Thursday, 15 March 2007

Phos Hilarion

Have you heard of the "Lucenarium"? I can't tell you a great deal about it, but the Lucenarium is a Vigil of Light which is kept on the vigil of Sundays and great Feasts. The word refers to the ceremony of lighting candles while singing the ancient hymn "Phos Hilarion" (Joyful Light).
I first came across it during a visit to the Beatutudes Community in Mortain, Normandy, during 2001. It was celebrated there as a longer and very festive form of the first Vespers of Sunday. I took this up in my last parish in Harrogate and celebrated a Lucenarium there for about 18 months starting in Autumn 2001. During that time I remember looking forward to Saturday evenings and the worship of Christ in the Lucenarium - I always exposed the Blessed Sacrament. I offered these vigils in praise of Christ and for the evangelisation of young people. Each Saturday's vigil would last about one hour and twenty minutes. The consequence of 18 months of praising Christ every Saturday evening was extraordinary: evangelising events for young people took off in my church, in my presbytery and in me, without my planning them. It was a time of great grace.

Well, I going to start celebrating a Lucenarium again on Saturday evenings, and this time I don't intend to stop. I have been prompted to do so by unexpectedly coming across the "Service sheet" I used to use and because of an unexpected conversation with Fr Julian in which we spoke of the Lucenarium. I shall pray with the same intentions as before.

In the future I could see the Lucenarium being celebrated widely on Saturday evenings followed by a Mass on Sunday mornings. If you have the joy of celebrating the Liturgy of Hours you will find a version of the Lucenarium at the back - "Canticles and Gospel Readings for Vigils of Sundays and Feasts".

Here is a translation of the ancient "Phos Hilarion" hymn (which we used at a priest's retreat at Ars):

O Radiant Light, eternal joy of the
Holy and Blessed Jesus
Worthy are You at all times to be
praised by the song of all the Saints,
Son of God, who gave us life, let
the world sing forth your praise.


Anonymous said...

Sounds wonderful...

Carmel said...

This sounds great, Father. I shall look forward to it.

John Paul said...

Do you have a copy of the service at all? Would be good to see it, might suggest it to a few priests I know.

orielensis said...

Here is John Keble's translation of the Phos, which is arguably nicer (more poetic):

Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured
Who is th'immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of Holies--Jesus Christ our Lord!

Now we are come to the sun's hour of rest;
The lights of evening round us shine;
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine!

Worthiest art thou at all times to be sung
With undefiled tongue,
Son of our God, giver of life, alone:
Therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, thy own. Amen.


For some trivia: This anthem (to the setting by Stainer) is traditionally sung at Oriel College Oxford on certain feast days, because John Keble was a fellow of the College.

Fr Richard Aladics said...

Thanks Orielensis for this lovely translation. And yes, John Paul, as for the service itself: I have never come across an ancient liturgy of the Lucenarium. What I do is to expose the Blessed Sacramnet to the hymn "Phos Hiliarion", followed by prayers in praise of Christ. For this I take prayers from Fr Benedict Groeschel's book "Praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament". I include Vespers with extended intercessions and use the Vigil liturgy which is reproduced at the back of the Liturgy of Hours book. All interspersed with periods of silent adoration. The other important aspect of the Lucenarium is that it is celebrated on Saturday evenings since the Lucenarium is the vigil in honour of the Resurrection.

Fr Richard Aladics said...

By the way, there is a Lucenarium Liturgy on the Toronto Catholc Youth page: