Saturday, September 09, 2006

One of These Things is Just Like the Other

An interesting overlap in the propers for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (which I meant to point out yesterday):

The Antiphon on the Magnificant for II Vespers (Western):

Thy Nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, hath proclaimed joyful tidings unto all the world: for out of thee hath arisen the Sun of Righteousness, even Christ our God: Who, taking away the curse, hath bestowed a blessing; and confounding death, hath given unto us life everlasting.

The Troparion of the Feast (Byzantine):

Thy Nativity, O Mother of God, has brought joy to all the world; for from thee arose the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, Who, having dissolved the curse, has given His blessing, and having abolished death, has granted us life eternal.

Those who love both rites -- which is to say, freaks like me -- find this fascinating. The occasional-yet-predictable recurrence of these overlaps between Eastern and Western praxis in our liturgical services speaks volumes. Both the East and the West influenced one another through the long years our feasts developed, with practices and prayers swimming both directions of the Bosphorus. (Granted, there was somewhat less swimming West-to-East...due to Rome's staunchly conservative nature. Our insistence on adding the Apocalypse/Book of Revelation to the canon was fairly significant.) :) This feast itself came from East to West, and in this and many other cases, the Byzantine propers remained long after its baptism as Occidental.

These overlaps speak both to Byzantines, who insist the Western Rite has "nothing in common" with the poetic-noetical-mystical East, and certain Pseudodox partisans, who insist on unnaturally exaggerating the number of these overlaps until they empty their services of the peculiar genius that made the Western Rite Western. The numerous legitimate similarities between Byzantine and Western Orthodox Rites testify to the Church's unity -- that though She is spread all over the world She praises "as if she possessed only one mouth" (St. Irenaeus) -- yet allow the Church to offer sweet fragrance to Her Lord in a rich and varied bouquet of adoration. This is the definition of "Unity within Diversity" -- the unity all Orthodox should take pains in striving to re-establish.



Blogger Richard said...

You wouldn't happen to know manuscript sources for either of these, would you? Or have an idea where to look?

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with anything you've said, but I thought you might like to know that there's an HTML entity for the long dash that you can use in lieu of two hyphens—it just looks a little better to my eyes. You may not care at all. :)

For the record, it's —

6:10 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Richard, the Troparion is linked. The antiphon is from the Monastic Diurnal, hence reflecting Benedictine practice (the Breviarium Monasticum).

Carson, THANK YOU for your comment — I greatly appreciate it and will make frequent use of it in the future!

God bless,

1:37 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Thought you might be interested to know that this blog posting inspired a research paper for a grad course in Christian History 500-1500, just completed tonight. What I discovered regarding the origins of the common use of this troparion/antiphon was very interesting. Short version is that the Latin is commonly asserted to be an translation/adaption of the Greek; I didn't find any evidence of this. In fact, I found that it's highly unlikely a Marian liturgical text of Eastern origin would survive in the West for this particular feast. Also, while it currently assigned to tone 4 in Byzantine use, 10th and 11th century Byzantine manuscripts show it assigned to tone 1--which is what the Latin version always has been.

And so on. Interesting stuff.

6:38 PM  
Blogger georges said...

In fact, the great antiphons of mattins and evensong correspond to the Byzantine troparia apolytikia. At home, we pray the office using the BCP 1662, and addind the Byzantine apolytikia as antiphons to the canticle.

A couple of years ago, when I used to pray the office according to the Byzantine rite, I did otherwise: during the Advent I took the «O» antiphons of the Western tradition, as Byzantine troparia apolytikia (because the Byzantine office of the Advent is very poor).


7:36 PM  

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