29 August 2013

Psallite Regi nostro, psallite

Here is my translation of the sequence “Psallite Regi nostro, psallite” for the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist. The text, originally by Gottschalk (Gottescalcus), I take in its slightly amended form, along with the music, from Ludecus (1589) p. 29ff., which represents a transposition from the original mode.

SING PRAISES! Sing ye praises to our King!
Sing praises! Sing praises, wisely sing!

2. For the psalt’ry mild
Meets the harp with a joyful tone
2b. As the Virgin’s child
By the barren one’s child is known.

3a. His body sounding,
He strummed in the temple of the Lord,
3b. In manhood proving
What first he confessed by infant chord.

4a. By mortifying
Members and body
That earthly are, and teaching others in this,
4b. A folk supplying
For Christ made ready,
John was the voice that cried in the wilderness.

5a. Yet though that Voice accused,
Vicious Herod still refused
In goodness to be taught.
5b. Never that Voice was stilled:
Even till John’s blood was spilled,
Ever that foe he fought:

6a. “It is not lawful to rob thy brother
And for thy spouse take that of another,
Sin’s passions then smother!
From thine error turn.
Do not God’s commandment spurn!”
6b. As a deaf serpent, Herod would harm him
Who with his voice seeks wisely to charm him.
The king, to disarm him,
Doth the prophet find,
And within his prison bind.

7a. John in gloom reclineth,
Lamplike he shineth,
Friend of all light’s true Patrician.
7b. Herod, sin accruing,
Worldy joys pursuing,
Proves but the son of perdition

8a. The harlot spurreth,
Her daughter twirleth,
The King demands the saint beheaded,
8b. And to his daughter
Serveth the slaughter,
The saintly head of him he dreaded.

9a. But how doth the righteous perish,
As though God His saint did not cherish?
9b. Such a death is ever precious
In the sight of God, who is gracious.

10a. In spirit we well perceive,
Great was the saint we grieve!
So akin in his work, behavior,
And death, to His Savior.
10b. For just as to death of shame
They would the Bridegroom damn,
They the friend of the Bridegroom rightly
Damn to death unsightly.

11a. From bondage carnal
To heav’n eternal
High swinging,
The angels bore that angel singing,
11b. Grant us, o Jesus,
To sing Thee praises
In honor
Of St. John Thy Forerunner,

12. That, having spurned Herod’s table,
We also may be able
At Thy feast to receive Thee,
And all praise ever give Thee.

Translation © 2013 Matthew Carver.

In die decollationis Johannis Baptistae Sequentia
de Gottschalk

1. Psallite Regi nostro, psallite,
psallite, psallite prudenter.

2a. Nam psalterium
est jucundum cum cithara,
2b. Nato virginis,
quo psallens natus sterilis.

3a. Citharam carnis
percussit in domo Domini.
3b. Dum, quod sonabat
clamando, docuit vivendo,

4a. Mortificando,
quae super terram sunt, membra
et hoc alios docendo,
4b. Praeparans Christo
plebem perfectam Johannes,
vox clamantis in deserto.

5a. Sed vox haec impium
Herodem, quem corripit,
minime corrigit.
5b. Haud tamen tacuit,
sed ad usque sanguinem
sceleri restitit.

6a. Non licet, inquit, te fratris tui
habere conjugem, raptam ei: [=sibi]
peccasti, quiesce:
sic praecepit Dominus.
6b. Vocem incantantis sapienter
Herodes, ut aspis surda, spernit:
ut justum, ut sanctum
Johannem timet,
quem vinxit in carcere.

7a. Sedet in tenebris
lucerna, lucis
amicus omnipotentis.
7b. Studet deliciis
mundi principis
filius perditionis.

8a. Meretrix suadet,
puella saltat,            [nata precatur,]
Rex jubet,
sanctus decollatur.
8b. Dat rex saltanti
caput Johannis,
qui sanctus
ante fit, quam natus.

9a. En, quomodo perit justus,
quasi non sit Deo dilectus,
9b. Cum sit ejus pretiosa
mors haec in conspectu Domini.

10a. Nos corde percipimus,
qualis et quantus est,
quia vicinus dignitate     [convicinus…]
Christo fit [sit] et morte.
10b. Nam morte turpissima
damnatur sponsus, et                    (L. has “sponsus, spon- // si et…’)
sponsi amicum damnant recte
morte turpissima.

11a. Carcere carnis
ductum, quem ferunt
coelis Angeli Angelum.
11b. Et nos in terris
tibi psallere
fac, Christe,
in memoriam Baptistae.

12. Herodis spreta
quo mensa
altaris tui mensa
ipsum te, dum sumimus,
semper tibi psallamus.

1 comment:

Walter said...

This is a super translation Matt.
Gottescalcus really drew out good poetic images from his Bible and you have transferred that into English even with a rhyming scheme.
I particulary liked your Shakespearean stab at 8a: supureth and twirleth...even though the whole matter of St.John's martyrdom is gravely serious.
As always: Mazeltov !