Latin for Lent

Parce, Domine! Parce populo Tuo!

Time to start warming up for Lent now, folks! (That’s what Septuagesima is all about.)

What little is left of Latin in the modern churches is presented at Lent. (Not just in the Catholic churches either: to my great astonishment, the Baptist church near my house advertises some sort of service they call “Tenebrae” every year right before Easter!)

Something about Latin seems right for Lent, funerals, and sorrowing in general, I suppose. Personally, however, I believe that Latin expresses the “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” joy of Christmas morning just as well as the sorrow of Lent, but in the spirit of the upcoming “Season of Latin,” if you will, I have some links and printables to offer you.

Attende Domine
  • Hear a women’s schola sing it and read along with the Gregorian sheet music on this page (verse-by-verse translation also provided!).
  • Scroll halfway down this page for the Gregorian-notation sheet music alphabetized PDFs list.
  • For modern-notation sheet music, PDF link is at first bullet here.
  • Translation practice* pages are here.
Parce Domine
  • Hear monks sing it, and read along with the Gregorian sheet music here.
  • Again, scroll halfway down this page to find printable Gregorian sheet music it in the alphabetized PDFs list.
  • Modern-notation sheet music is a PDF in the alphabetical list here.
  • Translation practice* pages are here.

Well, I certainly hope these things increase your devotion and your Latin fluency this Lent. Oh, and–please do be sure and keep up with your Latin even after Easter, ha! You can be sure I’ll still be here, anyway!

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* Important note about translating these hymns: 1) Latin is an inflected language, therefore in it word-order is unimportant for meaning, and 2) these pieces are hymns, a.k.a., rhyming poetry, which further intensifies the mixed-up-ness of it, compared to English. So when you are translating, use pencil! You will constantly need to rearrange the words to make the sense of meaning come out right in English, e.g.: “Your, O Redeemer, kindness may it forgive” becomes “May Your kindness forgive, O Redeemer.” (Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy! This is the big Latin vs. English difference.)

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