20 September 2011

Jucundare plebs fidelis*

I reproduce here Digby Wrangham's translation "O Be Joyful, Faithful Nation," a text that is true to the original meter (unlike Campbell's popular "Christians, Come in Sweetest Measure"). Its source, Wrangham's translation of Gautier's text, is here. Thanks to Christopher McAvoy for reference of the MS, I here provide a transcription of the melody from the Paris Missal:

O BE joyful, faithful nation!
Seed of God's own generation!
Mindful of the revelation
In Ezekiel's prophecy:
In that witness John uniteth,
Who th' Apocalypse inditeth;
"Witness true my true pen writeth
Of what truly met mine eye!"

2. Round the footstool of the Godhead,
'Mongst the blessed Saints included,
Stand four creatures there embodied,
Diverse in their form to view.
One an eagle's semblance weareth,
One a lion's likeness beareth,
But as man or ox appeareth
Each one of the other two.

3. As Evangelists, these creatures
Figure forth, in form and features,
Those, whose doctrines' stream, like Nature's
Rain, is on the Church outpoured;
Matthew, Mark, and Luke pourtraying,
Him too, who His sire obeying,
By the nets no longer staying,
Came to follow thee, O Lord!

4. Matthew as the man is treated,
Since 'tis he, who hath related,
How from man, by God created,
God did, as a man, descend.
Luke the ox's semblance weareth,
Since his Gospel first declareth,
As he thence the Law's veil teareth,
Sacrifices' aim and end.

5. Mark, the lion, his voice upraises,
Crying out in desert places:
"Cleanse your hearts from all sin's traces;
For our God a way prepare!"
John, the eagle's features having,
Earth on love's twain pinions leaving,
Soars aloft, God's truth perceiving
In light's purer atmosphere.

6. Thus the forms of brute creation
Prophets in their revelation
Use; but in their application
All their sacred lessons bring.
Mystic meaning underlieth
Wheels that run, or wing that flieth;
One consent the first implieth,
Contemplation means the wing.

7. These four writers in portraying
Christ, His fourfold acts displaying,
Show Him,—thou hast heard the saying,—
Each of them distinctively:
Man—of woman generated;
Ox—in off'ring dedicated;
Lion—having death defeated;
Eagle—mounting to the sky.

8. These four streams, through Eden flowing,
Moisture, verdure, still bestowing,
Make the flow'rs and fruit there growing
In rich plenty laugh and sing:
Christ the source, these streams forth sending;
High the source, these downward trending;
That they thus a taste transcending
Of life's fount to Saints may bring.

9. At their stream inebriated,
Be our love's thirst aggravated,
More completely to be sated
At a holier love's full fount!
May the doctrine they provide us
Draw us from sin's slough beside us,
And to things divine thus guide us,
As from earth we upward mount! Amen.

1. Jocundare, plebs fidelis,
Cujus Pater est in caelis,
Recolens Ezechielis
Prophetae praeconia:
Est Joannes testis ipsi,
Dicens in Apocalypsi,
Vere vidi, vere scripsi
Vera testimonia.

2. Circa thronum majestatis,
Cum spiritibus beatis,
Quatuor diversitatis
Astant animalia.
Formam primum aquilinam,
Et secundum leoninam,
Sed humanam et bovinam
Duo gerunt alia.

3. Formae formant figurarum
Formas Evangelistarum,
Quorum imber doctrinarum
Stillat in Ecclesia:
Hi sunt Marcus et Matthaeus,
Lucas, et quem Zebedaeus
Pater tibi misit, Deus,
Dum laxaret retia.

4. Formam viri dant Matthaeo,
Quia scripsit sic de Deo,
Sicut descendit ab eo,
Quem plasmavit, homine.
Lucas bos est in figura,
Ut praemonstrat in Scriptura,
Hostiarum tangens jura
Legis sub velamine.

5. Marcus leo per desertum
Clamans, rugit in apertum,
Iter fiat Deo certum,
Mundum cor a crimine.
Sed Joannes, ala binâ
Caritatis, aquilina
Forma, fertur in divina
Puriori lumine.

6. Ecce forma bestialis,
Quam scriptura prophetalis
Notat; sed materialis
Haec est impositio.
Currunt rotis, volant alis;
Inest sensus spiritalis;
Rota gressus est aequalis,
Ala contemplatio.

7. Quatuor describunt isti
Quadriformes actus Christi,
Et figurant, ut audisti,
Quisque suâ formulâ.
Natus homo declaratur,
Vitulus sacrificatur,
Leo mortem depraedatur,
Et ascendit aquila.

8. Paradisus his rigatur,
Viret, floret, foecundatur,
His abundat, his laetatur
Quatuor fluminibus:
Fons est Christus, hi sunt rivi,
Fons est altus, hi proclivi,
Ut saporem fontis vivi
Ministrent fidelibus.

9. Horum rivo debriatis
Sitis crescat caritatis,
Ut de fonte pietatis
Satiemur plenius.
Horum trahat nos doctrina
Vitiorum de sentina,
Sicque ducat ad divina
Ab imo superius.

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