The Little Office Of Our Lady – At Matins, Or Night Song, pt 16. By E. L. Taunton.



Like the cedar in Libanus was I exalted, and as a cypress tree upon Mount Sion; like the palm tree in Cades was I exalted, and as a rose garden in Jericho. As a fair olive tree in the fields, and as a plane tree beside the water in the wayside was I exalted. I gave forth a sweet smell like unto cinnamon and fragrant balsam, and I yielded a pleasant odour like unto choicest myrrh.

In this lesson we see Divine Wisdom, shining in Mary's soul, likened to the cedar, to the cypress, to the palm, to the olive, and to the plane tree ; also to the rose, and the sweet-smelling cinnamon. Balsam and myrrh are also mentioned as expressive of beauty and pleasantness.

Four of these trees are in a special way sacred ones; and, says Cornelius a Lapide, they were employed in building the Temple, the type of the soul. They are also often used in a mystical sense in Holy Scripture. Cedar, from its well-known incorruptibility, is a figure of immortality ; cypress, from its form, is a type of rectitude; palm is an accepted emblem of victory, and, from its long, bare, rough stem, crowned with leaves and fruit, is a fit image of mortification ; the olive, from its oil, is the symbol of richness. An old tradition has it that the Cross, that work of infinite Wisdom, was made out of these four woods. The plane tree [The word probably means the same as our chestnut-tree.] of the East is grateful to the traveller for its pleasant shade, and can so be taken for repose. The fragrance of the rose needs no explanation; neither do the sweet-smelling spices.

Cades, or rather more properly, Engaddi, was not far from Jericho, the "City of Palms." It was famous for its vineyards [See Cant, i. 13.] and fertility, being watered by the Jordan.

The Mount Sion here is not the Sion whereon the Temple was built, but rather that Mount Sion known as Hermon : even unto Mount Sion which is also called Hermon [Deut. iv. 48.], a very fertile mountain watered by abundant dew : as the dew of Hermon, says the Psalmist [Ps. cxxxii. 3.].

We can now briefly point out the application to our ever dear and blessed Lady. By her stainless Conception she has received the gift of incorruptibility, as in the cedar ; by her reason, enlightened by grace, governing her whole being, she was righteous, as the cypress; the victory she gained over every temptation, gives her fittingly the palm ; her fulness of grace, diffused even on her lips, likens her to the olive; the richness of her fragrance and beauty of grace made her as the rose ; the sweet spices in the garden of the Spouse that gave such content to the Beloved [Cant. iv. 14-16.] are the virtues and graces Divine Wisdom finds in the soul of Mary, the pleasant fruits His soul loveth.


When the Te Deum is not said (i.e., from Septuagesima to Easter and from Advent to Christmas, with the exception of all occurring feasts of our Lady) the following Responsory is said :—

Holy Maiden Mary, thou art happy and worthy to have all manner of praise : for of thee is risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God.

Pray for the people,' bid for the clergy; beseech for devout womenkind ; let all feel thine aid that worthily celebrate thy holy commemoration.

This song of praise to God for the perfection of our Lady, and the Versicle beseeching her to exercise her office of intercession, sum up the whole of the teaching of the three Nocturns and form an appropriate conclusion. The words of the Versicle are said to be from a sermon of St. Augustine. Notice the final emphasis on the Divine Maternity as the key to all her dignities, to all her prerogatives, to all her power. It is all summed up in the words of St. Matthew :— Mary, of whom was born Jesus Who is called the Christ [i. 16.].

From - The Little Office of Our Lady; a treatise theoretical, practical, and exegetical - Taunton, Ethelred L. (Ethelred Luke), 1857-1907