Today we will compare the Oratio super populum from the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form.
A great new feature of the 2002 Missale Romanum in Latin is that for Lent the "Prayer over the people" or Oratio super populum has been revived as an option.
Priests can use this prayer NOW at the end of Mass, but still only in the Latin.
Let’s have a look at today’s:
ORATIO SUPER POPUUM (2002MR):
Tueatur, quaesumus, Domine,
dextera tua populum deprecantem.
et purificatum dignanter erudiat,
ut consolatione praesenti ad futura bona proficiat.
This prayer was in the Liber sacramentorum Augustodunensis, et alibi, in which it was the Super populum for Monday of the 4th Week of Lent when the Station is at Four Crowned Martyrs. As you can see if you check your missals, the Super populum for that day changed in the Tridentine reform. It was already changed by the time of the Missalis Romani editio princeps from Milan in 1474. The prayer was, in the post-Tridentine Missale Romanum, moved to the Super populum of Saturday in Passion Week.
You see… in centuries past prayers were moved around too.
SLAVISHLY LITERAL VERSION:
May Your right hand, O Lord,
defend Your pleading People,
and worthily instruct it (they/us), once purified,
so that by present consolation it (they/us) may attain to good things to come.
This prayer presents to my mind the image of God either as Father or perhaps better as Teacher.
In the ancient world, children were given over for instruction to the paedagogus. Instruction, as Augustine and others describe, was accompanied by plenty of beatings. Perhaps then children might turn to mother for consolation, or some other house servants (famuli). Consider that tension between "purify" and "instruct", with the promise of rewards down the line with consolation.
Ancient depictions of Christ as Teacher were similar to His depiction as Pantocrator, Almighty, and Him "in Majesty". Christ as Teacher is usually depicted seated, as a magister would be in his teaching chair or cathedra, in philosopher’s garb, with a book or scroll and with a hand raised in a teaching gesture. Often He is surrounded by Apostles, who also make gestures of apprehension and approval.
Christ is the great Teacher. He teaches us outwardly, through his words and deeds in the Gospels, as well as inwardly though more subtle means. Augustine commonly presented Christ as "inner teacher". Christ is also the "Wisdom of God". Within us all is the presence of the Word, Logos, which guides the mind. Christ guides us particularly in his self-emptying, His lowliness.
Nevertheless, the Teacher will apply correction to our lives.
Let’s jump now to the corresponding prayer in the Extraordinary Form today and see if there is any difference in style.
In the abovementioned Liber sacramentorum Augusttodunensis this prayer was Collect, it seems, during Advent. A variation begins, Excita Domine quaesumus potentiam tuam et veni ut… If anyone doubted whether Advent was a penitential season, just look at the prayers of our forebears.
That said, those Advent versions were somewhat abbreviated compared to our prayer today. I did find the longer version with the ablative absolutes in the final part, but beginning Excita, in various codices but none of them a ancient as the LsA. For those who care to see more, here is a detail from the page which is one of my sources, the CCL series.
Fascinating, I am sure.
ORATIO SUPER POPUUM (1962MR):
Subveniat nobis, Domine, misericordia tua:
ut ab imminentibus peccatorum nostrorum periculis,
te mereamur protegente eripi,
te liberante salvari.
In Your mercy, O Lord, come to our aid:
so that in the imminent dangers of our sins,
you protecting us we may merit to be saved,
you freeing us we may be saved.
After reading the Latin and my versions of the Super populum prayers in the 2002MR over the last weeks, you can hear immediately a very different tone in this version from the Extraordinary Form.
And this is typical of the changes made to and choice of the prayers for the post-Conciliar Missale Romanum.
The older prayers will not shy from addressing our sinful nature and the fearful judgment we face.
The newer prayers tend to stress less the guilt of sin and our need for mercy and need for His intervention. They focus rather on the fulfillment of God’s mercy and His intervention obtained.