Mornië utúlië

I’m banging my head against something I am trying to write about the Vetus Ordo Epistle for Sunday’s Mass, the 4th Sunday of Advent.  It happens.  A losing battle against the clock?  No, I always get there.

So, while keeping an eye on Magnus v. MVL in the Speed Chess Championship, insane, I spotted a video that forced a click and another distraction, just as a zugwang forces you into something you would rather not do, but have to to anyway.

I’m thinking Tolkienly since one of you sent me the new Numenor book (thanks CG).

Anyway, one video reminded me of the state of the Church right now and our role in it.

Sam: “..folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”
Frodo : “What are we holding onto, Sam?”
Sam : “That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”

That’s the Peter Jackson film version. That speech isn’t in the book.  I don’t like those movies, in the main, but that was a good movie moment and fully in keeping with Sam’s true nature. Some could argue that Sam is the main hero of the whole thing.

That led to me finding this video of one of my favorite vocal groups.

The Jackson movies had songs at the end.  The first movie had one by Enya… I remember seeing Enya with Clannad wayyyyy back in the early 80’s when they were touring dives in these USA.

Anyway, Voces 8 does that song which has these words:

May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh! How far you are from home

Mornië utúlië (Darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way
Mornië alantië (Darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now

May it be the shadow’s call
Will fly away
May it be you journey on
To light the day
When the night is overcome
You may rise to find the sun

Mornië utúlië (Darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way

Mornië alantië (Darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now

A promise lives within you now

By the way, here’s the parallel from the actual hold in your hand book:

‘Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. `And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into? ‘
`I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.’
‘No, sir, of course not. Beren now, he never thought he was going to get that Silmaril from the Iron Crown in Thangorodrim, and yet he did, and that was a worse place and a blacker danger than ours. But that’s a long tale, of course, and goes on past the happiness and into grief and beyond it – and the Silmaril went on and came to Eärendil. And why, sir, I never thought of that before! We’ve got – you’ve got some of the light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t the great tales never end? ‘
‘No, they never end as tales,’ said Frodo. `But the people in them come, and go when their part’s ended. Our part will end later – or sooner.’
‘And then we can have some rest and some sleep,’ said Sam. He laughed grimly. ‘And I mean just that, Mr. Frodo. I mean plain ordinary rest, and sleep, and waking up to a morning’s work in the garden. I’m afraid that’s all I’m hoping for all the time. All the big important plans are not for my sort. Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: “Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring! ” And they’ll say: “Yes, that’s one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave. wasn’t he, dad?” “Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that’s saying a lot.”‘
`It’s saying a lot too much,’ said Frodo, and he laughed, a long clear laugh from his heart. Such a sound had not been heard in those places since Sauron came to Middle-earth. To Sam suddenly it seemed as if all the stones were listening and the tall rocks leaning over them. But Frodo did not heed them; he laughed again. ‘Why, Sam,’ he said, ‘to hear you somehow makes me as merry as if the story was already written. But you’ve left out one of the chief characters: Samwise the stouthearted. “I want to hear more about Sam, dad. Why didn’t they put in more of his talk, dad? That’s what I like, it makes me laugh. And Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam, would he, dad? ” ‘
`Now, Mr. Frodo,’ said Sam, ‘you shouldn’t make fun. I was serious. ‘
`So was I,’ said Frodo, ‘and so I am. We’re going on a bit too fast. You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: “Shut the book now, dad; we don’t want to read any more.” ‘
`Maybe,’ said Sam, ‘but I wouldn’t be one to say that. Things done and over and made into part of the great tales are different. Why, even Gollum might be good in a tale, better than he is to have by you, anyway. And he used to like tales himself once, by his own account. I wonder if he thinks he’s the hero or the villain?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you for this! I never got around to looking into that song, “May it be an evening star”. A good post especially on the eve of the days of the ‘O Antiphons’, given how much the Old English adaptive translation of ‘O Oriens’ in the Exeter Book ended up meaning to Tolkien one way and another, the one beginning “Eala Earendel”, which he discusses in the published ‘Drafts for a letter to “Mr Rang”‘ (No. 297 in the edition of his Letters). To his mind, as he says there, the Old English uses “seem plainly to indicate that it was a star presaging the dawn”, “what we now call Venus”. (Hesper and Vesper!) He adds that in an Old English homily it was applied to St. John the Baptist, who is called (in a different spelling) ‘the new Eorendel’. Not allegory in his own story of Eärendil, but what seems a kind of fictional typology (like the destruction of the Ring falling on 25 March). In the very moving passage you quote from the book, “their paths were laid that way, as you put it” made me think of Psalm 15:6 (in both Roman Psalter and Vulgate versions): “Funes ceciderunt mihi in praeclaris”. (More fictional typology: Hobbits led to anticipate the Psalmist David?) Not always “in praeclaris” at the time, but in hope – and faith.

  2. Fr Richard Duncan CO says:

    Dear Father

    As it happens, I had the same problem and was thinking along the same lines. Given the strong sense of providence that pervades LOTR, I thought it would be appropriate to include a quote from Gandalf

    “It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule”.

  3. Fr. Duncan: Thanks for that. And, coincidently… or not… if you visit this blog with some frequency, you will see that very quote in one of the “headers” I created! GMTA.

  4. GHP says:

    Amazon: “Order placed, thanks!”
    Another Widow’s Mite in your box, Father, thanks for the lead.

    — Guy

  5. GHP says:

    Fr. Z sez: “…seeing Enya with Clannad wayyyyy back in the early 80’s when they were touring dives in these USA….”

    I saw Clannad wayyyyyyyyyyyy back in the summer of 1978 when hitch-hiking around Ireland. I was interested in Irish folk music and asked in each of the towns where I paused where I might find some live music. At a village whose name I do not recall I was pointed to a local pub that was a known folk venue. Clannad was playing; I never heard of them before but enjoyed them so much that I bought the “Clannad in Concert” cassette tape they were selling.

    — Guy

  6. Imrahil says:

    Thank you for the article. It seems I somehow cannot comment on technical grounds…

  7. Imrahil says:

    I am not the first to do Lord of the Rings quotes in this thread, so here’s my choice of one.

    “Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping amoung the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

    Aurë entúluva!

  8. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    A good one, too!

    For those, like me, whose Elvish is not so good, the online Tolkien Gateway has a little “Aurë entúluva” article. It tells me (with Silmarillion footnote) that before the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, the Elven “King Fingon had welcomed the armies of his brother Turgon with the cry: ‘Utúlie’n aurë! The day has come!'” And, ” After his lord and companions had fallen, Húrin remained fighting, killing with his axe any Orc that approached him. With every strike he cried: ‘Aurë entuluva! Day shall come again!’. He cried it seventy times before Orcs captured him alive, as Morgoth had ordered.” An agonizing sequel, there… though, indeed, not the end of the story.

    At his Alas not me blog, Tom Hillman has an interesting 6 July 2021 post, “Somme starlight”, with part of the passage you quote in the context of John Buchan’s The Battle of the Somme (1916) about seeing “the sky veiled in clouds, mottled and hurrying clouds, through which only one planet shone serene and steadily high up in the eastern sky.”

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