This blog contains regular postings relating to the Traditional Latin Liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. It includes regular commentary on the saints days and the liturgical cycle, with brief background and extracts from the liturgy both in Latin and English. Much of the material has been extracted from the 'St Andrew's Daily Missal', Dom Gueranger's 'Liturgical Year', or similar sources.

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Friday 31 December 2010

Latina Vulgata: Latin Words - introduction

I was going to call it "Latin Word of the Day" but I quickly realised that I wouldn't be able to keep up that pace, so it's simply going to be called "Latin Words." Starting today is a series - hopefully posted regularly and frequently! - on the vocabulary of the Vulgate Bible. "Latina Vulgata" is "Vulgar Latin" - the language of the Vulgate.

In each posting, a word will be chosen that is used in the Vulgate New Testament, and its meaning and use will be explained. Examples of its use will also be given, mainly from the Vulgate New Testament. I will try to give three or four illustrations from the Bible of the use of the word cited, showing any differences of use where possible.

Although the words will be in alphabetical order, at least initially, there's no claim to be exhaustive. I'm simply picking words from the Dictionary that have caught my eye, a couple from each page, and am adding in the commentary. These commentaries assume some basic knowledge of Latin, and of the grammatical terms needed to explain their use.

The picture here is of St Jerome, labouring over the text of the Latin Vulgate. May his intercession bring blessings on these endeavours to make Church Latin more widely understood and used.

The dictionary I'm using to pick the words, by the way, is JM Harden's "Dictionary of the Vulgate New Testament" which also gives the references to many of the examples that I am using. I have added occasional extra references, and for this the online search facility provided by has proved very useful.

As back-up, I will refer to "A Latin Dictionary" by Lewis and Short, which is one of the standard big books in the study of classical Latin. Actually, for most ordinary purposes, I find my little Collins Gem Dictionary to be entirely satisfactory.

For the text of the Clementine Vulgate (i.e. the one used in the traditional liturgy), I recommend Although it doesn't show the English and Latin side by side, it is easy enough to switch between them. The English text is of the Douay-Rheims bible.

For a bilingual, side-by-side comparison of Vulgate Latin Bible with the Douay-Rheims, look at (though this isn't the Clementine Vulgate, I think, but the Stuttgart version - a critical edition produced by Biblical scholars. It's good; but it's not what most of us are used to from the liturgy, and the lack of punctuation makes it difficult to follow.)

For resources on learning Church Latin, is worth a visit.

Friday 24 December 2010

Latin of the Introits - Christmas - Puer Natus es nobis.

Today's introit is taken from the third mass of Christmas (during the day). The first part is taken from the Book of Isaias chapter 9. The second part is from the opening verse of Psalm 97.

Puer natus est nobis, et Filius datus est nobis; cujus imperium super humerum ejus: et vocabitur nomen ejus magni Consilii Angelus. * Cantate Domino canticum novum, quia mirabilia fecit. 
A Child is born unto us, and a Son is given to us; and  the government is upon his Shoulder: and his name shall be called the Angel of the great Counsel. * Sing to the Lord a new Canticle, for he hath done wonderful things.

Puer - A boy. The subject of the verb natus est.
natus est - He has been born. Nascor/nasci/natus is the verb - to be born. Here we have the perfect tense, indicating something that has happened in the past.
nobis - for us. Dative case, indicating something done for our benefit.

et - and
Filius - A son. Subject of the verb datus est.
datus est - he has been given. The verb is do/dare/dedi/datum - to give. This is the perfect passive, indicating something that happened in the past. It is passive because the subject has had something done to it - being given - rather than having done something.
nobis - for us. As above.

cujus - of whom/whose.
imperium - government/empire.
In English we would put the verb 'is' in this position. In Latin, it is often omitted, like it is here.
super - upon or above. Takes the the accusative here, since there is an indication of movement - the government is moving onto his shoulders.
humerum - shoulder/upper arm. Humerus is the noun. The changed ending indicates the accusative case, to follow super.
ejus - his.

et - and.
vocabitur - it will be called. voco/vocare/vocavi/vocatum - to call. The ending indicates future and passive voice - something that will happen in the future to the subject, his name.
nomen - name. Subject of the verb vocabitur.
ejus - his.
magni - of great. Magnus is great. The ending indicates the genitive case, to agree with Consilii, which it modifies.
Consilii - of Counsel. Consilium is counsel. The ending indicates the genitive case, for possession - of counsel.
Angelus - the Angel. This is nominative case. Strictly speaking, this isn't the object of the verb vocabitur, but its complement. See the grammatical note below.

Cantate - Sing! The imperative plural, indicating a command given to several people. The verb is canto/cantare/cantavi/cantatum - I sing.
Domino - to the Lord. Dative case of Dominus, the Lord.
canticum - a song. Accusative case, as the direct object of the verb cantate.
novum - new. Novus is new. The ending indicates accusative, to agree with the noun canticum which it modifies.

quia - for/since.
mirabilia - wonderful things. Mirabilis is wonderful. Here the ending indicates plurality - wonderful things. This is the direct object of the verb fecit.
fecit - he has done. The verb facio/facere/feci/factum means to do or to make. Here we have the perfect tense, indicating something that has been done.

Grammatical Notes

1. Complement of verbs.
Most verbs have a subject, which appears in the nominative case, and possibly a direct object, which appears in the accusative case.
Some verbs, called copulative verbs, join together two two expressions, both of which are in the nominative case. These verbs typically are expressing some sort of identity between the two expressions, and the most obvious is the verb 'to be' -

e.g. Johannes est prophetus magnus.
John is a great prophet.
Here, both Johannes (John) and prophetus magnus (great prophet) are in the nominative case.

Another verb that is copulative in the same way is vocari - to be called. This was seen in today's introit:
Vocabitur nomen ejus magni consilii angelus.
Two expressions - nomen ejus (his name) and magni consilii angelus (the angel of great counsel) - are joined together by the copulative verb vocabitur (it will be called), and both expressions are in the nominative case.

(Reference: Kennedy's Revised Latin Primer, s.185-189)

2. Prepositions.

Prepositions indicate the relation of a noun, adjective or pronoun to other words in the sentence. For example, in English: in, through, over, below.

super - above
sub - below
in - in or into
ad - towards
ex - out of
de - concerning

Latin prepositions govern either the accusative or ablative cases. This means that the noun following on from one of them is in the case that is governed by the preposition.

For example:

Ad governs the accusative.
Towards Rome is Ad Romam. Romam is in the accusative case, since it follows ad.

Ex governs the ablative.
Out of Rome is Ex Roma. Roma is in the ablative case, since it follows ex.
(Usually this would be E Roma rather than Ex Roma - ex becomes e before a consonant).

In, super, sub, and subter - these four prepositions can govern either the accusative or ablative. They govern the accusative if there is a sense of motion; the ablative if there is a sense of fixed state.

Into Rome is In Romam. Accusative.
In Rome (fixed location) is In Roma. Ablative.

(Reference: Kennedy's Revised Latin Primer, s.171-174)

Saturday 18 December 2010

Latin of the Introits - Advent 4 - Rorate Coeli!

The first half of today's introit is from the book of  Isaias chapter 45, and recurs often in the liturgy at this stage of Advent. The second half is from Psalm 18.

Rorate coeli desuper, et nubes pluant Justum: aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem. * Coeli enarrant gloriam Dei: et opera manuum ejus annuntiat firmamentum.
Drop down Dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour. * The heavens show forth the glory of God: and the firmament declareth the works of His hands.

Rorate - Drop down dew. The verb is roro/rorate/roravi/roratum (remember the four main parts of a verb - they enable us to work out the endings). Here we have the imperative mood, since a command or request is being made. The -ate ending indicates plural imperative - a command is being made to the heavens.
coeli - O Heavens! This is the vocative case, since the heavens are being addressed. Heaven is coelum. In classical Latin it is only found in the singular, but in later and Church Latin the plural coeli is often used for heavens, plural.
desuper - from above.

et - and
nubes - the clouds. Cloud is nubes. The plural, used here, is also nubes. This is the subject of the verb pluant.
pluant - May they rain down. Pluo/pluere/pluit is the verb to rain. The ending indicates a subjunctive verb here, since it indicates a wish. (The most common use of the verb is simply pluit - it is raining.)
Justum - The Just one. Justus is the adjective meaning just, but can also mean a just man, or the just man. The -um ending indicates accusative tense, since this is the direct object of the verb pluant.

aperiatur - May it be opened. Aperio/aperire/aperui/apertum is the verb to open. Here we have a passive subjunctive form - passive since something is happening to the subject terra, and subjunctive since it is expressing a wish.
terra - The earth. Subject of the verb aperiatur.

et - and
germinet - Another subjunctive, expressing a wish. The verb is germino/germinare/germinavi/germinatum - to germinate, to sprint up. The subject of this verb is terra, the earth.
Salvatorem - A saviour. Salvator is saviour; the -em ending indicates an accusative, as the direct object of the verb germinet.

Coeli - The heavens. Subject of the verb enarrant.
enarrant - They tell forth. The verb is enarro/enarrare/enarravi/enarratum - to tell forth. The -ant ending indicates plural, to go with coeli.
gloriam - the glory. Gloria is glory. The -am ending indicates accusative case, as direct object of the verb enarrant.
Dei - of God. Deus is God. Dei is the genitive case, indicating possession.

et - and
opera - The works. Opus is a work. Opera is plural. This is the direct of the verb annuntio.
manuum - of the hands. Manus is hand. Manuum is plural, genitive case, indicating possession.
ejus - his.
annuntiat - It declares. The verb is annuntio/annuntiare/annuntiavi/annuntiatum - I declare.
firmamentum - The firmament. This is the subject of the verb annuntiat. The word order is a bit odd - you wouldn't usually expect the subject of a verb to come at the end of a sentence. When it does, it usually gives an emphasis to the word that is in the unusual position. Otherwise, it can be done for poetic effect, because it sounds good;  that, I think, is why it is done here.

Grammatical Note - Verbs of the First Declension.

Regular Latin verbs - those that follow a rule - follow one of four standard patterns in their endings. These are called the four declensions. The first declension is verbs with an -a- in their standard endings.

For example:
enarro/enarrare/enarravi/enarratum - I tell forth
roro/rorate/roravi/roratum - I drop down dew
germino/germinare/germinavi/germinatum - I spring forth/germinate
annuntio/annuntiare/annuntiavi/annuntiatum - I announce
amo/amare/amavi/amatum - I love.

Notice that all of these have -are/-avi/-atum in their standard endings in the dictionary. These all have the vowel -a- featuring prominently. They are said to have -a- stems.

Using amo as an example of how the endings work.

Present tense

Amo - I love
Amas - You love (singular)
Amat - He/she/it loves
Amamus - We love
Amatis - You love (plural)
Amant - They love

(Generations of schoolchildren have learned to chant this pattern off by heart: Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant. Why not join a great tradition, and join them by learning it?)

Present tense, subjunctive

Amem - I may love
Ames - You may love (singular)
Amet - He/she/it may love
Amemus - We may love
Ametis - You may love (plural)
Ament - They may love

Future tense

Amabo - I will love
Amabis - You will love (singular)
Amabit - He/she/it will love
Amabimus - We will love
Amabitis - You will love (plural)
Amabunt - They will love

Perfect tense (simple past)

Amavi - I loved
Amavisti- You loved (singular)
Amavit - He/she/it loved
Amavimus - We loved
Amavistis - You loved (plural)
Amaverunt - They loved

I could go on, but that should give you an idea of the sorts of patterns that these verbs follow. If you want a full and proper grasp of Latin, at some point you will need to get hold of a Latin textbook or grammar book and master the ends of the verbs. Since Latin is an inflected language, it is largely in the changing endings that the meaning of the sentence is made clear. It's all very logical, but takes some time for a beginner to get his head round it all.

Saturday 11 December 2010

The Latin of the Introits, Advent 3 - Gaudete!

The first half of today's introit is from St Paul's letter to the Philippians, chapter 4, and the second half is from Psalm 84. Because of the first word, the third Sunday of Advent is called also Gaudete Sunday.

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum. * Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.

Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in every prayer let your petitions be made known to God. * O Lord thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob.

Gaudete - rejoice! Gaudeo is I rejoice. The  -ete ending here indicates the imperative of the verb, for a command or exhortation addressed to more than one person.
in - in. Followed by a noun or preposition in the ablative case, when it indicates position or state (rather than motion).
Domino - the Lord. Dominus is Lord. The ending indicates ablative case, to follow the preposition in.
semper - ever/always.
iterum - again.
dico - I say. Present tense.
gaudete - rejoice! As above.

Modestia - Modesty. This is the subject of the verb nota sit.
vestra - your (plural). Ending agrees with modestia, which it qualifies.
nota sit - Let it be known. Nosco is I know, or become acquainted with. The form of the verb here is the passive subjunctive. Subjunctive because it is a wish or desire; passive because something is being done to the subject modestia.
omnibus - to all. Omnis is all. The ending is adjusted to go with hominibus, which it qualifies.
hominibus - to men/people. Homo is man/person. Here the ending indicates plural, and dative case. Dative since we have an indirect object of the verb nota sit - those to whom something is being made known.

Dominus - The Lord. Subject of the verb est.
enim - for or in fact.
prope - nearby, or at hand.
est - is.

Nihil - nothing.
solliciti - solicitous, troubled, disturbed, agitated. The ending indicates plural.
sitis - may you (plural) be. This is a subjunctive, expressing a wish or desire.
sed - but
in - In. As above.
omni - all. The ending has been modified to go with oratione, which it qualifies.
oratione - prayer. Prayer is oratio. The ending has been modified to show that this is the ablative case, since it follows in.
petitiones - petitions. Petition would be petitio. Here we have the plural. This is the subject of the verb innotescant.
vestrae - your (plural). End modified to go with petitiones, which it qualifies.
innotescant -  may they become known. Innotesco is the verb. The ending -ant indicates that this is a subjunctive, expressing a wish.
apud - at, near, by or with. This preposition is followed by a noun or pronoun in the accusative case.
Deum - God. The ending indicates accusative case, since it follows apud.

Benedixisti - you/thou have blessed. The verb is benedico. The ending indicates that this is the past tense.
Domine - O Lord. Vocative case is indicated by the -e ending, since the Lord is being addressed directly.
terram - the land. Land is terra. The ending is modified to the accusative tense, since this is the direct object of the verb benedixisti.
tuam - your/thy (singular). The ending has been modified to go with terram, which it qualifies.

avertisti - you have turned away. Averto is the verb. The ending indicates past tense.
captivitatem - the captivity. Captivity is captivitas. The ending shows accusative tense, since this is the direct object of the verb avertisti.
Jacob - of Jacob. No inflected ending to indicate possession, since this is a foreign word which has been adopted into the Latin.

Grammatical Notes

1. If you look up the verb nosco in a Latin dictionary - I recommend Collins Gem dictionary as a good, compact, pocket dictionary, by the way - then you will see that three forms of the verb are given: nosco, novi, notum (3). This information is required in order to work out how the form of the verb should be modified in its various different tenses, moods, and voices.

Nosco - this is the present indicative. It simply means 'I know'., or 'I become acquainted with'. From this, a number of other forms of the verb are derived, including the future tense.

Novi - this is the simple past tense, which is also called the perfect tense (perfect means completed, in this situation). It means, I have known, or I knew. From this, a number of other forms of the verb are derived, especially those relating to actions completed in the past.

Notum - This is a passive participle. One of its uses is to form a number of passive parts of the verb. For example, notus sum is the perfect passive - I have known.

The (3) in brackets indicates that the endings of this verb follow what is called the third conjugation. Endings of Latin verbs - the regular ones, that is, those that follow the rules - follow one of four patterns, called conjugations.

2. One example of an irregular verb is the commonly used one meaning 'to be'. It denotes existence, and is also used as part of other verbs.

Present tense
sum - I am
es - You/thou are
est - He/she/it is
sumus - we are
estis - you are (plural)
sunt - they are

Present subjunctive
sim - I may be
sis - You/thou may be
sit - He may be
simus - We may be
sitis - You may be (plural)
sint - They may be

Christianus sum - I am a Christian.
Angeli sunt - They are angels.
Anathema sint - Let them be anathema (excommunicated).
Dominus sit in corde tuo - may the Lord be in your heart.

Sunday 5 December 2010

The Latin of the Introits, Advent 2 - Populus Sion

The Introit of today's mass is taken from the Prophet Isaias, with a verse from psalm 79.

Populus Sion, ecce Dominus veniet ad salvandas gentes: et auditam faciet Dominus gloriam vocis suae in laetitia cordis vestri. Ps. Qui regis Israel intende: qui deducis velut ovem, Joseph.

People of Sion, behold the Lord will come to save the Gentiles: and the Lord will make the glory of his voice heard to the joy of your hearts. Ps. Give ear, O thou that rulest Israel: thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.
(Isaias 30:30 and Psalm 79:2 from the Introit of Mass)

Populus - People.
Sion - of Sion. Should be genitive case, indicating possession, but since Sion is a word of non-Latin origin its ending does not change.
ecce - behold! look!

Dominus - the Lord.
veniet - he will come. Venio is I come. Here the verb is in the future tense.
ad - unto. The noun or pronoun following it will take the accusative tense.
salvandas - 'the saving of'. This is a gerundive - a verbal adjective - see grammatical note below! Salvo is I save; the ending -andas indicates a gerundive in the accusative case, agreeing with gentes which it qualifies.
gentes - the peoples. Gens is people. Here Gentes is plural and in the accusative case, following ad.

et - and
auditam - 'heard'. This is a 'perfect passive participle.' It has the sense of 'having been heard.'
faciet  - he will make. Facio is I make. Faciet is future tense.
Dominus - the Lord. Subject of the verb faciet.
gloriam - the glory. Gloria is glory. Gloriam is accusative case, as direct object of the verb faciet.
vocis - of the voice. Vox his voice. Vocis is genitive case, indicating possession.
suae - his. The ending changes to go with vocis, which it qualifies.
in - in. Followed by the ablative case when it indicates state or location.
laetitia - the joy. Ablative case, to follow in.
cordis - of the heart. Cor is heart. Cordis is genitive case, indicating possession.
vestri - your (plural). The ending indicates genitive case, going with cordis, which it qualifies.

Qui - Who. Relative pronoun. This makes the subject of the verb 'you who' rule.
regis - You rule. Rego is I rule. Regis is you rule (singular).
Israel - Israel. Another non-Latin word whose ending doesn't change here. It should be accusative case, as direct object of the verb regis.
intende - Give ear. Imperative form of the verb.

qui - Who. A relative pronoun.
deducis - you lead. Deduco is I lead. Deducis is you lead (singular).
velut -  like.
ovem - a sheep. Ovis is a sheep. Accusative tense, to go with Joseph, as direct object of the verb deducis.
Joseph - Joseph. Another non-Latin word that doesn't change its ending. Direct object of the verb deducis.

Grammatical Note - The Gerundive

'ad salvandas gentes' - In order to save the peoples.

Salvandas is a gerundive. A gerundive is a verbal adjective - so it is used to qualify nouns as if it were an adjective. It has a passive sense, and expresses something that must or ought to be done. Salvandas means literally something like 'which is to be saved'. So the phrase means literally ' to the peoples which is to be saved' - more colloquially, 'in order to save the people.'

This is quite a common construction. Another example is:
Ad pacem petendam - in order to seek peace.
Ad - towards. Followed by accusative.
Pacem - peace. Pax is peace. Pacem is its accusative, to follow ad.
Petendam - this is the gerundive of peto, I seek, and has the sense of fitting or ought to be sought. The ending -am indicates agreement with the noun pacem.

Gerundives can be recognized since the end with -andus, -endus, -iendus - although the precise ending -us might be changed to agree with whatever noun has been qualified. So it might be -endam (as in petendam) or -andas (as in salvandas).

Amandus - fitting or ought to be loved. (Feminine form amanda, as in the name).
Monendus - fitting our ought to be warned or advised.
Regendus - fitting or ought to be ruled.
Audiendus - fitting or ought to be heard.