Mary in battle

Quae est ista quae ascendit sicut aurora consurgens, pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol, terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata

Who is this who ascends like the rising dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army drawn up in battle array. Song of songs 6.9

Saydon's commentary in the (old) Catholic Commentary says "The verse is a familiar antiphon in the office of Our Lady's Assumption." Not so familiar for a while now: the verse is not included in the Liturgia Horarum texts for the feast. In the Roman Breviary, the above text was the Benedictus antiphon. In addition, the shorter text:
Pulchra es et decora, filia Ierusalem, terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata
was the antiphon for the fifth psalm at Lauds and Vespers - and therefore also the antiphon for None.

It is interesting that the breviary text of the Benedictus antiphon differs slightly from the Clementine vulgate which has
Quae est ista quae progreditur quasi aurora consurgens pulchra ut luna electa ut sol terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata
Such differences often mean that an version of the scriptural text has been preserved through the tradition of the sung office. (Grateful if any experts can shed light on this.)

The verse was the inspiration for much of the imagery of the Legion of Mary, founded by Frank Duff. This highly successful lay apostolate spread throughout the world with the ideal of fighting the spiritual battle through prayer and active witness to the faith.

Similar gung-ho mariology is shown in the antiphon for the 7th psalm of matins:
Gaude, Maria Virgo; cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo.

Rejoice, O Virgin Mary; alone you have wiped out all the heresies in the whole world.
The perfect tense here should be understood as one of continuing action :-)

Another interesting text also absent from the modern office is the responsory for the second reading of the first nocturn, drawn from Ecclesiasticus 24.17 and 24.20:
R. Sicut cedrus exaltata sum in Libano, et sicut cypressus in monte Sion: quasi myrrha electa,* Dedi suavitatem odoris. V. Et sicut cinnamomum et balsamum aromatizans (Dedi.)

The "sicut cinnamomum" struck me particularly when I first heard it sung at Parkminster. Must check with Auntie Joanna whether there are any Catholic traditions that link the use of cinnamon with Our Lady.

Like the cedar, I have been exalted in Lebanon and like the cypress in Mount Sion: as chosen myrrh, I have given sweetness of odour. And like the cinnamon and balsam giving fragrance.
I reflected today on the Assumption as the glorification of Mary. After her largely hidden life on earth, she was taken up to heaven where she is the Mediatrix of all graces, a powerful intercessor and advocate who brings sweetness to our lives and terrifies the powers of evil.

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