Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows

Today I ran across this wonderfully fresh translation of the hymn Stabat Mater. A notable number of scholars point to Jacapone da Todi as author, since two 14th century codices and the 1495 edition of the sequence attribute the hymn's authorship to him. The composition's general tone and sensitivity undeniably parallel that of da Todi's poems, yet strictly stylistic comparisons yield uncertain and even disputable results. Recent scholars L. Russo and M. Cassella aren't convinced by the arguments in favor of Jacopone's authorship. The Stabat Mater has two qualities that most scholars date from the 12th century: an intricate rhyme scheme and a regular meter (usually trochaic). The translation, done by Dr. Tom Barber in 2010, appears on:

His Mother Wept 

His mother wept. She stood 
beside the cross. Upon its wood 
hung the body of her Son.  

Her spirit moaned 
with sadness, pained 
and punctured. 

How grieved and lost, 
and yet how blessed, 
childless and alone 

In sadness, 
trembling, witness 
to His despair. 

Who would not ache 
to see such pain? 
Christ’s mother – 

Imagine any mother – 
the loss of any other 
mother’s love… 

She beheld his torment, 
Punishment – 
for us, for sins. There 

She stayed. She was there 
in that place where 
he gave his spirit up. 

Mother, source of love, 
join me when I grieve – 
mourn with me. 

Make my heart strong 
in love of Christ. I long 
to please. 

Holy Mother, help me understand 
the meaning of the wounds. 
Help me to believe 

All injuries, 
all penalties 
are His, for me. 

Let me ever share 
the weight you bear, 
the crucifixion. 

Let me also stand 
beside the cross, in 
witness to His passion. 

Woman among women, 
mother, also virgin, 
please be kind. 

Let me also know His death, 
hear with you his parting breath, 
healed, no longer blind. 

Scales lifted from my eyes, 
mind open, alive 
for His love’s sake. 

Spread light, sow love, 
Virgin, lift me up 
in my last days. 

Let the cross protect 
by faith, in life and death, 
with grace. 

And when my body dies 
grant me paradise! 
A new beginning, not an end. 


Amen forever, Amen.

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