Feast of Adam of St. Victor (August 5)   Leave a comment

Abbey of St. Victor, Paris (Late 1700s)

Above:  Abbey of St. Victor, Late 1700s

Image in the Public Domain

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ADAM OF ST. VICTOR (DIED BETWEEN 1172 AND 1192)

Roman Catholic Monk and Hymn Writer

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Christians, come, in sweetest measures,

Sing of those who spread the treasures

In the holy Gospels shrined;

Blessed tidings of salvation,

Peace on earth their proclamation,

Love from God to lost mankind.

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See the rivers four that gladden

With their streams the better Eden,

Planted by our Savior dear.

Christ the Fountain, these the waters,

Drink, O Zion’s sons and daughters;

Drink and find salvation here.

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Here our souls, by Jesus sated,

More and more shall be translated

Earth’s temptations far above;

Freed from sin’s abhorred dominion,

Soaring on angelic pinion,

They shall reach the Source of love.

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Then shall thanks and praise ascending

For Thy mercies without ending

Rise to Thee, O Savior blest.

With Thy gracious aid defend us,

Let Thy guiding light attend us,

Bring us to Thy place of rest.

–In W. G. Polack, The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal, Second and Revised Edition (St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1942), page 206; translation altered from Robert Campbell, Hymns and Anthems for Use in the Holy Services of the Church within the United Diocese of St. Andrews (1850)

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The original Latin text (in ten stanzas) begins

Iucundare, plebs fidelis.

The author of that text was Adam of St. Victor, of whom we lack much information.  This is a common difficulty in history, the study of the past, for documentation is frequently lacking.

We do know some facts about our saint, however.  People who knew him called him “Brito,” indicating that he was either a Briton or a Breton.  Adam, educated at Paris, entered the Abbey of St. Victor, a center of learning at Paris, in 1130, when he was a young man.  He remained there for the rest of his life.  He composed prose works, hymns, and sequences for the Mass.  At least 106 hymns and sequences he wrote he survive.  Perhaps he wrote more which remain, but without his name on them.  And who know how many have not survived the ravages of time?  We do have three volumes (I, II, and III) of Adam’s liturgical poetry (with English translations), fortunately.

Archbishop Richard Chevinix Trench (1807-1886) included some of Adam’s Latin texts, including the basis of the English translation I quoted at the beginning of this post, in Sacred Latin Poetry (first edition, 1849; second edition, 1864; third edition, 1874).  Trench included a biographical sketch of Adam on pages 53-61 of the second edition.  In the same edition one can find untranslated texts by our saint on pages 62-83, 111-113, 123-128, 153-156, 161-181, 187-194, 202-205, 212-216, 219-220, and 227-233.

Trench wrote that Adam of St. Victor was

the foremost among the sacred poets of the Middle Ages.

The great Medieval sacred poet has become the newest addition to the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 8, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPHINE BAKHITA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN OF MATHA AND FELIX OF VALOIS, FOUNDERS OF THE ORDER OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY

THE FEAST WINFIELD SCOTT HANCOCK, U.S. ARMY GENERAL

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Adam of St. Victor)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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