Monday, August 22, 2016

Learning Latin with the Liturgy: Learn and listen to the Oldest Prayer to St. Mary

A Greek language papyrus found in Egypt and dating to about AD 250 contains the text of a prayer to St. Mary. The prayer is known and still cherished in the Church, but until this papyrus was found, no one would have imagined the prayer was really that ancient. It addresses St. Mary as Theotokos

I remember being taught in school that the term Theotokos was created as a sort of Shibboleth against the Nestorians in the 5th Century. But this prayer proves that the people of God centuries earlier than that had called St. Mary Theotokos, the Birth-Giver of God, from a sense of reverence to her place in Salvation History and a full knowledge of its Christological implications.

It was translated into Latin in equally ancient times. Here is the Latin text and an English translation, followed by my video version reciting the prayer, and a full grammatical description.

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix.
Under your protection we take refuge, Holy Birth-Giver of God

Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris,
Despise not our intercessions in our necessities,

sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper,
But free us always from all dangers,

Virgo gloriosa et benedicta. Amen.
Glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.


Here's my video version with text and (ecclesiastical) pronunciation:

video



Here's how the Latin works:


Latin
English
Parsing
Grammar Points
Sub
Under
Prep.+Acc.
tuum
your
acc. sing. neut. poss. adj.
tuus, tua, tuum; modifies praesidium
praesidium
protection
acc. sing. neut. noun
praesidium, praesidiii
confugimus
we take refuge
1st pers. sing. pres. act. ind. verb
cōnfugiō, cōnfugere, cōnfūgī
Sancta
Holy
voc. sing. fem. adj.
sanctus, sancta, sanctum; modifies Genetrix
Dei
of God
gen. sing. masc. noun
Deus, Dei
Genetrix
Birth-Giver
voc. sing. fem. noun
Genetrix, Genetricis
Nostras
Our
acc. pl. fem. poss. adj.
noster, nostra, nostrum; modifies deprecationes
deprecationes
intercessions
acc. pl. fem. noun
deprecatio, deprecationis
ne
Not
conj.
despicias
may you despise
2nd pers. sing. pres. act. subj. verb
dēspiciō, dēspicere, dēspēxī, dēspectus
in
in
Prep.+Abl.
necessitatibus
necessities
abl. pl. fem. noun
necessitas, necessitatis
nostris
our
abl. pl. fem. poss. adj.
noster, nostra, nostrum; modifies necessitatibus
sed
but
conj.
a
from
Prep.+Abl.
periculis
dangers
abl. pl. neut. noun
periculum, periculi
cunctis
all
abl. pl. neut. adj.
cunctus, cuncta, cunctum; modifies periculis
libera
free
sing. imper.
libero, liberare, liberavi, liberatus
nos
us
acc. pl. pronoun
nos, nostri
semper
always
adv.
Virgo
Virgin
voc. sing. fem. noun
Virgo, Virginis
gloriosa
glorious
voc. sing. fem. adj.
gloriosus, gloriosa, gloriosum; modifies Virgo
et
and
conj.
benedicta
blessed
voc. sing. fem. adj.
benedictus, benedicta, benedictum; modifies Virgo; past part. from benedicere
 




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