A Tenebrae excerpt: “O my people! lament, like a virgin”

The Lamentations of Fr. Z include verses on the loss of the singing of Tenebrae, whole and entire in its proper language.

The ordering of the psalms is not particularly profound, but the antiphons and responsories are simply incomparable in the liturgical year.

To give you a sample, here is a snippet of Matins for Holy Saturday sung by the monks of Le Barroux.

You are hearing the 3rd Lesson, Lamentation, from the Prophet Jeremiah followed by the Responsory.  The Lamentation is sung in a special tone, not the usual prophecy tone.  In the Responsory, tune your ears for the word “uluate“,  howl.

The text in English

Reading 3
Lam 5:1-11
1 Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us: consider and behold our reproach.
2 Our inheritance is turned to aliens: our houses to strangers.
3 We are become orphans without a father: our mothers are as widows.
4 We have drunk our water for money: we have bought our wood.
5 We were dragged by the necks, we were weary and no rest was given us.
6 We have given our hand to Egypt, and to the Assyrians, that we might be satisfied with bread.
7 Our fathers have sinned, and are not: and we have borne their iniquities.
8 Servants have ruled over us: there was none to redeem us out of their hand.
9 We fetched our bread at the peril of our lives, because of the sword in the desert.
10 Our skin was burnt as an oven, by reason of the violence of the famine.
11 They oppressed the women in Sion, and the virgins in the cities of Juda.
Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Return unto the Lord thy God.

R. O my people! lament, like a virgin girded with sack-cloth for the husband of her youth, howl, ye shepherds, in sack-cloth and ashes
* For the day of the Lord is at hand, and it is great and very terrible.
V. Gird yourselves, ye Priests, and howl, ye ministers of the altar: cast up ashes upon you.
R. For the day of the Lord is at hand, and it is great and very terrible.
Gloria omittitur
R. O my people! lament, like a virgin, girded with sack-cloth for the husband of her youth, howl, ye shepherds, in sack-cloth and ashes * For the day of the Lord is at hand, and it is great and very terrible.

A chant for our times and for our nation and for our Church.

Lectio 3
Incipit Oratio Ieremíæ Prophetæ
Lam 5:1-11
1 Recordare, Domine, quid acciderit nobis; intuere et respice opprobrium nostrum.
2 Hereditas nostra versa est ad alienos, domus nostrae ad extraneos.
3 Pupilli facti sumus absque patre, matres nostrae quasi viduae.
4 Aquam nostram pecunia bibimus; ligna nostra pretio comparavimus.
5 Cervicibus nostris minabamur, lassis non dabatur requies.
6 Ægypto dedimus manum et Assyriis, ut saturaremur pane.
7 Patres nostri peccaverunt, et non sunt: et nos iniquitates eorum portavimus.
8 Servi dominati sunt nostri: non fuit qui redimeret de manu eorum.
9 In animabus nostris afferebamus panem nobis, a facie gladii in deserto.
10 Pellis nostra quasi clibanus exusta est, a facie tempestatum famis.
11 Mulieres in Sion humiliaverunt, et virgines in civitatibus Iuda.
Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum.

R. Plange quasi virgo plebs mea: ululate pastores in cinere et cilicio:
* Quia venit dies Domini magna, et amara valde.
V. Accingite vos sacerdotes, et plangite ministri altaris, aspergite vos cinere.
R. Quia venit dies Domini magna, et amara valde.
Gloria omittitur
R. Plange quasi virgo plebs mea: ululate pastores in cinere et cilicio: * Quia venit dies Domini magna, et amara valde.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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4 Responses to A Tenebrae excerpt: “O my people! lament, like a virgin”

  1. Tony Phillips says:

    I heard this psalm at Tenebrae last night in Ramsgate. [It’s not a psalm.] If only we’d had the opportunity to experience this service when we were growing up, in the aftermath of the liturgical, er, reforms.

    Of course, this text was also referenced by Madonna in her 1984 hit single. [No, it isn’t.]

  2. Jack Orlando says:

    Those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours, be in EF or OF, do have a liturgy for Holy Saturday. So the monks at Le Barroux.

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    The “loss of the singing of Tenebrae, whole and entire in its proper language”, liturgically and accessibly, comes home when listening to recordings, including various Renaissance polyphonic settings or French Baroque ones for one or two voices.

    Alessandro Moreschi of the Sistine Chapel choir made a moving early recording of the “Incipit Lamentatio” over a hundred years ago (though the stylistic characteristics of the period are not what one is accustomed to) – I see someone has it loaded on YouTube.

  4. Cesare says:

    A moving setting of this text by Ludovico da Viadana:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq7h0zlMbiE&feature=youtu.be