Move over, Spring-Summer-Winter-Fall: Christmastide and Eastertide are the two great seasons of our year, which we call the “liturgical year.” (Our other year, the “civil calendar”, set according to astronomy and old convention, is shared in common with everyone.) At the forty-day mark after Easter, we passed through Ascension Thursday (it’s always a Thursday) and are quickly approaching Pentecost.
The civil seasons and the liturgical seasons can be regarded alongside each other, making Lent and Eastertide correspond to late Winter and Spring. And Advent and Christmastide correspond to Fall and early Winter. That doesn’t cover the whole civil year, which is why Christian tradition defines “ordinary time” as everything left when all the days surrounding Easter and Christmas have been removed. So we are about to exit Eastertide, into ordinary time, on Pentecost (meaning “The Fiftieth”) which is next Sunday.
(By the way, a visit to etymonline.com reveals that the word “ordinary” comes from Latin, meaning “ordered” or “regulated”, as well as “customary” or “regular”. The sense of the word “ordinary” as meaning “commonplace” or “unremarkable” is a later add-on.)
As the Divine Office connects earthly time to eternity, it contains a wealth of prayers and hymns specifically for Eastertide, proclaiming and reveling in the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the outpouring of the Spirit.
A very catchy hymn we have been singing throughout Eastertide has the bland name O filii et filiae, meaning “O sons and daughters”. Written 500 years ago by a Franciscan monk (and surely a good companion at Easter parties), it comes equipped with a remarkably generous quantity of Alleluias, telling the Easter story in many triplets of rhyming verse. You can find our version of it online here:
In the spirit of adding excess to excess (a legitimate move when Christian joy is concerned) we have ventured to add a few more verses of our own, telling the Easter story from the Emmaus road, to the catch of 153 fishes, and all the way out to the Ascension. We did this in order to help the Augustine Institute add some more music to their presentation of the Via Lucis (http://vialucis.org/index.php/en) in their Amen application (https://amenapp.org). Basically, where the original Francisan hymn didn’t cover one of fourteen the Via Lucis stations, we added a verse.
And now, since Jesus departed forty days after Easter, and sent the Spirit ten days later at Pentecost, we are currently in the middle of a short span of days where we can celebrate the Ascension fully. The Liturgy gives us lovely hymn for this short span, composed a thousand years ago in Latin, called Optatus votis omnium, which in vivid terms describes Christ’s victorious ascent to heaven to claim His throne and send the Spirit. Here is a literal translation of it which we are using for Sing the Hours.
Optátus votis ómnium sacrátus illúxit dies, quo Christus, mundi spes, Deus, conscéndit cælos árduos. Desired devoutly above all, The sacred day begins to dawn, When Christ, the world’s hope, and its God, Ascends the heavens high and steep. Magni triúmphum prœlii, mundi perémpto príncipe, Patris præséntans vúltibus victrícis carnis glóriam, In triumph great of battle won From this world’s ruined fallen prince, He holds up to the Father’s gaze, The glory of his conqu’ring flesh. In nube fertur lúcida et spem facit credéntibus, iam paradísum réserans quem protoplásti cláuserant. He in the shining cloud is borne, Appointing hope to faithful ones, Disclosing now the Paradise That, when first-formed, was fast enclosed. O grande cunctis gáudium, quod partus nostræ Vírginis, post sputa, flagra, post crucem patérnæ sedi iúngitur. Together we enlarge our joy That born from virgin of our race, Past spitting, flogging, past the cross, His old paternal seat he takes. Agámus ergo grátias nostræ salútis víndici, nostrum quod corpus véxerit sublím[e] ad cæli régiam. To him, thus, we would render thanks, To our salvation’s guardian, For he our body will transport To highest heaven’s royal court. Sit nobis cum cæléstibus commúne manens gáudium: illis, quod semet óbtulit, nobis, quod se non ábstulit. May there with us, and heaven’s host, Be common and abiding joy: To them, in their self-offering, To us, on his arm anchoring. Nunc, Christe, scandens áethera ad te cor nostrum súbleva, tuum Patrísque Spíritum emíttens nobis cáelitus. O Christ, who climbs the upper sky, Let now our heart to you be raised, And to your Father’s Spirit, who Rushes to us from heaven high. Amen.
translations copyright ©2022 John R. Rose under CC BY-SA 4.0
For more information, see http://rosehome.org/music/optatus-votis-omnium-expository.pdf and http://rosehome.org/music/optatus-votis-omnium-music.pdf