11 March 2014

Magno salutis gaudio

Here is my translation of the ancient Palm Sunday processional hymn, “Magno salutis gaudio,” also known as “Magnum salutis gaudium” after one of the variants. The hymn comes to us from Gregory the Great, and so predates the current Palmarum processional, “Gloria laus et honor” of Theodulph, by about two centuries. Lossius (1579, fol. 65 verso) appoints this hymn for 1st Vespers of Palm Sunday in a cento of seven stanzas. A variety of centos appear in ancient uses, usually with a refrain or special antiphons. Rubrics in Lossius refer to the tune for “Deus Creator omnium” or “Christe qui lux es et dies.” I include another melody found in a Cistercian hymnal from the late 16th century.

LET age to age with great delight
Acclaim salvation’s cheering sight,
Since Jesus our Redeemer hath
Raised up the fainting world from death.

2. Six days before the Paschal feast
Nigh Bethany His journey ceased,
Where He with love, now three days o’er
Did Lazarus to life restore.

3. There Mary took of spikenard dear
The pound untainted, without peer,
Embalmed her Master’s blessèd feet
Bedewing them with teardrops sweet.

4. Then Jesus, highest Judge of all
Upon a colt, an ass’s foal,
Was pleased to sit, and thusly passed
To proud Jerusalem at last.

5. O marvelous that tender love,
O meekness rare of God above,
That He who made creation wide
On ass’s colt should deign to ride!

6. From tender palm the gath’ring throng
The new-cut branches bore along,
And crowding came into the way
To meet the King of endless day.

7. Praise, honor, and dominion be
To God the only Trinity:
To Father, Son and Spirit, One 

While everlasting ages run.

Translation © 2014 Matthew Carver; sts. 2–6, based on W.J. Copeland.

W.J. COPELAND (complete hymn):
Let age to age Hosannas sing, 

Glad shout of health and praise,
Now Jesus comes, Salvation's King,

Th' expiring world to raise.

Six days the Paschal night before
At Bethany He arriv'd,
Where, in His love, now three days o'er
He Lazarus reviv'd.

There Mary took of spikenard sweet
The precious pound and good,
Etnbalm'd her Master's Blessed Feet,
And with her tears bedew'd.

Then Jesus, Judge of Heaven Supreme,
On ass's colt He sate,
And on to proud Jerusalem
Advanc'd in solemn state.

O tender love how marvellous,
More wondrous meekness yet!
That earth's Creator deigneth thus
On ass's colt to sit.

'Twas He the Seer's clear spirit eyed,
And thrilling voice foretold,
When "Daughter, rise and shout" he cried,
"Shout, Sion, and behold!"

"Thy King doth come, yon lowly One,
"Fear not, Behold the sign,
 "On foal of ass He rideth on,
"Meek, patient, and benign."

From tender palm the gathering throng
The new-cut branches bring,
With olives green they haste along
To meet th' Immortal King;

Before, behind, in concourse run,
And in the Spirit's might,
"Hosanna" cry, "to David's Son
Hosanna in the height."

Some strip them of their garments gay
To deck the royal road,
Some with bright flowers bestrew the way
As less unmeet for God.

At His approach with thrill intense
The trembling city rang;
But Judah's golden innocence
His worthiest praises sang.

O let us thus run forth to greet
Th’ Almighty Judge and King,
And bearing palms of glory meet
With childlike spirit sing.

All honour, might, and sovranty 

To God Triune in Heaven,
To Father, Son and Spirit be 

Eternal glory given.

LATIN (Cento from Lossius):
Magno salutis gaudio
Laetetur omne seculum,
JESUS redemptor omnium
Sanavit orbem languidum.

2. Sex ante Paschae ferias,
Advenit in Bethaniam,
Ubi pie post triduum
Resuscitavit Lazarum.

3. Nardi Maria pistici
Sumpsit libram mox optimi.
Unxit beatos Domini
Pedes, rigando lacrymis.

4. Post haec jugalis asinae,
JESUS supernus arbiter,
Pullo sedebat , inclytam
Pergebat Hierosolymam.

5. O quam stupenda pietas,
Mira Dei clementia,
Sessor aselli fieri,
Dignatus autor seculi.

6. Ramos virentes sumpserat,
Palma recisos tenera,
Turba processit obviam,
Regi perenni plurima.

7. Honor, decus, imperium,
Sit Trinitati unicae,
Patri, Nato, Paracleto,
Per infinita secula, Amen.

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