A Sequence in Honor of St. Francis of Assisi (PDF)

In earlier posts I have shared my interest in various “uses” of the Roman Rite, most notably in presenting some sequences from the Sarum Missal (23 November, 3, 10, 17 December 2018). I am especially interested in how sequences, often created in monastic environments as an adornment of the prescribed liturgy, may have some connections (at least functionally) with the so-called “Hymn of the Day” or “Gospel Hymn” associated with Lutheran and Anglican/Episcopalian traditions.

Recently I have become interested in the Roman Seraphic Missal (Paterson, NJ: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1968) as an example of very early post-Vatican II adaptation of the Eucharist of the Roman Rite. (It is helpful to remember that after Sacrosanctum Concilium was officially promulgated in 1963, various “interim” versions of Roman-Rite liturgical texts appeared until the official promulgation of the Missale Romanum in 1970.) Intended for use by the three Franciscan orders, the English translations were approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and approved by the Apostolic See, as well as approved by the Friar Minor Provincials’ Conference of the United States and Canada and confirmed by the Apostolic See. (The printed version I have been examining has a 64-page fascicle of the 1970 Order of Mass bound into the 1968 edition between pp. 702 and 703.)

Among the texts appointed for the Solemnity of Our Holy Father, Saint Francis on 4 October in the Roman Seraphic Missal a lengthy Sequence appears, both in a Latin original and a rather free English metrical rhyming translation. I share it with those who might want to conclude this year’s Season of Creation by praying this reflection on the gift of Saint Francis’ life, his stigmata, and his protection on all those who attempt to live by his values.

You can find the sequence here.

9 comments

  1. This Sequence was retained in the reformed liturgical books for the Franciscan order. See the 1974 Missale Seraphicum cum Lectionario, where it is used on the Solemnity of St Francis.

    The same Sequence for the Duplex of the I Class of St Francis (4 Oct) is also in my copy of the 1954 Missale Romano-Seraphicum, which also has another Sequence, In caelesti Hierarchia, for the Duplex of the I class of St Dominic (4 Aug).

  2. Thank you, Michael, for this text.

    This is a great example of a translation that does not slavishly follow the Latin original, but which conveys every concept, not necessarily in the same order, while managing the demands both of rhyme within stanzas and rhyme between stanzas. An object lesson for translators today.

    There appear to be typos in line 3 of stanze 5, which presumably ought to read “a cord his girdle, plain and crude”.(“rude” was already used at the end of line 2).

    For those mystified by Matthew Hazell’s use of the word Duplex, which is a technical term for a kind of house or apartment, the traditional English terms for ranks of feasts before the calendar reforms included Simple for the Latin Simplex, Semidouble for Semiduplex, and Double (of the 1st Class, 2nd Class, etc) for Duplex..

  3. Thank you, Fr Michael!
    This sequence is traditionally considered to be composed by Thomas of Celano. Although his authorship is disputed, the text is obviously medieval.
    (There is a misprint in PDF: “Pater sancta” (penultimate strophe) instead of “sancte”.)

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