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Holy Week Liturgy

The Lamentations of Jeremiah
Lamentationes Ieremiae

The five chapters in Scriptures known as Lamentationes record the laments of the Prophet Jeremiah, crushed and desolate, mourning over the city Jerusalem after it was destroyed and the people carried into captivity.

The Lamentations are sung in the Liturgy of the Church in the Office of Passion Week. Since Christ Himself designated His death as the destruction of the Temple (John 2:19-21), then the Church pours out her grief over His death caused by the sins of mankind in these poignant Lamentations of Jeremiah.

The laments are particularly moving in this period of History, when faithful Catholics mourn the destruction of the Church in our days and await her restoration.
In the first chapters of the Lamentations each verse begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet taken in order (Aleph, Bet, Gimel, Dalet, Heth, etc.). The chant setting of the Lamentations uses extended melismas, that is, long groups of notes on the same vowel. This tradition is as old as Gregorian itself.

In chapter 1 the Prophet dwells on the manifold miseries by which the city sits as a solitary widow weeping sorely.

In chapter 2 these miseries are described in connection with the national sins that had caused them.

In chapter 3 Jeremiah speaks of hope for the people of God. The chastisement would only be for their good; a better day would dawn for them.

Listen to the Lamentations 1:1-5

The setting starts with the words Incipit lamentatio Ieremiae Prophetae:

1.1 ALEPH. Quomodo sedet sola civitas plena populo! Facta est quasi vidua domina gentium; princeps provinciarum facta est sub tributo.

1.2 BETH. Plorans ploravit in nocte, et lacrimae eius in maxillis eius; non est qui consoletur eam ex omnibus caris eius: omnes amici eius spreverunt eam et facti sunt ei inimici.

1.3 GHIMEL. Migravit Iudas propter afflictione et multitudine servitutis; habitavit inter gentes nec invenit requiem: omnes persecutores eius apprehenderunt eam inter angustias.

1.4 DALETH. Viae Sion lugent, eo quod non sint qui veniant ad solemnitatem; omnes portae eius destructae, sacerdotes eius gementes, virgines eius squalidae, et ipsa oppressa amaritudine.

1.5 HE. Facti sunt hostes eius in capite, inimici eius locupletati sunt, quia Dominus locutus est super eam propter multitudinem iniquitatum eius; parvuli eius ducti sunt captivitatem ante faciem tribulantis.

Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum (Hosea 14:1)

1.1. ALEPH. How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! How is the mistress of the peoples become as a widow: the Princes of provinces made tributary!

1.2. BETH. Weeping she hath wept in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her: all her friends have despised her, and are become her enemies.

1.3. GHIMEL. Juda hath removed her dwelling place because of her affliction, and the greatness of her bondage: she hath dwelt among the nations, and she hath found no rest: all her persecutors have taken her in the midst of straits.

1.4. DALETH. The ways of Sion mourn, because there are none that come to the solemn feast: all her gates are broken down: her priests sigh: her virgins are in affliction, and she is oppressed with bitterness.

1.5. HE. Her adversaries are become her lords, her enemies are enriched: because the Lord hath spoken against her for the multitude of her iniquities: her children are led into captivity: before the face of the oppressor.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God

Listen to the Lamentations 1:6-9

1.6 VAU. Et egressus est a filia Sion omnis decor ejus: facti sunt principes ejus velut arietes non invenientes pascus, et abierunt absque fortitudine, ante faciem subsequentis.

1.7 ZAIN. Recordata est Jerusalem dierum afflictionis suae, et praevaricationis omnium desiderabilium suorum, quae habuerat a diebus antiquis, cum caderet populus ejus in manu hostili, et non esset auxiliator. Viderunt eam hostes, et deriserunt sabbata ejus.

1.8 HETH. Peccatum peccavit Jerusalem; propterea instabilis facta est. Omnes qui glorificabant eam, spreverunt illam: quia viderunt ignominiam ejus. Ipsa autem gemens conversa est retrorsum.

1.9 TETH. Sordes ejus in pedibus ejus, nec recordata est finis sui. Deposita est vehementer, non habens consolatorem. Vide, Domine, afflictionem meam: quoniam erectus est inimicus.

Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum
1.6 VAU. And from the daughter os Sion all her beauty is departed: her princes are become like rams that find no pastures: and they are gone away without strength before the face of the pursuer.

1.7 ZAIN. Jerusalem hath remembered the days of affliction, and prevarication of all her desirable things, which she had from the days fold, when her people fell in the enemy's hand, and there was no helper: the enemies have seen her, and have mocked at her sabbaths.

1.8 HETH. Jerusalem hath grievously sinned, therefore is she become unstable: all that honoured her have despised her, because they have seen her shame: but she sighed and turned backward..

1.9 TETH. Her filthiness is on her feet, and she hath not remembered her end: she is wonderfully cast down, not having a comforter: behold, O Lord, my affliction, because the enemy is lifted up.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God

Listen to the Lamentations 2:1-4

The setting starts with the words De lamentatione Ieremiae Prophetae:

2.1 HETH. Cogitavit Dominus dissipare murum filiae Sion; tetendit funiculum suum, non avertit manum suam a perditione; luxique antemurale et murus pariter dissipartus est.

2.2 TETH. Defixae sunt in terra portae eius; perdidit et contrivit vectes eius. Regem eius et principes eius in gentibus; non est lex, et prophetae eius non invenerunt visionem a Domino.

2.3 JOD. Sederunt in terra, conticuerunt senes filiae Sion, consperserunt cinere capita sua, accincti sunt ciliciis; abiecerunt in terram capita sua virgines Ierusalem.

2.4 CAPH. Defecerunt prae lacrimis oculi mei, conturbata sunt viscera mea; effusum est in terra iecur meum super contritione filiae populi mei, cum deficeret parvulus et lactens in plateis oppidi.

Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum

2.1 HETH. The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Sion: he hath stretched out his line, and hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: and the bulwark hath mourned, and the wall hath been destroyed together.

2.2 TETH. Her gates are sunk into the ground: he hath destroyed, and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more, and her prophets have found no vision from the Lord.

2.3 JOD. The ancients of the daughter of Sion sit upon the ground, they have held their peace: they have sprinkled their heads with dust, they are girded with haircloth, the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground.

2.4 CAPH. My eyes have failed with weeping, my bowels are troubled: my liver is poured out upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people, when the children, and the sucklings, fainted away in the streets of the city.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God

   Listen to the Lamentations 3:1-9

The setting starts with the words De lamentatione Ieremiae Prophetae:

3.1 HETH. Misericordiae Domini, quia non sumus consumpti, quia non defecerunt miserationes eius.

3.2 HETH. Novi diluculo, multa est fides tua.

3.3 HETH. Pars mea Dominus, dixit anima mea; propterea exspectabo eum.

3.4 TETH. Bonus est Dominus sperantibus in eum, animae quaerenti illum.

3.5 TETH. Bonum est praestolari cum silentio salutare Dei.

3.6 TETH. Bonum est viro, cum portaverit iugum ab adolescentia sua.

3.7 IOD. Sedebit solitarius et tacebit, quia levavit super se.

3.8 IOD. Ponet in pulvere os suum, si forte sit spes.

3.9 IOD. Dabit percutienti se maxillam, saturabitur opprobriis.

Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum

3.1 Heth. The mercies of the Lord that we are not consumed: because his commiserations have not failed.

3.2 Heth. They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness.

3.3 Heth. The Lord is my portion, said my soul: therefore will I wait for him.

3.4 Teth. The Lord is good to them that hope in him, to the soul that seeketh him.

3.5 Teth. It is good to wait with silence for the salvation of God.

3.6 Teth. It is good for a man, when he hath borne the yoke from his youth.

3.7 Jod. He shall sit solitary, and hold his peace: because he hath taken it up upon himself.

3.8 Jod. He shall put his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope.

3.9 Jod. He shall give his cheek to him that striketh him, he shall be filled with reproaches.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God

   Listen to the Prayer of Jeremiah

The setting starts with the words Incipit Oratio Ieremiae Prophetae:

Recordare, Domine, quid acciderit nobis: intuere, et respice opprobrium nostrum. Haereditas nostra versa est ad alienos, domus nostrae ad extraneos. Pupilli facti sumus absque patre: matres nostrae quasi viduae. Aquam nostram pecunia bibimus; ligna nostra pretio comparavimus. Cervicibus nostris minabamur: lassis non dabatur requies. Aegypto dedimus manum, et Assyriis, ut saturaremur pane. Patres nostri peccaverunt, et non sunt: et nos iniquitates eorum portavimus. Servi dominati sunt nostri: non fuit qui redimeret de manu eorum. In animabus nostris afferebamus panem nobis, a facie gladii in deserto. Pellis nostra quasi clibanus exusta est, a facie tempestatum famis. Mulieres in Sion humiliaverunt, et virginies in civitatibus Juda.

Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum.

Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us: consider and behold our reproach. Our inheritance is turned to aliens: our houses to strangers. We are become orphans without a father, our mothers are as widows. We have drunk our water for money: we have bought our wood. We were dragged by the necks, we were weary and no rest was given us. We have given our hand to Egypt, and to the Assyrians, that we might be satisfied with bread. Our fathers have sinned, and are not: and we have borne their iniquities. Servants have ruled over us: there was none to redeem us out of their hand. We fetched our bread at the peril of our lives, because of the sword in the desert. Our skin was burnt as an oven, by reason of the violence of the famine. They oppressed the women in Sion, and the virgins in the cities of Juda.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God

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The Prophet Jerimiah mourning over Jerusalem

Jeremiah mourning over Jerusalem

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