Sunday, November 11, 2018

Félix María Arocena Solano: The Day and the Night in the Hymns of the Liturgy of the Hours


LAUDES - LA AURORA»

“Light is the shadow of God”. (Plato)

Often the formal architecture of the hymns of Laudes appears to reproduce an almost identical pattern throughout them. This provision is constituted, with rare exceptions, by a doublet of the following type: the two - and even, in some cases, up to three - first stanzas are written on the idea of light and then, following this idea is connected initially with other more varied subjects, but of an eminently ascetic nature, such as:

-that Christ should give us charity, (1) Fulgentis auctor, verse 5, Lauds II and IV Wednesday.

- that the theological virtues are rooted in the soul, (2) Æterna cæli, verse 5, Lauds I and III Friday

-to live the day in fidelity to Christ, (3) Aeterne lucis, verse 6 Lauds II and IV Tuesday

-the promotion of virtues through the struggle against vices: anger:  Aeterne lucis, verse 5, Lauds II and IV Tuesday; sensuality, (5); Aeterne lucis, verse 6 Lauds II and IV Tuesday gluttony (6): Aeterne lucis, verse 6 Lauds II and IV Tuesday

-avoid the sins of the tongue, (7) Sol ecce lentus, verse 3 Lauds II and IV Wednesday; Iam lucis, verse 6 Lauds II and IV Thursday

-be guarded from all adversity, (8) Iam lucis, verse 1 Lauds II and IV Thursday

Now the operative mechanism that has been used to amalgamate the first stanzas of light with ascetic themes is the idea of purity, of which light is, as we know, a classical symbol. Here are some examples:

-keep the heart clean until the end of time, (9) Æterna cæli, verse 4 Lauds I and III Friday

- to be pure to the bottom of our soul, (10) Iam lucis, verse 3 Lauds II and IV Thursday

-the light brings us the serenity and renders us pure, (11) Sol ecce Surgit, verse 3 Lauds I and III Thursday

-to our dark heart, with God filling it, the day is opened and ennobled (12) Nox et Tenebrae, verse 3 Lauds I and III Wednesday

-that the Paraclete should keep holy the temple of our body, (13) Lucis largitor, verse 4 Lauds II and IV Monday

-that the purity of the soul should overcome the claims of the arrogant body (14) Lucis largitor, verse 4 Lauds II and IV Monday

We can extract another typical characteristic of the hymns of Laudes from the prism of the vocabulary and the verbs that the poets use. In stanzas whose content alludes to the auroral moment of the day, it is very common to use expressions and verbs of an inchoative type. It is a literary technique that instills in the mind of the reader a feeling of renewal that accompanies the moment of the morning, when, out of the world of night dreams, awakens a new day, capable of being filled with love for God and service to men.

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