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Aquæ lavant et lavantur,
Vox clamantis in deserto; and this is possibly the singularis prophetia, which the poet would say lifted him above all his fellows. 58–60. lavantur] So Marbod, in a leonine couplet:
Non eguit tergi, voluit qui flumine mergi :
Lotus aquas lavit, baptismaque sanctificavit. 66. Other hymns upon John the Baptist, though inferior to this, have much merit. Thus in Daniel's Thes. Hymnol. vol. ii. p. 217, an anonymous one beginning thus, but not at all maintaining the merits of its opening: In occursum præcursoris
Quare nobis hebetatis
Sol supernæ veritatis
Præluxit in sidere.
Hic præcursor et propheta,
Immo prophetarum meta,
Legi ponens terminum,
Mire cæpit, per applausum
Ventre matris clausus clausum
Another by Adam of St Victor (Gautier, vol. ii. p. 28), yield these stanzas :
Ad honorem tuum, Christe,
Laus est Regis in præconis
Agnum monstrat in aperto
Multa docet millia.
These stanzas swarm with patristic and Scriptural allusion. And first, the poet brings out the exceptional circumstance, that, while for all other saints it is the day of their death, it is that of his birth, his natalitia, which the Church celebrates—the Nativity of the Baptist. Augustine gives the reason (Serm. 290, c. 2): Denique quia in magno Sacramento natus est Johannes, ipsius solius justi natalem diem celebrat Ecclesia. Et natalis Domini celebratur, sed tanquam Domini. Date mihi alium servum, præter Johannem, inter Patriarchas, inter Prophetas, inter Apostolos, cujus natalem diem celebret Ecclesia Christi. Passionum diem servis plurimis celebramus ; nativitatis diem nemini nisi Johanni. The reasons thus touched on by Augustine, Durandus (Rationale, vii. 14) gives at full. They are found in the words of the angel, that many should rejoice at his birth (Luke i. 14); that he should be filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb (i. 15); and in his relation to his Lord as the morning star, whose appearing heralded the rising of the true Sun; Cant. ii. 12 being in like manner applied to him; and his the voice of the turtle, which, being heard in the land, told that winter was past, and the rain was over and gone. Nor should the reader miss, in the second stanza, the play with the words Vox and Verbum, which is indeed much more than a play--John a sound, a startling cry in that old world to which he himself belonged, a voice crying in the wilderness; but Christ a new utterance out of the bosom of the Eternal, an articulate Word. Compare Origen (In Joan. ii. 26); and Augustine (Serm. 288, 3). The next line, Ardens fide, verbo lucens, is a commentary on the Saviour's words : Ille erat lucerna ardens et lucens.
VIII. DE NATIVITATE DOMINI.
UER natus in Bethlehem,
Unde gaudet Jerusalem.
VIII. Corner, Prompt. Devot. p. 278; Daniel, Thes. Hymnol. vol. i. p. 334.—This hymn, of a beautiful simplicity, and absorbing easily so much theology in its poetry, continued long a great favourite in the Lutheran Churches of Germany; surviving among them till wellnigh the present day.
5. bos et asinus] Two passages in the Old Testament supplied the groundwork to that wide-spread legend which painters have so often made their own, and to which here the poet alludes, viz. that the ox and the ass recognized and worshipped that Lord whom the Jews ignored and rejected. The first, Isai. i. 3: Cognovit bos possessorem suum, et asinus præsepe domini sui : Israel autem me non cognovit, et populus meus non intellexit (Vulg.); in which was seen a prophetic reference to the manger at Bethlehem; and no less at Hab. iii. 2, where the Septuagint has strangely enough, εν μέσω δύο ζώων γνωσθήση: and the old Italic: In medio duorum animalium innotesceris. The bos and asinus were further mystically applied to the Jew and Gentile, who severally, in the persons of the shepherds and the wise men, were worshippers at the cradle of the new-born King.
6. There is some merit in these lines from the Muse Angli
Reges de Sabâ veniunt,
In hoc natali gaudio
cana, vol. i. p. 115. Christian alcaics, which are not wholly profane, are so rare, that on this score they are worth quoting :
Doloris expers, Mater amabilem
Quadrupedes animosus infans. 7. Reges] The old Church legend—the Roman Church makes it almost a matter of faith-that the wise men from the East were kings, rests on Isai. lx. 3; Ps. lxxii. 10, 15. To this last passage also we owe Saba, as the interpretation of the åratorah of Matt. ii. 1.
PETER THE VENERABLE.
PETER the Venerable, born 1092 or 1094, of a noble
family of Auvergne, was elected in 1122 abbot of Clugny-being constituted thereby the chief of that reformed branch of the Benedictine order, the headquarters of which were at Clugny in Burgundy. This admirable man, one of that wonderful galaxy of illustrious men who adorned France in the first half of the twelfth century, was probably only second, although second by a very long interval, to St Bernard in the influence which, by his talents and virtues, and position at the head of a great and important congregation, he was able to exercise upon his time. His history is in
ways than one bound up with that of his greater cotemporary. He is indeed now chiefly known for his keen though friendly controversy with St Bernard, on the respective merits of the “ black” and “white" monks, the Clugnian, and the yet later Cistercian, who
w in their fervent youth were carrying the world before them. The correspondence is as characteristic in its way as that with which it naturally suggests a comparison, between St Augustine and St Jerome; casting nearly as much light on the characters of the men, and far more on that of their times. But besides this, it was with him that Abelard found shelter, after the condemnation of his errors, and to his good offices the reconciliation which was effected before Abelard's