Those who had been entrapped by evil prayed for salvation, through confession, repentance and absolution. The fervour of their prayers was reinforced by their awareness of the imminence and unpredictability of death. It might come at the hands of their enemies or inadvertently - through famine, epidemics, the hazards of childbirth, the perils of travel. They sought, therefore, time in which to prepare themselves; they prayed that they might not encounter sudden death. Weak and vulnerable, fearful and uncertain, the laity found solace in the veneration of individual saints who would protect them and intercede for them with God.
But it was the suffering of the crucified son of God that they identified most strongly; and from the love and compassion of his mother that they drew the greatest comfort. Their prayers and hymns to Christ and to the Virgin Mary are, as a result, the most affective texts in the entire manuscript. Description and analysis Miscellaneous devotions.
The four prayers are mainly protective in nature.
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The introductions to Deus propicius esto and Domine deus omnipotens pater describe their particular properties and recommend when and how they should be recited. Deus propicius esto is attributed to St Augustine. Commemorations of the saints. Detail from folio 18v. The 22 prayers and 12 hymns are arranged in groups, each one associated with an angel or a saint. Most of the groups contain one hymn or more addressed to the angel or the saint, celebrating their virtues as exemplified in their acts.
These are linked to one prayer or more, asking that we may benefit spiritually through their merits or their intercession , or through our veneration of their names. Prayers of and to St Bridget. Detail from folio 28r. Of the 13 prayers, 10 were composed by, or revealed to St Bridget. Among the rest, O Mater benedicta, is addressed to her by another woman. St Bridget's prayers to God concern her own spiritual progress; her prayers to Christ refer to his incarnation and passion, and foreshadow the prayers attributed to her, known as The Fifteen Os, which appear elsewhere in the manuscript.
The prayers addressed to St Bridget ask for her intercession. Salutations to the Holy Trinity Four prayers, beginning Ave, salute the Holy Trinity and ask for absolution from sin and eternal life. A fifth asks for guidance and protection against evil spirits. Miscellaneous prayers, mainly to Jesus Christ Among the 47 prayers and 5 hymns, some are simple offerings of praise eg Salve Ihesu rex. The majority, however, combine praise, confession, repentance and petition in a number of conventional formats eg Gracias ago tibi pater and Omnipotens deus et. Some of these have particular emphases: on the principal events of Christ's life and sufferings eg Deus qui voluisti ; on the oneness of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit eg Domine deus eterne ; on the cross eg Queso omnipotens Ihesu ; and on the redemptive significance of the sacrament eg In presencia corporis.
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Several use quotations and incidents from the bible to justify or illustrate their text eg Domine exaudi oracionem, which uses both. Others invoke God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, by a variety of alternative names eg Domine Ihesu Christi fili dei vivi miserere, which lists 30 ; prayers of a similar kind appear elsewhere in the manuscript Miscellaneous prayers and invocations.
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Some prayers and hymns are described in more detail. Aspice ad me is to be said kneeling before the cross; Perfunde me queso is for use at Prime; Omnipotens et misericors deus qui was said daily before mass; while Ihesus Nazarenus rex, has a special property if said daily. Omnipotens et misericors deus qui and Clementissime domine Ihesu are attributed them to St Augustine; the author of Ante conspectum divine describes himself as a sinful priest; Omnipotens deus te is one of three offered on behalf of a married man and his wife; while Adoro te domine is offered by a woman.
Detail from folio 61r. These are all addressed to Christ and begin with the word 'O' - hence their sobriquet. Each invokes a feature of Christ's passion and interprets it in terms of the spiritual needs of the author, said to be St Bridget.
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The introduction recounts how they were revealed to her and describes their properties in mitigating the punishment of the sinful and the damned. For the nature and significance of this popular collection, see SA, pp Miscellaneous prayers and invocations Four of the five prayers contain incantations, invoking God by alternative names in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. They are preceded by introductions, two of them to Adonay, Flos, Sabaoth and Messyas, Sother, Emanuel in French, which describe the efficacy of the incantations when carried on the person, against sickness, fever, plague and the hazards of childbirth, weapons, fire and water, evil spirits, and sudden death without confession.
For the nature and use of prayers containing incantations, see SA, pp Devotions to the cross and passion of Jesus Christ. Detail from folio 70r. The 15 prayers and 13 hymns invoke the redemptive nature of Christ's passion eg Adoramus te Christe and O crux gloriosa and describe his suffering on the cross.
They itemise the events of the passion and crucifixion eg Deprecor te piissime domine, which vividly depicts Christ's agony ; they refer specifically and graphically to Christ's wounds, comparing the flow of his blood to the great rivers of the world eg Salve plaga lateris nostri redemptoris and the series beginning with Ad vulnus dextre manus ; and they quote and interpret Christ's 'seven words' eg Domine Ihesu Christe qui septem. In addition, they refer to the symbols of the crucifixion, notably the sign of the cross and the protection it offers eg Per gloriam et and the nine icons or 'arms' of the passion eg Cruci corone spinee , seeking spiritual benefit for those who venerate them eg Concede quesumus omnipotens deus ut qui.
Finally, they invoke the Virgin and the Evangelist as witnesses of Christ's suffering O Maria plasma nati and Iohannes evvangelista and recount how Christ returned to St Veronica the cloth imprinted with the image of his face Salve sancta facies. These prayers and hymns are followed by an abridged narrative of the passion, based mainly on St John's Gospel.
Adoramus te Christe is followed by five psalms intercalated with the sequence Pater noster and Ave Maria and, on the last occasion, Credo; Ave Ihesu Christe is intercalated with the sequence Pater noster and Ave Maria; and the hymn and prayer invoking the image on the cloth of St Veronica are linked by a single psalm.
The introduction to Sancte crucis tue contains instructions for making the sign of the cross; the prayer Domine Ihesu Christe qui septem, when said daily with great devotion, is said to have special properties, notably that of procuring a vision of the Virgin. The introduction to Domine Ihesu Christe qui septem attributes it to St Bede; that of Sancte crucis tue associates it with St Edmund; while Ave Ihesu Christe is prefaced with a legend, telling how Christ gave the words to an unnamed priest.
For the pre-eminence of devotions to the passion in the fifteenth century, notably the narrative, the cult of the wounds, the 'arms' of the passion and the seven words, see SA, pp , Devotions to the body of Christ and the sacrament Of the 12 prayers and 4 hymns, most are designed for private use at the elevation of the Host. The reader is encouraged that all it takes is one thought, pen in hand, and the desire to grow in their journey of faith.
I sat down with it this evening and was truly mesmerized by your research and the way in which you were able to convey almost as though you knew each author personally! In short, I loved it.
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Not only is it an inspiring piece of church history, but also an inspirational work of art. Lucy Neeley Adams writes in a refreshing style, leaving the reader inspired and ready to sing old hymns with renewed enthusiasm! I will never again sing a hymn in Church without thinking of Lucy Neeley Adams and desiring to know more about the song that I am singing. Austin, Texas "Looking for that spark to help you with the devotion that just doesn't come to you?
Want something that is just what you need in your own devotional life? This past Christmas I received Lucy's book as a gift. Fifty-two devotions I planned to read one a week, and it would last all year!
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That plan didn't work. Each story made me want to read the next, and the next. But it will still last all year, for one wants to go back and read each story again and again. Lucy chose and carefully researched favorite old hymns and wrote wonderful stories about the, their origins, and their composers. She wove into these devotions personal thoughts that reflect her own faith journey. She included a scripture verse, a stanza of the hymn, and a prayer to help in one's personal meditation.
I highly recommend this book. As the title of the book suggest, 52 hymns are featured in its pages. The stories, well told and informative, help you better understand how the hymn came to be. As the title also suggests, the book provides more than just background on the hymns and is a devotional resource. One way this is accomplished is the inclusion of Lucy's life and witness.