Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Ilocano Pasyon: Sudario and Lectio

            I just came from Abra and even if up there the scorching summer sun is nearer to mother earth, you can still be refreshed by the rich traditions during the Semana Santa (Holy Week). The singing of the Sudario—the Lament (Dung-aw) of the Blessed Mother on the death her son can still be heard played over the radio stations both AM and FM.

           The  Sudario (literally “handkerchief” in Latin; cf. Santa Veronica’s sudario), inculturation of the dung-aw, the pre-colonial Ilocano dirge, consists of five lines of eight syllables per stanza. Every part has ten stanzas with the tenth as a two-line verse that summons a personified Jerusalem. It is sung soulfully—there is a “drawl,” a prolongation of a vowel sound such as “ah” to make thee lament even more emphatic and mournful.  Unlike  the Tagalog Pasyon whose musical setting has adjusted to contemporary music, the original melody of the Sudario has endured and continues to be heard throughout the Lenten season especially during Good Friday before the Santo Entierro (the image of the dead Christ in supine position). The sample stanzas below is taken from part IV of the Sudario published in The Ilocos Review 2 (1970), pp. 119-120:
            Ay O Sudario ni Veronica
            A nacaipintaan ti tallo a sinan rupa
            Iyasidegmo man ta agcac ida
            Daguita ladaoan a naipinta
            Daydi anacco a binunga.

            [Oh Sudario of Veronica,
            On which three pictures are impressed,
            Come nearer, come, that I may kiss
            The three images which are taken—
            Pictures of Christ, my begotten son.]

            Ay ay-ayatec a bul-lalayaw
            Sadino aya ti papanam
            Ay anacco matmatannac man
            Iti ladingitco a diac maturdan
            Iti ipupusaymo isisinam.

            [Ah, beautiful rainbow, my beloved!
            Whither have you one now?
            Look down and see well, my son
            My great sorrow, unbearable,
            Because from me you’re departing].

The recording here is part of the collection of radio station DZPA, Bangued, Abra.

       The Ilocano Pasyon is said to be a translation of the Tagalog Pasyon Genesis or Pasyong Mahal a poetic retelling of the key events of the scripture from Creation to Resurrection. The Ilocano Pasyon is rarely chanted nowadays unlike the Sudario and the Lectio.  The Lectio (Latin for “Reading”) is the chanting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah in Latin (Vulgate) in typical Ilocano melody. The Sasainnec (Lamentations) in the Hebrew text is an alphabetical acrostic poem. Each poem has twenty-two verses; each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The Latin translation spells out these Hebrew letters before each poem. Thus the Ilocano Lectio begins with a long but impassioned singing of Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

         The Lectio is a local adaptation or inculturation of the Tenebrae (Latin for “darkness”), the night prayer services during the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday)  which include the reading of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. Likewise, the Improperia (“Reproaches) whose texts are from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, are chanted during the veneration of the Cross on Good Friday.

         The Lectio that you hear in this recording is from Lamentions 3:1-9  sung on Good Friday.  The singers are the members of the Men’s Choir from Tayum, Abra. Special thanks to the Ballena family for allowing me to use the recording.

The text reads:
ALEPH ego vir videns paupertatem meam in virga indignationis eius 2 ALEPH me minavit et adduxit in tenebris et non in lucem 3 ALEPH tantum in me vertit et convertit manum suam tota die 4 BETH vetustam fecit pellem meam et carnem meam contrivit ossa mea 5 BETH aedificavit in gyro meo et circumdedit me felle et labore 6 BETH in tenebrosis conlocavit me quasi mortuos sempiternos 7 GIMEL circumaedificavit adversum me ut non egrediar adgravavit conpedem meam 8 GIMEL sed et cum clamavero et rogavero exclusit orationem meam 9 GIMEL conclusit vias meas lapidibus quadris semitas meas subvertit.

[Translation from NRSV: 1  I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God's wrath; 2 he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; 3 against me alone he turns his hand, again and again, all day long. 4 He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones; 5 he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; 6 he has made me sit in darkness like the dead of long ago. 7 He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me; 8 though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; 9 he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked].

As in the other poems, it ends with call for Jerusalem to return to the Lord in the concluding refrain Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum ("Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord your God").

         Blessed Easter to all!
Fr. Randy Flores, SVD
Divine Word Seminary
4120 Tagaytay City

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