16 March 2010

Christus der uns selig macht

Here is my composite of previous translations with my own corrections, and my translation of st. 8, of the Passion hymn “Christus der uns selig macht” (M. Weisse, 1531), a German translation of the 14th c. Latin hymn “Patris Sapientia,” for the Canonical Hours of Good Friday, using their traditional names: (Lauds, i.e., before sunrise), (Prime, 6 AM), Terce (9 AM), Sext (12 PM), Nones (3 PM), Vespers (at sunset), Compline (at bedtime). If you wish to include the terms Lauds and Prime, you can use these alternate lines: stanza 1, line 3: "At the hour of Lauds for us"; stanza 2, line 1: "Then at Prime, the morning hour." Ludecus appoints it under the section from Palmarum through Good Friday. It takes the melody of the Latin hymn, as found in the hymnals of the Bohemian Brethren. Here is Bach's take.

CHRIST, WHO saves us by His cross,
And no sin committed,
In the dark of night for us
Was with shackles fitted,
Brought before a wicked court
Falsely charged, and smitten,
Spit upon, and mocked in sport,
As in Scripture written.

2. At the morning’s dawning hour,
As a rogue depicted,
Christ was under Pilate’s pow’r
Brought to be convicted:
Though he judged Him innocent
Of the charge of treason,
Yet to Herod was He sent
Urged by murd’rous reason.

3. Then at Terce His flesh was torn,
And by scourges furrowed
And a cruèl crown of thorn
In His brow deep-burrowed;
Mocked with robes of purple rich,
On all sides was chastened,
Made to bear the cross to which
He would soon be fastened.

4. Then at Sext the Son of God
In His crucifixion,
Naked but for the streams of blood,
Prayed with great affliction,
Those who hung or stood in view
Had Him in derision,
Till the sun her beams withdrew
From so sad a vision.

5. Then at Nones did Jesus call,
“How I am forsaken!”
Having vinegar and gall
Tasted but not taken,
Then His ghost to God He sent,
Shook the earth with wonder,
Gave the temple vail a rent,
Cleft the rocks asunder.

6. At the hour of Vesper-tide,
Robbers’ shins were broken,
But a spear pierced Jesus’ side,
For a lasting token:
Thence both blood and water flows,
To fulfill the Scriptures,—
As John’s holy Gospel shows —
All for us poor creatures.

7. When the hour of Compline came,
And the day was ended,
Joseph took His savior’s frame
From the cross suspended,
Laying it with custom grace
In his stony chamber,
Where guards kept it safe three days,
As Matthew remembers.

8. Grant, O Christ, God’s very Son,
By Thy bitter Passion
That all evils we may shun,
As Thy faithful nation;

Grant us fruitfully to think
On Thy death and suff’ring,
And for that, though oft we sink,
Bring Thee thankful off’ring!

Translation sts. 1–7 composite (ed. © M. Carver, 2010).
st. 8, © M. Carver, 2009.

1. Christus der uns selig macht,
kein Bös hat begangen,
der ward für uns in der Nacht
als ein Dieb gefangen,
geführt vor gottlose Leut,
und fälschlich verklaget,
verlacht, verhöhnt und verspeit,
wie denn die Schrift saget.

2. In der ersten Tagesstund
ward er unbescheiden
als ein Mörder dargestellt
Pilato, dem Heiden,
der ihn unschuldig bestand,
ohne Sach des Todes,
ihn derhalben von sich sandt
zum König Herodes.

3. Um drei ward der Gottessohn
mit Geißeln geschmissen
und sein Haupt mit einer Kron
von Dornen zerrissen;
gekleidet zu Hohn und Spott
ward er sehr geschlagen,
und das Kreuz zu seinem Tod
mußt er selber tragen.

4. Um sechs ward er nackt und bloß
an das Kreuz geschlagen,
an dem er sein blut vergroß,
betet mit Wehklagen:
die Zuseher spotten sein,
auch die bei ihm hingen,
bis die Sonn auch ihren Schein
entzog solchen Dingen.

5. Jesus schrie zur neunten Stund,
klaget sich verlassen;
bald ward Gall in seinen Mund
mit Essig gelassen;
da gab er auf seinen Geist,
und die Erd erbebet,
des Tempels Vorhang zerreißt,
und manch Fels zerklöbet.

6. Da hat man zur Vesperzeit
die Schächer zerbrochen,
ward Jesus in seiner Seit
mit eim Speer gestochen,
daraus Blut und Wasser rann,
die Schrift zu erfüllen,
wie Johannes zeiget an,
nur um unsertwillen.

7. Da der Tag sein Ende nahm,
der Abend war kommen,
ward Jesus vons Kreuzes Stamm
durch Joseph genommen,
herrlich, nach Jüdischer Art,
in ein Grab geleget,
allda mit Hütern verwahrt,
wie Matthäus zeiget.

8. O hilf, Christe, Gottes Sohn,
durch dein bitter Leiden,
daß wir stets dir unterthan
all Untugend meiden,
deinen Tod und sein Ursach
fruchtbarlich bedenken,
dafür, wiewohl arm und schwach,
dir Dankopfer schenken. (Amen.)
1. Christ, through whom we all are blest,
Knew no evil doing.
Him at night did they arrest,
Like a thief pursuing.
Led before the godless throng
And falsely convicted.
Laughed at, scoffed at, spat upon,
As the Word predicted.

1. Christ, who saves us by His cross,
Who in naught offended,
He was in the night for us
Betrayed, apprehended,
Led before a wicked race,
Falsely was accusèd,
Laughed at, mocked, spit in the face,
Shamefully abusèd.

2. In the morn, at the sixth hour,
He was led with fury,
As a foe of civil pow’r,
’Fore a heathen jury,
Who him tried, but found him free
Of th’ imputed treason;
Herod mockèd Him, yet He
Found for death no reason.

3. At nine was the Son of God
By the scourges furrowed,
And the thorny crown forc’d blood
From His sacred forehead.
With a purple garment mocked,
On all sides assailèd,
He must bear the cross to which
He was to be nailèd.

4. He at noon was on the cross
Reared for our transgression,
Where He prayed and bled for us,
To procure salvation:
The spectators shook their heads,
Had Him in derision,
Till the sun His beams withdrew
From so sad a vision.

5. At three Jesus cried, “My God,
Why am I forsaken?”
Having vinegar and gall,
Which was offered, taken,
He then yielded up the ghost!
Pause, my soul, and wonder;—
Then the temple’s vail was rent,
Rocks were cleft asunder.

6. When the Lord of glory died,
Not a bone was broken,
But a soldier pierced His side
For a lasting token:
From thence streamed a double flood
Of a cleansing nature;
Both the water and the blood
Wash the guilty creature.

7. Joseph, having leave obtained,
And got spices ready,
From the cross (by love constrained)
Took our Savior’s body:
Had it, with all decent grace,
To His own tomb carried;
Where the keepers for three days
To secure it tarried.

8. Grant, O Christ, Thou Son of God,
Through Thy bitter passion,
That we, as Thy smart’s reward,
Joy in Thy salvation:
That we ever weigh the cause
Of Thy death and suff’ring,
Yea for this, though poor we are,
Bring thee our thank-off’ring!

JACOBI (1725)
1 Christ, by Whose all-saving Light
Mankind benefited,
Was for Sinners in the Night
As a Thief committed.
Dragged before a wicked Court
Of the Jewish Clergy ;
Where they tried their worst Effort
'Gainst the Lord of Mercy.

2. Sentenced early by this Crew,
As the worst of Sinners,
Came to Pilate, who foreknew
This Tumult's Beginners :
Though he judged Him innocent
Of their Accusation,
Yet to Herod He was sent
For his Arbitration.

3. Then His holy Flesh was torn
With inhuman Lashes,
And His blessed Head in Scorn
- Crowned of sinful Ashes :
Cloathed in a Purple Dress,
Mocked, and beat, and bruised ;
Thus the Source of Holiness
Was by Sin misused.

4. Then at Noon the Son of God
To the Cross was nailed.
Where His fervent Prayer and Blood
For our Sins prevailed :
The Spectators shook their Head,
Had Him in derision,
Till the Sun-light mourning fled
From so sad a Vision.

5. When at Three they heard Him call :
“Why am I forsaken ?”
Strait was Vinegar mixed with Gall
Offered, but not taken :
Then to God His Spirit went,
Shaking the Earth with Wonder,
Gave the Vail a thorough Rent,
Cleft the Rocks asunder.

6. At the approaching Evening Tide,
Criminals Bones were broken ;
But the Spear pierced Jesus' Side,
For a lasting Token :
Which poured forth a double Flood
Of a cleansing Nature.
Both the Water and the Blood
Wash the guilty Creature.

7. Joseph, when the Eve was come,
Took his dearest Master,
Laid Him in his Stately Tomb,
Hewn in Alabaster ;
Nicodem, now void of Fear,
Brought the richest Spices :
Thus these holy Men paid here
Their last Sacrifices.

8. Grant, O Jesu, blessed Lord,
By Thy Cross and Passion,
Thy blest Love may be adored
By the whole Creation :
Hating Sin, the woful Cause
Of Thy Death and Suffering,
Give our Heart to_obey Thy Laws
As the best Thanks-offering.

1. Circled by His enemies,
By His own forsaken,
God made Man, at time of LAUDS,
For our sakes was taken:
Very Wisdom, Very Light,
Monarch long expected,
In the garden by the Jews
Bought, betrayed, afflicted.

2. See them, at the hour of PRIME,
Unto Pilate leading
Him, ‘gainst Whom with lying tongues
Witnesses are pleading;
There with spitting and with shame
Ill for good they render,
Marring of That Face which gives
Heav’n Eternal splendour.

3. “Crucify Him!” for His love
Is their bitter payment,
When they lead Him forth at TERCE,
Clad in purple raiment;
And a Crown of woven thorns
On his Head He weareth,
And the Cross to Calvary
On His Shoulders beareth.

4. He upon the Cross at SEXT
for man’s sake was mounted,
By the passers-by reviled,
With transgressors counted:
Mocking, vinegar, and gall
To His thirst they proffer:
To the Holy Lamb of God
Such taunts they offer.

5. At the hour of NONE the strife
Long and sharp was ended,
Gently to His Father’s Hands
He his soul commended:
And a soldier pierced His Side
With a spear unbidden,
While earth quaked exceedingly,
And the sun was hidden.

6. When it came to VESPER-time,
From the Cross they take Him,
Whose great Love t bear such woes
For our sakes could make Him:
Such a death He underwent,
Our alone Physician,
That of everlasting Life
We might have fruition.

7. At the holy COMPLINE-tide,
Holy hands array Him
In the garments of the grave,
Where the mourners lay Him:
Myrrh and spices have they brought,–
Scripture is completed;
And by death, the Prince of Life,
Death and hell defeated.

8. Therefore these Canonical
Hours my tongue shall ever
In thy praise, O Christ, recite
With my heart’s endeavour:
That the Love, Which for my sake
Bore such tribulation,
In mine own Death-agony
May be my Salvation.
TROUTBECK (st. 1 only):
1. See the Lord of Life and Light,
Savior meek and lowly,
Taken like a thief at night,
Bound by hands unholy,
See the sinless Son of God
Shameful mockings bearing,
Bitter taunts, a cruèl rod,
Doom of sinners sharing.

  • The wisdom of the Father, and truth divine beside (Primer 1604)
  • As night departing brings the day (Primer, 1706)
  • The wisdom of the heavenly Father (D. French 1839)
  • Christ the Author of our peace (Burlingham 1866)
  • ‘Twas at the solemn Matins’ hour (Aylward, in Shipley’s Annus Sanctus, 1884).


Sean said...

reuning's first stanza is good: Christ through whom we all are blest, knew no evil doing. him at night did they arrest, like a thief persuing. led before the godless throng and falsely convicted. laughed at, scoffed at, spat upon, as the word predicted.

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Thanks for the comment, and God's blessings to Reuning. That is a nicely worded stanza.

singlutheranchorales said...

Wonderful translation, Matt! Many thanks for providing this. One aspect of your translations that has been so helpful is the brief comments you attach to them. Perhaps a short explanation on the meaning and historical use of "Terce, Compline" etc. might be helpful, if you have a moment. Quite a few Lutheran readers might only be familiar with the words "Matins" and "Vespers" (and perhaps not realize even what those two words signify.)

A comment on your first stanza: "dragged" might give the impression that Jesus went unwillingly.


Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Thanks Jonathan. I've incorporated your suggestions.

David L. Almond said...

God blesses Dr. Reuning, I am sure, but not for the translation you list in connection with his name. The proper attribution for this is to Henry S. Drinker. His translation may be found in Arthur Mendel's edition of the Passion According to St. John by Johann Sebastian Bach [New York: G. Schirmer, 1951, p. 69]

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Thanks for your clarification, David. I suppose Reuning must have used that translation, and so I misread the possessive in Sean's post, and am sorry not to have checked on the source.