Saturday, August 15, 2015

August 15: Tota pulchra es, amica mea

I just wanted do a quick post about the beauty of 1st Vespers for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Dominican Rite.

I was home early enough from work yesterday afternoon, so I grabbed my breviary and went out into the backyard to pray 1st Vespers.  More often than not, I get home from work too late to pray Vespers, so it was a rare treat for me.

In particular, I wanted to point out the very long and beautiful super Psalm antiphon that is chanted before chanting the five (5) Laudate Psalms:

Tota pulchra es, amíca mea, et mácula non est in te: favus distíllans lábia tua, mel et lac sub lingua tua: odor unguentórum tuórum super ómnia arómata: iam enim hiems tránsit, imber ábiit et recéssit: flores apparuérunt, víneæ floréntes odórem dedérunt, et vox túrturis audíta est in terra nostra.  Surge, própera, amíca mea: veni de Líbano, veni coronáberis.
You are all fair, my love; there is no flaw in you.  Your lips distil nectar; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your oils are better than any spice.  See, the winter has past, the rain is over and gone.  The flowers appear, the vines are in blossom and give forth fragrance, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.  Arise, come, my love, come from Lebanon, come and be crowned.

As is typical of an office of Our Lady, this antiphon consists of a compilation of some sublime allusions to the Blessed Mother in the Song of Songs.  Then, after the Little Chapter, the responsory is equally long:

.  Beáta es, Virgo María, Die Génetrix, quae credidísti Dómino; perfécta sunt in te quæ dicta sunt tibi: ecce exaltáta es super choros Angelórum. * Intercéde pro nobis ad Dóminum Iesum Christum.  . Benedícta et venerábiles es, Virgo María, quæ sine tactu pudóris invénta es Mater Salvatóris. – Intercéde. – Glória. _ Intercéde. 
.  Blessed are you, Mary, who believed in the Lord.  Those things that were spoken to you are fulfilled in you.  Behold, you have been exalted above the choirs of angels. * Intercede for us with the Lord Jesus Christ.  .  You are blessed and worthy of veneration, O Virgin Mary, who, without any violation of purity, were found to be mother of the Savior. – Intercede. – Glory. – Intercede.

This antiphon joins heartfelt praise of Our Lady’s fiat with praise of her miraculous dual state of virgin and mother…Mother of our Savior.

As Dominicans, we have the glorious and blessed Mary, ever Virgin, as our patroness.  Let us always remember to have loving and confident recourse to her, under the protection of her mantle.  And lest we forget, today is one of the days when Holy Mother Church allows us, as Dominican Tertiaries, to obtain a plenary indulgance.