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RE: [liturgy-l] From the UK list[Fwd: O magnum mysterium]

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  • Robert J. Riley
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 30, 2000
      its history, how it came to be included in the Divine Office, and why it
      became so popular?

      I believe you are referring to a responsory to a Sermon by St. Leo the Pope
      in the Second Nocturn of Matins for the Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas
      Day). The Anglican Breviary has for it:

      R. How great the mystery, fraught with a wondrous, hidden meaning, that
      beasts should behold the newborn Lord, lying in the manger; * Blessed art
      thou, O Virgin, whose womb was made meet to bear the Lord Christ. [V. Hail
      Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee. Blessed art.]

      Pius Parsch does not comment on the response specifically, but does say
      about the Second Nocturn: "The second nocturn points out the gifts He
      brings, viz., the kingdom of God, peace, redemption, reconciliation with the
      Father. The psalms help give this message. . . . The lessons give a
      Christmas homily of Pope St. Leo I . . . . "

      I'm sure there must be detailed commentaries on the Western/Roman Breviary,
      which would list sources where these are known. Keep looking!

      By the way, for interested list readers, the Latin text is:

      O magnum mysterium
      et admirabile sacramentum,
      ut animalia viderent Dominum natum
      jacentem in praesepio:

      O beata Virgo,
      cujus viscera meruerunt portare
      Dominum Jesum Christum.


      Robert J. Riley

      -----Original Message-----
      From: John Dornheim [mailto:john19@...]
      Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2000 8:25 PM
      To: liturgy-l
      Subject: [liturgy-l] From the UK list[Fwd: O magnum mysterium]

      Stephen Perisho wrote:

      > Liturgy List members:
      > ATLA(NTIS) librarians are having difficulty securing at least
      > access to an answer to the following question, posed to the ATLANTIS list
      > few days ago by Christopher Brennan of Colgate Rochester Divinity School:
      > Dear colleagues,
      > I have a reference question that has me stymied. If any of you (especially
      > my Roman Catholic colleagues) have any solutions, I would be glad to hear
      > it.
      > I received a call yesterday from a graduate student at the Eastman School
      > Music, our local music conservatory. The student is writing her
      > on "O Magnum Mysterium," a responsory included as part of the matins
      > for Christmas Day.
      > Evidently a number of composers (e.g., Handel, Poulenc, etc.) have written
      > musical settings for the responsory. She can handle the musical side of
      > research. What she is seeking is background information on "O Magnum
      > Mysterium" itself; its history, how it came to be included in the Divine
      > Office, and why it became so popular?
      > I have tried Religion database, CPLI, Catholic Encylopedia, sources on
      > christmas carols and hymns, Vatican documents on liturgy, commentaries on
      > the breviary, etc. without success. I would be glad to hear from anyone
      > knows the background of this piece, or who has likely sources for further
      > information on this piece. I can send the complete text if that is
      > Many thanks for all your help.
      > Can any of you suggest a ready access point? This is turning out to be
      > harder than I thought it would be. After a great deal of additional
      > around, I find that all I can suggest is that the musicologist in question
      > scan every line of the sections devoted to the history of the liturgy in
      > every volume of the bibliographical numbers of such journals as
      > Theologicae Lovanienses and Revue d'histoire ecclesiastique.
      > Surely there's an easier way! But if so, we're not seeing it.
      > I look forward to hearing from you.
      > Sincerely,
      > Steve Perisho
      > Historical Studies-Social Science Library
      > Institute for Advanced Study
      > Einstein Drive
      > Princeton, New Jersey 08540
      > United States of America
      > Tel.: 609 734 8378; Fax: 609 951 4515
      > E-mail: sperisho@...

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