The sound of the Voice of Columbkille
Great its sweetness above all clerics:
To the end of fifteen hundred paces,
Though great the distance, it was distinctly heard.
— From the Irish Life of St. Columba in the Leabhar Breac.
I must not pass over another well-authenticated story, told, indeed, by those who heard it, regarding the voice of the blessed man in singing the psalms. The venerable man, when singing in the church with the brethren, raised his voice so wonderfully that it was sometimes heard four furlongs off, that is five hundred paces, and sometimes eight furlongs, that is one thousand paces. But what is stranger still: to those who were with him in the church, his voice did not seem louder than that of others; and yet at the same time persons more than a mile away heard it so distinctly that they could mark each syllable of the verses he was singing, for his voice sounded the same whether far or near. It is however admitted, that this wonderful character in the voice of the blessed man was but rarely observable, and even then it could never happen without the aid of the Holy Ghost.
Nam ipse Sanctus cum paucis fratribus extra regis munitionem dum vespertinales Dei laudes ex more celebraret, quidam Magi, ad eos propius accedentes, in quantum poterant, prohibere conabantur, ne de ore ipsorum divinae laudis sonus inter Gentiles audiretur populos.
But another story concerning the great and wonderful power of his voice should not be omitted. The fact is said to have taken place near the fortress of King Brude. When the saint himself was chanting the evening hymns with a few of the brethren, as usual, outside the king’s fortifications, some Druids, coming near to them, did all they could to prevent God’s praises being sung in the midst of a pagan nation. On seeing this, the saint began to sing the 44th Psalm, and at the same moment so wonderfully loud, like pealing thunder, did his voice become, that king and people were struck with terror and amazement.
— St. Adomnán’s Vita Columbæ, Book I, Chapter xxxxvii.
Let us beseech the Lord in peace, for the heavenly peace, and the salvation of our souls;–for the peace of the whole world; for the stability of God’s holy Churches, & the union of them all;–for this holy house, and those who enter it with faith and reverence; for our holy Fathers, the honourable Presbytery, the Diaconate in Christ, and all, both Clergy and people;–for this holy retreat, and all the city and country, and all the faithful who dwell therein;–for salubrious weather, fruitfulness of earth, and peaceful times;–for voyagers, travellers, those who are in sickness, toil, and captivity, and for their salvation. Aid, save, pity, and preserve them, O God, in Thy grace. Making mention of the all-holy, undefiled, and more than blessed Mary, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin, with all saints, let us commend ourselves, and each other, and all our life, to Christ our God.
To Thee, O Lord, for it is fitting, be glory, honour, and worship. The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with me, and with all of us. Amen.
I commend me and mine, and all that belongs to me, to Him who is able to keep me without falling, & to place me immaculate before the presence of His glory, to the only wise God and our Saviour; to whom be glory and greatness, strength and authority, both now and for all ages. Amen.
— Lancelot Andrewes’ Greek Devotions (Course of Prayers for the Week: The Fifth Day), translated by Blessed J. H. Newman.
A glacis in military engineering is an artificial slope of earth used in late European fortresses (from the late 1520s) so constructed as to keep any potential assailant under the fire of the defenders until the last possible moment. On natural, level ground, troops attacking any high work have a degree of shelter from its fire when close up to it; the glacis consists of a slope with a low grade inclined towards the top of the wall. This gave defenders a direct line of sight into the assaulting force, allowing them to efficiently sweep the field with fire from the parapet. Additionally, but secondarily, the bank of earth would shield the walls from being hit directly by cannon fire.
Preserved in the Reichenau Primer (Stift St. Paul Cod. 86b/1 fol 1v), and now kept in St. Paul’s Abbey in the Lavanttal, Pangur Bán (Gaelic “white fuller”) is a circa 9th century Old Irish poem composed by an anonymous Irish monk about his pet cat. The poem, which compares the activities of the cat with those of the scribe himself, bears similarities to the poetry of Sedulius Scotus or Scottus (fl. 840-860), an Irish teacher, Latin grammarian, and scriptural commentator.
Messe agus Pangur Bán,
cechtar nathar fria shaindán:
bíth a menmasam fri seilgg,
mu menma céin im shaincheirdd.Caraimse fos, ferr cach clú
oc mu lebrán, léir ingnu;
ní foirmtech frimm Pangur bán
caraid cesin a maccdán
Ó ru biam, scél gan scís
innar tegdais, ar n-óendís,
táithiunn, díchríchide clius
ní fris tarddam ar n-áthius
Gnáth, húaraib, ar gressaib gal
glenaid luch inna línsam;
os mé, du-fuit im lín chéin
dliged ndoraid cu ndronchéill
Fúachaidsem fri frega fál
a rosc, a nglése comlán;
fúachimm chéin fri fégi fis
mu rosc réil, cesu imdis.
Fáelidsem cu ndéne dul
hi nglen luch inna gérchrub;
hi tucu cheist ndoraid ndil
os mé chene am fáelid.
Cia beimmi a-min nach ré
ní derban cách a chéile
maith la cechtar nár a dán;
subaigthius a óenurán
Hé fesin as choimsid dáu;
in muid du-ngní cach óenláu;
du thabairt doraid du glé
for mu muid céin am messe.
I and Pangur Bán, my cat
‘Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight
Hunting words I sit all night.Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill.
‘Tis a merry thing to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.
Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way:
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.
‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.
When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!
So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.
Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.
— English translation of Pangur Bán by Robin Flower.
In the 2009 animated movie The Secret of Kells, which is heavily inspired by Irish mythology, one of the supporting characters is a white cat named Pangur Bán who arrives at the monastery of Kells in the company of the monk, Aidan of Iona. A verse of the poem is read out during the credit roll.
December 23: The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Eighth Antiphon (according to the Sarum Use / Book of Common Prayer)
O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud? quia nec primam similem visa es, nec habere sequentem. Filiae Jerusalem, quid me admiramini? Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.
O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? for neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after: Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.
This feast, which is now kept not only throughout the whole of Spain but in many other parts of the Catholic world, owes its origin to the bishops of the tenth Council of Toledo, in 656. These prelates thought that there was an incongruity in the ancient practice of celebrating the feast of the Annunciation on the twenty-fifth of March, inasmuch as this joyful solemnity frequently occurs at the time when the Church is intent upon the Passion of our Lord, so that it is sometimes obliged to be transferred into Easter time, with which it is out of harmony for another reason; they therefore decreed that, henceforth, in the Church of Spain there should be kept, eight days before Christmas, a solemn feast with an octave, in honour of the Annunciation, and as a preparation for the great solemnity of our Lord’s Nativity. In course of time, however, the Church of Spain saw the necessity of returning to the practice of the Church of Rome, and of those of the whole world, which solemnize the twenty-fifth of March as the day of our Lady’s Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Son of God. But such had been, for ages, the devotion of the people for the feast of the eighteenth of December, that it was considered requisite to maintain some vestige of it. They discontinued, therefore, to celebrate the Annunciation on this day; but the faithful were requested to consider, with devotion, what must have been the sentiments of the holy Mother of God during the days immediately preceding her giving Him birth. A new feast was instituted, under the name of the Expectation of the blessed Virgin’s delivery.
This feast, which sometimes goes under the name of Our Lady of O, or the feast of O, on account of the great antiphons which are sung during these days, and, in a special manner, of that which begins O Virgo virginum (which is still used in the Vespers of the Expectation, together with the O Adonaï, the antiphon of the Advent Office), is kept with great devotion in Spain. A High Mass is sung at a very early hour each morning during the octave, at which all who are with child, whether rich or poor, consider it a duty to assist, that they may thus honour our Lady’s Maternity, and beg her blessing upon themselves. It is not to be wondered at that the Holy See has approved of this pious practice being introduced into almost every other country. We find that the Church of Milan, long before Rome conceded this feast to the various dioceses of Christendom, celebrated the Office of our Lady’s Annunciation on the sixth and last Sunday of Advent, and called the whole week following the Hebdomada de Exceptato (for thus the popular expression had corrupted the word Expectato). But these details belong strictly to the archaeology of liturgy, and enter not into the plan of our present work; let us, then, return to the feast of our Lady’s Expectation, which the Church has established and sanctioned as a new means of exciting the attention of the faithful during these last days of Advent.
Most just indeed it is, O holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire thou hadst to see him, who had been concealed for nine months in thy chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also thine; to come to that blissful hour of his birth, which will give glory to God in the highest, and, on earth, peace to men of good-will. Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy thy desires and ours. Make us redouble our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by thy powerful prayers for us, that when the solemn hour has come, our Jesus may find no obstacle to his entrance into our hearts.
My heart thrills with joy in the Lord; pride in the God I worship lifts high my head; now can I flout my enemies, happy in thy gift of redress! Who so holy as the Lord? None, there is none else; there is no stronghold can compare with our God. Boast no more, boast no more; those lips must talk in another strain; the Lord is God all-knowing, and overrules the devices of men. See how he breaks the great warrior’s bow, girds the feeble with strength; how the rich, for very need, must work as hirelings, while the hungry eat to their heart’s content! See how at last the barren womb bears many, and the fruitful mother is left to languish! Lord of death and life, he brings men to the grave and back from the grave; Lord of poverty and of wealth, he alone humbles, alone exalts, raising up the poor man out of the dust, the beggar from his dung-hill, to sit among princes and reach the honours of a throne. It is the Lord that poised the round world on its foundations, and holds them in his keeping; safely his friends journey, dumb sit his enemies in the darkness; there is no protection for man in man’s strength. The Lord will strike terror into his adversaries; hark, how his thunders roll above them in heaven! The Lord will sit in judgement on the remotest people of earth, the Lord will grant dominion and a sceptre of majesty to the king he has anointed.
[We have expounded the] declaration of the Ave Maria, as a prayer containing a joyful rehearsal, and magnifying of God in the work of the incarnation of Christ, which is the ground of our salvation, wherein the blessed virgin our lady, for the abundance of grace wherewith God endued her, is also with this remembrance honoured and worshipped.
— The Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for Any Christian Man, also known as the King’s Book, Preface attributed to Henry VIII, 1543.
An nescitis quia iniqui regnum Dei non possidebunt? Nolite errare: neque fornicarii, neque idolis servientes, neque adulteri, neque molles, neque masculorum concubitores, neque fures, neque avari, neque ebriosi, neque maledici, neque rapaces regnum Dei possidebunt.
On a certain day Columcille was going to Tara of the Kings, and by adventure he met Bee mac De, the druid of Diarmaid mac Cerbail, King of Erin. And Bee had the gift of prophecy from God, albeit he was a druid, and he had made no false prophecy ever. But Columcille had foretold that Bee should twice prophesy falsely ere his death. And Colcumcille saluted him, and entered into friendly converse with him.
And he said: “Great is thy wisdom and knowledge, Bee mac De, in the tidings thou givest to other folk touching their deaths. Hast thou knowledge also of when thou shalt thyself die?”
“Thereof have I knowledge in sooth,” saith Bee. “There be yet for me seven years of life.”
“A man might do good works in shorter space than that,” saith Columcille. “And knowest thou for a surety that thou hast so much of life still?”
Then was Bee silent for a space, and thereafter spake he to Columcille and said, “I have not. It is but seven months of life I have.”
“That is well,” saith Columcille, “and art certain thou hast still so much of life to come?”
“I am not,” saith Bee, “and this is a token, O Columcille. I cannot withstand the prophecy thou hast made. For thou didst foretell that I should make two false prophecies ere I should die. There is left me but seven hours of this same day,” saith he. “Do thou assoil me and give me the sacrament.”
“It was to give thee this that I came hither today,” saith Columcille, “for God revealed to me that thou shouldst die today.”
Then did Columcille succor Bee with the consolation of Holy Church, and gave him the sacrament from his own hand. And Bee died then. And his soul went to Heaven through the goodness of God and the intercession of Columcille.
– Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Columcille),
X. Of Sundry Miracles and Prophecies of Columcille in Erin and of Certain Visions, 129;
compiled by Manus O’Donnell in 1532; edited and translated from manuscript Rawlinson B. 514 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.