Lux perpetua luceat eis [singular: ei/eo?]

Discussion in 'Lingua Latina (Latin)' started by TarisWerewolf, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. TarisWerewolf Senior Member

    Canada (English)
    In this phrase from the Latin Requiem, "Et lux perpetua luceat eis.", I would like to know what case is being used for eis. I know it can either be Dative or Ablative. I'm wanting to know because I would like to make that sentence singular, but the dative and ablative singular of is are not the same. So would it be:

    Et lux perpetua luceat ei.
    Et lux perpetua luceat eo.

  2. miguel89

    miguel89 Senior Member


    It is in the dative case. It expresses whom the eternal light is lighting for. So, in singular, it would be luceat ei.
  3. I think it's ablative. In the versions of the Requiem Mass used for an individual (e.g. at their funeral), it's " ... luceat eo/ea", meaning "May perpetual light shine on him/her"

    "On" takes the ablative, not the dative.
  4. miguel89

    miguel89 Senior Member

    I didn't know about that, so, regarding the thread starter's question, ablative is the right answer. Anyway, I think that dative would still be possible in the sense of "may eternal light illuminate for them".
  5. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member


    Just to clear things up here. There is no doubt about this whatever: eis is here dative. Kevin (# 3) is right about "in"/"on" when the Latin preposition in is involved (Latin differs from Greek or German or Russian in that no Latin preposition takes a dative case), but that is not involved here. With the words of the Requiem, compare e.g. Cat. 8.3 and 8, "fulsere...candidi tibi soles".
  6. Kevin might have confused "et lux perpetua luceat ei" from the Requiem mass and "ora(te) pro eo/ea" ("pray for him") from Litania Sanctorum (which is also often sung in funeral services, i- e- the funeral of Pope John Paul II). There the more usual plural form "eis" is ineed an ablative :)
  7. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Not according to the Roman Rite; see for example the Ordo Absolutionis in the 1962 typical edition of the Roman Missal, specifically 5196, 5198, 5199. (A facsimile can be downloaded here as a searchable PDF file.)
  8. I served Mass for many years while the Latin rite was still normative, and that included a lot of funerals. It was definitely luceat eo or luceat ea every time, not luceat ei.

    Two technical points arise. The first is that this is ecclesiastical Latin and not classical Latin. Ecclesiastical Latin arose some centuries after the classical period and was based on the ordinary speech of the people, which had never been the same as the language of Cicero's or Caesar's writings.

    The other is that I can't find any rule as to what case the transitive form of lucere might take. In English luceat can logically be translated as "shine for" or "shine on", although I have never heard "shine for ...." used in English versions of the Requiem Mass. If both the English possibilities reflect the Latin meaning then, again logically, lucere could take either the dative (for) or the ablative (on).

    I can't explain the Ordo Absolutionis to which you linked us, unless the use of the dative or ablative is indeed optional. Googling for "luceat eo or ea" reveals many official Catholic Church sites with obituaries and memorials using eo and ea.
  9. CapnPrep Senior Member

    You did also Google "luceat ei", I assume? The ablative pronouns may be used by some, but they are greatly outnumbered by examples of the dative. I think that describing the choice between dative and ablative as "optional" is rather overstating the case.
    I would say that English translations that use on/upon you are still rendering a dative pronoun: a light that shines for you/on your behalf is understood, according to the context, as a light that shines upon you, before you, within you, etc. Moreover, many other languages preserve the dative construction:
    • und das ewige Licht leuchte ihnen
    • e splenda ad essi la luce perpetua
    • a światłość wiekuista niechaj im świeci

    The Latin text is adapted from 2(4) Esdras 2:35, which unfortunately also contains a syncretic pronoun (vobis). I have found one unambiguous example in the Vulgate of lucere with a dative pronoun:
    • et lux lucernae non lucebit tibi amplius et vox sponsi et sponsae non audietur adhuc in te (Rev 18:23)
    What I have not found thus far is lucere with an ablative complement, in particular not with an ablative personal pronoun expressing the person in whom or upon whom (without an explicit preposition). This construction is — as far as I know — impossible in classical Latin, and I would be surprised to see it used with any regularity in ecclesiastical Latin, with its increased reliance on prepositions.
  10. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Greetings once more.

    I think part of Kevin's problem (##3, 8 in this Thread) is a misunderstanding of the functions of the Dative Case. Of course it is regularly translated into English as "to" or "for", and that is how we are taught it at school.

    Its real semantic function (and not only in Latin, as CapnPrep's examples from German, Italian and Polish demonstrate), however, is as an indirect object - that is, for the person or thing affected by the action of the verb - which may or may not be transitive in sense (hence, among other things, the so called "dative of disadvantage", the "ethic" dative and the "possessive" dative, among other uses (see e.g. Gildersleeve/Lodge §§ 344ff., in the 1965 reprint of the third edn. of 1895), or Jones/Sidwell, Reading Latin: Grammar, Vocabulary & Exercises (1986), pp. 522ff.). lucere, incidentally, is not normally used transitively, anyway.
  11. CapnPrep Senior Member

    Another thing I've noticed about these sites is that they often use the same pronoun eo or ea in both parts of the introit:
    • Requiem aeternam dona ea Domine; et lux perpetua luceat ea. (A Tribute to Mary Pickford, source)
    • Requiem æternam dona eo, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eo. (Arthur Crumly RIP, source) [posted by the chairman of the Latin Mass Society… :rolleyes:]
    There are also "many" examples of dona eae / luceat eae… In such cases we are dealing with writers who simply have a poor grasp of Latin (the notion of cases and/or the declension of is). I think that there is also a sort of laísmo effect for English speakers, who are accustomed to common gender them in the plural, but may feel the need to distinguish him and her in the singular.
  12. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Another observation:

    Exactly. Even the online Catholic Encyclopaeida prints "lucabit" [sic] in its rendering of the Vulgate words of 2 Edras which CapnPrep cites (#9). I would place no trust whatever in websites, or funeral messages, however personally devout or well-intentioned the sources from which they emanate, parroting what are plainly errors which no doubt a man of Pope Benedict's learning would deplore.
  13. rgealf New Member

    English (Manx > Northern > plus)
  14. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    English - British
    I have to agree entirely with those who say that only the dative case is correct here.
    Thus eo and ea are incorrect and, in any case, *eae is impossible.
    The dative singluar of is is ei in masculine, feminine and neuter. See Lewis and Short sv and Allen and Greenough, § 146.

    Thus there are only two correct variants for this phrase: eis plural and ei singular.

    Wikipedia on the Tridentine Mass has a link to a reproduction of the Roman missal (1920).
    In the Absolution over the Grave, it gives:

    V. Requiem ætérnam dona ei (eis), Dómine.
    R. Et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis).

    In English:
    V. Grant him (her, them) eternal rest, O Lord.
    R. And may perpetual light shine upon him (her, them).
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  15. XiaoRoel

    XiaoRoel Senior Member

    Vigo (Galiza)
    galego, español
    Totalmente de acuerdo con Wandle. Luceo se construye con dativo de persona beneficiada (o perjudicada) con la acción (éste es el valor semántico del dativo en latín)
    Y no sólo en el latín bíblico sino ya en Plauto y en Cicerón encontramos la construcción con dativo inequívoco. En español la traducción refleja también ese OI latino: Brille para ellos la luz eterna.
  16. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Greetings, all

    I am impelled to react to rgealf's post (#13) with a double, nay triple qualification to do so - I know Latin, I know German and I know music.

    As a Latinist, I have to recommend rgealf to ignore "Google translate" altogether, and rather to follow the unanimous advice offered here by wandle and XiaoRoel, as well as myself - lucere in the sense of "to shine [upon]" is always found with the dative. leuchten mir in German is a tad different, in the sense that it can be construed as "shine, for me, please" (compare Hans Sachs' words in his closing peroration in Meistersinger, "Verachte mir die Meister nicht"), as well as "shine on me", or in the sense in which verbs such as helfen, folgen or gefallen demand the dative (that would in any case be mich beleuchten, "light me up"!).

    Musical composers of all kinds (poets too) need sometimes to take liberties with the words for the sake of musical structure and rhythm. A fine example is Bach's Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott, where the feminine noun Burg "should" have the feminine article, "Eine", but for rhythmic and musical reasons JSB truncates it.

    But that does not involve a liberty with the grammar. For musical purposes you might get away with mi (abbreviated form of the dative mihi, found in some poetry). But the setting should reflect that with a long-ish note on the word, unlike the short Italian mi as in mi piace.

    Composers since even before the middle ages have had to wrestle (not always succesfully) with the fit between words (and verbal sense) in liturgical languages, and the musical coherence. But the best of them manage it somehow, whether Palestrina or Janacek.

    Good luck
  17. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    Scholiast’s Latin is impeccable, but I need to take issue with his German. The hymn Ein feste Burg, is, first of all, not by Bach; its words and melody are in fact by Luther. The omission of the final –e of the article, and of adjectives, is very common in Early New High German. There is some rule on here limiting the number of lines one is allowed to quote, but if you want to look up the whole text you will see that there are at least a dozen examples of this is this one hymn (ein gute Wehr; der alt böse Feind; groß Macht; sein grausam Rüstung etc. etc.)
  18. langnerd Member

    English (NE US), Hindi/Urdu, Punjabi
    Argument from usage:

    Google search for "lux perpetua luceat ei" 178K results
    "lux perpetua luceat eo" 665 results
    "lux perpetua luceat ea" 1.24K results
    "lux perpetua luceat eis" 2.12M results

    Argument from authority: the words in question are not actually in the Requiem Mass, but they are found in the Rite of Absolution afterwards. The singlular form is given "V. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine. R. Et lux perpetua luceat ei. V. Requiescat in pace. R. Amen." (I confirmed this from, a very reliable site of the Canons of St John Cantius)

    Note: in the Office of the Dead (traditional) the verse is always used in the plural anyway, even if if the Office is said for one person. There are other things (collects) that do change, but the not the "Requierm aeternam ... et lux perpetua ...."

    I also found two instances of John Paul II saying the phrase with "ei":

    There are no instances of "eo" or "ea" at
  19. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    Greetings once more!

    Two footnotes. First, thanks to fdb (# 17) for reminding us that (not for the first or the last time) Bach borrowed both words and the tune from Luther - though he made them his own in that wonderful fugue.

    But isn't this nevertheless, even if not used with an apostrophe to indicate an omission, similar to English usage of "'tis", "'twere", "don't", "can't" &c.? Incidentally, in German it is used with verbs and other parts of speech too:

    Hilf, o Herr Jesu, hilf du mir,
    Dass ich noch heute komm zu dir [= "komme"]
    Und Buße tu den Augenblick,
    Eh mich der schnelle Tod hinrück, [= "Ehe", "hinrücke"]
    Auf dass ich heut und jederzeit [= "heute"]
    Zu meiner Heimfahrt sei bereit.

    [Note to Moderator: apologies for straying here into territory properly belonging in another Forum - but since fdb brought it up here, I thought this might be of interest to Latinists as well.]

    And in response to langnerd (# 18):

    I'm not convinced that "Argument from usage" is very useful where classical languages are concerned. Grammar, even Latin grammar, is admittedly a set of conventions rather than an inviolable prescriptive régime, but the canons of rectitude are, so to speak, more fossilised than they could or should be in a modern language.
  20. langnerd Member

    English (NE US), Hindi/Urdu, Punjabi
    I agree, I wasn't presenting the usage as an airtight argument! The grammar itself having been discussed, I wanted to offer more information.

    For example if I was using this phrase on a prayer card for a deceased family member, I would not mind knowing that the usage seems so overwhelmingly towards the plural, but when the singular it tends towars dative (ei).

    The argument from authority is also useful. Could the Rite have a grammar error? I guess so. The English translations of the modern rites have phrases I find awkward and would rewrite. But if it's always the dative in the Rite of Absolution, it's just worth knowing. Given these two facts, I think the burden of proof is on those who want to argue for the ablative.
  21. Scholiast

    Scholiast Senior Member

    salue iterum

    I don't think anyone is "arguing for" the ablative. It's just plain wrong (cf. wandle's contribution above, # 14).
  22. langnerd Member

    English (NE US), Hindi/Urdu, Punjabi
    Look at the second post in this thread

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