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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Thou art my portion, O Lord, Alleluia, in the land of the living, Alleluia, Alleluia. — Bring forth my soul out of prison, to confess to thy Name; in the land of the living, Alleluia, Alleluia. — Glory and honour be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, world without end, Amen: in the land of the living, Alleluia, Alleluia.[1]

Such is the opening chant for the departed, in the Mozarabic Missal. With the Greeks, in like manner, no word is of more frequent recurrence in the Office of the Dead, than the Alleluia.[2] Moreover, both Greece and Spain are but observing what was once a general practice throughout the Church.

St. Jerome tells us how, at the death of Fabiola, all the Roman people assembled, the chant of psalms echoed on all sides, and the sublime Alleluia filled the temples till it shook their gilded roofs.[3] Two centuries later, the story of St. Radegonde's funeral, written by her daughter Baudonivia, proves that, if submissive tears were not forbidden to the survivors and might at times even flow abundantly, the custom in Gaul was, nevertheless, the same as that of Rome.[4]

And again with regard to a later period, the Manuscript of Rheims quoted by Dom Hugh Menard in his notes on the Gregorian Sacramentary,[5] prescribes as a prelude to the burial prayers, the chanting of the Psalm In exitu Israel de Egypto, with Alleluia as Antiphon.

When St. Anthony buried in the desert the body of St. Paul the first hermit, the biographer of the latter relates that, in accordance with Christian tradition, Anthony sang hymns as well as psalms.[6] Such was actually the universal Christian tradition, identical in all lands.

St. John Chrysostom remarks the same fact, and explains it thus : “Tell me, are they not conquerors, the dead whom we carry in procession with shining torches and the singing of hymns? Yes; we praise God and give him thanks; for he crowns the departed one; he has put an end to his labour; and he keeps him near himself, free from all fear. Seek no other explanation for these hymns and psalms they are an expression of joy.”[7]

St. Dionysius speaks in the same strain, in his book on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. A fter alluding to the joy of the dying Christian, as he sees ap­proaching the end of his struggle and an eternal security, he adds: “The relatives of the deceased, his friends in God and in holiness, proclaim him blessed for having conquered at last ; and they address their songs of thanksgiving to the heavenly Author of the victory. Praying that themselves may obtain a similar lot, they bear him to the hierarch the distributor of the holy crowns, to whom it belongs to perform the sacred rites prescribed with regard to those who have slept in the Lord.”[8]

Tomorrow we will give some examples of these last honours paid by the Church to her children.

Certain Churches borrow the following stanzas from the tenth Song of the Cathemerinon, which gave us yesterday the Mozarabic Hymn for the Dead.


Jam mœsta quiesce querela,
Lacrymas suspendite matres,
Nullus sua pignora plangst:
Mors haec reparatio vitae est.

Quidnam sibi saxa cavata,
Quid pulchra volunt monumenta,
Res quod nisi creditur illis
Non mortus, sed data somno?

Nam quod requiescere corpus
Vacuum sine mente videmus,
Spatium breve restat ut alti
Repetat collegia sensus.

Venient cito secula cum jam
Socius ccalor ossa revisat,
Animataque sanguine vivo
Habitacula pristina gestet.

Quae pigra cadavera pridum
Tumulis putrefacta jacebant,
Voucres rapientur in auras
Animas comitata priores.

Six semina sica virescunt
Jam mortua, jamque sepulta:
Quae reddita cespite ab imo
Veteres meditantur aristas.

Nunc suscipe terra fovendum,
Gremioque hunc concipe molli:
Hominus tibi membra sequestro,
Generosa et fragmina credo.

Animae fuit haec domus olim,
Factoria ab ore creatae;
Fervens habitavit in istis
Sapientia principe Christo.

Tu depositum tage corpus:
Non immemor ille requiret
Sua munera fictor et suctor
Propriique aenigmata vultus.

Veniant modo tempora justa
Cum spem Deus impleat omnem,
Reddas patefacta necesse est
Qual tibi trado figuram.

Cease now each sad complaint;
ye mothers check your tears;
let no man mourn the pledges he has given:
for this death is the restoration of life.

What mean these sculptured marbles,
and these fair monuments,
save that what is committed to them is not dead,
but laid to sleep?

For this body which we see lying lifeless,
yet a little while and it will seek once more
the companionship of the spirit
that has fled on high.

Quickly shall the time come,
when friendly life shall make these cold embers glow;
and animating them with circling blood,
shall take back her for­mer dwelling.

The motionless corpses,
that have lain corrupting in their graves,
shall be caught up in­to the swift air,
united to the same souls as before.

Even thus do the dry seeds,
dead and buried, become green blades;
and, springing up from the sward,
recall the former ears.

Receive now, O earth, this deposit into thy care,
and cherish it in thy tender bosom:
'tis the form of a man I place in thee,
noble remains I entrust to thee.

This was once the home of a spirit
breathed from the mouth of its Creator;
Christ ruled these members,
and his holy wisdom dwelt therein.

Then shelter the body con­fided to thee:
he who made it will not forget it,
but will ask back the gifts he had given,
and the likeness of his own countenance.

Soon the promised time will come,
when God shall fulfil all hope;
then thou must needs open thy bosom,
and restore this form such as I give it thee.


The following Responsory is the last of the third Nooturn in the short Office of the Dead per annum. After it we give an ancient prayer, found in the Ambrosian rite, and appropriated to deceased benefactors and relatives.[9]


℟. Libera me, Domine, de viis inferi qui portas aereas confregisti: et visitasti infernum, et dedisti eis lumen, ut viderent te, * Qui erant in poenis tenebrarum.
V. Clamantes et dicentes: Advenisti, Redemptor noster. * Qui erant.
V. Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis. * Qui erant.
℟. Deliver me, O Lord, from the ways of hell, who hest broken the brazen gates, and halt visited hell, and halt given light to them, that they might behold thee * who were in the pains of darkness.
V. Crying, and saying: Thou art come, O our Redeemer. * Who were.
V. Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them. * Who were.


Deus vita viventium, spes morientium, salus omnium in te sperantium, praesta propitius, ut animae famulorum famularumque tuarum a famularumque tuarum a nostrae mortalitatis tenebris absolutae in perpetua cum sanctis tuis luce laetentur. Per Dominum.
O God, the life of the living, the hope of the dying, the salvation of all that trust in thee, mercifully grant that the souls of thy servants and handmaids, delivered from the darkness of our mortality, may rejoice with thy Saints in perpetual light. Through our Lord.

The following Prose by Adam of St. Victor, though often assigned to other feasts, was sung in several places to celebrate all the Saints.


Supernae matris gaudia
Repraesentet Ecclesia:
Dum festa coli annus,
Suspiret ad perpetus.

In hac valle miseriae
Mater succurrat filiae:
Hic coelestes excubiae
Nobiscum stetn in acie.

Mundus, caro, daemonia
Diversa movent praelia:
Incursu tot phantasmatum
Turbatur cordis sabbatum.

Dies festos cognatio
Simul haec habt odio,
Certatque pari foedere
Pacem de terra tollere.

Confusa sunt hic omnia,
Spes, metus, moeror, gaudium:
Vix hora vel dimidia
Fit in coelo silentium.

Quam felix illa civitas
In qua jugis solemnitas!
Et quam jocunda curia,
Quae curae prorsus nescia!

Nec languor hic, nec senium,
Nec fraus, nec terror hostium,
Sed una vox laetantium
Et unus ardor cordium.

Illic cives angelici
Sub hierarchia triplici,
Trinae gaudent et simplici
Se Monarchiae subjici.

Mirantur, nec deficiunt,
In illum quem prospiciunt:
Fruuntur, nec fastidunt,
Quo frui magis sitiunt.

Illic patres dispositi
Pro dignitate meriti,
Semota jam caligine
Lumen vident in lumine.

Hi sancti quorum hodis
Celebrantur soemnia
Jam revelata facie
Regem cernunt in gloria.

Illic Regina virginum,
Transcendens culmen ordinum,
Excuset apud Dominum
Nostrorum lapsus criminum.

Nos ad sanctorum gloriam,
Per ipsorum suffragia,
Post praesentem miseriam
Christi perducat gratia.

Let the Church on earth commemorate
the joys of her mother the Church in heaven:
and while she celebrates annual feasts,
let her sigh for those which are eternal.

May the mother assist her daughter
in this valley of sor­rows:
and may our heavenly guardians
be at our side in the battle.

The world, the flesh, and the devils
wage their several warfares;
at the onslaught of so many terrors,
the heart's tranquility is disturbed.

All this brood
detests our feast-days,
and with united force,
endeavours to drive peace from the earth.

Here all is confusion;
hope, fear, sadness,
joy are com­mingled:
in heaven, scarce half an hour is silence kept.

Oh! How happy is that city,
where there is unceasing festivity!
and how joyful is that assembly
where care is utterly unknown!

No sickness there, nor old age;
no deceit, nor terror of foes;
but all one voice of joyful souls,
and all one burning love of hearts.

There the angelic citizens in
their triple hierarchy rejoice
to be subject to a Monarch
who is both One and Three.

They admire, and faint not in contemplating,
the God upon whom they gaze;
they enjoy him, and are not satiated,
for the enjoyment brings new thirst.

There are our fathers,
rank­ed according to their merit;
all darkness is now dispelled,
and in God's light they see light.

These Saints, whose solemnity
is celebrated today,
behold with unveiled face
the king in his glory.

There is the Queen of virgins,
far above the highest choirs;
may she, before the Lord,
excuse our guilty falls.

And after this present misery,
may the grace of Christ,
through the intercession of the Saints,
lead us to the same glory!


[1] In Missa defunctorum Officium (seu Introitus). Tu es portio mes, Domine, alleluia, in terra viventium, aleluia, alleluis. V. Educ de carcere animam meam ad confitendum nomini tuo: in terra viventium, alleluia, alleluia. Gloria et honor Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, in saecula saeculorum, amen: in terra viventiu, alleluia, alleluia.
[2] Goar Nota 6a ad Officium Exsequiarum in Euchologio.
[3] Hieron. ad Oceanum, de morte Fabiolae.
[4] Baudonivia, Vita Radegundis, 28.
[5] Nota 680.
[6] Hieron. Vita S. Pauli, primi eremitae, 16.
[7] Chrys. In epist. ad Hebr. Hamil. Iv.
[8] Dionys. De eccles. hierarch. Cap. VII. 1 § 1, 2, 3.
[9] Oratio super sindonem, in Missa quotidiana pro defunctis Fratribus, Sororibus, Propinquis et Benefactoribus.