The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Why Dost Thou So Lowly Lie

Words: Heu! quid jaces stabulo, Jean Mauburne (1460-1502), from Rosetum exercitiorum spiritualium et sacrarum meditationum, 1494,
an excerpt, Verses 4, 5, & 6, of Eia mea anima

Translation: Dr. Francis Andrew Marsh of Lafayette College, the author of Latin Hymns With English Notes. Vol. 1. (Harper & Brothers, 1896)

Source: N. B. Smithers, ed., Translations of Latin Hymns of the Middle Ages (Dover, Delaware: J. Kirk & Sons, 1879), pp. 123 et seq.


1. Why dost Thou so lowly lie
    Who all things didst create?
Comest Thou with wailing cry
    To lift our fallen state?
Where thy train if King thou be,
Purple robe of majesty,
    Thy presence chamber, where?
All unlike the courts of earth,
Naught denotes thy royal birth,
    But only want is here.

2. "Hither, from my Father's throne,
    Through love for man I came,
Him to save, his guilt atone,
    I bear this load of shame;
In my need I give to thee
Wealth from Heaven's treasury,
    The pearl of costly price;
Lowly born and held as naught,
Life and blessing I have brought,
    Myself the sacrifice."

3. Wonders of thy grace to sing
    My grateful tongue essays,
Thousand thanks to Thee I bring
    In hymns of endless praise;
Glory, now, let all below,
Mindful of thy saving woe,
    Shout "Glory, Lord, to Thee,"
While angelic choirs above
Celebrate thy matchless love
    With harp and psaltery.

Editor's Note:

Mr. Smithers introduced this hymn with the following note concerning Jean Mauburne:

The author lived in the 15th century. Born in 1460, he was made Abbot of St. Livry in 1502, and the next year died at Paris, whither he was carried in consequence of sickness caused by excessive labor in the administration of his religious office.

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