WHAT gladsome tidings Mary bears
As from familiar shores she fares
Of Galilee, to lands less near,
Her cousin to attend and cheer!
2. With what great joy Elisabeth
Embraces Mary, as by faith
She tells the Spirit’s inward sighs:
The promised Prince in Mary lies!
3. To God the Father He will bind
And reconcile His lost mankind,
Who, by the grievous fall of old
Forsook their Maker’s gracious fold.
4. He whom the sires of Christendom
Long ages past implored to come,
Is here to John by faith revealed
While in his mother’s womb concealed.
5. Him whom the elder man, now mute,
May not with pious tongue salute,
He lauds with heart, and doth declare
By gesture that his God is there.
6. Behold in humble cottage bowed
The infant Church’s faithful crowd,
That first proclaims as true indeed
God’s Word and promise of the Seed.
7. Whilst Herod seeks by murd’rous train
To gird and fortify his reign,
And Caiaphas commits to death
The godly teachers of the faith—
8. So now the Church is sore beset
By tribulation’s strangling net,
And by the wretched dragon torn
With slaughters, heresies, and scorn.
9. Be with Thy Church, O Christ, we pray;
To her in want Thy strength convey,
Steadfast defenders grant her e’er,
That she Thy praises may declare.
Translation © 2015 Matthew Carver.
1. Quam laeta perfert nuntia
Dum Galilaeis finibus
Relictis cognatam suam
Procul Maria visitat. [?]
2. Quanto Mariam gaudio
Quam scit movente Spiritu
Gestare promissum Ducem. [?]
3. Qui conciliaturus Deo
Patri sit humanum genus
Lapsu quod olim se gravi
A Conditore averterat.
4. Quem flagitaverant Patres
Multis venire saeculis
Hunc matris inclusus suae
Alvo Johannes excipit
5. Ex praedicare quem pia
Lingua nequit mutus senex
Hunc mente adorat indicans
Gestu Dei praesentiam.
6. Hanc parva continet casa
Ecclesiae turbam novae
Quae prima declarat ratum
Verbum Dei de Semine.
7. Dum tentat Herodes suum
Firmare regnum caedibus
Et helluatur Pontifex [some MSS: …Caiphas]
Piosque doctores necat.
8. Perinde nunc Ecclesiam
Arctae tenent angustiae
Quam turbat aut erroribus
Aut caedibus dirus draco.
9. Hanc tu carentem robore
Tuere Christe quaesumus
Laudes tuas ut praedicet. Amen.