Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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GV (L. Riemens and R. Celletti; S. Smolian)

M. Jeritza: Sunlight and Song: a Singer’s Life (New York, 1924/R)

R. Werba: Maria Jeritza: Primadonna des Verismo (Vienna, 1981)



Sign indicating the lengthening of the duration of a note in Armenian Ekphonetic notation.


(b Stridon, Dalmatia, c341; d Bethlehem, 419/20). Saint, scholar and churchman. Born to wealthy Christian parents, he studied rhetoric in Rome under Donatus. Subsequently he sojourned in Gaul and Aquileia, becoming acquainted with monasticism and the ascetic life. He next spent several years in the East, where he perfected his Greek, learnt Hebrew, became versed in Origenist exegesis and finally was ordained at Antioch in 379. From 382 to 385 he was secretary to Pope Damasus at Rome and began his work of biblical translation that would eventually culminate in the version known as the Vulgate. At Rome he also became the centre of an ascetic circle of aristocratic women to whom he later directed rather severe advice in his much quoted letters. In 385 he retired to the Holy Land and there spent the rest of his life in literary activity and in directing his monastery and convents at Bethlehem.

Jerome's attitude towards ecclesiastical music was generally more rigorous than that of his contemporaries such as Ambrose, Augustine and Basil. He maintained that women ought to sing psalms alone in their rooms and not in crowded churches, and insisted that the efficacy of psalmody consisted not in its musical qualities but in the meaning of the words. He advocated, moreover, that his pious Roman correspondents observe the daunting monastic horarium of six Office hours and that their daughters learn the Psalter by heart.

Jerome's career as a biblical translator covered a period of some 22 years, from 383 in Rome to 405 in Bethlehem. Before he began this work, there was no unified edition of the Latin Bible. The so-called Old Latin Bible was in reality a variety of translations, particularly from Africa and Rome, of individual books and groups of books such as the Gospels and the Pentateuch. At Rome Jerome completed a translation of the Gospels and a revision of the Psalter. At Bethlehem he gained access to Origen's monumental Hexapla and translated several books from its edition of the Greek Septuagint, including the Psalter. But increasingly he turned to the Hebrew Bible, eventually translating from it virtually the entire Old Testament, issuing his work in separately prefaced books or combinations of books. It is quite possible that he never returned to work on the New Testament, so that his contribution to the Vulgate might very well be limited to the Gospels and the Old Testament.

Of special significance to the history of music are his three translations of the Psalter: the Roman revision of the Old Latin, the translation from the Septuagint and the translation from the Hebrew. At one time scholars identified the first of these with the so-called Psalterium romanum, the version from which most of the texts of the Gregorian Proper chants are derived. It is more widely believed now, however, that Jerome's first Psalter, though based on the Romanum and thus quite similar to it, has been lost. Of particular importance is his Psalter translated from the Septuagint. It was called the Psalterium gallicanum in the Middle Ages, because it appears to have been used in the liturgy in Gaul before Alcuin adopted it in his version of the Bible. Alcuin's version had a decisive influence on the eventual make-up of the Vulgate so that the Gallicanum came to occupy a position that belonged by rights to the translation from the Hebrew. The Gallicanum also furnished the texts for some Frankish chant Propers and came to be the version that was used in the medieval Office in all areas except Rome. Thus the Psalter from the Hebrew did not find a place in the liturgy; it figured chiefly in Psalters prepared for study, some of which show three versions in columnar form under the headings Romanum, Gallicanum and Hebraicum.

See also Psalter, liturgical.

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