The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Quem terra, pontus, aethera

For The Annunciation

Words: Venantius Fortunatus (530-609), Bishop of Poitiers

English Translations:
Him Whom the Skies, the Earth, the Sea

The God Whom Earth, And Sea, And Sky

Quem terra, pontus, aethera 1
colunt, adorant, praedicant,
trinam regentem machinam
claustrum Mariae baiulat.

Cui Luna, Sol, et omnia
deserviunt per tempora,
perfusa caeli gratia,
gestant Puellae viscera.

Beata Mater, munere,
cuius supernus Artifex,
mundum pugillo continens,
ventris sub arca clausus est.

Beata caeli nuntio,
fecunda Sancto Spiritu,
desideratus Gentibus,
cuius per alvum fusus est.

Iesu, Tibi sit gloria,
qui natus es de Virgine,
cum Patre, et almo Spiritu,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.

Sheet Music from Sheet Music from Joseph Mohr, S.J., ed., Cantiones Sacrae: A Collection of Hymns and Devotional Chants. (Ratisbon, New York & Cincinnati: Frederik Pustet, 1878), #111, p. 263.

quem_terra-111-Mohr-263.jpg (83335 bytes)

Notes:

1 sidera. This change was made by Pope Urban VIII in 1632 to the Roman Breviary.

This hymn was composed by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609), Bishop of Poitiers, and has been an important part of devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary since the early Middle Ages. Today it is used in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary daily as a hymn for the Office of the Readings and also as the hymn for Friday Lauds. In the Liturgy of the Hours it is found in the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the hymn for the Office of the Readings.

From the Liturgia Horarum [Liturgy of the Hours]. This is the standard form of the hymn as it is used liturgically. However, there is another verse to the hymn which falls between the second and third verses above. It is as follows:

Mirantur ergo saecula,
quod angelus fert semina,
quod aure virgo concipit
et corde credens parturit.

There is a second part of the hymn which is used as a hymn in its own right, O Gloriosa Domina.

Note:

This much longer version was found in A. S. Walpole, Early Latin Hymns (Cambridge at the University Press, 1922), Hymn 39, pp. 198-200.

Quem terra, pontus, aethera 
colunt, adorant, praedicant,
trinam regentem machinam
claustrum Mariae baiulat.

cui luna, sol et omnia
deseruiunt per tempora,
perfusa caeli gratia,
gestant puellae viscera.

mirentur ergo saecula,
Quod angelus fert semina,
quod aure uirgo concipit
et corde credens parturit.

beata mater munere,
cuius supernus artifex,
mundum pugillo continens,
uentris sub arca clausus est.

benedicta caeli nuntio,
fecunda sancto Spiritu,
desideratus gentibus
cuius per aluum fusus est.

o gloriosa femina,
excelsa super sidera!
qui te creauit prouide,
lactas sacrato ubere.

quod Eua tristis abstulit,
tu reddis almo germine;
intrent ut astra flebiles,
caeli fenestra facta es.

tu regis alti ianua
et porta lucis fulgida:
uitam datam per uirginem,
gentes redemptae plaudite.

 Changes made by Pope Urban VIII in 1632 to the Roman Breviary:

1 O gloriosa virginum/ sublimis inter sidera;/ qui te creavit, parvulum/ lactente nutris ubere.
2 Quod Heva tristis abstulit,/ tu reddis almo germine;/ intrent ut astra flebiles,/ coeli recludis cardines.
3 Tu Regis alti ianua,/ et aula lucis fulgida:/ vitam datam per Virginem,/ gentes redemptae, plaudite.
4 Iesu, tibi sit gloria,/ qui natus es de Virgine,/ cum Patre, et almo Spiritu,/ in sempiterna saecula. Amen.

This hymn was composed by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609), Bishop of Poitiers, and has been an important part of devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary since the early Middle Ages. Today it is used in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary daily as a hymn for the Office of the Readings and also as the hymn for Friday Lauds. In the Liturgy of the Hours it is found in the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the hymn for the Office of the Readings.

From the Liturgia Horarum [Liturgy of the Hours]. This is the standard form of the hymn as it is used liturgically. However, there is another verse to the hymn which falls between the second and third verses above. It is as follows: Mirantur ergo saecula,/ quod angelus fert semina,/ quod aure virgo concipit/ et corde credens parturit. There is a second part of the hymn which is used as a hymn in its own right, O gloriosa domina. The translation is by J. M. Neale (1818-1866) except for the last two lines. His original lines were: "All glory, as is ever meet/ to Father and to Paraclete".

Both hymns are popular Marian hymns used in the Liturgy, Quem terra, pontus, aethera being used for the Office of the Readings and O gloriosa virginum being used for Lauds in the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The hymn was a favorite of St. Anthony of Padua. Tradition has it that it was sung by St. Anthony's mother when he was an infant. It was such a favorite of St. Anthony, that it was constantly on his lips during his life and he sang it at his death.

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