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For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Dominus regnavit

Now we are into the second week of Advent, and I still haven't put the site together as mentioned in the last post. I have the backbone of the Office, a Psalter, about 95% as I want it, but I find that I am making changes as I use it so it is going to change further... and I haven't even finished the first week for the Proper of Advent.

Part of the problem is that one can't simply transcribe material from the Anglican Breviary. Sometimes one needs to source the Antiphon, or Brief Respond, or whatever piece of the Breviarium Romanum is translated, in the Vulgate; then look at the corresponding passage from the Authorised Version used in the Anglican Breviary; and then decide whether it needs altering. Sometimes the Anglican Breviary translations simply won't do. This isn't a disparagement of a monumental piece of work that will always be a point of departure for this kind of project, but where there was not a ready-made Cranmerian or Scriptural text for their translation from Latin, poetic grace was not always the Anglican Breviary's strength. One of the worst howlers is the first Benediction of a Gospel Homily in Matins, "By the Gospel words today may our sins be done away". Say that with a straight face if you can; but when you are trying to pray it becomes intolerable.

So there isn't much point in directing anyone to the site as yet; I suspect it will be the end of Advent before I have the Advent bit ready, and even then it will probably be minus the Matins lessons and responses. That transcription of these might have to wait till next year.

Something hit me this morning at Lauds, a kind of answer to a question that had hung around at the back of my mind about the significance of Psalm 93 (92 in the Vulgate) as the first Psalm of Sunday Lauds. The interpretation offered assumes that this is a Temple Psalm, and that Dr Margaret Barker is right on most particulars about the Temple and the meaning of its colours and materials.

The Lord is King, and hath put on glorious apparel *
 the Lord hath put on his apparel, and girded himself with strength.
Refers to the kingly High Priest (and therefore Christ): he was the personification of the Lord; and his dress represented the whole Creation. In his dress the liturgical colours of the Temple veil, representing the elements of Life and the Creation, were interwoven with gold, or divinity, and overlay the linen of his earthliness and humanity beneath.

He hath made the round world so sure *
 that it cannot be moved.
The Temple (Christ again, as Logos) was God's pattern of Creation, its various parts representing the Six Days; its eternity and stability derives from his Word.

Ever since the world began hath thy seat been prepared *
 thou art from everlasting.
The Holy of Holies contained the mercy-seat which was God's Throne ("thy seat") within the Temple. It represented the First Day, before aught else was made ("ever since the world began") in God's eternity, in the presence of the Angels who were the Divine Ideas of all else that would be made after. God's Throne, the mercy-seat on the Ark, is within the place of eternity, the Holy of Holies: Christ's blood poured out on the ultimate Day of Atonement (the Day on which our High Priest offers himself as the eternal sacrifice and Altar and Throne are one) tears the Veil and opens the eternal dwelling of God, where Christ stands crowned as the risen Lamb.

The floods are risen, O Lord, the floods have lift up their voice *
 the floods lift up their waves.
The floods are the Gentiles, the chaos, or waters of the Abyss outside the Temple, in which Israel is present with God, within the holy order of his Law and Covenant. That which is outside the Temple of God is the chaos not ordered by the sacred Word of God's new Creation. Outside the holy assembly of his Church will be cast all that defiles, into the second death.

The waves of the sea are mighty, and rage horribly *
 but yet the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier.
Jerusalem and the Mount of Sion are higher than all the hills of the earth: the City of God, his dwelling place in his Church, stands above all the world, and will never be swamped by its waves.

Thy testimonies, O Lord, are very sure *
 holiness becometh thine house for ever.
The Word of God, Christ, the Law, is worthy of faith and reliance; and in him and his Church dwells righteousness.

Why Sunday Lauds? Because this is a Psalm of the Holy of Holies and therefore the First Day, of the Altar Throne prepared for the Lamb ever since the world began; and therefore mystically a Psalm of the Eighth Day, the Day of the New Creation, when Christ the High Priest sits risen and enthroned; and also a foretaste of the approaching victory of his holiness in his holy people, the Living Temple, over all the filth and dark surging power of the World and its dark lord of chaos.