Monday, February 29, 2016

Give us an opportunity of repentence

"Lord, all powerful King, free us for the sake of your name.  Give us time to turn from our sins."

"Domine, rex omnipotens, libera nos propter nomen tuum et da nobis locum pænitentiæ."

O Lord, king omnipotent, free us for the sake of your name, and give us [sufficient] space to repent.

     Antiphon 1, Evening prayer, Third Sunday of Lent, Liturgia horarum.  "locus" can mean "extent sufficient for some purpose, room", "room to exist or operate", "room for action, scope, opportunity, opening", "the proper occasion, the right time", etc.; and "locum dare", "to give place, make way", etc. (Oxford Latin dictionary; see also the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British sources, nos. 14, 24, 28, etc.).  "pænitentiæ" must be either genitive or dative.  Biblical sources, the first two of which are pretty pessimistic about the use we are likely to make of the said "locus":
  • Job 24:23:  "God hath given him place for penance [(dedit ei Deus locum paenitentiae)], and he abuseth it unto pride: but his eyes are upon his ways" (Douay-Rheims 1899 American).
  • Wisdom 12:10:  "But executing thy judgments by degrees thou gavest them place of repentance, not being ignorant that they were a wicked generation, and their malice natural, and that their thought could never be changed [(sed partibus iudicans dabas locum paenitentiae non ignorans quoniam nequa est natio illorum et naturalis malitia ipsorum et quoniam non poterat mutari cogitatio illorum in perpetuum)]" (Douay-Rheims 1899 American).
  • Wisdom 12:19:  "But thou hast taught thy people by such works, that they must be just and humane, and hast made thy children to be of a good hope: because in judging thou givest place for repentance for sins [(docuisti autem populum tuum per talia opera quoniam oportet iustum esse et humanum et bonae spei fecisti filios tuos quoniam das locum in peccatis paenitentiae)]" (Douay-Rheims 1899 American, which appears to insert without warrant the phrase "in judging").
According to CANTUS, the antiphon goes back to the late 9th-century (e.g. Albi, Bibliothèque municipale Rochegude 44, 101v (De Esther)), if not before.

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