The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Let The Choir of All The Faithful

For Christmas, Epiphany, Candlemas

Words: Lætabundus, A Sequence from an 11th Century Manuscript, with notes 
Erroneously attributed to S. Bernard of Clairvaux (died 1153)

Translation: Rev. Dom Laurence Shepherd

Music: Not stated.

Source: Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year. Christmas. Vol. I. Third Edition. (Worcester: Stanbrook Abbey, 1918), pp. 246-247.

Exsultet fidelis chorus.

Let the choir of all the faithful exult in their joy. Alleluia!

     Regem regum
Intactae profudit torus:
          Res miranda!

The Virgin's womb hath given us the King of Kings! O wonderful mystery!

     Angelus Consilii
Natus est de Virgine,
          Sol de Stella.

The Angel of the great Counsel is born of the Virgin, the Sun is born of a Star!

     Sol occasum nesciens,
Stella semper rutilans,
          Semper clara.

The Sun knows no setting; the Star is ever shining, ever bright.

     Sicut sidus radium,
Profert Virgo Filium
          Pari forma.

As a star gives forth its ray so does the Virgin her Child.

     Neque sidus radio,
Neque Virgo Filium
          Fit corrupta.

The star loses naught of its purity by the ray it yields, so neither does the Virgin by her Child.

     Cedrus alta Libani
Conformatur hyssopo
          Valle nostra.

The lofty cedar of Libanus comes down into our valley, making itself little as the hyssop.

     Verbum ens Altissimi
Corporari passum est,
          Carne sumpta.

He that is the Word of the Most High God, deigns to take a body unto himself; he assumes our flesh.

     Esaias cecinit,
Synagoga meminit;
Numquam tamen desinit
     Esse caeca.

Isaias had foretold all this; and the Jews, though they knew the prophecy by heart, see not its accomplishment in this mystery.

     Si non suis vatibus,
Credat vel gentilibus,
Sibyllinis versibus
          Haec praedicta:

If they will not believe their Prophets, let them believe the Sybils, who thus said:

     Infelix, propera,
Crede vel vetera:
Cur damnaberis, gens misera?

Unhappy people, delay not believe, at least, the ancient oracles! Why wilt thou be cast off, O wretched nation?”

     Quem docet littera
Natum considera:
Ipsum genuit puerpera.


This is the Child, of whom thy books tell thee: He is the Son of a Virgin-Mother.”


Editor's Notes:

This very ancient Sequence was excluded from the Roman Missal in 1570 but survived in other traditions including Gallican, Sarum, Dominican and Carmelite liturgies. It is sung at various points during the Christmas-tide, from the Masses of Christmas Day to as late as Candlemas, Feb. 2. To introduce this sequence, Dom Prosper Gueranger wrote:

"As a conclusion to our Feast, we give two favourite Pieces of the Middle-Ages, whereby our Fathers expressed their joy on this glorious Solemnity. The first is a Sequence, which is to be found in all the Roman-French Missals. For a long time, it was thought to have been written by St. Bernard: but, we have seen it in a Manuscript of the 11th Century, and, consequently, it must have been written earlier than the date usually assigned to it."

The second Sequence he gave was to honor of the most Holy Mother of God; it dates from the 15th century and begins “Virgini Mariæ laudes Intonent Christiani” (“Let the Christian people hymn their praises to the Virgin Mary”). Source: Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year. Christmas. Vol. I. Third Edition. (Worcester: Stanbrook Abbey, 1918), pp. 246-247. Trans. by Rev. Dom Laurence Shepherd.

See The Latin Liturgy, Christmas Day-Second Vespers.

The Latin was included in the source.

Compare: Faithful People (Terry, A Medieval Carol Book).

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