• rogue63
    Posts: 410
    The Introit for Christ the King reads:

    "Dignus est Agnus, qui occisus est, accipere virtutem, et divinitatem, et sapientiam, et fortitudinem, et honorem....etc."

    Why "divinity"? Isn't Christ already divine? Isn't he coequal and coeternal with Father and Holy Spirit?

    The citation, Rev. 5:12, reads the same in the 3rd edition Missal, and in Jerome's Vulgate, the Douay-Rheims.

    However, the Nova Vulgate reads:

    "Dignus est Agnus, qui occisus est, accipere virtutem, et divitias, et sapientiam,...etc.."

    And "divitias" is riches. This is also in the King James, and the famous "Worthy is the Lamb" from the Messiah.

    Why the difference? The Latin text, used in the Graduale, seems a heresy. Is this a memory/translation mistake or a grave error?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,445
    The Son, having been begotten of the Father, receives His Divinity from the Father.

    You are essentially saying that it seems heretical to state that Christ's Divinity is a result of his Crucifixion.

    But Paul says:
    He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.
    For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names:

    This is confusing... surely He was divine (and exalted, and had the name above all names) BEFORE He poured Himself out, before He became obedient, before He was slain.

    Indeed he was.

    But we get, I think, confused when we think of God's Divine existence as running parallel to our own time, in terms of "before" and "after." The Son of God wasn't hanging around in heaven for billions of years waiting to go down to Earth. His essence (to use that word very imprecisely), the "reason" (if such a word can be used) for the Father to beget Him, is precisely this pouring out, this death, and this resurrection.

    Because the Triune God exists outside of our human understanding of time, it seems that there are cause-and-effect relationships which are "backwards" - the cause comes before the effect.

    My favorite example of this temporal-causal confusion is the idea that the Holy Spirit doesn't enter the world until the glorification of Jesus at the Ascension. But, of course, the Spirit was with the world throughout all time.

    In God, there is not a cause followed by an effect, in our temporal understanding. Nor is there a simple sci-fi-style reversal (wherein effect is seen and then cause later). Rather, in God, cause and effect arise simultaneously (another very imprecise statement).

    Because human beings cannot understand this fully, or even put their limited understanding into adequate words (as my above gobbly-gook attests), we often find things in scripture and our literary/liturgical tradition which SEEM to be heretical when viewed in an overly logical way.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    OK, fine. I will acquiesce in a discussion of Trinitarian theology. However, why the two differences in text? Why do versions say "riches" and "divinity"? Riches and divinity are not similar, and the words are important.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,445
    The Bible does not have an ur-text.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    Then why bother using it if it has no authority? I don't understand your answer.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,445
    I didn't say it has no authority, I said it doesn't have an ur-text.

    We don't have an approved-by-God single original version of any of the books of the Bible against which all editions and translations are made. Scripture doesn't work like that.
  • The word in Greek is plouton (< ploutos), which you can recognize as the root of "plutocracy," and means "riches, wealth." Elsewhere where the word appears in the New Testament, it is translated "riches" (divitiae in the Vulgate), and "divinity" would make no sense -- e.g., "the deceitfulness of riches choketh up the word," Mt 13:22.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,498
    The easiest answer would probably be that there may have been a scribal error, post-Jerome, and it was taken up into the Gradual.

    If that is the case--and I really don't know if it is--then it could certainly stand to be reformed.

    (Probably play havoc with the chant!)

    I agree with Adam that there isn't a theological problem, but there's no reason why the chant can't be reformed if in fact there are textual errors. (Phil 2 is right on target regarding the theological issue, and another relevant text would be Daniel 7.)
  • If there are textual errors, they may be of quite recent origin. Remember that the feast of Christ the King was established in the 1920s. Dom Johner notes that the propers are old chants reworked to fit the newly designated texts. I remember hearing this Introit attributed to one of the Solesmes monks, Pothier maybe?

    If there was an older use of this text, I don't see it in the modern chant books near at hand.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    David raises another worthy question: was Dignus est Agnus composed in 1925 or adapted from a pre-existing melody? Anyone? Are there places one can find answers like these?

    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,382
    “Textual error of recent origin”? Hardly. I don’t know if St. Jerome’s autograph of his translation of Rev. 5:12 exists anywhere and, if it does not, what’s the earliest copied manuscript of the editio vulgata still in existence. It’s certainly possible that St. Jerome did not use “divinitatem” in his revision of the Vetus Latina New Testament (382-390). But it’s just as possible that he did. And who knows for sure that “plouton” was in the Greek manuscript that Jerome used for his Vulgata translation?

    However, since several copies of the Gutenburg Bible (Mainz, 1450’s) can be viewed online, a few minutes ago I looked at the online images of one of the two copies at the British Library, London. And that 1450’s edition of the Vulgate has the word “divinitatem” in Rev. 5:12. So that fact provides some weighty evidence that “divinitatem” has been in the Vulgate text for at least 560 years, if not, in fact, going all the way back to St. Jerome.

    We know that the revision of the Vulgate, called the “Nova Vulgata” or Neo-Vulgate, completed in 1979, changes “divinitatem” to “divitias,” which seems to be a more literal translation of “plouton.” It’s certainly possible that the monks of Solesmes could adopt the Nova Vulgata wording in some future edition of the Dignus est Agnus chant. But, then again, would they really have to, since the Church has lived with “divinitatem” for perhaps more than 1600 years, and perhaps even longer than that if “divinitatem” was used in the pre-382 Vetus Latina.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,498
    Fr. Krisman,

    You've missed David's point. The chant is new.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,677
    We don't have an approved-by-God single original version of any of the books of the Bible against which all editions and translations are made. Scripture doesn't work like that.


    I think there is something about the inerrant word of God...

    "...will make use of the Vulgate as his text; for the Council of Trent decreed that "in public lectures, disputations, preaching, and exposition,"(29) the Vulgate is the "authentic" version; and this is the existing custom of the Church."


    and from Trent

    "ordains and declares, that the said old and vulgate edition, which, by the lengthened usage of so many ages, has been approved of in the Church, be, in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions, held as authentic; and that no one is to dare, or presume to reject it under any pretext whatever."


    Of course we all know that God only speaks in English (some tell us he has an American accent!)... unless you are in German speaking lands when of course he only speaks in German etc. ;-))
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,445
    The fact that the Catholic Church has approved of the Vulgate as the "authentic" or official version does not change the fact that there is NOT an original, perfect ur-text.

    Look at the quotes you provided. The reason for its fitness?
    "the existing custom of the Church"
    "the lengthened usage of so many ages"

    The Bible is a part of the living tradition of the Church. It is a human-authored, divinely-inspired, Holy-Spirit-protected witness to the WORD of God, who is Jesus Christ. It is NOT, itself, the WORD of God.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,677
    I just gave the key text in the above quotes, but these should be read in context.

    Also a friend had just written a blog post with more relevant quotes,

  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,445
    My point is not based on your key quotes, but on 2000 years of Catholic tradition and doctrine.

    The inerrancy of scripture, as understood by the Catholic Church, has nothing to do with whether there is an unadulterated ur-text somewhere (there isn't). It has everything to do with the Holy Spirit's protection of dogmatic truth within the Apostolic authority of the Magisterium.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,498
    (I'm not saying this solves any arguments. I just really like it.)
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Right, I was mainly pointing out that the chant is new, but ronkrisman's comment is interesting that the old Vulgate was still in use in the 1920s.

    It's also interesting that new chants were being composed (centonized?) that late. Does anyone know when the last new set of propers was composed? I have the strong impression that after Vatican II, Solesmes and probably others decided to stop that practice and only use chants that were in the manuscript sources.
  • Also to follow up on rogue63's question, the Dom Johner book is where I got this.

    Johner mentions the Introit Dum sanctificatus fuero from the Wednesday after the 4th Sunday of Lent as the main source for Dignus est Agnus.
    The Gradual is based on that of Epiphany.
    The Alleluia is based on the 2nd Alleluia from the 4th Sunday after Easter.
    Per Johner, the Offertory uses motifs from Christmas season offertories, and the Communion uses motifs from Advent season communions.

    He notes the use of chants from throughout the liturgical year: "The chants of this new feast betray throughout adaptations of older melodies. This should not, however, spoil our joy in singing them. Each of them is like a new stanza added to a beloved old song, awakening memories of the most beautiful seasons of the liturgical year."

    CMAA reprinted Johner's Chants of the Vatican Gradual in 2007.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 343
    @David Sullivan

    Does anyone know when the last new set of propers was composed? I have the strong impression that after Vatican II, Solesmes and probably others decided to stop that practice and only use chants that were in the manuscript sources.

    I had that strong impression as well, however as recently as 2012 neo-Gregorian composition for the Mass has made a surprise comeback, with a newly composed Introit and Communion for the recently-introduced Votive Mass for the New Evangelization:


    I am still very curious to know who the composer (centonizer?) is!
    Thanked by 1David Sullivan
  • geodor
    Posts: 1
    My comment is in reply to the original question by “rogue63":

    Why "divinity"? Isn't Christ already divine? Isn't he coequal and coeternal with Father and Holy Spirit?

    It is an excellant question which brings us directly to the mystery of the Incarnation. Certainly, the second person of the Holy Trinity is divine from all eternity. But “in the fulness of time” this second person “took flesh of the virgin Mary and became man”. When the “Word” entered history, he took upon himself a human nature. Unlike his Divine nature which is perfect from all eternity, the human nature of Christ was perfectable. In other words, Jesus, in his human nature, underwent physical, emotional and spiritual development. The “receiving” of Divinity applies to Christ’s human nature which was divinised as a result of his perfect obedience to the Father’s will. Christ’s humanity was divinised so as to lead us into the Divine life of the Trinity. This is what the Christology and Soteriology of the Church teach us.
    Thanked by 1bonniebede
  • Related question: any polyphonic settings of Dignus es Agnus out there? I found one last year, asked the composer for it, and he kindly sent it with the caveat that he wasn't really happy with it and it wasn't his best work, just rather 'necessary music'. I ended up not using it as we ended up not having Missa Cantata that day.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410

    I sent you a message.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,741
    Paul Ellison at San Francisco's Church of the Advent of Christ the King has written a very good one, and I suppose if one is in an EF environment another possibility would be a back-translation of Handel's Worthy is the Lamb (which we'll be singing in auf Englisch at St David's).