08 December 2009

Komm, Heiden Heiland, Lösegeld

Here is my translation of the Advent hymn “Komm, Heiden Heiland, Lösegeld” (J. Franck) after Ambrose, Veni redemptor gentium, which after a suggestion I now present as an alternative to Miss Winkworth’s abbreviated translation.

1. Come, Savior, Price of heathendom,
Earth’s fairest Lily, hither come!
Send down Thy radiant flame, for thus
God wishes to be born to us.

2. Not by a husband’s pow’r and love
But by the Spirit from above
The maiden pure conceives our cure,
Divine salvation dwells in her.

3. O wonder deep, O mystery,
That virgin chaste with child should be!
Her womb to godly pow’r is wed,
Yet whole remains her maidenhead.

4. Come down, for Thee a virgin throne
Awaits, O Jesus, God’s true Son;
Come down, Thou Lord of natures two,
This earthly vale go boldly through.

5. Thou mad’st a leap to earth below
And back to heaven then didst go,
Thou mad’st a leap to hell’s abyss,
And once again to heaven’s bliss.

6. Most noble Prince, with Father one,
Make this domain of flesh Thine own,
For here our bodies, sick and slight,
Aspire to know Thy heav’nly might.

7. There shines within Thy manger frail
A lamp to light this gloomy vale:
It fills the night with such a glow
That never any end shall know.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2009.

1. Komm, Heiden-Heiland, Lösegeld,
Komm, schönste Lilie dieser Welt!
Laß abwärts flammen deinen Schein,
Denn so will Gott geboren sein.

2. Nicht von des Mannes Kraft und Lieb’,
Ach nein, blos durch des Geistes Trieb
Empfängt die keusche Jungfrau hier;
Es wohn ein göttlich Heil in ihr.

3. O Wunder, das kein Mensch versteht,
Daß eine Jungfrau schwanger geht!
Der Leib wird schwer durch Gottes Kraft,
Doch unverletzt der Jungrauschaft.

4. Komm an, dir steht der Keuschheit Thron
Schon offen, Jesu, Gottes Sohn,
Komm an, du zweigestammter Held,
Geh muthig durch dies Thal der Welt.

5. Du nahmest erdwärts deinen Lauf
Und stiegst auch wieder himmelauf,
Dein’ Abfahrt war zum Höllenthal,
Die Rückfahrt in den Sternensaal.

6. O höchter Fürst, dem Vater gleich,
Besieg’ hier dieses Fleischesreich,
Denn unsres sichen Liebes Haft
Sehnt sich nach deiner Himmelskraft.

7. Es glänzet deiner Krippen Strahl,
Ein Licht leucht’t durch dies finstre Thal,
Es giebt die Nacht so hellen Schein,
Der da wird unverlöschlich sein.


Walter said...

When Franck saw this hymn, it was barely 50 years old and was not St.Ambrose's words but Johann Campanus' (a.k.a. Vodnansky among other names) new hymn barely a generation old. Julian's Dictionary gives the first and last verses in Latin. See page 201.

Thanks for providing the German here, Matt. It's been difficult to find. Walter

Walter said...

Hi Matt, I hope you saw my first comment from this morning, thanking/congratulating you for this latest translation as I thought it was superb. Walter

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Yes indeed, and thank you kindly. Surely Campanus' hymn goes back to Ambrose's, having so many similarities as it does?

Walter said...

Matt, I must say that you have a gift for not just 'translating' but making it very close to the orginal thought & doctrine 'behind the words'.

It is difficult enough to translate into prose, but you can translate poetically while obeying the religious-theology of the original itself. There is nothing 'diluted' in the outcome.

So you are faithfully transmitting that pietistic century into our own with a 21st century freshness yet a loyalty to the 'original'. That's amazing. (Ive been reading, singing and praying hymns for 4 decades, so I recognize something great when it passes my way...)

Campanus added his own 17th century piety to Ambrose's 4th century words, yes....