13 May 2015

Martine confessor Dei

Here is my translation of the hymn “Martine confessor Dei (Anon., 13th c.), for the feast of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop (Nov. 11). Aside from being one of the greater and earlier saints, the saint enjoyed among German Lutherans the special connection to Martin Luther as his namesake, and the feast of St. Martin was de facto a Reformation festival in some places before the celebration on the eve of All Saints was well established. The form of the text comes from Ludecus’ Vesperale (1589) and is noteworthy for its relatively rare (among Lutherans) address of a departed saint; this may be partly explained by the conservative approach which Mark Brandenburg took toward the Reformation; or else represents a reconstrual as poetic address. Omitted by Ludecus, naturally, are the stanzas of invocation. In contrast to other Lutherans, except perhaps Luther himself, who eschewed new Latin composition, he preferred simply to omit stanzas rather than to compose new ones, though he here and there includes hymns or stanzas composed by contemporaries. The latter approach is found more frequently in Lossius.

SAINT Martin, God’s confessor proud,
Who, with the Spirit’s strength endowed,
Whilst weak’ning in thy carnal pow’r,
Wast giv’n to see death’s nearing hour.

2. The peace of Christ o’erflowing thee
In God the Spirit’s unity
His riven members hath restored,
The Church returned to one accord.

3. For thee, whom life did worthy show,
Bloodthirsty death could cause no woe;
Thou scornèdst at thy mortal end
The cunning of the guileful fiend.

4. Now dost thou joy with angels high,
And with archangels gladly cry,
Dost with th’ apostle band adore
The Triune God for evermore. Amen.

Translation © 2015 Matthew Carver.


1. Martine confessor Dei
Valens vigore Spiritus
Carnis fatiscens artubus,
Mortis futurae praescius.

2. Qui pace Christi affluens
In unitate Spiritus
Divisa membra_Ecclesiae
Paci reformas unicae.

3. Quem vita fert probabilem,
Quem mors cruenta non laedit,
Qui callidi versutiis
In mortis hora derogas.

4. Qui laetaris cum angelis,
Exultas cum archangelis,
Triumphas cum apostolis
In saeculorum saeculis. Amen.

1 comment:

Walter said...

Thanks Matt for explaining how & why a direct address to saints in hymns continued in Lutheranism at this time. Thanks too, for this poetic translation. You have a huge project fully underway.