St. David of Wales: Latin help wanted
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,514
    There is a 14c chant office for St. David of Wales (March 1), reproduced in Edwards' Matins, Lauds and Vespers of Saint David's Day. The cetacean pun is interesting! I've always assumed (but am assured to the contrary) that it's just an urban legend that our parish used to be in the phonebook under David of Whales. The following, if anyone cares to try translating, are the antiphons for 1st & 2nd Vespers:

    O desiderabilis vultu forma presulum fac ut miserabilis iste cetus exulum reformatus habilis fit ad vi titulum.

    Google translate fails the Turing test: "What a lovely face and form of the bishops Make it pathetic that the whale it is fit for a reformed political exiles the strength of the title." With the second antiphon, it doesn't even seem to be trying:

    Ope juva celitus David operosa quod sit tutus exitus a carne cenosa exultantis spiritus in spe graciosa de data divinitus vita gloriosa.
  •, p. 19 and p. 45 respectively

    O thou whose face the earth seeks, model for bishops, grant that this miserable body of exiles, reformed, may become fit for the title of life.

    Help us (O God) from heaven by the powerful aid of David, that the departing of the spirit from the miry flesh (of any of our bodies) may be safe, as it exults in the gracious hope of the glorious life that has been given (to us) divinely.
    Thanked by 1Richard Mix
  • So is cetus in the first antiphon then just a variant spelling of coetus, rather than the actual word for "whale"?

    On the other hand that forma pr[a]esulum seems many-layered -- the entry in Lewis & Short says that in pre-Christian Rome, the word praesul meant a public dancer, and was used very specifically to name the leader of certain priests who conducted an annual leaping procession. Surely a roundabout reference to St. David's namesake "leaping and dancing before the Lord" in 2 Samuel 6?
    Thanked by 1Richard Mix
  • Can you double check the spelling of the Latin?

    Praesul is probably two different words that have undergone convergent evolution, one from the root meaning to leap and one meaning to sit.