Divine Office on Wednesday evening since it includes the particularly dramatic extinguishing of candles one by one until there is a lone remaining candle symbolic of Christ, that candle is processed to an unobservable place behind the altar, silence is observed, then a rumble of noise symbolic of an earthquake followed by the reappearance of the candle

Jerusalem was understood spirituality as the Church (unfortunately some took it to be symbolic only of the Jews). Lamentations are an excellent example of corporate spirituality, i.e. lamenting how we have failed as a church, not simply individually. Certainty there is much to lament in the history of the Church, e.g. our treatment of Jews, women, laity, etc. Our worldliness expressed in love of money, status and power. And of course contemporary problems, clericalism and sexual abuse.

Jerusalem can also be understood spirituality as our Nation. After all the original city on a hill was Jerusalem. If we are going to think of ourselves as exceptional we need to understand the full implications of that. Certainly there is much to lament in our history, e.g. the destruction of Native Americans, slavery, the treatment of women. Our worldliness expressed in violence and greed. And we have a lot of contemporary problems too. Pick your favorite choices.

Lamentations has inspired many extraordinary long but very beautiful polyphonic compositions. I have moved my playing of them to this coming week. However the simple chants are also very beautiful, and YouTube has a number of fine recordings. 

Lamentations with Gregorian Chant Text Video

Lamentations Codec de Toledo Lux Aeterna

Incipit Lamentatio Paschale Mysterium

The Latin Text with English Translation (Aleph, etc. are the letters of the Hebrew alphabet)

Lectio 1
Incipit Lamentatio Ieremiae Prophetae.
Lam 1:1-5
1 Aleph. Quomodo sedet sola civitas plena populo! facta est quasi vidua domina Gentium; princeps provinciarum facta est sub tributo.
2 Beth. Plorans ploravit in nocte, et lacrimae eius in maxillis eius: non est qui consoletur eam ex omnibus caris eius; omnes amici eius spreverunt eam, et facti sunt ei inimici.
3 Ghimel. Migravit Iudas propter afflictionem, et multitudinem servitutis; habitavit inter Gentes, nec invenit requiem: omnes persecutores eius apprehenderunt eam inter angustias.
4 Daleth. Viae Sion lugent, eo quod non sint qui veniant ad solemnitatem: omnes portae eius destructae, sacerdotes eius gementes; virgines eius squalidae, et ipsa oppressa amaritudine.
5 He. Facti sunt hostes eius in capite; inimici eius locupletati sunt: quia Dominus locutus est super eam propter multitudinem iniquitatum eius; parvuli eius ducti sunt in captivitatem ante faciem tribulantis.
Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum.

Reading 1
Lesson from the book of Lamentations
Lam 1:1-5
1 Aleph. How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! how is the mistress of the Gentiles become as a widow: the princes of provinces made tributary!
2 Beth. Weeping she hath wept in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her: all her friends have despised her, and are become her enemies.
3 Ghimel. Juda hath removed her dwelling place because of her affliction, and the greatness of her bondage: she hath dwelt among the nations, and she hath found no rest: all her persecutors have taken her in the midst of straits.
4 Daleth. The ways of Sion mourn, because there are none that come to the solemn feast: all her gates are broken down: her priests sigh: her virgins are in affliction, and she is oppressed with bitterness.
5 He. Her adversaries are become her lords, her enemies are enriched: because the Lord hath spoken against her for the multitude of her iniquities: her children are led into captivity: before the face of the oppressor.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord thy God.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem replaces the normal "Thanks be  to God" at the end of each reading.
Here is a 20 minute audio recording of the whole book if you want to get an overview of the text.

1 comment:

  1. Jack, Thank you for these. I "auditioned" two this morning. I will return to them (and the ones I didn't hear today) for Holy Week