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Hore de sancta Cruce (c.1330?)
Short Hours of the Cross - Introduction - Heures de la Croix
Hore de Cruce
The short Hours of the Cross became an indispensable part of the classical Book of Hours from the late 14th to the mid 16th century. Most often in combination with its twin : the short Hours of the Holy Spirit. Both were destined for private devotion, and their construction is so similar and unique that one must have been based upon the other if not made almost simultaneously by the same person(s). A persistent tradition in various rubrics would know that they were composed by pope John XXII (1316-1334), although it perhaps is more likely that his name became attached to them by offering an indulgence for the daily readers. A first datable occurrence still remains to be found.
The contents are very simple, only consisting of the hymn: Patris sapientia veritas divina [Blume - Dreves: Analecta Hymnica, XXX, p.34-35] divided with a stanza at each of the canonical hours, followed by a short verse and a prayer, repeated without variation from Matins to Compline. Matins were recited after Lauds of the Virgin, and at the following Hours after the final collect to the Virgin. From the beginning were the Hours of the Cross and the Hours of the Holy Spirit most often placed after the Hours of the Virgin, before the Penitential Psalms. They could, however, also be placed before the Hours of the Virgin (Northern France c.1440, and the Netherlands), and in reality in every possible part of the book. It is often written in a heavily abbreviated form where all repetitions only are indicated by a short incipit or sometimes even completely left out to save use of precious parchment.
In the course of the 15th century were they frequently broken up after Hours, and placed in the position where they were to be said (called intermixed, intercalated or intertwined), leading up to the later demand of "sans rien requerir", which means that everything had to be written in full exactly as said, not forcing the lay reader to go backwards and forward in the book to find the various texts during prayer. The Burnet Psalter (c.1420?) has such a structure, with the Hours of the Cross beginning after Lauds of the Virgin on fol.262v rubricated as "Memoria de sancta cruce".
Neigther the Hours of the Cross nor the Hours of the Holy Spirit survived the counter reformation, and nothing similar is found on print after the Tridentine Council.
The Hours of the Cross are normally preceded by a large miniature of the Crucifixion, following the tradition developed from the ancient canon table in Missals, and reflecting both the local and the general iconographical history of this familiar subject. In more luxurious manuscripts can there be an illustration to each of the seven hours, in which case the subject is prescribed by the contents of the hymn and its clear description of what happened at each hour, based upon the account of the passion of Jesus in the gospels. (In principle the same illustrations used where the Hours of the Virgin had the Infancy cycle replaced by a Passion sequence, or a combination of both, cf. James H. Marrow: Passion Iconography in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance: A Study of the Transformation of Sacred Metaphor into Descriptive Narrative. Kortrijk 1979).
The large miniature of the Crucifixion has quite often been removed from the book by later owners to serve another purpose, not for its artistic merits, but due to its character as the most essential devotional picture in Christianity.
Leroquais: Les Livres d'Heures manuscrits, 1927, I, Introduction p.XXVI:
[Heures de la Croix] "C'est un office très court; chacune des Heures se compose d'une hymne, d'une antienne et d'une oraison. Ni psaumes, ni leçons, ni repons : c'est le "parvus ordo de cruce" (lat.1425, fol.153v) par opposition à l'office de la Croix que l'on rencontre également dans les livres d'Heures. Celui ci est un office à trois leçons; il s'intitule tantôt ordo magnus de cruce (lat.1357, fol.99), tantot : officium sanctissime passionis D.n.I.C. (lat.757, fol.99), ou encore: magnum officium crucifixi (lat.nouv.acq.384, fol.104v) [Leroquais is here referring to the various prototypes of liturgical composition, the "Long Hours of the Cross" - See: Officium de Passione Domini]. Parfois, on trouve les Heures et l'Office dans le même manuscrit, comme dans les Grandes Heures et les Petites Heures du duc de Berry (lat.919, et 18014). Heures et office sont très anciens." [what follow has become obsolete; Leroquais use a confused terminology without a clear distinction between the title given by a rubric and the actual contents of the various offices and Hours in the manuscripts mentioned. His assurance that they are of "very ancient origin" does only tell us about the existence of some form of daily devotion to the Holy Cross, but nothing is known about its form and contents].
On the occurrence of the Hours of the Cross in Monastic Breviaries:
J.B.L.Tolhurst: Introduction to the English Monastic Breviaries, (HBS Vol.LXXX), London 1942 (p.134): The Memorial of the Passion.
A small group of later manuscripts from Christ Church Canterbury, Durham, Gloucester, Malmesbury and the Nunnery of Wilton include a series of daily commemorations of the Passion said after each of the hours of our Lady from Lauds to Compline.
The Wilton text, which is on an added leaf and like the later litany in the same volume, was probably written there, is preceded by the rubric: Commemorationes dominice passionis facte a papa iohanne uicessimo secundo dicende post horas canonicas.
If the attribution is accurate the devotion was completed between 1316 and 1334. There is no mention of its introduction in any of the surviving statutes of the general chapters, but its incorporation cannot have taken place much earlier than the second half of the fifteenth century since there is no indication of it in manuscripts written before that time. It was probably a borrowing from popular lay devotion, as it is in some form commonly found in Books of Hours of lay use and forms the last amplification of the monastic office as said in monasteries of the English [Benedictine] Congregation before the suppression in 1539. The text below [i.e. in Tolhurst p.135-137] is from the Wilton manuscript, where it is given as a whole. In the other manuscripts mentioned each part is given in its place after the hours of the office of our Lady at which it was said." [In the Wilton version are all personal forms in plural (animas nostras) to suit monastic use for the nuns, and the hymn is rubricated as Antiphona.]
Matins were read after Lauds of the Virgin, beginning with Domine labia mea aperies, etc.
Every Hour open with the conventional formula: Deus in adiutorium etc.
Complete transcript with facsimile illustrations: GKS 1607 Hore ad usum Romanum c.1510
Patris sapientia veritas divina.
Deus homo captus est hora matutina.
A notis et discipulis cito derelictus
a iudeis traditus venditus et afflictus.
Hora prima ductus est ihesus ad pilatum.
Falsis testimoniis multum accusatum :
In collo percutiunt manibus ligatum
Vultum dei conspuunt lumen celi gratum.
Crucifige clamitant hora tertiarum
illusus induitur veste purpurarum.
Caput eius pungitur corona spinarum :
Crucem portat humeris ad locum penarum.
Hora sexta ihesus est cruci conclavatus,
et est cum latronibus pendens deputatus.
Pre tormentis sitiens felle saturatus,
agnus crimen diluit sic ludificatus.
Hora nona dominus ihesus expiravit,
hely clamans animam patri commendavit.
Latus eius lancea miles perforavit,
terra tunc contremuit et sol obscuravit.
De cruce deponitur hora vespertina
fortitudo latuit in mente divina.
Talem mortem subiit vite medicina.
Heu corona glorie iacuit spina.
Hora completorii datur sepulture.
Corpus xpristi nobile spes vite future.
Conditor aromate complentur scripture
iugis sic memorie mors hec michi cure.
Each stanza of the hymn is at all hours concluded with the same short verse:
Vs. Adoramus te xpriste et benedicimus tibi.
[Respons.] Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
Followed by a prayer (collecta) repeated at all hours:
Domine ihesu xpriste filii dei vivi pone passionem
crucem et mortem tuam inter iudicium tuum et animam meam
nunc et in hora mortis mee et largiri digneris vivis misericordiam
et gratiam defunctis requiem et veniam ecclesie tue sancte pacem
et concordiam et nobis peccatoribus vitam et letitiam sempiternam.
Qui vivis et regnas deus. Per omnia secula seculorum . amen.
After Compline are the short Hours concluded with the so-called:
Has horas canonicas cum devocione
tibi xpriste recola pia ratione
tu qui pro me passus est penas in agone
sic labori consonaris consors sim corone. Amen.
(Benedicamus domino. Deo gracias.)