29 April 2015

Jesu Christe, auctor vitae

Here is my translation of “Jesu Christe, auctor vitae,” a very minimally altered version of the hymn for Vespers on the feast of St. Mary Magdalene dating to the 10th c., probably from Germany (see Daniels/Blume, Die Hymnen, 1:197). The appointed mode-IV melody in early Lutheran books is shared with “Urbs beata Jerusalem” [Blessed City, Heav’nly Salem].

JESUS Christ, of life Creator,
Who hast cleansèd in Thy blood
Adam’s sin, our fallen nature,
And hast Thy salvation good—
Fruit of grief—upon Thy creature
Mary Magdalene bestowed.

2. She, Thy pearl most dearly rated,
Star most graced with clarity,
Now by Thee hath been translated
To Thy palace heavenly,
And a pattern clear created
Of Thy boundless clemency.

3. Therefore, of Thy grace unfeigning
Let Thy favor now be known,
Grant release from sins remaining,
And Thy joys of life, O Son,
With the Father living, reigning,
And the Spirit, ever one.  Amen.

Translation © 2015 Matthew Carver.

LATIN [brackets from Blume 1:196]
Jesu Christe, auctor vitae
Qui in tuo sanguine
Peccatum lavisti Adae,
Mariae Magdalenae
tribuisti salutarem
fructum penitentiae.

2. Praetiosam Margaritam
Stellamque clarissimam
Eam locasti in arce
Tu caelestis curiae [Uranice…]
Ut esset evidens tuae
Exemplum clementiae.

3. Tu placatus ergo nobis [Interventu…]
Semper sis propitius [Sis nobis…]
Et nostra dele peccata [Ac…]
Et da vitae gaudia;
Qui regnas cum Deo Patre
Et Spiritu compare. Amen.

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.

20 April 2015

Quam laeta perfert nuntia

Here is my translation of the hymn “Quam laeta perfert nuntia” by Paulus Eber (†1569). The original title is “Hymnus de Maria dei genitrice visitante Elisabet, ex historia Lucae 1” [Hymn of Mary, Mother of God, visiting Elisabeth, from the account of Luke 1]. It is generally provided as an office hymn ad placitum on the feast of the Visitation of Mary (July 2). The mode-iv melody appointed in Lutheran books is given here according to Hermann Bonnus; its cousin is visited in Frere (#5) and Stäblein (#13).

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
Elisabeth complectitur
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
Firmisque defensoribus
Tuere Christe quaesumus
Laudes tuas ut praedicet. Amen.