Saturday, September 6, 2014

C-4. How the Te Deum relates to Phoebe Traquair's mural in ALL SAINTS

C-4. How the Te Deum relates to Phoebe Traquair's mural in ALL SAINTS

The full text of the Te Deum Laudamus from the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer (1660) is
as follows:


Latin and English text of the Te Deum
Latin text
Translation from the Book of Common Prayer
Te Deum laudamus:
te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem
omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli;
tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim
incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra
maiestatis gloriae tuae.

Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum
sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem,
non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo,
aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.

Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni:
quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari
.

[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
Salvum fac populum tuum,
Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
Per singulos dies benedicimus te;
Et laudamus Nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.
Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
Miserere nostri Domine, miserere nostri.
Fiat misericordia tua,
Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
In te, Domine, speravi:
non confundar in aeternum.
We praise thee, O God : we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee :
    the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud: the
Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim :
    continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy :
    Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty
    of thy glory.

The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world :
    doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man :
    thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
    thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
    whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.


[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
O Lord, save thy people :
    and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us :
    as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted :
    let me never be confounded.








[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
Salvum fac populum tuum,
Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
Per singulos dies benedicimus te;
Et laudamus Nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.
Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
Miserere nostri Domine, miserere nostri.
Fiat misericordia tua,
Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
In te, Domine, speravi:
non confundar in aeternum.


[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
O Lord, save thy people :
    and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us :
    as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted :
    let me never be confounded.



      Traquair’s apse painting is a visual explication de texte for the prayer.  The beginning of the prayer signals that an appropriate gesture to God is to praise Him and worship him on earth. Both earthly and heavenly realms praise God in the prayer. The prayer says that the angels in Heaven cry the words:
                                                Holy Holy Holy,
                                                Lord God of Sabaoth,
                                                Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy glory.
The artist’s heaven and earth divisions are present on the wall and the painted figures in both realms worship God. In heaven four seraphim with red wings and haloes (two on either side of God) rise out of the group of children with their arms lifted in orant gestures, and set between these two pairs are banners which read:
Left Side -     “HOLY HOLY HOLY LORD GOD of SABAOTH”

Right Side – “HEAVEN AND EARTH ARE FULL of THE MAJESTY of THY GLORY”
We have seen in the blog on the organization of the mural how the artist uses the prayer's words to
give design to her painting. Other angels are open-mouthed in singing the words. The people on earth sing the hymn of praise as well.
        The prayer then mentions the apostles, prophets, and noble army of martyrs praising God. The apostles Peter and John the Evangelist are present in the mural, the prophet John the Baptist and the modern prophet Blake are participants, and there are many soldiers making up the noble army of martyrs, including Raymond Asquith, Edward Horner, and of course, the baptismal sacrificial lamb, the Rt. Honorable John Manners.
       The prayer goes on to list all three members of the Trinity being acknowledged by the Church. Traquair paints the Trinity on the wall, as we have seen, in the form of God the Father (seated with blessing hand and cross, singled out with cruciform cross halo) in Heaven, the Son (Christ Child with cruciform halo), and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (in the shape of the haloed dove suspended in the air between the Christ child and the Heavenly realm.)
    Christ is described in the text as being willing to take human form as a child from the Virgin’s womb and the Child in this image is above the Virgin’s womb. Christ is described as being a judge, overcoming death, opening up Heaven to all believers, and sitting at the right hand of the Father. Traquair shows God the Father as judge (seated), blessing the church and its congregation, and up in heaven. The open arms of the orant figures suggest God’s opening of heaven to the believers below. The prayer also speaks of Christ as having “overcome the sharpness of death”; the cross on God’s lap reminds us of Christ’s Resurrection after the Crucifixion, and below, Francis, as the Christ Child, has overcome the sharpness of death experienced in his own family.
      The next part of the prayer is a request for help from God by those who are mouthing the prayer. It asks for God to allow the singers “to be numbered with thy Saints: in glory everlasting.” Traquair’s visual image is of ordinary people already “numbered with the Saints,” already possessing haloes, and the peacock suggests the prayer has already been answered as these figures are already inhabiting the “glory everlasting,” the realm of the eternal.
       The rest of the prayer calls upon God to have mercy on the prayers and affirms the faith of the congregation. There are two very telling lines in this last section.  The first is the line “Bless thine heritage.” Traquair displays the heir of the estate for blessing in the afterlife by the Virgin and the Trinity. The Hon. John Neville- Manners is presented by his name saints, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, for blessing; we are reminded he is the heir by the “cap of maintenance”.[i] The request for a blessing for the inheritance is acted out in the mural, and is especially moving since nothing was left of John’s body to bless in reality. That the living heir, Francis, is the Christ Child, suggests the prayer has been answered.
       The second telling line is the very last:  “In thee have I trusted: let me never be confounded.” This line is a resolving of the anxiety about God’s plan. If the prayers agree that God is just and good, the occurrence of death in young people is grounds for anxiety, but the resolution is found in His Plan.  The word “confounded,” however, hangs out at the end of the prayer as a plaintive cry of pain about the deaths of the three family members who are celebrated in the mural. The sad reminders in the chapel of the deaths of the two children and their mother are the reasons for the family’s sense of being “confounded”, perhaps overthrown[ii] by what has happened to them. The whole of the prayer, taken together, though, is meant to assuage the grief and mourning of a family who has suffered great losses. The mural, too, in illustrating directly the text of the prayer, is meant to work as a visual healing for the wounds of the family and the nation.

CONCLUSION
     The painted image of the apse mural corresponds almost literally to the text of the hymn of Te Deum Laudamus. Traquair thought of the artist as musician and she has set the words of the prayer to music on the wall. She herself says in 1896, “An artist’s work in this world is to sing, music is his world, at times strong discords, passions which have not yet found their harmonies rush in, but it is all music, down deep at the foundation of all things the great Eternal Harmonies for every sound.”[iii] The painting presents the earthly and heavenly worlds together and emphasizes the harmony of that union with the joining of souls in the sacra conversazione with the Holy Family in the center. Human action is implied in the presentation of the dead heir to the holy figures, in the fish that have been caught in the net, in the dragon that is conquered, in the beaker of the scientist held out on display, and the basket of the mason balanced upon his head and shoulders. The figures on the wall illustrate the words of the text, but, in Phoebe Traquair's hands, those figures leap out alive from the wall, resurrected by the artist wishing to convey the worlds of science, politics, religion, poetry, and music that enriched real life in the New Forest. The painted singing figures mirror the actual singing of the Te Deum in the church of All Saints by members of the real congregation even today, a reciprocal activity envisioned by the artist for whom the visual was acoustic. 


[i] Elkins, 160.
[ii] This second meaning for “confounded”, an older meaning in the OED, was pointed out to me by Lynn Fairfield.
[iii] Excerpt from a letter from Traquair to her nephew, Willie Moss, Cumming, 1993, 28; Elkins, 158.; Elkins thinks Traquair may have been a person who experienced synaesthesia, the sensation of hearing sounds for colors; if so, she tried to reproduce harmonic effects on the wall from that ability.







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