The Guéranger Blog

Welcome to the Gueranger Blog! You have stumbled across the notebook I use to record my thoughts as I read through Dom Prosper Gueranger's 15-volume set, The Liturgical Year. I do not have any special expertise in liturgy, but I have some general knowledge of Catholic theology and an enthusiasm for Gueranger's magnum opus. Think of it as the Liturgical Year fan site!

Posts: Translations

A translation for meditation

Dom Shepherd takes a minor but excellent liberty in the meditation for the afternoon of Christmas Eve (II,112). Where the French text refers to the conversion of "the anglo-saxon race," Dom Shepherd renders it "our own dear country," thus sparing his English readers a...

More about our translators

In his biography of Gueranger, Dom Soltner introduces Dom Shepherd, our translator for most of The Liturgical Year , and the sister of the Stanbrook Abbey, who translated volumes 12 through 15: Benedictine England was chiefly represented [among Gueranger's visitors] by Dom Laurence...

English not measuring up to the French

Dom Fromage quotes a fine line from Bonaventure's Commentary on the Sentences, which in our English translation runs as follows: There is a difference, I suppose, in the impressions produced by the proposition, Christ died for us , or the like, and such as this: The diagonal and the...

John the Baptist and the sacraments

The birth of John the Baptist is one of those little "breaks" we get in this long stretch of "time after Pentecost" to remind us that Advent and Christmas will swing around again. The magnificent prayer from the Mozarabic breviary (XII,227) asks that this feast day prepare...

French text of Gueranger's works available online!

I just found that the French text of many of Dom Gueranger's works, including the full text of The Liturgical Year , are available online! They are posted on the website of The Abbey of St. Benedict . This will be a great boon when I want to see whether our English translators have...

Papapapai!

Some time ago I expressed puzzlement over the Latin exclamation papae! I complained about the fact that I do not have a good medieval dictionary, etc. Well, there it is in my Oxford Latin Dictionary, plain as day: an exclamation of (a) pain or alarm; (b) astonishment; (d) delight. I was...

A man after my own heart--to some degree

I was charmed to read (XII,127) that St. Anthony's reputation as a finder of lost items apparently began when a commentary on the Psalms that he owned was stolen. The devil himself drove the thief to return it! Now I would like that kind of protection for my collection of commentaries!...

Farewell, Dom Shepherd

Amidst all the excitement of the big holy days of this month, don't forget to look at the entries for the feasts of the saints! While volumes 10 and 11 deal exclusively with the major feasts and Sundays, volumes 12-15 are devoted to the saints for this period after Pentecost. A little note in...

We hear from Dom Shepherd

Our translator, Dom Shepherd, inserts a line into today's reading on the feast of the Holy Trinity (X,93): In our own country, it was the glorious martyr, St. Thomas of Canterbury, that established the feast of holy Trinity. This is evidently not the voice of our author, Dom Fromage, a...

White Sunday

Our translation of The Liturgical Year was made in England, and uses British names for the feast days. So Pentecost is called "Whit Sunday", and the week following is named "Whitsun Week" because it is the octave of "Whit Sunday". According to the old Catholic...

Commentary on a hymn from the missal of Abo

The hymn for Wednesday within the Octave of the Ascension (IX,241-243) has a few points of interest. The second paragraph of the English translation begins with "Oh!" The Latin word is a puzzler: Papae! It could technically be the vocative of "Pope", but that seems an...

Mozarabic Prayer for Advent

Today's Gueranger selections include a marvelous prayer from the Mozarabic Missal (Vol. 1, pg. 223). Just a few notes about the translation: Dei Verbo spiritu cooperante The Spirit cooperating with the Word of God This line is actually ambiguous in the Latin, so that it could be...

A Question Re-Opened

Haerandir is back with another good comment. Everybody read that and come back. Back now? OK. I did a follow-up to that post wherein I pointed out the ambiguity in the Greek text. No rendering of it seemed quite satisfactory, though, until I read (and, of course, posted ) that all...

Notes on a Marian hymn

Just a couple of notes on the splendiferous Marian hymn in VIII,172-3: 1) The stanza about the presentation has a neat nuance in the Latin: Rejoice, O Mother! At the praises spoken by Simeon, when, at thy presenting Jesus in the Temple, he took the Child in his arms. Grant, we...

The Joys of Mary

In VIII,126-8, Dom Gueranger offers a beautiful hymn about a tradition previously unknown to me, the "Seven Joys of Mary." As you might guess, they counterbalance the more familiar "Seven Sorrows of Mary." For those of you who do not have the text, here are the traditional "Seven Joys":...

The hypodermic what?

In a hymn for the second Thursday after Easter (VIII,118), our translator all but gives up: Prome casta concio cantica Organa subnectens Hypodorica Sing the mourning hymns, O holy choir, mourning, but full of hope. Where is "mourning" in the Latin? Where is "but full of...

A pacifier instead of a spanking

In VII,204, the English translation says that Jesus "has accomplished his work of pacification by dying for us on the Cross." I suppose it is another case of older vs. contemporary English, but it sounds as though Jesus died to keep us pacified!

Way too humble

In VII,208-211 Dom Gueranger offers a truly extraordinary prayer from the ancient Gothic church of Spain. Prayers like that could convert the hearers. On the first page of that prayer, the English translation says, "Though thou couldst have crushed our enemy by a single look of thy dread...

Grace wouldn't let me

In the English translation, one of the collects for Mass (VII,143) refers to God's "preventing grace". I know what he means: he means that grace of God that comes before any effort or interest of ours. It's from the Latin, prevenire , meaning "to come before". But in today's English it...

Send the Lamb

A couple of times (VII,178 and 198) Dom Gueranger refers to Isaiah 16:1, "Send forth, O Lord, the Lamb, the ruler of the earth!" This may puzzle folks, since modern translations don't say that. The RSV, for example, has, "They have sent lambs to the ruler of the land." Gueranger is...

Did we make this all up?

Long, long ago, the word "invention" in English meant "finding", just like the Latin inventio . These days it means something like "to create mentally" or "to fabricate". So today's English readers might find the reference (VI,20) in our English translation of The Liturgical Year to...

Final Word on John 8:25

I checked a commentary, looked at my Greek dictionary, etc. Turns out that all the Greek-speaking Fathers of the Church understand TEN ARKEN as an adverbial phrase meaning "wholly" or "at all". So they take Jesus' statement in 8:25 as something like, "Why do I speak to you at all?" This...

Update on John 8:25

New light on the problem! In ancient texts, the words were not separated by spaces the way they are now. This not only made it difficult to read, but created ambiguities in the text, like this one: IWANTTOBEATTHEGAME So does that sentence read, "I want to be at the...

John 1:1 and John 8:25

Reading the Gospel of John in Gueranger V,202, I was surprised to see that the Vulgate (and hence the Douay) renders John 8:25 this way: They said therefore to him: Who art thou? Jesus said to them: The beginning, who also speak unto you. This translation obviously jives quite well...

I'll stop sinning until Easter....

In V,178 Dom Gueranger offers a selection from a Greek hymn. He doesn't offer the Greek text, of course, but a Latin text with translation. I don't usually think a lot about the translations of these hymns, since they were not originally in Latin, but one line caught my eye: Grant me,...

Do penance! Or wait....

In V,31, Dom Gueranger exhorts his reader to lenten penance by quoting Scripture: "Jesus leaves the desert where He has spent the forty days, and begins His preaching with these words, which He addresses to all men: 'Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' (Matthew 4:17) Let...

Marian language in Gueranger, again

In a recent post , I raised again the question of whether the English translation edits out certain bolder Marian devotional phrases that might appear to confuse Mary with Christ. To do Gueranger justice, Iv, 174 has a clear and bold sentence of just the kind of devotion I was thinking about:...

More on Dom Laurence

I found an excellent piece about our translator, Dom Laurence Shepherd, HERE . It says a lot about who Fr. Shepherd was in his own life, and about his relationship with Dom Gueranger. It also reveals how Dom Gueranger's influence spread to England, including to the Downside Abbey, which now...

Marian language in the hymn for today

The hymn for Saturday of Septuagesima week (IV, 145-6) fits very well with the meditation, with its combination of emphases on the sinner's weakness and on Mary's help. There are a few interesting points to note. For one thing, the hymn asks Mary to give the sinner "applause". That's...

Translation thoughts on morning prayers

Dom Gueranger gives some great morning prayers and night prayers for the season of Septuagesima (Vol. 3, pp. 15-29). I want to post some of the night prayers just to express my appreciation of them, but first let me attend to a couple of translation issues in the morning prayers. In one of...

Chiasmic delight

A hymn given in vol. 3, pp. 471-2 has a particularly nice verse crafted into a chiasmus. The translation provided is good, but I'll do my own here to bring out the structure: A. O singular Virgin  B. Meekest of all,   C. When we are freed from guilt,  B'. Make us meek...

A mysterious hymn for the conversion of St. Paul

In vol. 3, pp. 404-5, Dom Gueranger offers an ancient hymn for the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul that he says is "full of mysterious references". Mysterious indeed! The first verse says (if we exclude Gueranger's italicized, interpretive suggestions), "The Lord said: I will turn him from...

The Hymn for St. Raymond

In vol. 3, pp. 393-4, Dom Gueranger offers a hymn from the Dominican breviary for the feast of St. Raymond Pennafort. Being rather fond of St. Raymond, I was glad to find the hymn, but in the end I thought it was pretty mediocre. The last stanza is a bit better, though: Da, Deus, nobis...

Smooth translation or plastic surgery?

A recent exchange in the combox reminded me of a thought I wanted to post about translations. Folks who translate Latin into English are often tempted to insert more intelligibility into the translation than was present in the original; folks who criticize translations from Latin into English...

A couple of translation dillies for Peter's Chair

In vol. 3, p. 328, the following Latin verse is given: O Petre, petra Ecclesiae / Isto beatus nomine / Quo Petrus a Christo Petra / Non Petra Christus a Petro. The English translation given is: "O Peter, Rock of the Church! Blessed art thou in this thy name, which jesus, the Rock, gave to...

Hilary's merits live beyond the grave....

In vol. 3, p. 268, the translation of a preface for the feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers says, "How great is his glory, is shown by the concourse of people at his tomb, the deliverance of the possessed, the healing of sicknesses, and the miracles of wonderful power. He has, by nature's laws,...

Translating Latin prayers--a few warnings

The same preface I discussed before begins by saying that to give thanks to God is meet, right, just, and "available to salvation." This gives me an opening to say something I've wanted to say for a while. There are several oddities one runs across in traditional translations of Latin...

Our translator speaks about Gueranger

Fr. Shepherd wrote some very devoted lines about Gueranger, quoted in Johnson , p. 420: 'The Abbot Dom Gueranger was perhaps the most learned Prelate of his age, at least in those sciences which are ecclesiastical. God had gifted him with all those talents which are requisite for a Master...

A beautiful allusion and an interesting translation problem

In vol. 3, p. 200, Gueranger offers a beautiful hymn by Venantius Fortunatus. One line in there is translated thus: "Mary conceived in her womb, for she believed in the word that was spoken to her." The Latin is as follows: Maria ventre concipit / Verbi fidelis semine . The line could...

Caveat emptor! Dangers of buying the French edition.

I was curious about whether Fr. Shepherd is translating the Latin hymns on his own from the Latin, or whether he is in fact translating into English Dom Gueranger's French translation of the Latin. So I went to the library and got out a French copy of the Christmas volume for comparison....

Latin Dictionaries

This is not exactly Gueranger material, but tangentially related. I recently looked up the word purgamentum in the Collins dictionary, intended for use with Classical Latin. The meaning given was "dirt" or "filth". Then I looked up the same word in the Deferrari Aquinas Dictionary ,...

From Kittim to Italy in Numbers 24:24

In Vol. 3, p. 164, Gueranger cites a prophecy a Baalam according to the Vulgate translation: "They shall come in galleys from Italy; they shall overcome the Assyrians, and shall waste the Hebrews, and at the last they themselves shall perish." The folks from Italy are clearly the Romans, who...

Thoughts on a Hymn for Epiphany

In Vol 3, p. 117-118, the first verspers of Epiphany, Gueranger offers a few stanzas from a hymn by Sedulius. It is a marvelous hymn, both in sound and content. First let me offer a smoother translation, and then I'll note a few thoughts about each stanza. The following can be sung to the...

What is the name which is above every name?

Philippians 2 is used several times in the liturgies for the Holy Name. While the Vulgate says "and every tongue confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father", the Greek text is grammatically ambiguous. On the Vulgate's rendering, it would mean that everyone...

Mary's merit and the Incarnation

In Vol. 2, Bk. 1, p. 386, a prayer for Mass of the Roman Rite says (with reference to Mary), "Grant, we beseech thee, that we may experience her intercession, by whom we received the Author of life, Jesus Christ our Lord." The translation omits one phrase, though: the original says,...

Censorship updated

An update on the topic of censorship . In Vol. 2, Bk. 1, pp. 386-8, I found the Latin phrase nesciens virum ("not knowing a man") three times, each time replaced in the English translation by "most pure virgin". Once I found the phrase sine tactu pudoris , which would...

A Prayer for the New Year

Dom Gueranger found only one Catholic rite that devoted attention to the secular new year, namely the Mozarabic Rite. He includes at the end of the entry for December 31st a beautiful preface for the Mass of that day which could easily be adapted for private family use. Unfortunately, Fr....

Notes on a translation

There are various items of note in the translation of a sequence in Vol. 2, Bk. 1, pp. 366-8. 1. Fr. Shepherd's translation reads, "Therefore let our sweetest music give our Ave Maria ." This is a rare case in which the reader who does not know any Latin can check the translation:...

No censorship here....

Fr. Shepherd certainly didn't censor his translation in the way some modern liturgical translators might. The sequence in Vol. 2, Bk. 1, pg. 327 says that Thomas a Beckett was "dragged to execution and struck down, and his brains picked out with a sword's point." Ew. Some Catholic...

A Rhyme for Thomas

The Salisbury office for the Feast of Thomas a Beckett is remarkable in that it is all rhymed! Gueranger says that was the custom of the day. Poor Fr. Shepherd of course did not have time to work out a rhymed translation for all the rhymed Latin hymns in Gueranger's massive work, but I thought...

Mild censorship?

Fr. Shepherd's translation of the glorious Marian sequence in Vol. 2, Bk. 1, p. 302 is very good. I only noticed two places where he departs notably from the Latin: 1. Fr. Shepherd has "Joseph, the Just Man, saw his lovely Branch in Flower; none else could know like him and tremble at the...

A Hymn from Venerable Bede

The beautiful hymn from Venerable Bede for this feast (Vol. 2, Bk. 1, pp. 291-2) is even more beautiful in Latin than in the English translation. Actually, the translation misses a number of nuances and poetical effects. For example, the English doesn't make clear that the stanzas are in...

Herod and Star Wars

The translation of a prayer for the Feast of the Holy Innocents (Vol. 2, Bk. 1, pg. 290) says, "These are they whom Herod's satellites snatched from their mother's breasts." This conjurs up the unfortunate picture of a Herodian Space Defence Program, with powerful photographic and...

Peculiar John

One prayer for St. John's day (Vol. 2, Bk. 1, p. 264) says that John was "adorned with every peculiar grace." This is an unfortunate rendering, which carries over the Latin word peculiari without really translating it. It should probably say that John was "adorned with every...

Textual bugaboo on the Feast of St. John the Evangelist

Gueranger (Vol. 2, Bk. I, pp. 257-8) quotes from John 21: "Dicit ei Jesus: Sic eum volo manere donec veniam, quid ad te?" The English translation given is: "Jesus saith to him: So I will have him to remain till I come, what is it to thee?" The Abbot goes on to note that...
 
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