There was a man from Hus: The Magnificent Offertory of Job

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R. Vir erat in terra nomine Iob, simplex et rectus, ac timens Deum: quem Satan petiit, ut tentaret: et data est ei potestas a Domino in facultate et in carne eius: perdiditque omnem substantiam ipsius, et filios: carnem quoque eius graui ulcere uulneravit.

V. Utinam appenderentur peccata mea; utinam appenderentur peccata mea, quibus iram merui, quibus iram merui; et calamitas, et calamitas quam patior, hec grauior appareret.

R. Vir erat.

V. Que est enim, que est enim, que est enim fortitudo mea ut sustineam? Aut quis finis meus ut patienter agam?

R. Vir erat.

V. Numquid fortitudo lapidum est fortitudo mea? Aut caro mea enea est? Aut caro mea enea est?

R. Vir erat. 

V. Quoniam, quoniam, quoniam non reuertetur oculus meus ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona, ut uideam bona.

R. There was a man in the land, Job by name, simple and upright, and fearing God. Satan asked to tempt him, and power was given to him by the Lord over his possessions and his flesh. And he wasted all his substance and his sons, and he wounded his flesh, too, with a grievous ulcer.

V. Oh that my sins were weighed! Oh that my sins were weighed! whereby I have deserved wrath! whereby I have deserved wrath! And the calamity! And the calamity which I suffer would appear heavier!

R. There was a man…

V. For what is, for what is, for what is my strength that I should hold out? Or what is mine end, that I should bear patiently?

R. There was a man…

V. Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh of bronze? Or is my flesh of bronze?

R. There was a man…

V. For, for, for mine eye shall not turn back for me to see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things, see good things.

On the Offertory Vir erat
Liber officialis, Amalarius of Metz

By the by, I am reminded of the repetition of words in the verses of the Offertory Vir erat. I do not want to pass over what I have thought about it, even though in the order of things it would be more correct, after the Nativity of John the Baptist, to write about Christ’s Nativity. The repetition of words is not in the Offertory itself but in its verses. The words of the historical writer are contained in the Offertory; the words of the ailing and suffering Job in the verses. A sick man whose breathing is weak and unhealthy often repeats broken phrases. In order to create a vivid memory of Job in his sickness, the author of the office repeated certain phrases several times in the manner of sick men. The words are not repeated, as I said, in the Offertory itself, because the historical writer was not sick as he wrote the history.

De offerenda Vir erat in terra. 

Interim occurrit michi repeticio uerborum, que est in uersibus offertorii Vir erat, nolui pretermittere quod sensi de illa, quamuis ordo rerum teneat post scripcionem natiuitatis sancti Ioannis, natiuitatem Christi scribere. In offertorio non est repetitio uerborum, in uersibus est. Verba historici continentur in offertorio: verba Iob egroti et dolentis continentur in uersibus. Egrotus cuius anhelitus non est sanus, neque fortis, solet uerba imperfecta sepius repetere. Officii auctor, ut effectanter nobis ad memoriam reduceret egrotantem Iob, repetiuit sepius uerba more egrotantium. In offertorio, ut dixi, non sunt uerba repetita, quia historicus scribens historiam non egrotabat.

Job 3.jpg
Postilles de Nic. de Lire sur la Bible. Latin 11974

Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 11974, fol. 34v.

On the Offertory Vir erat
(Pseudo-) Alcuin, Liber de Divinis Officiis

The historical words are contained in the Offertory; the words of Job, sick and suffering, are contained in the verses. The sick man, whose breathing is neither healthy nor strong, often repeats broken phrases. The author of the office, that he might poignantly bring to our mind the sick Job, often repeats words in the manner of a sick man. In the Offertory the words are not repeated, because the historian writing the history was not sick. In the verses of this Offertory the words are doubled and trebled and multiplied. Job was marvelously stricken, and marvelously and singularly praised amongst the ancient Fathers for his victory of patience. Therefore it is not far from reality if his words in the verses, where he himself speaks, are composed in another way than the other verses. Job was plucked like a guitar; anguish followed upon anguished in swift succession, and wound upon wound. After the jokester had spoken, another man entered. When one king who cursed him was defeated, another followed right after. His anguish was manifold, and according to the multitude of his anguish, he often repeated words, as if unable to proceed for lack of breath. For the author of the antiphonary is used to show the various emotions of the saints through a difference in the singing or in the order of words, as he did for John Symmysta[1] through the jubilus on the sense of the words “wisdom and understanding” in the Responsory In medio Ecclesiae,[2] where he so to speak imitates the ineffable word about whom he wrote saying In principio erat Verbum, and as he arranged in the order of the office sung for the mass of the Innocents, in which the Gloria in excelsis Deo and Alleluia are omitted on account of Rachel’s weeping, who went before as a figure of our holy Mother the Church, or perhaps because it was the time when the martyrs went down into the cloister of Hell and the ancient Fathers awaited Christ’s descent.

De offertorio Vir erat in terra. (Pseudo-)Alcuin, Liber de divinis officiis

Verba historica continentur in offertorio; verba Iob aegroti et dolentis continentur in versibus. Aegrotus, cuius anhelitus non est sanus, neque fortis, solet verba imperfecta saepius repetere. Officii auctor, ut affectanter nobis ad memoriam reduceret aegrotantem Iob, repetivit saepius verba more aegroti. In offertorio non sunt verba repetita, quia historicus, scribens historiam, non aegrotabat. In versibus praedicti offertorii duplicantur sive triplicantur ac multiplicantur verba. Iob fuit mirabiliter flagellatus, et mirabiliter ac singulariter inter antiquos Patres victoria patientiae laudatus. Ideo non abhorret a vero, si alio modo composita sint verba sua per suos versus, in quibus ipse videtur loqui, quam caeterorum versuum. Iob sicut cithara percutiebatur, id est, cita iteratione dolor dolorem sequebatur, vulnus vulnus. Praesente nugigerulo, alter intrabat. Convicto uno rege obiurgante se, illico alter succedebat. Multiplex fuit eius dolor, et secundum multitudinem doloris, anhelitus deficiens saepius repetebat. Solet enim auctor antiphonarii aut distinctione cantus, aut distinctione ordinis, varium affectum monstrare sanctorum: sicut de Ioanne Symmysta fecit per neumam circa intellectum verborum, sapientiae et intellectus, in responsorio, In medio Ecclesiae. In quo quodammodo imitatur verbum ineffabile, de quo dicebat: In principio erat verbum. Et sicut fecit in ordine officii, quod canitur de missa Innocentium, in quo subtrahitur, Gloria in excelsis Deo, et Alleluia, propter plorationem Rachel, quae in figura praecessit matris nostrae sanctae Ecclesiae: aut quia tempus erat, quo tunc ad inferni claustra descendebant passi, et exspectabant antiqui Patres Christi descensum.

Job 1 (Hurlbutt)
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 15675, fol. 5v.


[1] The Evangelist. From the Greek (συμμύστης), meaning comrade, as John was Christ’s beloved. The word is used several times in the corpus, especially by Rabanus Maurus.

Ducange’s entry includes a curiosity about the word’s later use in France: “P. de Colonia rightly observes that it is a corruption of “symmista” in the former sense, when the six priests who assist the bishop of Lyon at mass on solemn feasts are called six muses [i.e. “six muses].” A Symmista priori notione sine dubio, voce corrupta, ut recte observat P. de Colonia in Histor. Litteraria Lugdun. tom. 2. pag. 68. sex Presbyteri qui in festis solemnioribus Archiep. Lugdunensi sacra peragenti assistunt, Six muses vulgo appellantur.

[2] In medio ecclesiae aperuit os eius, et implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae et intellectus. V. Misit Dominus manum suam et tetigit os meum.


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