Good Friday

Good FridayORATIO
Reminiscere miserationum tuarum, Domine,
et famulos tuos aeterna protectione sanctifica,
pro quibus Christus, Filius tuus,
per suum cruorem instituit paschale mysterium.

The rich and enlightening Lewis & Short Dictionary shows that cruor has a precise meaning: "Blood (which flows from a wound), a stream of blood (more restricted in meaning than sanguis, which designates both that circulating in bodies and that shed by wounding).

LITERAL VERSION
Remember Your mercies, O Lord,
and with your eternal protection sanctify Your servants,
for whom Christ, Your Son,
established the paschal mystery by means of His Blood.

The subtle meaning of cruor suggests to me an image of the blood and water flowing from Christ’s side. 

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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13 Responses to Good Friday

  1. Robert Thornton says:

    My effort:

    Be mindful of Thy mercies, O Lord,
    and by Thine everlasting protection make holy Thy servants,
    for whom Christ Thy Son didst through His Blood establish the paschal mystery.

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    Very nice, Robert, not only following the Latin text “slavishly” but much more beautiful and smoother than the 1973 ICEL version:

    Lord, by shedding his blood for us,
    your Son, Jesus Christ,
    established the paschal mystery.
    In your goodness, make us holy
    and watch over us always.

  3. martin says:

    As Fr. Z. mentions (although neither he nor Robert paid any attention to the fact in their translations), “cruor” is not a mere synonym for “sanguis” (the term we are more familiar with from the words of institution of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar) although it does function in that way too.

    Specifically (a) it is the blood (fresh or clotted) from a serious wound or spilt in the carnage of battle, or from any act of violence; in this acceptation, “gore” comes close, but only with regard to clotted blood; and (b) it can mean the shedding of blood in general or “slaughter”, and figuratively (including in the plural) a victim of such blood-letting.

    The ICEL at least addressed the point by adding “shedding”.

  4. Robert Thornton says:

    Point taken, Martin. How about

    for whom Christ Thy Son didst through the shedding His Blood establish the paschal mystery.

    Or if that’s too many syllables between “didst” and “establish,” how about

    for whom Christ Thy Son through the shedding His Blood didst establish the paschal mystery.

    I am trying here to leave “paschal mystery” as the final words of the prayer, as in the Latin, but maybe it’s not worth it, so how about then,

    for whom Christ Thy Son didst establish the paschal mystery through the shedding His Blood.

    Also, I think that after all I prefer “sanctify Thy servants” to “make holy Thy servants”; the mild alliteration is agreeable and so consonant with the native genius of English. Also more slavish.

    So, finally, all things considered, I come up with

    Be mindful of Thy mercies, O Lord,
    and by Thine everlasting protection sanctify Thy servants,
    for whom Christ Thy Son through the shedding of His Blood didst establish the paschal mystery.

  5. martin says:

    Maybe Robert (whose translation is looking very good except for the “Thy” and “Thine” which, as even Fr. Z. recognises, are really a step back in time) might like to consider another point.

    In the matter of “miser*” we have a large semantic field in Latin which, taking account of case and number in the nouns and the scope for a contrasting form in the pronouns, provides very large scope for variety – a key aspect of the Latin originals for several reasons.

    The absence of case endings in English puts us at an immediate disadvantage. In addition, our range of synonyms is not fully susceptible of being deployed in the plural: “pities” and “compassions”, for instance, are not normally encountered. Since our pronouns are likewise impoverished as to formal variety, we have a problem.

    With “miserationum tuarum”, then, we have a choice: whether to be slavish to the number or to the stem. When translating “miseratio” and “misericordia” we can make an appropriate selection from among English synonyms, but “misericordiae” and “miserationes” should give us pause. Sometimes the Latin helps us out by showing that the thought is the abundance (“omnium misericordiarum auctor”), or the repetition (“miserationibus multiplicatis”), or distribution over a number of objects (“miserationes super omnia opera tua”) and we must expand our translations to bring that out. In today’s prayer, the use of “reminiscere” shows that what is in mind is a series of past acts, so it is both the abundance and the repetition which are in view, and the translation must faithfully reflect that without coining barbaric plurals and without automatic recourse to “mercies” simply because that is the only word with a plural ending in this field. The Latin phrase has 9 syllables, so we can well afford to go beyond “Your mercies”. One option is “bountiful compassion”. Incidentally, “call to mind” and your “be mindful of” are preferable to Fr. Z.’s “remember”: how, otherwise, will we translate “memini”? (trick question, but you get my point).

    Now, in general, Latin always prefers oblique forms of nouns precisely to avoid the collocation of words ending in vowels, especially “|a”, and “|io”. This becomes acute when a feminine noun of the first declension is qualified by a pronomial and adjectival string all the components of which are declined in the same way. English, having a vast variety of word endings, does not have to strain so hard to avoid monotony in the shape and sound of words in a sentence (although, paradoxically, those writers whose Latinity gets the better of their feel for English not infrequently over-load a sentence with words ending in “|ion”). But the poverty of alternate plural forms in English means we are not bound to follow the Latin in the matter of numeric quantity. In fact, the Latin prayers greatly favour the singular form over the plural (I am still speaking of the miser* noun stems).

    Leaving aside the question of word-for-word translation (on the lines of the celebrated “numquam mens” variety), slavishness and accuracy not infrequently diverge.

  6. Martin: You wrote: “As Fr. Z. mentions (although neither he nor Robert paid any attention to the fact in their translations), “cruor””

    Is it possible you haven’t quite gotten the point of the purpose the blog or why I make these entries?

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    In preparation for the telecast a few hours hence of the Easter Vigil from St. Peter’s Basilica, let me mention here (for want of a better place) the page

    http://www.mindspring.com/~h.edwards/wdtprs/Exsultet.pdf

    that shows the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation) in parallel Latin and English extracted from one of Father Z’s most beautiful columns in the WDTPRS series in The Wanderer.

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    And, more generally, that the index page

    http://www.mindspring.com/~h.edwards/wdtprs/

    provides handy links to similar Latin-English listings of the propers for all Sundays of the Church year, formatted in such a way as to exhibit the correspondence between Latin constructions in the original and English constructions in Father Z’s translation.

  9. Martin:

    You wrote about “cruor”:
    Specifically (a) it is the blood (fresh or clotted) from a serious wound or spilt in the carnage of battle, or from any act of violence; in this acceptation, “gore” comes close, but only with regard to clotted blood; and (b) it can mean the shedding of blood in general or “slaughter”, and figuratively (including in the plural) a victim of such blood-letting.

    I respond:

    Cruor can also simply refer to blood, even if not spilled or flowing from a wound. For instance Lucretius, Book II (de rerum natura) has this:

    Hinc porro quamvis animantem ex omnibus unam,
    ossa, cruor, venae, calor, umor, viscera, nervi
    constituunt …

    Hence, further, every creature- any one
    of them at all – is compounded the same
    of bones, blood, veins, heat, moisture, flesh, and entrails …

    There are many instances where cruor is simply just blood even in classical Latin. Clearly, the same can be said of later Latin. For instance, Ambrosius (de Mysteriis, chpt. 9) uses in one sentence both sanguis and cruor interchangably, simply, it would seem, for the sake of avoiding repetition:

    Currebant Aegypti flumina puro aquarum meatu: subito de fontium venis, sanguis coepit erumpere; non erat potus in fluviis. Rursus, ad prophetae precem, cruor cessavit fluminum, aquarum natura remeavit.

    None of this of course has much to do with Fr. Z’s blog.

    Vale.

  10. Andrew: I sure do think it has to do with this blog! Getting into the prayers more deeply means looking closely at the words in them. I think it is smart to look carefully at the shades of meaning. Also, you put your finger on a good point: sometimes words with subtle possibilities are chosen by authors not just for some precise meaning, but because of how the word sounds or to avoid repetition. Good observation.

    So, this does have to do wtih the blog. I can provide a first “crow bar” as it were, and others can run with what we find behind the door. Also, thanks for not suggesting that I ignore things. ‘ppreciate that.

    Happy Easter!

    o{]:¬)

  11. martin says:

    How weird. I didnt say Fr. Z. ignored the particular meaning of “cruor” that I referred to. He obviously didnt ignore it and I said as much. His weblog note makes two points about how special it is:-

    “cruor has a precise meaning [etc]”, and
    “The subtle meaning of cruor suggests to me an image of the blood and water flowing from Christ’s side.”

    As a simple matter of fact, having drawn our attention to this, he then disregarded it in his translation. I made no adverse comment, it is a choice all translators are entitled to make.

    As for Andrew’s intervention, I did not, in my comment, ignore the fact that “cruor” does act (on occasion) as a synonym for “sanguis”. Is it possible people dont read my comments very carefuly before jumping to answer them?

    What I wrote was:-

    ““cruor” is not a mere synonym for “sanguis” (the term we are more familiar with from the words of institution of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar) although it does function in that way too.” !!!

    The OLD has 4 such citations from Lucretius. Poets are not always the best guide.

    As for the variety point, has it escaped anyone’s notice that all Lent there has not been a single instance of “sanguis” in the Collects? Here, on Good Friday, of all days, we get “cruor”. Try asking yourself: if “cruor” has a special meaning adapted to fresh blood flowing from a wound as well as a general reference to blood, which sense would you think was appropriate to Good Friday?

    If this does not fall under the rubric of “accuracy” I do not know what does.

  12. Martin: In an old piece I reviewed today and posted I see I rendered cruor as “bloodshed”. Also, I noticed in the Vespers hymn today cruorem roseum. At the parish where I am right now, each Sunday of the year vespers are sung solemnly in Gregorian chant.

    Happy Easter!

    o{]:¬)

  13. martin says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z. for your Easter wishes. They are heartily reciprocated
    Christ Our Saviour rises in our hearts again and again.