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I. THE ALPHABETICAL HYMN OF ST. SECHNALL, OR SECUNDINUS,
IN PRAISE OF ST. PATRICK.
HE following Hymn was first published by Colgan, in 1647 (Trias Thaum.
p. 210); but he has not said from what manuscript authority he derived his text. It was afterwards printed by Sir James Ware, in the Appendix to his Opuscula S. Patricii (1656), from a MS. which had belonged to the Convent of the Franciscan Friars of Donegal, but was then in the library of Archbishop Ussher'. Ware had also, as he tells us, a MS. of later date (“manu recentiori exarato"), from which he has given some various readings in his margin.
The Hymn was next printed in 1713, in the Antiphonarium Benchorense, published by Muratori, from a MS. of the eighth century, written in the Monastery of Bangor, county of Down, and now preserved in the Ambrosian Library, Milan.
It was also reprinted from the editions of Ware and Colgan, by Dr. Joachiin Laur. Villanueva, in his Opuscula S. Patrici, Dublin, 1835 (Append. * No. 11., p. 307). This learned writer, however, did not make use of any independent manuscript authority. It has been published also, copied exactly from Ware's edition, in the Bibliotheca Patrum of Gallandius, tom. x. p. 183.
The text of the present edition is printed exactly as it stands in the Liber Hymnorum of Trinity College, Dublin, the various readings of another manu
1"Descriptus ille Hymnus alphabeticus, ex aliquas lectiones ad marginem apponere visumi antiquo MS. Hymnorum, olim ad conventum fuit.”—Ibid, p. 151. This second copy was ordinis minorum de observantia Donegalliæ certainly not that preserved in the Leabhar pertinente, nunc in Bibliotheca instructissima Breac. Usseriana asservato."-S. Patr. Opusc. p. 150. • Muratori, Anecd. Ambros. tom. iv. pp. 127
2 “Est et aliud hujus Hymni exemplar, è -159: Patao. 1713 ; Opere, tom. xi. part iii. quo, licet manu recentiori exarato, variantes pp. 217-251: Arezzo, 1770.
script copy, and of the above-named printed editions, being given in the Notes. This second MS. of the Hymn is preserved in the Leabhar Breac, or “Speckled Book," a great Bibliotheca of various ancient works in the Irish language, chiefly ecclesiastical, now in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy. Although written in the latter part of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century, this copy was evidently transcribed from an older MS., and represents a text of a much earlier date. The text of the Hymn, both in the Liber Hymnorum and in the Leabhar Breac, is accompanied by a gloss and scholia, which are now printed for the first time. In some places, especially in the Liber Hymnorum, the gloss is obliterated, and is now illegible; in such cases, the hiatus is marked by dots. In a few instances, where the defect has been restored by conjecture, the words supplied are included between brackets.
It seems highly probable that the MS. of the Liber Hymnorum, quoted repeatedly by Colgan, and from which he published the Hymn of St. Sechnall, was the same which is now preserved in the Franciscan College of St. Isidore, at Rome. That MS. belonged to the Convent of Donegal, with which Colgan was associated, and it is now found in a foreign Franciscan convent connected with Ireland, and in company with other MSS. which were undoubtedly in Colgan's hands.
The same volume may also possibly be the authority to which Sir James Ware refers, and from which he derived his text of this Hymn, for he states distinctly that the MS. which he employed was formerly in the possession of the Convent of Donegal.
There are, however, some difficulties in the way of this opinion; there is no evidence to show that the MS. now at St. Isidore's was ever a part of the library of Archbishop Ussher, as Ware tells us was the case with the MS. he used; which was, he says, olim the property of the convent of friars minors of Donegal, but was then, when he wrote, in the Ussher Library,—" nunc in Bibliotheca instructissima Usseriana conservato.”
Again, the text, as printed by Ware, does not agree with that edited by Colgan as exactly as it might be expected to do, if they had both copied the same MS., but neither does it agree exactly with that of the Dublin Liber Hymnorum ; so that, even though we should suppose this latter MS., of which we have no evidence, to have belonged to the Convent of Donegal before it came into the possession of Archbishop Ussher, it would not follow that it was the MS. to which Ware refers. It must, however, be observed that too
much stress ought not to be placed on discrepancies of this nature, as the greater part of them may have arisen from careless printing, in which Colgan's book abounds, or from inattention to the characters and contractions of the MS.
On the other hand, it is to be borne in mind that Archbishop Ussher appears to have had in his possession, or at least to have had access to, another copy of the Irish Hymnarium, which may have been that from which Ware transcribed the Hymn. In the Epistle to Vossius, prefixed to his book “De Romanæ Ecclesiæ symbolo apostolico vetere,” Ussher speaks of a “Codex vetustissimus hymnorum, partim Latino, partim Hibernico sermone scriptorum," as being then in his possession; from this MS. he cites a passage in which the Athanasian Creed is said to have been composed by three bishops at the Nicene Council; and another in which the Te Deum is ascribed to one Nicetas. Neither of these statements is to be found in the Dublin Liber Hymnorum, where the Te Deum is inscribed : “ Hæc est laus sanctæ Trinitatis, quam Augustinus et Ambrosius composuit.” The inference, therefore, is, that Ussher had before him a second copy of the Hymnarium; whether this was or was not the MS. now preserved at Rome, we have no means of determining. It would be interesting to know if that MS. asserts Nicetas to be the author of the Te Deum.
To avoid repetitions, the foregoing MSS. and printed editions have been referred to in the notes by letters of the alphabet, as follows :The Liber Hymnorum,
V. The Hymns and other documents preserved in the Liber Hymnorum are, for the most part, preceded each by an historical Introduction, giving the name of the author, with the date and occasion on which each was composed. No such Introduction, however, is prefixed to the following Hymn, which is the first in the volume, and has only the title (in rubric), Incipit ymnus sci Patricii episcopi Scotorum”. In Colgan's MS., however, there was a Pre
· In the Antiphonarium Benchorense, in prefaces, the title of this Hymn is “Hymnus which there are no historical arguments or sancti Patritii Magistri Scotorum."