02 May 2015

En martyris Laurentii

Here is my translation of “En Martyris Laurentii” as given by Ludecus with the penultimate stanza omitted (an invocation of the saint’s merits). Note that the hymn was composed from Prudentius’s larger Peristephanon. It was eventually criticized because it makes pope Sixtus II die from crucifixion rather than the sword. Arguments supporting the crucifixion language tend to see it as a metaphor for any sort of martyrdom, though the text here seems somewhat too descriptive for that sense. The melody is also that given by Ludecus and may be compared with Frere (#76) and Stäblein (#411).

BEHOLD, of Lawrence, martyr famed,
What faith, well-armed, hath led the host!
By death o’er death the crown he claimed
And gave himself to th’ uttermost.

2. ’Twas as his bishop Sixtus said
As fastened to the cross he hung,
When seeing Lawrence weep with dread
Beneath his cross whereat he clung:

3. “Forbear at my departure now
To shed thy tears so grievously;
Though, brother, I go first, yet thou
Shalt three days hence my foll’wer be.”

4. What lastly did the bishop say—
Prophetic voice of glorious heav’n—
In naught deceived, for on the day
That he foretold, the palm was giv’n.

5. To th’ unbegotten Father praise,
And to the sole begotten Son
And Holy Ghost for endless days,
One God, for evermore be done.

Translation © 2015 Matthew Carver.


1. En Martyris Laurentii
Armata pugnavit fides,
Nam morte mortem diruit,
Ac semet impendit sibi.

2. Fore hoc sacerdos dixerat
Jam Sixtus* affixus cruci, [*Xystus]
Laurentium flentem videns
Crucis sub ipso stipite.

3. Desiste discessu meo
Fletum dolenter fundere,
Praecedo frater, tu quoque
Post hoc sequeris triduum.

4. Extrema vox Episcopi
Praenuntiatrix gloriae,
Nihil fefellit: nam dies
Praedicta palmam praestitit.

5. Gloria Patri ingenito,
Gloria unigenito
Una cum sancto Spiritu
In sempiterna saecula. Amen.


Walter said...

This is such a fine and close translation again Matt ! What a surprise to see it among your treasured offerings ! St.Lawrence was so honoured among early Lutherans and I remember having to learn about his devotion to the Eucharist as a little 'acolyte' in my Lutheran Church as a child. But you've got me stumped on Ludecus; neither his Missale or Vesperale are available in Google Books so I cannot find these treasures of early Reformation Lutheranism. I've just moved and haven't unpacked Daniel's Thes. and I haven't looked it up online in case it is there; nor have I unpacked Wackernagel and can't find Ludecus there online either. I admit, I haven't searched more than this so far. I appreciate learning about this hymn since I've kept my hymn 'studies' more toward the Biblical saints. I did find Stablein's melody 411 on the bottom of p.185 I believe.

Walter said...

Prudentius' original is only slightly different as you allude to Matt. Have only chosen Wackernagle to check this with.
I still cannot find any of Ludecus' published Missale or Vesperale of 1589 digitized and see only a very expensive hard copy re-published of it in Germany. I've also found that melody source in Stäblein; to a different incipit though.
So I still wonder where you found your source.
You are giving quite a large spectrum of material already now, since I think this is the first non-biblical saint that you've translated a hymn for. This will be a surprise to all Lutherans, but St.Lawrence was a very important martyr in all of Europe. Now, just try to convince Lutherans that the Assumption of the BVM was also observed !
Your translation, I have to repeat, is prima !