15 September 2011

Dicimus grates tibi

Here is my translation of “Dicimus grates tibi summe rerum Conditor” (P. Melanchthon, 1539) from the Latin rather than from the German paraphrase by Paul Eber (†1569; translations of that have been made by Seiss and Cronenwett). This one preserves the meter. I provide the melody from Lossius Psalmodia (1579):

THANKS UNTO THEE, O highest Lord, Creator,
We through Thy Son for angel hosts now render,
Who by Thy hand as flames of fire were fashioned
Ministers blameless.

2. Bright with Thy brilliance, they reflect Thy glory,
With raptured gazes eer Thy face beholding,
Wisdom from Thee as from the Fountain drawing,
Thy Words receiving.

3. Thou dost not suffer this Thy holy people
Idly to tarry, nor their flight to squander
Round the vast ethers, playing in breezes,
As though unheeding.

4. Them hast Thou bidden to be Christ’s attendants,
And to keep vigil where the godly gather,
Where Thy commandments fitting praise are given
And well implanted.

5. For hotly burning with ungodly hatred,
Satan the dragon, by whom sin and dying
This world first entered, furious on thy barracks
Wages his warfare.

6. Here seeking only ruin and destruction
Of house and city, church and congregation,
All Thy commandments, and all holy conduct,—
Fain would he raze them.

7. Yet o’er us watching, heav’nly troops of angels
Follow their Captain, Christ, the high Commander,
Curbing the bloody weapons of the dragon,
Whereso he rages.

8. Angels saved Lot from Sodom’s devastation,
Harbored Elisha from the hostile armies;
Ringed round by angels, he beheld unfearing
Banners of battle.

9. Safe mid the circling lions stood the prophet
Daniel, surrounded by a hedge of angels;
Thus doth God ever by His faithful servants
Keep us in shelter.

10. This Thy protection we devoutly honor,
As unto Thee our choirs, their voices blending
With choirs angelic, thankful anthems render,
O kind Creator.

11. Set these Thy watchmen o’er Thy temple ever,
And o’er Thy people, who Thy Son's fair message
Hallow with rev'rence; this we beseech Thee
With heart unfeigning.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2011.

1. Dicimus grates tibi, summe rerum
Conditor, gnato tua quod ministros
Flammeos finxit manus angelorum
Agmina pura.

2. Qui tuae lucis radiis vibrantes
Te vident laetis oculis, tuasque
Hauriunt voces, sapientiaeque
Fonte fruuntur.

3. Hos nec [non] ignavum sinis [finis] esse vulgus,
Nec per ingentes volitare frustra
Aetheris tractus, temere nec inter
Ludere ventos.

4. Sed jubes Christo comites adesse
Et pios caetus hominum tueri,
Qui tuas leges venerantur, atque
Discere curant.

5. Impiis ardens odiis et ira
Nam tuis castris draco semper infert
Bella, qui primis scelus atque mortem
Intulit orbi.

6. Hic domos, urbes, tua templa, gentes
Et tuae legis monumenta tota
Et bonos mores abolere tentat
Funditus omnes.

7. Interim sed nos regit angelorum,
Quae ducem Christum sequitur, caterva,
Atque grassantis reprimit cruenta
Arma draconis.

8. Angeli Lothon Sodomae tuentur,
Inter infestos Elisaeus [C…] hostes,
Angelis cinctus, nihil extimescit
Bellica signa.

9. Tutus est inter medios leones,
Angelis s(a)eptus Daniel propheta:
Sic tegit semper Deus his ministris
Omnia nostra.

10. Hoc tuum munus celebramus una,
Et tibi noster chorus angelique
Gratias dicunt simul accinentes,
Conditor alme.

11. Et tuo templo vigiles ut addas
Angelos semper, populoque, Gnati
Qui tui verbum colit, obsecramus
Pectore toto.


Unknown said...

Dear Sir,
I'm a retired schoolteacher of English (sorry for any mistakes) and German and take an interest in Latin. I very much appreciate your translations especially Dicimus Grates tibi but have two questions as to stanzas 1 and 6:

It appears to me that you took "gnato" in "gnato tua... manus finxit" to be ablativus instrumentalis. Would it to your mind be correct and possible to look at it as a dativus singularis - meaning the angels werden created for Christ, in order to follow and serve Him? Hand T in 6: should "hic/hic" be rendered by "here", or could it be "this one", speaking of the dragon in the preceding stanza?

I'm looking forward to reading more of your beautiful translations from German along with the originals!

Kind regards - yours, Friedrich Förster

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Dear Mr. Förster,

Apologies are necessary for the lateness of this reply to your gracious comments, for which I thank you. You may know I have been working on a bilingual Latin-English hymnal for Office and Mass (Haupt- und Nebengottesdienste) from early Lutheran sources. In the process I have significantly reworked this translation. I will compare your suggestions and take them into consideration as I work toward completion of the new hymnal. Your continued help and corrections in the future are most warmly accepted by

yours sincerely,
Matthew Carver

Unknown said...

Dear Mr. Carver,

I'm really terribly soory for being so late in answering yur kind answer to my message of New Year's Day (!). This shall by no means happen again. I hadn't really expected an echo, so I had not been looking for one. Besides, I have to apologize for the writing mistakes which my tablet must have put in, unnoticed by me.

If I can be of any help I should be very glad to discuss this or that linguistic or even theologic point in the hymns you are working on and translate so very well. One of these, stanza 9: "Tutus est inter medios leones ... Daniel propheta" - " Safe mid the circling lions stood the prophet" . "Inter medios leones" I look upon as being some "hypallage" of "medius" from Daniel - who is the one in the middle - to the lions around him, and I like that. But why can't we do the same thing in English or German: "the middle lions"/"die mittleren Löwen" No! Or do you think it could be put that way somehow?

All the best for you and your work!

Yours sincerely,

Friedrich Förster