15 March 2014

Agni paschalis esu

Here is my translation of Notker’s Sequence for Easter Tuesday, “Agni paschalis esu potuque dignas,” literally “[worthy] Of the Paschal Lamb to eat and drink.” Syntactically the opening phrase extends into the first double verse, delaying the subject and predicate, and so complicates understanding for modern English ears. I have restructured it slightly so that the Lamb still comes first and makes a clear title. The text and melody appear in early and late editions of Lossius. The theme is clearly the reception of the Lord’s Supper by the newly baptized with spiritual allusions to the Passover and the Exodus.

According to Daniel, the melody (“Graeca”) is not the original to “Agni paschalis,” but has been adapted. MSS with other melodies are not immediately available. Proof of this  is a definite irregularity in verses 2c. and 3a, which may have formed a double verse together in the original form. In the present version, 2c. melodically forms a transition between 2a-b. and 3a-c. Interestingly, the couplet 4a-b presents a melodic progression in the first half-lines, from sol-fa to sol-la.

NOW THAT the Lamb hath readied
The Paschal banquet,

2a. Let all Christian souls by ways sincere
Prove themselves worthy thereof to partake;
2b. For their great High Priest, as Victim dear
Hath offered Himself to God for all their sake.
2c. Now on the posts of their brows appear
Seals of royal red
By the sacred blood He shed,
A shade from the wrath that o’er Egypt brake;

3a. Now all the rival’s forces
Are swallowed up by the Red Sea tide.
3b. So let their loins all be girded well to stride,
3c. And for the serpents their feet be fortified.

4a. While wayfaring,
Let their hand be bearing
Spirit-staves alway,
Dogs to keep at bay;
4b. That they in fashion
Foll’wing Jesus’ Passion,
Share His Easter too,
Who the grave o’erthrew.

5a. Lo, earth awoken,
Florid with Christ doth rise,
5b. A gracious token
Showing to faithful eyes,

6a. O’er death, what vict’ry prize
Is with Christ bespoken!

Translation © 2014 Matthew Carver.

1. Agni paschalis esu
potuque dignas,

2a. Moribus synceris praebeant
omnes se Christianae animae,
2b. Pro quibus se Deo hostias
obtulit ipse summus Pontifex.
2c. Quarum frons in postis est modum,
eius illita
sacrosancto cruore
et tuta a clade canopica,

3a. Qua[rum] crudeles hostes
in mari Rubro sunt obruti.
3b. Renes constringant ad pudicitiam.
3c. Pedes tutentur adversus viperas.

4a. Baculosque
spiritales contra
canes jugiter
manu bajulent.
4b. Ut pascha Jesu
mereantur sequi,
quo de barathro,
victor rediit.

5a. En redivivus
mundus ornatibus
5b. Christo consurgens
fideles admonet,

6. Post mortem melius
cum eo victuros.

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