Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Canticum Veterem

I'm not normally an enthusiastic Fauré fan, but there are a few exceptions ...

Who is Jean Racine?  Well, if you're French, then he's one of the greatest dramatists of all time; and even if you're not French, a good general literature course would introduce you to his Phèdre, which is for my money a much more appealing version of the story than anything the Greco-Roman culture produced ... but I digress.

What about Racine's "cantique"?  That was Fauré's name for his setting of the text, which Racine had titled after the beginning of its first line, "Verbe égal au Très-Haut," roughly, "Word equal to the Most High."  Racine had written a poem that paraphrased a hymn for Tuesday matins, Consors paterni luminis.

English translation (courtesy of the web) for Racine's verses:

Word of God, one with the Most High,
in Whom alone we have our hope,
Everlasting light of heaven and earth,
We break the silence of the peaceful night;
Saviour Divine, cast thine eyes upon us!

Pour on us the fire of thy mighty grace,
That all hell may flee at the sound of the voice;
Banish the slumber of a weary soul,
That brings forgetfulness of thy laws!

O Christ, look with favour upon thy faithful people
Now gathered here to praise thee;
Receive their hymns offered to thy endless glory;
May they go forth filled with thy gifts.


  1. Thanks ever so... I'd been wanting a good one of that for such a long time!