Sunday, 2 June 2013

Latin Prayer of the Week: The Divine Praises

Yesterday as I was doing some reading around Exposition, I discovered that not only had our bishops, back in 1975, voted to retain the double genuflection, but they had also voted to retained the mandatory use of the Divine Praises at Benediction.  Accordingly, I thought they might be an appropriate choice for the prayer of the week.

Laudes Divinae: a prayer of reparation

The Divine Praises were originally written in Italian by Luigi Felici in 1797 for the purpose of making reparation after saying or hearing profanity or blasphemy. They were subsequently expanded by Pope Pius VII in 1801.  They are normally said following the Benediction, with the priest saying each line, which is then repeated by the congregation.

Here is the text in Latin:

Benedictus Deus.
Benedictum Nomen Sanctum eius.
Benedictus Iesus Christus, verus Deus et verus homo.
Benedictum Nomen Iesu.
Benedictum Cor eius sacratissimum
Benedictus Sanguis eius pretiosissimus.
Benedictus Iesus in sanctissimo altaris Sacramento.
Benedictus Sanctus Spiritus, Paraclitus.
Benedicta excelsa Mater Dei, Maria sanctissima.
Benedicta sancta eius et immaculata Conceptio.
Benedicta eius gloriosa Assumptio.
Benedictum nomen Mariae, Virginis et Matris.
Benedictus sanctus Ioseph, eius castissimus Sponsus.
Benedictus Deus in Angelis suis, et in Sanctis suis. Amen.

And here is an English version:

Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy.
Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.  

You can hear them read slowly in Latin here.

Looking at the Latin

The Divine Praises are an excellent prayer to work through and learn if you are learning Latin, because the repetition reinforces a few words, while each line captures an idea you will come across in many other contexts.  And it is fairly easy to match up to the English.

If you take a closer look at the text, the first thing to notice is that the first word of each line, 'benedictus' (blessed), can take three different forms.  That is because Latin is inflected, that is the endings change, to agree with the 'gender' of the word it refers to.  So nomen (name) is neuter, hence benedictum, while 'mater' (mother) is feminine, so benedicta.  

Similarly, each of the adjectives in each line agree with the main noun, so: 

Benedictum Nomen Sanctum (holy, from sanctus) eius (his).

It is also worth noting that Latin drops the verb part (ie there is no equivalent of  'be') as it is obvious and implied.

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