A hymn for burial of the dead

Prudentius, Cathermion, Hymn X — Ad Exequias Defuncti — Deus ignee fons animarum. 4th century.

Parts of this longer hymn are used in the Mozarabic Office of the Dead. The starred strophes are found in the popular hymn “Jam maesta quiesce”.

  1. God, fiery fountain of spirits,
    Who, elements twofold combining,
    Both living, each mortal createdst,
    And tending towards dissolution.
  2. They are Thine, both the one and the other,
    Their conjuncture is Thine, while united,
    And Thee, while they dwell in coherence,
    They serve both the soul and the body.
  3. For these, when divided in sunder,
    Dissolve and dismember the mortal,
    The earth giveth rest to the body,
    The other receiveth the spirit.
  4. For dissonant elements sever,
    At length, by the law of Creation:
    The woven must haste to unweaving,
    The compacted to disseveration.
  5. Thou, therefore, Creator! preparing
    For Thy faithful ones death to abolish,
    Hast shown the inviolate pathway,
    That their members may see Resurrection.
  6. That though now to the frailer, the nobler
    Be linked, as with fetters in prison,
    That part may then rise in its glory
    Which deriveth its seed from the Heaven.
  7. If the will has been chained to the senses
    And grovelled in earthly fruition,
    The soul, by earth’s weight overpowered,
    With her co-mate sinks downward for ever.
  8. But, with heavenly source of rememb’ring,
    She refuses the sluggish contagion;
    With herself the lov’d frame shall she carry
    To the mansions of glory celestial.
  9. For though for a season the body
    Lie lifeless, and void of the spirit,
    Brief space, and once more reunited,
    It shall cherish its noble companion.
  10. The ages are hastening onward,
    When those bones vital heat shall revisit;
    And animate then, and for ever,
    Shall assume its first lov’d habitation.
  11. The corpse that lay cold and untended,
    That the grave had returned to corruption,
    Shall be raised to the voluble aether
    With its former companion associate.
  12. Hence tombs have their holy attendance,
    Hence the frames that have seen dissolution
    Receive the last honours of nature,
    And are decked with the pomp of the burial.
  13. Hence the wont to enwrap them in linen,
    A snow-white and beautiful vestment,
    Hence the care for their long preservation,
    And the myrrh and the spices of Saba.
  14. For what mean the tombs that we quarry,
    What the art that our monuments boast in,
    But that this which we trust to their keeping
    Is not dead, but reposing in slumber?
  15. ‘Tis the love and the forethought of Christians
    That cares for its charge, as believing
    That the season shall come for their wakening,
    Who now lie in darkness and chillness.
  16. Who pities a corpse, and commits it
    To the heap’d earth’s security, showeth
    A deed of compassionate mercy,
    And doth it to CHRIST the Almighty.
  17. One law is appointed to all men,
    One grief for one lot is before us,
    We weep, when we weep for another,
    A sorrow that we shall have share in.
  18. That father of holy Tobias,
    The sacred and reverend hero,
    When the table was spread for the banquet,
    Left all to go forth and to bury.
  19. The slaves were arrayed for the festal,
    The goblets were ranged, and the viands,
    When girt for the grave and this office,
    He wept o’er the sepulchre’s sadness.
  20. A guerdon celestial is sent him,
    His deed is repaid in its fulness,
    When his eyes, to the sun that were darkened,
    By the gall God restoreth to brightness.
  21. Even then taught the Father of all things
    How bitter and sharp is the medicine,
    If the spiritual vision is clouded
    When vexed by His illumination.
  22. He taught also this, that none other
    Can enter the Heavenly Kingdom
    But he that in sorrow and darkness
    Hath endured tribulation and hardness.
  23. Very death thence becometh more blessed,
    Because by the anguish of dying
    The bright path is oped to the righteous,
    And we go to the stars by endurance.
  24. Thus the body, resigned to corruption,
    Shall return in a better existence:
    Nor, renewed and revivified, thenceforth
    Can the union again be divided.
  25. The cheek that was pale with diseases,
    And withered and wan in its suffering,
    Then lovelier than flowers of springtide
    Shall put on the hue of its beauty.
  26. Thenceforward, old age and its weakness
    Shall gather youth’s loveliness never,
    Thenceforward, nor sickness nor anguish
    Shall rifle its bloom and its vigour.
  27. The source of that pestilent sickness
    That now hath its rule in the nation,
    Shall then give account for his torments
    And rue them in fire and in fetters.
  28. Then the flesh from his high exaltation
    Victorious, and thenceforth immortal,
    Shall behold, everlastingly ruing,
    The woes that himself had occasioned.
  29. Why therefore, survivors, the clamour
    Of sorrow and wild lamentation?
    Why at statutes of wisdom and mercy
    Such frenzied and bitter repining?
  30. *Each sorrowful mourner be silent!
    Fond mothers give over your weeping!
    None count those dear pledges as perished,
    This death—it is life’s reparation.
  31. Thus arid and lifeless and buried,
    Those seeds shall arise in their beauty,
    Restored from the turf where we laid them,
    Taking thought of a new growth for ever.
  32. *Now take him, O earth, to thy keeping
    And give him soft rest in thy bosom;
    I lend thee the frame of a Christian,
    I entrust thee the generous fragments.
  33. This once was the home of a spirit
    By the breath of its Maker created,
    Here once was the wisdom, implanted
    That leaneth on CHRIST as its Monarch.
  34. *Thou holily guard the deposit,
    He will well, He will surely require it
    Who forming it, made its creation
    The type of His image and likeness.
  35. They are coming, those times of fulfillment,
    When God every hope shall accomplish,
    Then thou must give up the deposit
    That now I entrust to thy keeping.
  36. For not though the flight of long ages
    Those bones had resolved into ashes,
    And the dust whereunto they had crumbled
    One pitiful handful might measure:
  37. Not e’en though meandering rivers
    Or breezes that sweep o’er the heaven
    Each nerve have dissolved and each fibre,
    May we say that the man can have perished.
  38. *But until the resolvable body
    Thou recallest, God, and reformest,
    What regions unknown to the mortal
    Dost Thou will the pure soul to inhabit!
  39. *It shall rest upon Abraham’s bosom,
    Ab the spirit of blest Eleazar,
    Whom, afar in that Paradise, Dives
    Beholds from the flame of his torments.
  40. *We follow Thy saying, Redeemer,
    Whereby, as on death Thou wast trampling,
    The thief, Thy companion, Thou willedst
    To tread in Thy footsteps, and triumph.
  41. *To the faithful the bright way is open,
    Henceforward to Paradise leading,
    And to that blessed grove we have access,
    Whereof man was bereaved by the serpent.
  42. *Thou Leader and Guide of Thy people,
    Give command that the soul of Thy servant
    May have holy repose in the country
    Whence exile and erring he wandered.

Tr. J.M. Neale (d. 1866)
Collected hymns, sequences and carols of John Mason Neale, pp. 169-173

Roman Dates and Ecclesiastical Moons

In the Martyrologium Romanum, each day has a heading with the Roman date, and a table that gives the status of the lunar cycle. These are the first things read each day in the Martyrology.


The Roman Date

Each month contains three reference dates: the Kalends, Nones, and Ides. While the Kalends is always the first day of the month; for eight months, Nones and Ides are on the fifth and thirteenth, but in March, May, July, and October,  they fall two days later on the seventh and fifteenth.

For example, on July 4th, the Roman date (as styled since Medieval times) is “Quarto Nonas Iulii,” or “Four days before the Nones of July.” While the Nones of July is the 7th, the Roman custom is to count inclusively, so the 4th is considered four days before the 7th.

The day before each reference date is the pridie, so the 6th of July is called: “Pridie Nonas Iulii.”

The Ecclesiastical Moon

The lunar calendar and the phases of the moon are key components in determining the date of Easter, which is set as the Sunday following the first full moon of Spring. On average, there is a new moon (when the moon goes dark) every 29.53 days. In whole numbers, this is figured as each lunar cycle being either 29 or 30 days, depending on the month of the year.

The current Martyrology letter corresponds to the epact, or the difference (in days) between the lunar and solar years. On the table for each day, the numeral beneath the current Martyrology letter corresponds with the age of the moon in its current cycle, from 1 to 29 or 30, with a full moon at 14 or 15.

So, on July 4th 2018, the current Martyrology letter is n, which corresponds to an age of 21 (out of 30), which is said: “Luna vigesima prima.” Which is a moon waning in its last or third quarter phase (about half bright and half dim).

Suffrage of Saint Athanasius


O best of Doctors, light of Holy Church, blessed Athanasius, lover of God’s law; pray for us to the Son of God. (Alleluia)
V. Iustum dedúxit Dóminus per vias rectas. (P. T. Allelúia) V. Our Lord hath guided the just by right ways. (Alleluia)
R. Et osténdit illi regnum Dei. (P. T. Allelúia) R. And showed him the kingdom of God. (Alleluia)


Orémus. Let us pray.

Exáudi, quǽsumus Dómine, preces nostras, quas in beáti Athanásii Confessóris tui atque Pontíficis commemoratióne deférimus: et qui tibi digne méruit famulári, eius intercedéntibus méritis, ab ómnibus nos absólve peccátis. Per Dóminum nostrum Iesum Christum, Fílium tuum: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum.

Graciously listen, we beseech thee, O Lord, to the prayers we offer up in commemoration of blessed Athanasius, thy Confessor and Bishop: him thou didst find worthy to render acceptable service to thee; appealed to by his merits, do thou free us from all sin. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who lives and reigns with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

(A suffrage is a short intercessory prayer said to both honor the subject and beg for their heavenly aid. Often said as personal devotions—several one after another. In previous times a number were mandated at the conclusion of Lauds and Vespers, and it matches the traditional form of commemoration of feasts in the Divine Office (Antiphon, Versicle and Prayer).)

Sequence: Laude iocunda melos


Full chant

Sequence for the Feast of Saints Peter & Paul, June 29

Sound, O crowd, the melody in joyful praise,
Joining the words to rhythmic symphony,
May this famous harmony even join the lights of the sky,
Which with golden light illuminate all realms of the world.

Their strong trophies are already blossoming in the kingdom of heaven,
Whose merits dispel the crimes on this shining day.

For one triumphed through the execution on the cross, the other through the sword in the neck, both laurels are shining.
And above the highest stars, famous through their victory, they are prelates in the heavenly court.
From thence, thou, O blessed Peter, who openest [and] closest the great gates of heaven with thy word,
Mildly receive the faithful prayers, dissolving all bonds of sin.

Paul, bring us holy doctrine that illuminateth the hearts of the people,
And carry our minds beyond the stars, as perfectly as God may give.
From thence may come the music of the virtues, fair, with strings and singing,
In that shall be composed the harmony, and that, which is really the original perfect fourth.

Consisting of Virtue and Justice
Of Temperance and Prudence,

With them more than fittingly adorned, let the crowds sing enharmonic canticles to Christ.
May they be joined to our choir, may they give these lights, whom we give more than lyrical songs,
Now everything that is redeemed shall give a solemn Amen.

Melody and text as in the Gregorian Institute of Canada’s Sarum Rite Sequentiarium edited by William Renwick and Caroleen Molenaar.
Translation from the Saint John Fisher Missale.