Sunday, June 3, 2012

O Fortuna

 This post links to RAnn's Sunday Snippets

A Little House

Most Americans have heard the song O Fortuna in the movies or on TV, although they may not know its name or its composer. It's one of a suite of poems from the Middle-Ages (Carmina Burana, Bavarian Songs) which were set to music by the 20th century German composer Carl Orff. Carmina's a terrific array of moods and musics: Fortuna is epic; others are reflective; some langorous; and some boisterous, once sung in medieval pubs. The drinking songs are grouped under the heading In Taberna, i.e., In the Tavern. In the English sense of a 'public house' being a place to buy a beer, a taberna is a house; or a shed attached to the side of the house as a store or shop.

If you ever get the chance to see Carmina live- do so.

New topic, sort of: you may recall that when the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob reestablished his covenant with the Hebrews, he gave Moses very specific instructions as to how his dwelling, the Meeting Tent, should be constructed. In Hebrew, the 'tent' is ohel/ אהל;  the 'dwelling' is mishkanמשכן  In the Old Testament their uses frequently overlap where the portability of a nomad's tent melds with the security and serenity of abiding within one's extended family.

In the New Testament, the Epistle to the Hebrews uses the Greek word skene/σκηνή (skein, tent) to describe both God's earthly and heavenly dwellings.

When St. Jerome later translated the Hebrew and Greek Testaments into the Vulgate, he used the existing Latin word tabernaculum, the diminutive of taberna, for the assorted older terms. The Roman Army, which was certainly practical about its religion if not particularly pious, had for centuries built a tabernaculum augurale, a tent, a "little house," in all of its camps for checking the auspices. How nice of Jerome not to invent a new word, but to baptize an old one instead.

[Is augurale related to inaugural? Why, yes it is.]

And how nice that the Church applies that same term to the little houses in which the Lord has dwelled among his people these last two millennia. As the New Testament fulfills the Old, the Church extends and deepens the connection between God and his people.

The Catholic Church doesn't invent anything.

3 comments:

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Love your last statement.

When in college we performed Carmina Burana in the Opera Studio at Washington University in St. Louis. I have a recording of it. Very stirring.

evanscove said...

Very interesting... I hadn't known the origins of "tabernacle". And I like how you introduced the topic with the tidbit about "O Fortuna" and taverns. Learn something knew every day! :-)

Evan

kkollwitz said...

"When in college we performed Carmina Burana...." What was your part?