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Conversion of Saint Paul, Holy Comforter, Washington, D.C.

The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul provides an interesting insight into the textual sources of Divine Worship: The Missal. Two options are given for the Introit. The first, given in Divine Worship as Gaudeamus, is taken from the Missale Sarisburiense, or Sarum Missal. Here it is entitled Lætemur in omnes, and the translation given in Divine Worship appears to be that of the 1906 English Hymnal. Percy Dearmer, one of the editors of the hymnal, was amongst those seeking to preserve certain Sarum customs within Anglicanism, sometimes in opposition to a perceived Romanisation.

The second option is Scio cui credidi, the Introit prescribed for the Roman Rite in both forms, as found in the 1962 Missale Romanum and the 1974 Graduale Romanum. This also appears in the English Missal (Knott), and both the Gavin edition of the Anglican Missal (1961) and that of the Society of SS Peter and Paul (1921). The translation given in Divine Worship is is common to the Anglican missals, with the exception of the conformity of its syntax to the overall style of Divine Worship. 

We might pause to ask why two Introits are offered. The popularity of the 1906 English Hymnal and the development of the use of chant in the Church of England, both opened the door to the rediscovery of the texts and music of the Sarum Missal. And although Divine Worship has avoided the complete adoption of parts of this Use, such as the Offertory, the Anglican liturgical tradition cannot be adequately understood or preserved, without acknowledging the influence of the Sarum Missal upon it. It is perhaps all the more significant that the movement within Anglicanism that gave rise to hopes for reunion with the Apostolic See, made ample use of these texts and musical settings, as a liturgical expression of the Catholic aspirations it possessed.

On a practical note, those wishing to the sing the first Introit given for today in Divine Worship may find it set by Dr G. H. Palmer, and published by the Community of Saint Mary the Virgin, Wantage. The majority of the community entered the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in 2013. The Church Music Association of America has made Dr Palmer’s collection available online here.

To conclude, then, here is the Sequence for the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul in the Sarum Missal, translated by another Anglican, The Reverend C. B. Pearson, father of A. Harford Pearson, who was himself responsible for one of the earliest English translations of the Sarum Missal into English.

The feast of holy Paul let us devoutly keep,
Whom with such grace the Lord endowed, that he
Is by the Church called Teacher of the Gentiles.
The wolf a lamb, the persecutor preacher
Becomes; with actions changed the name is changed—
Paul he is called who Saul was called before,
By madness urged he poisonous rage breathed forth:
Christ’s members with fell cruelty pursuing.
A light from heaven shining round about him
Of sight deprived him, but within enlightened.
Christ buffets him, lest he should be exalted ;
He casts him down, but raises him while falling:
Rebukes him prostrate, but rebuking heals him.
To him the teaching of the faith commits,
Ordains him a defender of the Church.
To him, who once had been an enemy,
Believing, the deep mysteries reveals
Which were not lawful for a man to utter.
Him whom at first the synagogue brought up
Afterwards Mother Church rejoices over.
Those mysteries which he had learned, he went
Through the whole world to publish by his preaching.
He comes to Rome, and there one God proclaims;
Nero resists, who worshipped images.
Forthwith he puts him to a cruel death ;
From the world takes him, sends him to the stars.
Whither may God bring us, too, of his mercy
Through aid of holy Paul’s prayers. [Alleluia!]