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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Real Life Adventures - Salva Nos - Part 2

1: Dominus* Deus
2: exaudi nos et miserere
3: exaudi, Dominus*

4: Dona nobis pacem
5: et salva nos a* hostibus
6: Salva nos, Deus

7: Dominus* exaudi nos
8: Dominus* miserere
9: Dona nobis pacem
10: Sanctus, Gloria

11: dona nobis pacem
12: et dona eis requiem
13: inter ovas* locum
14: voca me cum benedictis
15: pie jesu domine, dona eis requiem
16: dominus* deus, Sanctus, Gloria

Looking at the lyrics, there are two distinct themes that seem odd to encounter in the same song. While the entire song is speaking to God, one refers to 'us' - 'hear us', 'have mercy on us', 'save us', 'give us peace'. The second theme (lines 12 and 15) refers to 'them' - 'give them rest'. For this reason, I'd initially thought that there were two sources. Well, it turned out that I was right... sort of.

Lines 12 and 15 sound very much like a Catholic funeral mass, so that's where I started looking. It turns out that this is exactly what it was - a part of the Dies Irae ('Day of Wrath'), a poem incorporated into the funeral mass (for translations, see the Wikipedia article):

Lacrimosa dies illa,
qua resurget ex favilla

judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus:

pie Jesu Domine,
dona eis requiem. Amen.

Interestingly, a couple different passages also appears in the poem (don't assume these lines are all consecutive):

Rex tremendæ majestatis,
qui salvandos salvas gratis,
salva me, fons pietatis.

Inter oves locum præsta,
et ab hædis me sequestra,
statuens in parte dextra.

Confutatis maledictis,
flammis acribus addictis:
voca me cum benedictis.

So, there are lines 12 through 14. What about the rest? Well, save for three lines, none of the rest of the song is taken whole from any other work (that I've found). Rather, it's a weaving of passages from several other things. First of all, let's look at the first line, part of which is repeated in the last line. As I mentioned before, 'Dominus' is the nominative form, which is incorrect in this context (it should be 'Domine' - the vocative form). Yet surprisingly, it turns out that this line is taken directly from Sanctus, a part of all Catholic mass (not just funeral mass):

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth;
pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.

Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis

Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God of hosts;
heaven and earth are filled with Your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Okay, so. We have the original Latin, and it's still in the nominative form, even though it's speaking to God. Is my assessment wrong? It isn't, actually (not in this case, anyway). It turns out that this Latin is actually a mistranslation of Isaiah 6:3, presumably originally in Hebrew: "And they cried one to another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is full of his glory". The original text was not speaking to God at all, and as such the nominative case would be appropriate. If you look at the rest of the mass program, 'Dominus' is never used again when speaking to God; it's always 'Domine'.

This error was presumably propogated to other instances of 'Dominus' in Salva Nos.

The use of 'exaudi' seems to come from the Introit of the mass service (also a part of the funeral mass):

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam;
ad te omnis caro veniet.

So, that's as far as the funeral mass can take us in this study. This leaves us still with three phrases. To my surprise, two of these may be found in Agnus Dei, another passage in the mass. This did not come to my attention when looking at the funeral mass, because the two phrases are missing (actually replaced by other phrases) in the funeral mass version:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem

That just leaves one word - 'hostibus' ('enemies'). This one I'm not so sure of. The exact word does not appear in either the ordinary mass or funeral mass ('hostias' is a different word - 'sacrifices'). And looking for a document that was read by the author of the song when you only know a single word in it is like looking for a needle in a haystack; I think I'm gonna let that one go.

Lastly, I probably prompted a couple questions in my study, such as why the erroneous words (indicated by asterisks) have changed. First of all, 'a' - 'from' - is incorrect. Yes, 'a' does indeed mean 'from'; but from what I've been able to tell, 'a' changes to 'ab' when used before a word that begins with a vowel sound (try searching for "a hostibus" and "ab hostibus").

The big one, of course, is 'salva'. It turns out that 'salvo' is indeed a verb. Given the way it was used in the song (the fact that it was using a different conjugation system, and that it was used as a transitive verb), I was beginning to wonder if this might be the case. It seems to be an uncommon word, as most dictionaries don't have it (I've only been able to find one dictionary online to date that does).

So, I think that's the end of my report. If you haven't noticed by now, I've color-coded the lyrics so that their origins can be easily seen in the passages I've quoted. Thanks to John Briggs and Johannes Patruus for answering my Latin questions.

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