January 3: Once was...Octave day of St John the Evangelist


In the pre-1955 calendar, today was the Octave Day of St John the Evangelist, and it seems fitting to recall the day and the saint, with another banished part of the liturgy (this time by the Council of Trent!) in the form of the Sequence in his honour written by a fourteenth century Swiss Dominican novice nun, Kathrin Brümsin. 

The sister was struggling to learn Latin and the liturgy, and prayed to the saint, who taught her the twenty four verses in a dream-vision.  Here are a few of the opening verses, with the translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd from Gueranger's The Liturgical year:

Verbum Dei, Deo natum,

Quod nec factum nec creatum
Venit de caelestibus,
Hoc vidit, hoc attrectavit,
Hoc de caelo reseravit
Iohannes hominibus.

The Word of God, who was born of God
and was not made nor created,
and who came down from heaven
was seen and handled and revealed to men
by John the Evangelist.

Inter illos primitivos
Veros veri fontis rivos
Iohannes exsiliit
Toti mundo propinare
Nectar illud salutare
Quod de throno prodiit.

John sprang up
amidst those true rivulets,
which from the commencement
flowed from the True Fountain;
he has made the whole world drink
of that life-giving nectar that flows
from the throne of God.

Caelum transit, veri rotam
Solis videt ibi totam
Mentis figens aciem;
Speculator spiritalis
Quasi Seraphim sub alis
Dei videt faciem.

He soared above the heavens,
And gazed
with the fixedness of his soul’s eye
on the brightness of the true Sun
this spiritual contemplator saw,
as it were from under the wings of the Seraphim,
the face of God.

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