Friday, August 15, 2008

Found in the "Blessing of the Railroad"

Happy Feast of the Assumption! Time to sing something really LOUD. Hmmm.

Many years ago, when I was in grade school and we had the May crowning, we used another set of words to the very popular "Salve Regina" hymn. Here is the chorus:
Every voice in your domain
Sings with joy this glad refrain:
Be our queen, forever reign!
Salve, salve, salve regina!
I cannot say how exciting these words are. Now that I have grown up - or at least older and bigger - and I am a computer scientist, I have dealt with things like internet domains (these are the "last names" of computers) as well as formal mathematics (a function is a relation which maps one set - the domain - into another - the range)... but I also have references which indicate that a domain comes from the Latin dominus = Lord, which itself comes from the word domus for house or home. And then there is the great mystery of the pipe organ, in which each of the various kinds of pipes are called voices, and the even more mysterious link to be found in the Introit for Pentecost, coming from Wisdom 1:7 "For the Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world: and that which containeth all things, hath knowledge of the voice." There is so much of a mystery to speech... all the amazing complications of the muscles and timing and how to set the tongue and the teeth and breathing... so easy to do, but so easy to get wrong when you try to learn another language as an adult! We have forgotten the years our parents took to get us to catch on to the various sounds of our language, and to make them... The voice, what a gift. No wonder we ought to use our voice to praise God and His greatest work, Mary...

Wow. Then there's that sailor's hymn to Mary - but I cannot talk about that until I have gone further with my work on Subsidiarity. Soon, soon; it's just as dramatic, and quite emotional as well as high-tech. Meanwhile you can read the next chapter of Joe the Control Room Guy which I just posted.

Now what does this have to do with the blessing for railroads?

I am still "in the hunt" for data on my food work, and happened to pull out the "Roman Ritual" from 1895 for suggestions. Yes, there's a time when the tech texts and the Lexicons don't help... So I get out a different book to see where it will lead me. (Thank you God for books and the ability to read!)

And in that book I find the "Benedictio viae ferreae et curruum" - "A blessing of a railroad (way of iron) and of [its] cars". And right there was another important link in my puzzle!
Omnipotens semiterne Deus, qui omnia elementa ad tuam gloriam, utilitatemque hominum condidisti: dignare, quaesumus, hanc viam ferream, ejusque instrumenta bene+dicere, et benigna semper tua providentia tueri; ut dum famuli tui velociter properant in via, in lege tua ambulantes, et viam mandatorum tuorum currentes, ad coelestem patriam feliciter pervenire valeant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
I am no Latinist, so I will gladly accept corrections to my attempt at a translation:
Almighty and everlasting God, Who formed all elements to Your glory and to the utility of Man: deign, we ask, to + bless this railroad and its instruments, and always guard it by your benign providence; that while your servants hasten with speed on the way, walking in your law, and running in the way of your commands, they may be strong to come happily to the heavenly homeland. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Ah! You can see, from my last post about elements, why I liked this: "You formed all elements to Your glory and to the utility of Man". Indeed. Globber would be after me for using up their disk space if I began to make a list of the amazing splendour of the elements and how they are useful to us... it reminds me of that grand and great key from Chesterton: "The greatest of poems is an inventory." (Orthodoxy CW1:267) It was Tom Lehrer who set the periodic table to music; but it has fallen to a lesser artist to extend the Litany of Loreto:

Queen of Fluorine, pray for us.
Queen of Chlorine, pray for us.
Queen of Bromine, pray for us.
Queen of the halogens, pray for us.

Queen of Iron, pray for us.
Queen of Cobalt, pray for us.
Queen of Nickel, pray for us.
Queen of of the transition metals, pray for us.

Queen of Cerium, pray for us.
Queen of Praeseodymium and Neodymium, pray for us.
Queen of Yttrium, Ytterbium, Terbium and Erbium, pray for us.
Queen of the rare earths, pray for us.

Queen of Neon, pray for us.
Queen of Argon, pray for us.
Queen of the inert gases, pray for us.

Queen of Sodium, pray for us.
Queen of Potassium, pray for us.
Queen of Rubidium, pray for us.
Queen of the alkali metals, pray for us.


Queen of all elements, pray for us.

Queen of the cosmos, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

"Every voice in your domain, sings with joy this glad refrain:
Be our queen, forever reign!"


At 16 August, 2008 18:52, Blogger Dr. Thursday said...

It will seem funny to you that I post a comment on my own blogg. But that's the fun of the thing!

I would just like to add one small remark, if somehow this makes you think of the "anthropic principle" - the idea that the universe was made with Man in mind: it ought to.

A fortiori, the universe was made with Christ in mind. This is why we attest to this clause of the Creed:

Per quem omnia facta sunt.

(that is)

Through Him all things were made.

Yes, even the inert gases and the rare earths...

At 22 August, 2008 13:47, Blogger Sheila said...

You might just say "use" or "usefulness" for "utilitatem." Simply because a simple Latin word is usually best translated as a simple English word--which generally comes from Anglo-Saxon. I believe you could also translate "valeant" as "succeed" if you wanted to--though your translation is fine. It's just that when you ask for input from a Latinist, you always get it!

Living near a railroad as I do now, watching the "iron road" where the trains go back and forth (see the Psalms, somewhere), I am beginning to discover a Chestertonian delight in trains. How they always get where they're going. Even how they blow their whistles in the middle of my siesta. It's as if they're hooting from sheer joy that the glorious town of M----- is coming into view! And all the little gates with their bells come benignly down to keep us safe. How do they know the train is coming? I have wondered this for years.

At 22 August, 2008 18:04, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that was the ships that go back and forth?

Like you, I also find the crossing gates to be mystic things. And one might write a lot about GKC and trains: "Man is a magician: he says 'Victoria' and lo! it is Victoria." [TMWWT from memory] Maybe a future column. As one who also deals with the green and red lights in programs like WATCHER (see the "Joe" story for more on that), the bit from Heretics about the signals we kindle "in an agony of vigilance" is constantly on my mind... I think I had it in a recent ACS Thursday post.

Also, thanks for the Latin help... if I had had time I would have asked in advance. Next time.

--Dr. Thursday


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