Vox nostra te, Dómine, humíliter deprecétur

Vox nostra te, Dómine, humíliter deprecétur, ut, domínicæ resurrectiónis hac die mystério celebráto, in pace tua secúri a malis ómnibus quiescámus, et in tua resurgámus laude gaudéntes. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen. Lord, may our voice humbly entreat you, so that, the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection having been celebrated this day, we may rest in your peace, safe from all evils, and rise again rejoicing in your praise. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 12.17.25 AMAs the saying goes, Repetitio mater est studiorum / Repetition is the mother of learning. We must not let lengthy prayers intimidate, but be patient and persevere. To pray this collect with understanding, there are but a few terms to learn, which can be accomplished with a handful of flashcards and a few dedicated minutes of repetition over several afternoons. The real key is repeatedly to recite the prayer aloud, perhaps five or ten times, considering the meaning and grammar of each word, and then to write out your own translation.

Essentially this collect, which is offered after Sunday Night Prayer II and also on solemnities, has four parts. Let us take them in order.

(Reordering the words a bit) Domine, vox nostra humiliter deprecetur te = Lord, (may) our voice humbly entreat you. Deprecor,ari is to entreat, to pray, to beg. We place ourselves in a position of submission before God, knowing that His power can save us, and trusting that His benevolence wills to do so. We take an attitude of humility (humiliter / humbly) because we do not presume upon His gifts but ask, plead, implore.

The rest of the prayer is a purpose clause, with a beautiful ablative absolute nested within. Let’s cut out the ablative absolute and examine it:

dominicae resurrectionis hac die mysterio celebrato = the mystery of the Lord’s resurrection having been celebrated today. From thelatinlibrary.com, we read about ablative absolutes: “The ablatives of a participle and a noun (or pronoun) are used to form a substitute for a subordinate clause defining the circumstances or situation in which the action of the main verb occurs. The ablatives are only loosely connected grammatically to the remainder of the sentence, hence its name absolute (absolütus = free or unconnected).” By means of this ablative absolute, the Sunday celebration of the Lord’s resurrection is given as the background context for the rest of the prayer. At morning mass we worshiped the Risen Lord. Now may we sleep, an image of death, in the hope of rising again in the morning, an allusion also to the bodily resurrection on the last day. We need more ablative absolutes in English: Santa put the presents under the tree, the children having gone to bed.

The word dominica,ae can mean both Sunday and of or belonging to the master, the Lord, and thus, the Lord’s. In fact the word dominica refers to Sunday only because it is the Lord’s (dominica). At least in ecclesiastical Latin, weekdays are referred to simply by their number: feria (weekday) II, III, IV, V, VI = Monday through Friday.

ut quiescamus in pace tua = so that we may rest in your peace. Similar words are used in the Church’s traditional prayer for the dead, which has given rise to the ubiquitous tombstone engraving, RIP or Requiescat in pace / may he/she rest in peace, the deceased person having died in the grace of God.

securi a malis omnibus = safe from all evils. Securi is from securus,a,um, safe, which describes the unstated subject of our purpose clause, the unstated subject being nos, we.

et in tua resurgamus laude gaudentes = and rise again rejoicing in your praise. Latin prettily plays with word order. To put this strictly into English, preserving the word order, and adding emphasis for clarity, it would be: “So that we may, in your, rise again, praise, rejoicing.” Unmanageable, but it conveys the sense of what the Latin is able to accomplish, Latin being generally more capable and flexible than English.

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