Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tasting of His roseate blood

Br. Stephen of the Cistercian abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank gives us the Easter Vespers hymn Ad cenam Agni providi and John Mason Neale's English translation of it. In particular, Br Stephen delights in Neale's use of roseate to describe Christ's blood. Neale himself, in his Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences, tells why he chose the word roseate, which is often changed to crimson in other editions of his hymn:

Again, in the same Hymn:---
Cruore ejus roseo

is translated by
And tasting of His roseate Blood.

The epithet is everywhere altered to crimson: because the editors did not see its force. The poet would tell us that, though one drop of our Lord's Blood was sufficient to redeem the world,

(Cujus una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere,

as St. Thomas says,) yet out of the greatness of His love to us He would shed all. As every one knows, the last dainings of life-blood are not crimson, but of a far paler hue: strictly speaking, roseate. Change the word, and you eliminate the whole idea.

No comments:

Post a Comment