25 April 2015

O Christe, salus unica

Here is my translation of “O Christe, salus unica,” a hymn for the Visitation of Mary, to be sung at the Hours (Prime, Terce, Sext, None). The text, from Bonnus, is a reworking by Hieronymus Weller of an earlier anonymous hymn, “O Christi mater caelica” [O heavenly mother of Christ]. The mode-I melody is shared in early Lutheran hymnals with “cenam Agni providi” [The Lamb’s High Banquet We Await] and “Lauda mater ecclesia” (for Mary Magdalene).

O CHRIST, Salvation’s sole repose,
Thou living fount with grace that flows,
Who in Thy swelling mother’s womb
Through winding ways dost fare from home.

2. By stirring of the one true Light,
The Virgin scales the rolling height
In haste her elder kin to aid
In whom the Precursor is laid.

3. From Naz’reth draws the mother near
To greet Elisabeth with cheer;
Whom, with the Spirit’s gifts replete,
Both son and mother fondly greet.

4. Elisabeth o’erjoyed, o’erawed,
Hails there the Mother of her God;
And John rejoices in the womb
That Christ the Lord is thither come.

5. The sacred Spirit Mary fills,
Who, as with rushing torrent, spills
A flood of gladsome praise and laud
To glorify her gracious God.

6. The mercy of the Trinity
From all transgression set us free,
Through Jesus Christ, the Crucified;
May He our steps to heaven guide. Amen.

Translation © 2015 Matthew Carver.

1. O Christe salus unica,
Fons vivus fluens gratia
Qui matre tua gravida
Iter facis per devia.

2. Ex motu veri luminis
Transivit in monticulis
Virgo juvare vetulam
De Praecursore gravidam.

3. Mater venit de Nazareth
Ut salutet Elisabeth,
Replentur donis Spiritus
Anus et ejus filius.

4. Elisabeth complacuit
Quod mater Dei adfuit,
Infans gaudet in utero
Praesente Christo Domino.

5. Maria sacro Numine
Repleta ceu de flumine
Fundit concentu jubilo
Laudes Deo mitissimo.

6. Trinitatis clementia
Nostra laxet facinora
Per Jesu Christi vulnera,
Nos ducat ad caelestia. Amen.


Walter said...

Another fine Achievement Matt ! Take it from someone who can't rhyme for love or money; it's a gift of the mind and in your case, faithful heart too.

Looking forward to that Eng-Lat Lutheran collection; I'm sure it will rival John Mason Neale's work done for the C of E. (That's what we used to call her here in

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Thank you. I almost posted a translation of "Lauda mater Ecclesia" but then I realized, of course too late, that Neale and Chambers had both done one. So, having familiarized myself with the text, and being enamored of my own translation, and not persuaded entirely by either Neale's or Chamber's, I created a composite. I can do this with hymns that weren't included in the English Hymnnal, and especially not in Brotherhood Prayer Book (which translations I try to use when possible). OVerall, I find Neale very smooth and strong, and Chambers fairly good at phrasing, and more literal.

Walter said...

Ah, I see some of your methodology; you are a good trail-blazer as we say then! Neale is head'n shoulders over Chambers, i.m.o., but I give all admiration to his work of course.