The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Ecce, novum gaudium

For Christmas

Latin Hymn for the Nativity
In Nativitate Domini

Author: Medieval Latin, Anonymous

See: Theodoric Petri, ed., Piae Cantiones Ecclesiasticć Et Scholasticae Et Scholasticae Vetervm Episcoporum. (Gyphisuualdić: Augustinum Ferberum, 1582).

Source: Rev. George R. Woodward, ed., Pić Cantiones. A Collection of Church & School Song. (London: Printed at the Chiswick Press for the Plainsong & Medieval Music Society, 1910) , #7, pp. 9-10. See Christmas Songs in Woodward's Pić Cantiones (1910)

1. Ecce, nouum gaudium, ecce, nouum mirum!1
Virgo parit filium quae non novit virum,
Quae non nouit virum, sed vt pyrus pyrum,
Gleba fert papyrum florens lilium.

Ecce, quod natura
Mutat sua iura!
Virgo parit pura
Dei filium.

2. Mundum Deus flebilem cernens in ruina,
Rosam delectabilem produxit de spina,
Produxit de spina, natum de regina,
Qui est medicina,2 salus gentium. Ecce quod, etc.

3. Nequiuit diuinitas plus humiliari,
Nec nostra carnalitas magis exaltari,
Magis exaltari, Deo cośquari,
Cślo collocari, per coniugium. Ecce quod, etc.

Editor's Footnotes:

1. In verse 1, line 1, the word “mirum” was, in Woodward, “mirū.” The bar over a letter was a common technique in medieval writing indicating that there is another letter. It was assumed that anyone in that time would know what the omitted letter is, but as this is not a current technique, I have included the full spelling of this word and of others in this hymn.  Return

2. Petri (1582), Klemming (1886) and Woodward (1910) all have “Qui & medicina.” However, Dreves (1904) has “Qui est medicina.” My Latin is almost non-existent, but what little I understand of it, Dreves seems correct. “Which And Medicine”? From the context, “Which is the medicine, the salvation of the Gentiles” (and buy implication with “mundus” in the first line of that verse … “that He is the medicine, the salvation of the World”). My sincere thanks to "A Clerk Of Oxford" for her generous help in interpreting this verse; her blog is highly recommended. Return

The sources mentioned above include:

Theodoric Petri, ed., Pić Cantiones Ecclesiasticae et Scholasticae Veterum Episcoporum. (Gyphisuualdić: Augustinum Ferberum, 1582)

Sheet Music and Notes from Rev. George R. Woodward, ed., Pić Cantiones. A Collection of Church & School Song, chiefly Ancient Swedish, originally Published in A. D. 1582 by Theodoric Petri of Nyland. (London: Printed at the Chiswick Press for the Plainsong & Medieval Music Society, 1910), Carol #7, pp. 9-10, Notes p. 214.

pc-009.jpg (55562 bytes) pc-010.jpg (55380 bytes) pc-214.jpg (82453 bytes)

See: The Christmas Songs in Woodward's Pić Cantiones (1910)

Also see the sheet music of the arrangement by Matt Lillhannus, Ecce, Novum Gardium

Note from Rev. Woodward:

VII. Ecce Novum Caudium. Reprinted by Klemming, II, p. 22; Dreves, 'Anal. Hymnica,' XLVb, No. 162, p. 131. Origin and date unknown.

Neale's Here Is Joy For Every Age was suggested by this Cantio and expressly written for this tune. See Neale & Helmorre, 'Carols for Christmas-tide,' No. 1; and No. 30 in Woodward, 'The Cowley Carol Book'.

An eighth mode or Hypo-MixoLydian air. Observe the flat seventh.

Editor's Note:

In addition to the translations recommended by Rev. Woodward, see Here Is Joy For Every One, translation by Rev. Ronald Knox, from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933). Another hymn is Though They Cannot Palter | Ecce quod natura ("Ecce quod natura" is the first line of the chorus in this version). This is also from from Two Hundred Folk Carols.

Recommended is “Ecce Quod Natura,” “The Thinking Housewife,” December 13, 2014.

As I was attempting to puzzle out the meanings in the second verse, I was struck by the image of God weeping over a world in ruins. It reminded me of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem at the beginning of the last week of His life as recounted in Luke 19:41-44. “Would that you [Jerusalem] … had known on this day the things that make for peace!” In this hymn, we see the answer: The Rose, The Thorn, The Queen, The Healing, The Salvation of the World! Powerful stuff.

Sources for Latin hymns in Pić Cantiones include:

Copies of many of these works are available at the Internet Archive and Google Books.

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