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Anima Christi

By Raymond Helble

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Choral - Advanced Intermediate
Composed by Raymond Helble. Sacred, Renaissance. Score. 9 pages. Published by Raymond Helble (S0.6338).

Item Number: S0.6338

Notes on Text and PerformanceWhile the prayer Anima Christi is - and has been for centuries - often falsely attributed to St. Ignatius Loyola (b. 1491,) scholars have found the prayer in medieval texts that antedate St. Ignatius by well over a century. Among the first instances of note concerning this prayer in surviving manuscripts, Pope John XXII offered indulgences for saying the Anima in 1330.It is fair to say that there is a strong meditative element in the Anima Christi: while it is certainly a prayer in the most elemental sense in that the one saying the prayer is asking for something, the powerful imagery evoked, and the almost purely spiritual seeking of help and protection voiced in the prayer forces the person praying the Anima to think about aspects of Christ’s passion and his or her own human frailty that cannot help but bring the thoughtful soul to a point of deep reflection on mortality and salvation.The Latin of the prayer is simple but dignified, and a beautifully balanced example of the rhetorical figure anaphora - the repetition of an opening phrase through several iterations. For the most part, it is easily translated by nearly any educated person. One phrase, however, needs a bit of amplification; Sanguis Christi, inebria me. This is usually translated - not incorrectly - as Blood of Christ, inebriate me. Those who are not especially sensitive to language might think of the verb “to inebriate” as being synonymous with “to make drunk.” However, the word also has the connotations - both in Late Latin and English - of “to exhilarate” and “to make deliriously happy.” Here, inebriate is to be understood in this latter sense.Musically, I have made an effort to emulate a High Renaissance style without being too slavish in the imitation. The style suits the poetry and the sentiments expressed by the prayer. I would never argue that a more “modern” execution cannot be highly successful: I assert only that this piece can be done just as a choir might do a motet or Mass movement by Palestrina or Vittoria. Translation of TextAnima Christi, sanctifica me. Soul of Christ, sanctify me.Sanguis Christi, inebria me. Blood of Christ, inebriate me.Aqua lateris Christi, lava me. Water from the side of Christ, wash me.Passio Christi, conforta me. Passion of Christ, comfort me.O bone Iesu, exaudi me. O good Jesus, hear me.Intra Tua vulnera, absconde me. Hide me in Thy wounds.Ne permittas me separari a Te. Never allow to be parted from Thee.Ab hostes maligno, defende me. From the malignant enemy, defend me.In hora mortis meæ, voca me. In the hour of my death, call me.

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