Lentini books on hymn reform
  • Hi all,

    Does anyone know if the books of Anselmo Lentini that discuss the XXc reform of the hymns in the Divine Office are still in print?

    I know of:

    1968 - Hymni instaurandi breviarii Romani

    1984 - Te decet hymnus: l’innario della “Liturgia horarum”

    abebooks.com turned up nothing. With paxbook.com being down :(, I wonder if resources like this will be that much harder to procure.

  • Both are long out of print, so that dismal paxbook site would not have helped anyway. These two have become rarer than the proverbial hen's teeth. I still have my copy of the Hymni instaurandi but I've had no success in locating a replacement for my long lost copy of Te decet hymnus. Vatican items that are in print - and occasionally, a few copies of some items that are not - can be found in certain online Italian book shops.
    Thanked by 2Ben_Whitworth tomjaw
  • mrcoppermrcopper
    Posts: 653
    I did a quick search just now on alibris.com (similar to Abe books) and got this helpful correction to my search terms:

    Did you mean Vodka, Tears and Lenin's Angel: My Adventures in the Wild and Wooly Fsu (Former Soviet Union) by Jennifer Gould?
  • It's possible to register a "want" with abebooks.com, so that you get an email notifying you when your desired book becomes available. That's how I got my copy of Hymni instaurandi. Te decet hymnus does appear to be even rarer. I see that Dom Patrick Hala OSB has published a commentary (in French) on the hymns of the Liber Hymnarius. I wonder whether this would contain information about the revision of the hymnale.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,731
    I do not have the books (my interest in liturgy is pre 1962 perhaps pre-1933!) But I do have a commentary... This remains copyright of the author who will for the time being remain Anonymous!
    Part 1.
    We are better informed about what was done, and why, in repairing and extending the hymns for the renewed/revised Litugia Horarum than for virtually any other aspect of the post-V2 reforms (except perhaps for the Sanctorale of the Calendar, whose reform was accompanied by a fairly full and remarkably well-reasoned commentary). This was because Dom Anselmo Lentini, who was leader of the Coetus involved (I wonder sometimes if he was the only active member) published two volumes about it.

    Initially he issued "Hymni instaurandi breviarii romani" in 1968, with Latin commentary. This was a series of provisional texts for 296 hymns, and users (in monasteries? cathedrals? one wonders where else) were invited to submit comments. These were then considered, and the next stage was the publication of definitive texts in the volumes of the Liturgia Horarum; many more hymns by Lentini were incorporated at this stage to replace texts which had been thought inadequate or unsatisfactory; other changes included restorations - thus Lentini in 1968 had omitted the 3 hymns for the Guardian Angels - though bits were used on 29 Sept - since the calendar then envisaged had suppressed the feast of 2 Oct, but Bd Paul VI objected so the feast and the hymns were restored.

    Finally in 1984 Lentini published a volume "Te decet hymnus" on the hymns in the Lit Hor. This volume is in a very similar format to the 1968 volume, but the commentary is in Italian and the texts are updated. This has 291 items, 57 of which (on my reckoning) were not in the 1968 proposals. Lentini claimed authorship of 42 of these 291 ourtright (though of course his was the hand behind many other small alterations elsewhere - he was particularly concerned to improve the doxologies - he didn't for example like a Trinitarian doxology if a hymn was addressed to Christ alone, etc. - and to remove inappropriate references as he saw them - e.g. in the Te lucis ante terminum he removed the entire 2nd stanza because of "ne polluantur corpora" where he complained of its "crudezza", and substituted 2 verses from another ancient compline hymn [Christe, precamur annue]). He actually listed 43, not 42, as his own, but one is by Prudentius, a slip, I think.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen DCM
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,731
    Part 2
    The figures for the number of items can be misleading, as a some hymns are divided (the Dies irae appears divided into three for the last week of the liturgical year, believed to have been the period for which it was originally written; the Pange lingua gloriosi praelium certaminis is divided into two; the A solis ortus cardine and the Hostis Herodes impie for Christmas and Epiphany are parts of the same hymn by Sedulius, etc.)

    For comparison, the 1568 breviary had (according to Lentini, 1984, xxix) about 90 hymns; by around Pius X's time there were about 150. Joseph Connolly's Hymns of the Roman Liturgy (1957) has 154 items. Of course many others had come and gone in the intervening period. 19th-century breviaries have a good number of feasts which later disappeared, many of which had proper hymns. And that, of course, is without even considering the neo-gallican liturgies.

    One item that was in the Tridentine breviary (for Lent) but which had disappeared apparently thanks to Urban VIII (an accident?) was Ad preces nostras deitatis aures (or Aures ad nostras deitatis preces). It was restored by Lentini in two parts for the (daytime) Office of Reading in weeks 2 and 4 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

    Of the 42 Lentini hymns in the Lit Horarum and the 1984 volume, 31 had not been in the 1968 volume. It looks as if Lentini frequently took the opportunity, where people complained about items in the 1968 version, to include more of his own work. One notable change from 1968 was his hymns for individual Apostles. In the 1968 book he had not actually claimed authorship of any items - his own were just described as anonymous. He also added his own compositions for the Office of the Dead, which had not been thought to be required in 1968. His hymns include O virgo mater, filia, and Quae caritatis fulgidum which are a remarkable Latin version of Dante, Paradiso, 33.1-21 - apparently Paul VI particularly praised these. I don't think he adopted any other Latin renderings of a vernacular text.

    There is also a volume published by Solesmes in 1983 - the Liber Hymnarius. This gives the same hymns, along with the best-researched versions of the melodies (mostly much as in the 1934 Antiphonale Monasticum, rather than in the last editions of the Liber Usualis, which unfortunately were still following Solesmes' earlier efforts in the Antiphonale Romanum of 1912). For the Monastic Supplement in the 1983 volume a further 60 hymns are included, many from earlier OSB antiphoners, especially those for the Gallic Congregation.

    Lentini was a very fine Latin poet - born I think in 1902, early enough to get a decent classical Latin training. He clearly had a profound and spiritual sense of Latin hymnography, and lived early enough to have spent much of his monastic life singing the office. But it is arguably unfortunate that so many of his own efforts were included - far more than those of any other writer (though 152 items in the 1984 book are anonymous) - thus Ambrose has 8 items, Bede has 2 or 3, Leo XIII likewise, Peter Damian has 9, Prudentius has 10 (all selected from much longer texts of his). Other relatively modern writers do get a look in. D'Anversa (died 1968) has 2, Genovesi (d 1967) has 5, Piacenza (d 1919) has 2, and Verghetti (d 1945) has 1 (Beata caeli gaudia, where each stanza begins with the next letter of the author's Christian name, Blasius - rather absurd really).

    I think I'm right in saying that all the authors whose texts were adopted and who lived after the 16th century were Italian - was Lentini prejudiced? Certainly there is no trace of any of the neo-gallican hymns (of Santeuil, Coffin etc). So no "Iordanis oris praevia"/On Jordan's banks the Baptist sings. Strangely, that's a policy rather different from that pursued by the 1970 Missale Romanum, which has pillaged a good number of collects, prefaces etc. from the neo-gallican books.

    It is obviously possible to criticize the extent - or indeed the lack of it - of the restoration of the ancient pre-Urban VIII texts. Vat II (SC 93) asked for it to be done "quantum expedire videtur", mythology was to be removed (so, out with Olympus, Avernus etc - though Tartarus survives in the Requiem, but Lentini didn't deal with that - personally I'd have let the words stand as poetic, rather than mythological, expressions for Heaven and Hell). Legendary material was removed - thus St Agnes now got the hymn Igne divini radians amoris by Alfano di Salerno (died 1085), but 5 of the 10 stanzas were dropped for their legendary material. Other confusions were also avoided. Thus Lentini produced two new hymns for Mary Magdalen, because nearly all medieval hymns for her tie themselves in knots by identifying her with the anonymous woman in Luke c. 7 and/or with Mary the sister of Martha.

    SC 93 also said that other items from the "treasure" were to be accepted "pro opportunitate" - but interestingly there was no reference to writing new hymns!

    One criticism I would have for some of the hymns taken from the early "treasure" is that there is often no real evidence, or likelihood, that they were ever actually used in a liturgical context outside perhaps very limited areas - they just didn't catch on. I don't know if Bede's hymns were ever sung even in his own monastery.

    Nearly everywhere the restoration of the ancient texts is a benefit. Just take the Veni Creator - the 2nd line now read "donum Dei altissimi" as in the original. Urban VIII's people had objected to the hiatus. But their version - Altissimi donum Dei - produces when sung wrong accentuation on the first word. And the unsingable "digitus paternae dexterae" was replaced with the original "dextrae Dei tu digitus" (Urban's people had objected to this because the 1st syllable of digitus is short, not long). Sometimes Lentini modified the original to his own taste. Thus, he replaced the odd phraseology of the Easter hymn "Ad regias Agni dapes" with its original "Ad cenam Agni providi", but then altered various lines. Lines 7-8 were "cruore eius roseo gustando vivimus Deo" - but he wrote "sed et cruorem roseum gustando, Deo vivimus" - but I can't see that this was an improvement.
  • DCM
    Posts: 70
    Felt I should bump this ancient thread just to let anyone interested know that Lentini's Hymni instaurandi is on the Internet Archive. I've been spending a few weeks painstakingly using Google and Wiktionary to translate some of the footnotes, and it's been quite fun.

    Te decet hymnus is not online, and is so rare it seems almost a cryptid. There are a handful of copies in academic and seminary libraries on this continent (UCLA, UW-Madison). As the longest of long shots, I asked my library to try and secure an inter-library loan for one of these. If successful, I'll see if it's possible to go about scanning it.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CHGiffen
  • joerg
    Posts: 137
    Here's a scan of Te decet hymnus.
  • DCM
    Posts: 70
    Holy cow, thank you Joerg!!!
  • DCM
    Posts: 70
    And here is a searchable version someone OCR'd for me.