The Mystical Meaning of the Morning (GA 2.31-35)

On Lauds (Ch. 31 – 45)

Ch. 31
The Dignity of Morning Lauds

Creation (Hurlbutt)
Passauer Calendar
Universitätsbibliothek Kassel, 2° Ms. astron. 1, fol. 70v.

Among the pagans the gods of the underworld were called Manes because they would send the day upon the earth in the morning, which they had held captive during the night. From Manes, therefore, we have morning (mane), i.e. “good,” because nothing seems better to us than light. From mane we have Matins (matutina), as the praise rendered to God for the gift of light.

CAP. XXXI. – Nota dignitatem quae in matutinis Laudibus est.

Apud gentiles dii infernales dicebantur Manes, eo quod mane diem terris emitterent, quem tota nocte quasi inclusum retinerent. A Manibus ergo mane, id est bonum, dicitur, eo quod nil melius luce videatur. A mane autem dicitur matutina, quasi laus Deo pro luce exhibita.

Ch. 32
The First Reason

We sing this hour because we believe that it is the time when the world was created. Then the morning stars shone merrily and gave sweet-sounding praise to God their maker; that is to say, the angels, who are also called the sons of God, were created at that hour, and just before the creation of the world their sweet choirs sang a great hymn to the Creator. We imitate them when we sing at this hour, we who are called the evening stars: for if we follow Christ the sun setting before us, we will become morning stars at dawn, which is the resurrection.

Creation 2 (Hurlbutt)
des Moulins, Bible Historiale de Jean de Berry. Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Français 20090, fol. 3r.


CAP. XXXII. – Prima causa.

Hanc horam ea de causa canimus, quod hac hora mundum creatum credimus. Hac hora astra matutina cum iucunditate luxerunt, et Deum, qui fecit ea, dulci harmonia laudaverunt, scilicet angeli ea hora creati sunt, qui et filii Dei vocati sunt, qui mox pro creatione mundi magna voce suavi concentu conditori iubilaverunt. Quos nos hac hora canentes imitamur, qui astra vespertina appellamur, quatenus si solem Christum pro nobis occidentem laudibus sequamur, per eum ad ortum lucis videlicet in resurrectione ad astra matutina perducamur.

Ch. 33.
The Second Reason

Also at this hour, the Lord led his people across the Red Sea and drowned their enemies, as it is written “At the morning watch the Lord looked down through the cloud” and killed the Egyptians (Exodus 14:24). In the same hour when Israel was baptized in the sea and cloud, the Egyptians were cast headlong into the waves.

CAP. XXXIII. – Secunda causa.

Hac hora Dominus populum suum per mare Rubrum transduxit, et hostes illorum submersit, sicut scriptum est: “Factum est in vigilia matutina Dominus per nubem respexit, et Aegyptios interfecit” (Exod. XIV).  Ea hora qua illi sunt in mari et in nube baptizati, sunt illi in fluctus praecipitati.

Ch. 34
The Third Reason

Also at this hour Christ the victor rose from the dead, carried the light back from the underworld, led the people he had redeemed by his blood back from the tyrant’s realm, and drowned their adversaries in the abyss.

CAP. XXXIV. – Tertia causa.

Hac hora Christus victor a morte resurrexit, et diem nobis ab inferis revexit, et populum sanguine suo redemptum a regno tyranni reduxit, et hostes eorum barathro immersit.

Ch. 35
The Fourth Reason

At this hour at the end of the world the saints will awake from the sleep of death and pass on from the night of this world to the light of eternal glory. The night that comes before the nocturn signifies that time of death that came before the Law. The nocturn expresses that time when the people worshipped the Lord under the Law. But the hour of Matins [i.e. Lauds], as the light is dawning, shows the time from Christ’s resurrection to the end of the world, when the Church sings to her beloved. For the psalms that are sung now express both the time of the Law, which came before as a shadow, and the time of grace, which shone afterwords like a light to our eyes.


David (Hurlbutt).jpg
Bréviaire, à l’usage des Franciscains. — Partie d’hiver Source:
Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms-597 réserve, fol. 25v.

CAP. XXXV. – Quarta causa.

Hac hora in fine mundi iusti a somno mortis evigilabunt, dum de nocte huius mundi ad lucem aeternae claritatis transmigrabunt. Tempus igitur noctis, quod ante nocturnum praecedit, praefert illud tempus mortis quod ante legem praecessit. Nocturnus vero illud tempus exprimit quo populus sub lege Dominum coluit. Matutinalis autem hora, cum lux appropinquat, tempus a Christi resurrectione usque in fine mundi demonstrat, quo Ecclesia dilecto suo canticum cantat. Psalmi nempe qui hic cantantur utrumque exprimere conantur, et tempus legis, quod velut umbra praecessit, et tempus gratiae, quod ut lux visitanter postea fulsit.


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