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 11.11.11.5 meter. I provide the melody from Lossius Psalmodia (1579):




THANKS UNTO THEE, O highest Lord, Creator,
We for Thy faithful ministers now render,
Whose host Thine hand as flames of fire created,
Holy and blameless.

2. Bright with Thy brilliance, they reflect Thy glory,
With raptured gazes eer Thy face beholding,
Thy words and wisdom in Thy presence drawing,
Filled by their Fountain.

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,
Duly revering all Thy holy statutes,
Tending their teaching.

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 cruèl 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 all covered.

10. Of Thy protection we would now be mindful,
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, which esteems as sacred
The Word of Christ, Thy Son; this we beseech Thee
With all devotion.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2011.

LATIN
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.

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