The Akathistos Hymn; Ode in Honour of the Holy Immaculate Most Blessed Glorious Lady Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary
Ditchling: Pepler & Sewell / S. Dominic's Press, 1934. Limited edition. Octavo (8 7/8 inches tall), original unbleached coarse linen boards, printed in red-and-black, uncut. Ink inscription to blank flyleaf. About Fine. Item #1361
"THE DELIVERANCE OF CONSTANTINOPLE FROM THE BARBARIANS"
Limited edition of the Akathistos Hymn—this copy belonged to Father Brocard Sewell, an early pressman at Ditchling and later a Catholic convert, Carmelite priest, and co-editor of the definitive bibliography of S. Dominic's Press. An superb association copy in exceptional condition.
This hymn to the Theotokos, a title given to Mary in the Orthodox Church, celebrates "the Deliverance of Constantinople from the Barbarians" in 626. Translated from the original Greek by Vincent McNabb, the sub-title gives Mary's title in full: "Our Holy, Immaculate, Most Blessed, Glorious Lady Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary." McNabb's Foreward laments that the Latin West "have drifted away even from the western Lady-love which gave them Ave Maris Stella and Salve Regina." One of 200 copies printed at St. Dominic's Press in September 1934. The text is arranged in 12 sections, numbered I - XII. The Greek inscription was engraved on wood by Philip Hagreen and printed in red on the front board and again after the printed title. The text concludes with a brief Bibliography and Liturgical Notes by Donald Attwater.
Taylor and Sewell notes that this edition was "printed and published chiefly at the suggestion of Count and Countess Bennigsen, Eastern-rite Catholics then living in Parkhill Road, London NW3 close to St. Dominic's Priory." After converting in 1931, "Brocard experienced monastic life in three religious orders, having tried out the Dominicans and Austin Canons before settling down with the Carmelites at Aylesford in Kent" in 1954. "Brocard's connection with Hilary Pepler, Eric Gill and the Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic dated back to his late schooldays, when he answered an advertisement in GK's Weekly for the workshops at Ditchling Common, Sussex. Arriving at St Dominic's Press, with its iron hand presses and frames containing cases of type, he felt he was entering a congenial new world. Within minutes, Pepler had handed him a setting stick and begun teaching him how to set up type by hand. After he left GK's, by now a Roman Catholic convert, he went back to Ditch ling as a compositor, and stayed for five years. In that Catholic community...Brocard found an emotional haven and professional direction. All his life he continued his involvement with the printing crafts. He paid a final debt to Pepler with his last great work of scholarship, the St Dominic's Press bibliography, magnificently printed at the Whittington Press in 1995" (Fiona MacCarthy in the Guardian: April 2000). Approbations. Taylor and Sewell, A236.