Project Gutenberg's The Hymns of Prudentius, by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius

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Title: The Hymns of Prudentius

Author: Aurelius Clemens Prudentius

Release Date: February 7, 2005 [EBook #14959]

Language: Latin and English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE HYMNS OF PRUDENTIUS ***




Produced by Ted Garvin, Stephen Hutcheson and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team.






THE HYMNS of
PRUDENTIUS
TRANSLATED
by R ·
MARTIN ·
POPE

MDCCCCV PUBLISHED BY J.M. DENT
AND CO: ALDINE HOUSE LONDON W C


CATHEMERINON LIBER
OF
PRUDENTIUS



HYMNS FOR THE CHRISTIAN'S DAY

NEWLY TRANSLATED INTO

ENGLISH VERSE


Table of Contents to the Electronic Edition

Praefatio
Preface
I. Hymnus ad Galli Cantum
I. Hymn at Cock-Crow
II. Hymnus Matutinus
II. Morning Hymn
III. Hymnus ante Cibum
III. Hymn before Meat
IV. Hymnus post Cibum
IV. Hymn after Meat
V. Hymnus ad Incensum Lucernae
V. Hymn for the Lighting of the Lamps
VI. Hymnus ante Somnum
VI. Hymn before Sleep
VII. Hymnus Ieiunantium
VII. Hymn for Those Who Fast
VIII. Hymnus post Ieiunium
VIII. Hymn after Fasting
IX. Hymnus Omnis Horae
IX. Hymn for All Hours
X. Hymnus ad Exequias Defuncti
X. Hymn for the Burial of the Dead
XI. Hymnus Kalendas Ianuarias
XI. Hymn for Christmas-Day
XII. Hymnus Epiphaniae
XII. Hymn for the Epiphany
Epilogus
Epilogue
Notes
Translator's Note
The Title
The Preface
I
II
III
IV
V
VI
VII
VIII
IX
X
XI
XII

PRAEFATIO

Per quinquennia iam decem,

ni fallor, fuimus: septimus insuper

annum cardo rotat, dum fruimur sole volubili.

Instat terminus et diem

    5vicinum senio iam Deus adplicat.

Quid nos utile tanti spatio temporis egimus?

Aetas prima crepantibus

levit sub ferulis: mox docuit toga

infectum vitiis falsa loqui, non sine crimine.

    10Tum lasciva protervitas,

et luxus petulans (heu pudet ac piget)

foedavit iuvenem nequitiae sordibus ac luto.

Exin iurgia turbidos

armarunt animos et male pertinax

    15vincendi studium subiacuit casibus asperis.

Bis legum moderamine

frenos nobilium reximus urbium,

ius civile bonis reddidimus, terruimus reos.

Tandem militiae gradu

    20evectum pietas principis extulit

adsumptum propius stare iubens ordine proximo.

Haec dum vita volans agit,

inrepsit subito canities seni

oblitum veteris me Saliae consulis arguens:

    25ex quo prima dies mihi

quam multas hiemes volverit et rosas

pratis post glaciem reddiderit, nix capitis probat.

Numquid talia proderunt

carnis post obitum vel bona vel mala,

    30cum iam, quidquid id est, quod fueram, mors aboleverit?

Dicendum mihi; Quisquis es,

mundum, quem coluit, mens tua perdidit:

non sunt illa Dei, quae studuit, cuius habeberis.

Atqui fine sub ultimo

    35peccatrix anima stultitiam exuat:

saltem voce Deum concelebret, si meritis nequit:

hymnis continuet dies,

nec nox ulla vacet, quin Dominum canat:

pugnet contra hereses, catholicam discutiat fidem,

    40conculcet sacra gentium,

labem, Roma, tuis inferat idolis,

carmen martyribus devoveat, laudet apostolos.

Haec dum scribo vel eloquor,

vinclis o utinam corporis emicem

    45liber, quo tulerit lingua sono mobilis ultimo.

PREFACE

Full fifty years my span of life hath run,

Unless I err, and seven revolving years

Have further sped while I the sun enjoy.

Yet now the end draws nigh, and by God's will

Old age's bound is reached: how have I spent

And with what fruit so wide a tract of days?

I wept in boyhood 'neath the sounding rod:

Youth's toga donned, the rhetorician's arts

I plied and with deceitful pleadings sinned:

Anon a wanton life and dalliance gross

(Alas! the recollection stings to shame!)

Fouled and polluted manhood's opening bloom:

And then the forum's strife my restless wits

Enthralled, and the keen lust of victory

Drove me to many a bitterness and fall.

Twice held I in fair cities of renown

The reins of office, and administered

To good men justice and to guilty doom.

At length the Emperor's will beneficent

Exalted me to military power

And to the rank that borders on the throne.

The years are speeding onward, and gray hairs

Of old have mantled o'er my brows

And Salia's consulship from memory dies.

What frost-bound winters since that natal year

Have fled, what vernal suns reclothed

The meads with roses,--this white crown declares.

Yet what avail the prizes or the blows

Of fortune, when the body's spark is quenched

And death annuls whatever state I held?

This sentence I must hear: "Whate'er thou art,

Thy mind hath lost the world it loved: not God's

The things thou soughtest, Whose thou now shalt be."

Yet now, ere hence I pass, my sinning soul

Shall doff its folly and shall praise my Lord

If not by deeds, at least with humble lips.

Let each day link itself with grateful hymns

And every night re-echo songs of God:

Yea, be it mine to fight all heresies,

Unfold the meanings of the Catholic faith,

Trample on Gentile rites, thy gods, O Rome,

Dethrone, the Martyrs laud, th' Apostles sing.

O while such themes my pen and tongue employ,

May death strike off these fetters of the flesh

And bear me whither my last breath shall rise!

I. HYMNUS AD GALLI CANTUM

Ales diei nuntius

lucem propinquam praecinit;

nos excitator mentium

iam Christus ad vitam vocat.

 

    5Auferte, clamat, lectulos

aegros, soporos, desides:

castique recti ac sobrii

vigilate, iam sum proximus.

 

Post solis ortum fulgidi

    10serum est cubile spernere,

ni parte noctis addita

tempus labori adieceris.

 

Vox ista, qua strepunt aves

stantes sub ipso culmine

  15paulo ante quam lux emicet,

nostri figura est iudicis.

 

Tectos tenebris horridis

stratisque opertos segnibus

suadet quietem linquere

  20iam iamque venturo die.

 

Ut, cum coruscis flatibus

aurora caelum sparserit,

omnes labore exercitos

confirmet ad spem luminis.

 

  25Hic somnus ad tempus datus

est forma mortis perpetis,

peccata ceu nox horrida

cogunt iacere ac stertere.

 

Sed vox ab alto culmine

  30Christi docentis praemonet,

adesse iam lucem prope,

ne mens sopori serviat:

 

Ne somnus usque ad terminos

vitae socordis opprimat

  35pectus sepultum crimine

et lucis oblitum suae.

 

Ferunt vagantes daemonas

laetos tenebris noctium,

gallo canente exterritos

  40sparsim timere et cedere.

 

Invisa nam vicinitas

lucis, salutis, numinis

rupto tenebrarum situ

noctis fugat satellites.

 

  45Hoc esse signum praescii

norunt repromissae spei,

qua nos soporis liberi

speramus adventum Dei.

 

Quae vis sit huius alitis,

  50salvator ostendit Petro,

ter antequam gallus canat

sese negandum praedicans.

 

Fit namque peccatum prius,

quam praeco lucis proximae

  55inlustret humanum genus

finemque peccandi ferat.

 

Flevit negator denique

ex ore prolapsum nefas,

cum mens maneret innocens,

  60animusque servaret fidem.

 

Nec tale quidquam postea

linguae locutus lubrico est,

cantuque galli cognito

peccare iustus destitit.

 

  65Inde est quod omnes credimus,

illo quietis tempore

quo gallus exsultans canit

Christum redisse ex inferis.

 

Tunc mortis oppressus vigor,

  70tunc lex subacta est tartari,

tunc vis diei fortior

noctem coegit cedere.

 

Iam iam quiescant inproba,

iam culpa furva obdormiat,

  75iam noxa letalis suum

perpessa somnum marceat.

 

Vigil vicissim spiritus

quodcumque restat temporis,

dum meta noctis clauditur,

  80stans ac laborans excubet.

 

Iesum ciamus vocibus

flentes, precantes, sobrii:

intenta supplicatio

dormire cor mundum vetat.

 

  85Sat convolutis artubus

sensum profunda oblivio

pressit, gravavit, obruit

vanis vagantem somniis.

 

Sunt nempe falsa et frivola,

  90quae mundiali gloria

ceu dormientes egimus:

vigilemus, hic est veritas.

 

Aurum, voluptas, gaudium,

opes, honores, prospera,

  95quaecumque nos inflant mala,

fit mane, nil sunt omnia.

 

Tu, Christe, somnum dissice,

tu rumpe noctis vincula,

tu solve peccatum vetus

  100novumque lumen ingere.

I. HYMN AT COCK-CROW

Awake! the shining day is born!

The herald cock proclaims the morn:

And Christ, the soul's Awakener, cries,

Bidding us back to life arise.

 

Away the sluggard's bed! away

The slumber of the soul's decay!

Ye chaste and just and temperate,

Watch! I am standing at the gate.

 

After the sun hath risen red

'Tis late for men to scorn their bed,

Unless a portion of the night

They seize for labours of the light.

 

Mark ye, what time the dawn draws nigh,

How 'neath the eaves the swallows cry?

Know that by true similitude

Their notes our Judge's voice prelude.

 

When hid by shades of dark malign

On beds of softness we recline,

They call us forth with music clear

Warning us that the day is near.

 

When breezes bright of orient morn

With rosy hues the heavens adorn,

They cheer with hope of gladdening light

The hearts that spend in toil their might.

 

Though sleep be but a passing guest

'Tis type of death's perpetual rest:

Our sins are as a ghastly night,

And seal with slumbers deep our sight.

 

But from the wide roof of the sky

Christ's voice peals forth with urgent cry,

Calling our sleep-bound hearts to rise

And greet the dawn with wakeful eyes.

 

He bids us fear lest sensual ease

Unto life's end the spirit seize

And in the tomb of shame us bind,

Till we are to the true light blind.

 

'Tis said that baleful spirits roam

Abroad beneath the dark's vast dome;

But, when the cock crows, take their flight

Sudden dispersed in sore affright.

 

For the foul votaries of the night

Abhor the coming of the light,

And shamed before salvation's grace

The hosts of darkness hide their face.

 

They know the cock doth prophesy

Of Hope's long-promised morning sky,

When comes the Majesty Divine

Upon awakened worlds to shine.

 

The Lord to Peter once foretold

What meaning that shrill strain should hold,

How he before cock-crow would lie

And thrice his Master dear deny.

 

For 'tis a law that sin is done

Before the herald of the sun

To humankind the dawn proclaims

And with his cry the sinner shames.

 

Then wept he bitter tears aghast

That from his lips the words had passed,

Though guileless he his soul possessed

And faith still reigned within his breast.

 

Nor ever reckless word he said

Thereafter, by his tongue betrayed,

But at the cock's familiar cry

Humbled he turned from vanity.

 

Therefore it is we hold to-day

That, as the world in stillness lay,

What hour the cock doth greet the skies,

Christ from deep Hades did arise.

 

Lo! then the bands of death were burst,

Shattered the sway of hell accurst:

Then did the Day's superior might

Swiftly dispel the hosts of Night.

 

Now let base deeds to silence fall,

Black thoughts be stilled beyond recall:

Now let sin's opiate spell retire

To that deep sleep it doth inspire.

 

For all the hours that still remain

Until the dark his goal attain,

Alert for duty's stern command

Let every soul a sentry stand.

 

With sober prayer on Jesus call;

Let tears with our strong crying fall;

Sleep cannot on the pure soul steal

That supplicates with fervent zeal.

 

Too long did dull oblivion cloud

Our motions and our senses shroud:

Lulled by her numbing touch, we stray

In dreamland's ineffectual way.

 

Bound by the dazzling world's soft chain

'Tis false and fleeting gauds we gain,

Like those who in deep slumbers lie:--

Let us awake! the truth is nigh.

 

Gold, honours, pleasure, wealth and ease,

And all the joys that mortals please,

Joys with a fatal glamour fraught--

When morning comes, lo! all are nought.

 

But thou, O Christ, put sleep to flight

And break the iron bands of night,

Free us from burden of past sin

And shed Thy morning rays within.

II. HYMNUS MATUTINUS

Nox et tenebrae et nubila,

confusa mundi et turbida,

lux intrat, albescit polus,

Christus venit, discedite.

 

  5Caligo terrae scinditur

percussa solis spiculo,

rebusque iam color redit

vultu nitentis sideris.

 

Sic nostra mox obscuritas

  10fraudisque pectus conscium

ruptis retectum nubibus

regnante pallescit Deo.

 

Tunc non licebit claudere

quod quisque fuscum cogitat,

  15sed mane clarescent novo

secreta mentis prodita.

 

Fur ante lucem squalido

inpune peccat tempore,

sed lux dolis contraria

  20latere furtum non sinit.

 

Versuta fraus et callida

amat tenebris obtegi,

aptamque noctem turpibus

adulter occultus fovet.

 

  25Sol ecce surgit igneus,

piget, pudescit, paenitet,

nec teste quisquam lumine

peccare constanter potest.

 

Quis mane sumptis nequiter

  30non erubescit poculis,

cum fit libido temperans

castumque nugator sapit?

 

Nunc, nunc severum vivitur,

nunc nemo tentat ludicrum,

  35inepta nunc omnes sua

vultu colorant serio.

 

Haec hora cunctis utilis,

qua quisque, quod studet, gerat,

miles, togatus, navita,

  40opifex, arator, institor.

 

Illum forensis gloria,

hunc triste raptat classicum,

mercator hinc ac rusticus

avara suspirant lucra.

 

  45At nos lucelli ac faenoris

fandique prorsus nescii,

nec arte fortes bellica,

te, Christe, solum novimus.

 

Te mente pura et simplici,

  50te voce, te cantu pio

rogare curvato genu

flendo et canendo discimus.

 

His nos lucramur quaestibus,

hac arte tantum vivimus,

  55haec inchoamus munera,

cum sol resurgens emicat.

 

Intende nostris sensibus,

vitamque totam dispice,

sunt multa fucis inlita,

  60quae luce purgentur tua.

 

Durare nos tales iube,

quales, remotis sordibus

nitere pridem iusseras,

Iordane tinctos flumine.

 

  65Quodcumque nox mundi dehinc

infecit atris nubibus,

tu, rex Eoi sideris,

vultu sereno inlumina.

 

Tu sancte, qui taetram picem

  70candore tingis lacteo

ebenoque crystallum facis,

delicta terge livida.

 

Sub nocte Iacob caerula

luctator audax angeli,

  75eo usque dum lux surgeret,

sudavit inpar praelium.

 

Sed cum iubar claresceret,

lapsante claudus poplite

femurque victus debile

  80culpae vigorem perdidit.

 

Nutabat inguen saucium,

quae corporis pars vilior

longeque sub cordis loco

diram fovet libidinem.

 

  85Hae nos docent imagines,

hominem tenebris obsitum,

si forte non cedat Deo,

vires rebellis perdere.

 

Erit tamen beatior,

  90intemperans membrum cui

luctando claudum et tabidum

dies oborta invenerit.

 

Tandem facessat caecitas,

quae nosmet in praeceps diu

  95lapsos sinistris gressibus

errore traxit devio.

 

Haec lux serenum conferat

purosque nos praestet sibi:

nihil loquamur subdolum,

  100volvamus obscurum nihil.

 

Sic tota decurrat dies,

ne lingua mendax, ne manus,

oculive peccent lubrici,

ne noxa corpus inquinet.

 

  105Speculator adstat desuper,

qui nos diebus omnibus

actusque nostros prospicit

a luce prima in vesperum.

 

Hic testis, hic est arbiter,

  110his intuetur quidquid est,

humana quod mens concipit;

hunc nemo fallit iudicem.

II. MORNING HYMN

Ye clouds and darkness, hosts of night

That breed confusion and affright,

Begone! o'erhead the dawn shines clear,

The light breaks in and Christ is here.

 

Earth's gloom flees broken and dispersed,

By the sun's piercing shafts coerced:

The daystar's eyes rain influence bright

And colours glimmer back to sight.

 

So shall our guilty midnight fade,

The sin-stained heart's gross dusky shade:

So shall the King's All-radiant Face

Sudden unveil our deep disgrace.

 

No longer then may we disguise

Our dark intents from those clear eyes:

Yea, at the dayspring's advent blest

Our inmost thoughts will stand confest.

 

The thief his hidden traffic plies

Unmarked before the dawn doth rise:

But light, the foe of guile concealed,

Lets no ill craft lie unrevealed.

 

Fraud and Deceit love only night,

Their wiles they practise out of sight;

Curtained by dark, Adultery too

Doth his foul treachery pursue,

 

But slinks abashed and shamed away

Soon as the sun rekindles day,

For none can damning light resist

And 'neath its rays in sin persist.

 

Who doth not blush o'ertook by morn

And his long night's carousal scorn?

For day subdues the lustful soul,

And doth all foul desires control.

 

Now each to earnest life awakes,

Now each his wanton sport forsakes;

Now foolish things are put away

And gravity resumes her sway.

 

It is the hour for duty's deeds,

The path to which our labour leads,

Be it the forum, army, sea,

The mart or field or factory.

 

One seeks the plaudits of the bar,

One the stern trumpet calls to war:

Those bent on trade and husbandry

At greed's behest for lucre sigh.

 

Mine is no rhetorician's fame,

No petty usury I claim;

Nor am I skilled to face the foe:

'Tis Thou, O Christ, alone I know.

 

Yea, I have learnt to wait on Thee

With heart and lips of purity,

Humbly my knees in prayer to bend,

And tears with songs of praise to blend.

 

These are the gains I hold in view

And these the arts that I pursue:

These are the offices I ply

When the bright sun mounts up the sky.

 

Prove Thou my heart, my every thought,

Search into all that I have wrought:

Though I be stained with blots within,

Thy quickening rays shall purge my sin.

 

O may I ever spotless be

As when my stains were cleansed by Thee,

Who bad'st me 'neath the Jordan's wave

Of yore my soilëd spirit lave.

 

If e'er since then the world's gross night

Hath cast its curtain o'er my sight,

Dispel the cloud, O King of grace,

Star of the East! with thy pure face.

 

Since Thou canst change, O holy Light,

The blackest hue to milky white,

Ebon to clearness crystalline,

Wash my foul stains and make me clean.

 

'Twas 'neath the lonely star-blue night

That Jacob waged the unequal fight,

Stoutly he wrestled with the Man

In darkness, till the day began.

 

And when the sun rose in the sky

He halted on his shrivelled thigh:

His natural might had ebbed away,

Vanquished in that tremendous fray.

 

Not wounded he in nobler part

Nor smitten in life's fount, the heart:

But lust was shaken from his throne

And his foul empire overthrown.

 

Whereby we clearly learn aright

That man is whelmed by deadly night,

Unless he own God conqueror

And strive against His will no more.

 

Yet happier he whom rising morn

Shall find of nature's strength forlorn,

Whose warring flesh hath shrunk away,

Palsied by virtue's puissant sway.

 

And then at length let darkness flee,

Which all too long held us in fee,

'Mid wildering shadows made us stray

And led in devious tracks our way.

 

We pray Thee, Rising Light serene,

E'en as Thyself our hearts make clean:

Let no deceit our lips defile

Nor let our souls be vexed by guile.

 

O keep us, as the hours proceed,

From lying word and evil deed,

Our roving eyes from sin set free,

Our body from impurity.

 

For thou dost from above survey

The converse of each fleeting day:

Thou dost foresee from morning light

Our every deed, until the night.

 

Justice and judgment dwell with Thee,

Whatever is, Thine eye doth see:

Thou know'st what human hearts conceive

And none Thy wisdom may deceive.

III. HYMNUS ANTE CIBUM

O crucifer bone, lucisator,

omniparens, pie, verbigena,

edite corpore virgineo,

sed prius in genitore potens,

  5astra, solum, mare quam fierent:

 

Huc nitido precor intuitu

flecte salutiferam faciem,

fronte serenus et inradia,

nominis ut sub honore tui

  10has epulas liceat capere.

 

Te sine dulce nihil, Domine,

nec iuvat ore quid adpetere,

pocula ni prius atque cibos,

Christe, tuus favor inbuerit

  15omnia sanctificante fide.

 

Fercula nostra Deum sapiant,

Christus et influat in pateras:

seria, ludicra, verba, iocos,

denique quod sumus aut agimus,

  20trina superne regat pietas.

 

Hic mihi nulla rosae spolia,

nullus aromate fragrat odor,

sed liquor influit ambrosius

nectareamque fidem redolet

  25fusus ab usque Patris gremio.

 

Sperne camena leves hederas,

cingere tempora quis solita es,

sertaque mystica dactylico

texere docta liga strophio,

  30laude Dei redimita comas.

 

Quod generosa potest anima,

lucis et aetheris indigena,

solvere dignius obsequium,

quam data munera si recinat

  35artificem modulata suum?

 

Ipse homini quia cuncta dedit,

quae capimus dominante manu,

quae polus aut humus aut pelagus

aere, gurgite, rure creant,

  40haec mihi subdidit et sibi me.

 

Callidus inlaqueat volucres

aut pedicis dolus aut maculis,

inlita glutine corticeo

vimina plumigeram seriem

  45inpediunt et abire vetant.

 

Ecce per aequora fluctivagos

texta greges sinuosa trahunt:

piscis item sequitur calamum

raptus acumine vulnifico

  50credula saucius ora cibo.

 

Fundit opes ager ingenuas

dives aristiferae segetis:

his ubi vitea pampineo

brachia palmite luxuriant,

  55pacis alumna ubi baca viret.

 

Haec opulentia Christicolis

servit et omnia suppeditat:

absit enim procul ilia fames,

caedibus ut pecudum libeat

  60sanguineas lacerare dapes.

 

Sint fera gentibus indomitis

prandia de nece quadrupedum:

nos oleris coma, nos siliqua

feta legumine multimodo

  65paverit innocuis epulis.

 

Spumea mulctra gerunt niveos

ubere de gemino latices,

perque coagula densa liquor

in solidum coit et fragili

  70lac tenerum premitur calatho.

 

Mella recens mihi Cecropia

nectare sudat olente favus:

haec opifex apis aerio

rore liquat tenuique thymo,

  75nexilis inscia connubii.

 

Hinc quoque pomiferi nemoris

munera mitia proveniunt,

arbor onus tremefacta suum

deciduo gravis imbre pluit

  80puniceosque iacit cumulos.

 

Quae veterum tuba, quaeve lyra

flatibus inclita vel fidibus

divitis omnipotentis opus,

quaeque fruenda patent homini

  85laudibus aequiparare queat?

 

Te Pater optime mane novo,

solis et orbita cum media est,

te quoque luce sub occidua

sumere cum monet hora cibum,

  90nostra Deus canet harmonia.

 

Quod calet halitus interior,

corde quod abdita vena tremit,

pulsat et incita quod resonam

lingua sub ore latens caveam,

  95laus superi Patris esto mihi.

 

Nos igitur tua sancte manus

caespite conposuit madido

effigiem meditata suam,

utque foret rata materies

  100flavit et indidit ore animam.

 

Tunc per amoena vireta iubet

frondicomis habitare locis,

ver ubi perpetuum redolet

prataque multicolora latex

  105quadrifluo celer amne rigat.

 

Haec tibi nunc famulentur, ait,

usibus omnia dedo tuis:

sed tamen aspera mortifero

stipite carpere poma veto,

  110qui medio viret in nemore.

 

Hic draco perfidus indocile

virginis inlicit ingenium,

ut socium malesuada virum

mandere cogeret ex vetitis

  115ipsa pari peritura modo.

 

Corpora mutua--nosse nefas--

post epulas inoperta vident,

lubricus error et erubuit:

tegmina suta parant foliis,

  120dedecus ut pudor occuleret.

 

Conscia culpa Deum pavitans

sede pia procul exigitur.

innuba fernina quae fuerat,

coniugis excipit inperium,

  125foedera tristia iussa pati.

 

Auctor et ipse doli coluber

plectitur inprobus, ut mulier

colla trilinguia calce terat:

sic coluber muliebre solum

  130suspicit atque virum mulier.

 

His ducibus vitiosa dehinc

posteritas ruit in facinus,

dumque rudes imitatur avos,

fasque nefasque simul glomerans

  135inpia crimina morte luit.

 

Ecce venit nova progenies,

aethere proditus alter homo,

non luteus, velut ille prior:

sed Deus ipse gerens hominem,

  140corporeisque carens vitiis.

 

Fit caro vivida sermo Patris,

numine quam rutilante gravis

non thalamo, neque iure tori,

nec genialibus inlecebris

  145intemerata puella parit.

 

Hoc odium vetus illud erat,

hoc erat aspidis atque hominis

digladiabile discidium,

quod modo cernua femineis

  150vipera proteritur pedibus.

 

Edere namque Deum merita

omnia virgo venena domat:

tractibus anguis inexplicitis

virus inerme piger revomit,

  155gramine concolor in viridi.

 

Quae feritas modo non trepidat,

territa de grege candidulo?

inpavidas lupus inter oves

tristis obambulat et rabidum

  160sanguinis inmemor os cohibet.

 

Agnus enim vice mirifica

ecce leonibus inperitat:

exagitansque truces aquilas

per vaga nubila, perque notos

  165sidere lapsa columba fugat.

 

Tu mihi Christe columba potens,

sanguine pasta cui cedit avis,

tu niveus per ovile tuum

agnus hiare lupum prohibes,

  170sub iuga tigridis ora premens.

 

Da locuples Deus hoc famulis

rite precantibus, ut tenui

membra cibo recreata levent,

neu piger inmodicis dapibus

  175viscera tenta gravet stomachus.

 

Haustus amarus abesto procul,

ne libeat tetigisse manu

exitiale quid aut vetitum:

gustus et ipse modum teneat,

  180sospitet ut iecur incolume.

 

Sit satis anguibus horrificis,

liba quod inpia corporibus

ah miseram peperere necem,

sufficiat semel ob facinus

  185plasma Dei potuisse mori.

 

Oris opus, vigor igneolus

non moritur, quia flante Deo

conpositus superoque fluens

de solio Patris artificis

  190vim liquidae rationis habet.

 

Viscera mortua quin etiam

post obitum reparare datur,

eque suis iterum tumulis

prisca renascitur effigies

  195pulvereo coeunte situ.

 

Credo equidem, neque vana fides,

corpora vivere more animae:

nam modo corporeum memini

de Phlegethonte gradu facili

  200ad superos remeasse Deum.

 

Spes eadem mea membra manet,

quae redolentia funereo

iussa quiescere sarcophago

dux parili redivivus humo

  205ignea Christus ad astra vocat.

III. HYMN BEFORE MEAT

Blest Cross-bearer, Source of good,

Light-creating, Word-begot,

Gracious child of maidenhood,

Bosomed in the Fatherhood,

When earth, sea and stars were not.

 

With Thy cloudless, healing gaze

Shine upon me from above:

Let Thine all-enlightening rays

Bless this meal and quicken praise,

Praise unto Thy name of Love.

 

Lord, without Thee nought is sweet,

Nought my life can satisfy,

If Thy favour make not meet

What I drink and what I eat;

Let faith all things sanctify!

 

O'er this bread God's grace be poured,

Christ's sweet fragrance fill the bowl!

Rule my converse, Triune Lord,

Sober thought and sportive word,

All my acts and all my soul.

 

Spoils of rose-trees are not spent,

Nor rich unguents on my board:

But ambrosial sweets are sent,

Of faith's nectar redolent,

From the bosom of my Lord.

 

Scorn, my Muse, light ivy-leaves

Wherewith custom wreathed thy brow:

Love a mystic crown conceives

And a rhythmic garland weaves:

Bind on thee God's praises now.

 

What more worthy gift can I,

Child of light and aether, bring

Than for boons the Maker high

From His bounty doth supply

Lovingly my thanks to sing?

 

He hath set 'neath our command

All that ever rose to be,

All that sky and sea and land

Breed in air, in glebe and sand,

Made my slaves, His own made me.

 

Fowler's craft with gin and net

Feathered tribes of heaven ensnares:

Osier twigs with lime o'erset

That their airy flight may let

His relentless guile prepares.

 

Lo! with woven mesh the seine

Swimming shoals draws from the wave:

Nor do fish the bait disdain

Till they feel the barb's swift pain,

Captives of the food they crave.

 

Native wealth that knows no fail,

Golden wheat springs from the field:

Tendrils lush o'er vineyards trail,

Nursed of Peace the olives pale

Berries green unbidden yield.

 

Christ's grace fills His people's need

With these mercies ever fresh:

Far from us be that foul greed,

Gluttony that loves to feed

On slain oxen's bloodstained flesh.

 

Leave to the barbarian brood

Banquet of the slaughtered beast:

Ours the homely, garden food,

Greenstuff manifold and good

And the lentils' harmless feast.

 

Foaming milkpails bubble o'er

With the udders' snowy stream,

Which in thickening churns we pour

Or in wicker baskets store,

As the cheese is pressed from cream.

 

Honey's nectar for our use

From the new-made comb is shed:

Which the skilful bee imbues

With thyme's scent and airy dews,

Plying lonely toils unwed.

 

Orchard-groves now mellowed o'er

Bounteously their fruitage shed:

See! like rain on forest floor

Shaken trees their riches pour,

High-heaped apples, ripe and red.

 

What great trumpet voice or lyre

Famed of yore could fitly praise

Gifts of the Almighty Sire,

Blessings that His own require,

Richly lavished through their days?

 

When morn breaks upon our sight,

Hymns, O Lord, to Thee shall ring:

Thee, when streams the midday light,

Thee, when shadows of the night

Bid us sup, our voices sing.

 

For my body's vital heat,

For my heart-blood's pulsing vein,

For my tongue and speech complete

Unto Thee, Most High, 'tis meet

That I raise my grateful strain.

 

'Twas, O Holy One, Thy care

Wrought us from the plastic clay,

Made us Thine own image bear,

And for our perfection fair

Did Thy Breath to man convey.

 

On the twain Thou didst bestow

Leafy bowers in pleasaunce fair:

Where spring's scents for aye did blow,

And four stately streams did flow

O'er meads pied with blossoms rare.

 

"All this realm ye now shall sway:"

(Saidst Thou) "use it at your will,

Yet 'tis death your hands to lay

On the Tree, whose verdant sway

Doth the midmost garden fill."

 

Then the Serpent's guileful hate

Would not innocency spare:

Bade the maiden urge her mate

With the fruit his lips to sate,

Nor 'scaped she the self-same snare.

 

Each their nakedness perceives

When the feast they once partook:

Smit with shame their conscience grieves:

Wove they coverings of leaves

Shielding from lascivious look.

 

Far they both in terror fled

Thrust from dwelling of the pure:

She who erst had dwelt unwed

Subject to her spouse was led,

Bidden Hymen's bonds endure.

 

On the Serpent, too, His seal

God hath set, Who guile abhorred,

Doomed in triple neck to feel

Impress of the woman's heel,

Fearing her, who feared her lord.

 

Thus sin in our parents sown

Brought forth ruin for the race;

Good and evil having grown

From that primal root alone,

Nought but death could guilt efface.

 

But the Second Man behold

Come to re-create our kin:

Not formed after common mould

But our God (O Love untold!)

Made in flesh that knows not sin.

 

Word of God incarnated,

By His awful power conceived,

Whom a maiden yet unwed,

Innocent of marriage-bed,

In her virgin womb received.

 

Now we see the Serpent lewd

'Neath the woman's heel downtrod:

Whence there sprang the deadly feud,

Strife for ages unsubdued,

'Twixt mankind and foe of God.

 

Yet God's mother, Maid adored,

Robbed sin's poison of its bane,

And the Snake, his green coils lowered,

Writhing on the sod, outpoured

Harmless now his venom's stain.

 

What fierce brute that doth not flee

Lambs of Christ, white-robed and clean?

'Midst the flock from fear set free,

Slinks the drear wolf sullenly,

Checked his maw and tamed his mien.

 

Wondrous change! restrained by love

Lions the mild lamb obey:

Eagles wild, before the dove

Fluttering from the stars above,

Speed o'er cloudy winds away.

 

Thou, O Christ, my Dove dost reign

Where the vulture gnaws no more:

Thou dost, snow-white Lamb, enchain

Tigers fierce, and wolves restrain

Gaping at the sheepfold's door.

 

God of Love, Thy servants we

Pray Thee now to grant our prayer

That our feast may frugal be,

Nor that we dishonour Thee

By coarse surfeit of rich fare.

 

May we taste no bitter gall

In our cup, nor handle we

Aught of death or harm at all,

Nor intemperately fall

Into gross debauchery.

 

Be the powers of Hell content

With their primal fraud, whereby

Death into this world was sent,

And that, for sin's chastisement,

God's own creatures once should die.

 

But in us God's Breath of fire

Cannot lose its vital force:

Never can its might expire,

Flowing from the Eternal Sire,

Who of Reason's strength is source.

 

Nay, from out death's chilling tomb

Mortal atoms shall arise:

Man from earth's vast, hidden womb

Other, yet the same, shall bloom,

Dust re-made in glorious guise.

 

'Tis my faith--and faith not vain--

Bodies live e'en as the soul:

Since I hold in memory plain

God as man uprose again,

Loosed from Hell, to His true goal.

 

Whence from Him the hope I reap

That these limbs the same shall rise,

Which enwrapped in balmy sleep

Christ the Risen safe shall keep

Till He call me to the skies.

IV. HYMNUS POST CIBUM

Pastis visceribus ciboque sumpto,

quem lex corporis inbecilla poscit,

laudem lingua Deo patri rependat;

Patri, qui Cherubin sedile sacrum,

  5nec non et Seraphin suum supremo

subnixus solio tenet regitque.

 

Hic est, quem Sabaoth Deum vocamus,

expers principii carensque fine,

rerum conditor et repertor orbis:

  10fons vitae liquida fluens ab arce,

infusor fidei, sator pudoris,

mortis perdomitor, salutis auctor.

 

Omnes quod sumus aut vigemus, inde est:

regnat Spiritus ille sempiternus

  15a Christo simul et Parente missus.

Intrat pectora candidus pudica,

quae templi vice consecrata rident,

postquam conbiberint Deum medullis.

 

Sed si quid vitii dolive nasci

  20inter viscera iam dicata sensit,

ceu spurcum refugit celer sacellum.

Taetrum flagrat enim vapore crasso

horror conscius aestuante culpa

offensumque bonum niger repellit.

 

  25Nec solus pudor innocensve votum

templum constituunt perenne Christo

in cordis medii sum ac recessu:

sed ne crapula ferveat cavendum est,

quae sedem fidei cibis refertam

  30usque ad congeriem coartet intus.

 

Parcis victibus expedita corda

infusum melius Deum receptant.

Hic pastus animae est, saporque verus:

sed nos tu gemino fovens paratu

  35artus atque animas utroque pastu

confirmas Pater ac vigore conples.

 

Sic olim tua praecluens potestas

inter raucisonos situm leones,

inlapsis dapibus virum refovit.

  40Illum fusile numen execrantem

et curvare caput sub expolita

aeris materia nefas putantem

 

Plebs dirae Babylonis ac tyrannus

morti subdiderant, feris dicarant

  45saevis protinus haustibus vorandum.

O semper pietas fidesque tuta!

lambunt indomiti virum leones

intactumque Dei tremunt alumnum.

 

Adstant cominus et iubas reponunt,

  50mansuescit rabies fameque blanda

praedam rictibus ambit incruentis.

Sed cum tenderet ad superna palmas

expertumque sibi Deum rogaret,

clausus iugiter indigensque victu:

 

  55Iussus nuntius advolare terris,

qui pastum famulo daret probato,

raptim desilit obsequente mundo.

Cernit forte procul dapes inemptas,

quas messoribus Abbacuc propheta

  60agresti bonus exhibebat arte.

 

Huius caesarie manu prehensa

plenis, sicut erat, gravem canistris

suspensum rapit et vehit per auras.

Tum raptus simul ipse prandiumque

  65sensim labitur in lacum leonum,

et, quas tunc epulas gerebat, offert:

 

Sumas laetus, ait, libensque carpas,

quae summus Pater, angelusque Christi

mittunt liba tibi sub hoc periclo.

  70His sumptis Danielus excitavit

in caelum faciem ciboque fortis

Amen reddidit, Halleluia dixit.

 

Sic nos muneribus tuis refecti,

largitor Deus omnium bonorum,

  75grates reddimus et sacramus hymnos.

Tu nos tristifico velut tyranno

mundi scilicet inpotentis actu

conclusos regis et feram repellis,

 

Quae circumfremit ac vorare temptat

  80insanos acuens furore dentes,

cur te, summe Deus, precemur unum.

Vexamur, premimur, malis rotamur;

oderunt, lacerant, trahunt, lacessunt,

iuncta est suppliciis fides iniquis.

 

  85Nec defit tamen anxiis medela;

nam languente trucis leonis ira

inlapsae superingeruntur escae.

Quas si quis sitienter hauriendo

non gustu tenui, sed ore pleno

  90internis velit inplicare venis,

 

Hic sancto satiatus ex propheta,

iustorum capiet cibos virorum,

qui fructum domino metunt perenni.

Nil est dulcius ac magis saporum,

  95nil quod plus hominem iuvare possit,

quam vatis pia praecinentis orsa.

 

His sumptis licet insolens potestas

pravum iudicet, inrogetque mortem,

inpasti licet inruant leones,

  100nos semper Dominum patrem fatentes

in te, Christe Deus, loquemur unum

constanterque tuam crucem feremus.

IV. HYMN AFTER MEAT

Refreshed we rise, and for this bread that feeds,

By law of man's weak flesh, our daily needs,

Let every tongue, the Father's praises sing;

The Father Who on His exalted throne,

O'er Cherubim and Seraphim, alone

Reigns in His majesty, Eternal King.

 

God of Sabaoth is His name: 'tis He

Who ne'er began and ne'er shall cease to be,

Builder of worlds created at His word;

Fountain of Life that flows from out the sky,

He breathes within us Faith and Purity,

Great Conqueror of Death, Salvation's Lord.

 

From Him each creature life and vigour gains,

And over all the Eternal Spirit reigns

Who cometh from the Father and the Son:

When, dovelike, on pure hearts the heavenly Guest

Descends, they are by God's own presence blest,

As temples where His holy work is done.

 

But if the taint of vice or guile arise

Within the consecrated shrine, He flies

With speed from out the sin-defilèd cell;

For, driven forth by guilt's black, surging tide,

The offended Godhead may not there abide

Where conscious sin and noisome foulness dwell.

 

Not chastity nor childlike faith alone

Build up for Christ an everlasting throne

Deep in the inmost heart, devoid of shame:

But watchful ever must His servants be,

Lest the dark power of sated gluttony

Should bind about the abode of faith its chain.

 

Yet simple saints, content with frugal fare,

More surely find the Spirit present there,

Who is our soul's true strength and heavenly food:

Thy love for us a twofold feast supplies,

O Father, whence the soul may strengthened rise

And eke the body gain new hardihood.

 

Thus, fed and sheltered by Thy matchless might,

The lions' hideous roar could not affright

Thy loyal servant in the days of old:

He boldly cursed the molten deity

And stood with stubborn head uplifted high

That scorned to bow before a god of gold.

 

Then Babylon's vile mob with fury glows;

Death is his doom; and straight the tyrant throws

The youth to be his savage lions' prey:

But faith and piety Thou still dost save,

For lo! the untamed brutes no longer rave,

But round God's unscathed child they gently play.

 

Close by his side they stand with drooping mane,

The grisly, gaping jaws from blood refrain

And with rough tongues their whilom prey caress:

But when in prayer he raised his hands to heaven

And called the God, from Whom such help was given,

Close-prisoned, hungry, and in sore distress,

 

A wingèd messenger to earth He sends,

Who swiftly through the parting clouds descends

To feed His servant, proven by the test:

By chance he sees from far the unbought fare

Which the good seer Habakkuk's kindly care

With rustic art had for the reapers dressed:

 

Then, grasping in strong hand the prophet's hair,

He bears him gently through the rushing air,

Still burdened with the platter's savoury load,

Till o'er the lions' den at last they stayed

And straightway to the starving youth displayed

The food thus brought, by God's good grace bestowed.

 

"Take this with joy," he said, "and thankful feed,

The bread that in thy hour of direst need,

By the great Father sent, Christ's angel brings."

Then Daniel lifts his eyes to heaven above

And, strengthened by the wondrous gift of love,

"Amen!" he cries, and Alleluia sings.

 

Thus, therefore, by Thy bounties now restored,

Giver of all things good, Almighty Lord,

We render thanks and sing glad hymns to Thee:

Though prisoned in an evil world we dwell

Where sin's grim tyrant rules, Thou dost repel

With sovran power our mortal enemy.

 

He roars around us, and would fain devour,

Grinding his angry teeth when 'gainst his power

In Thee alone, O God, we still confide:

By evil things we are beset and vexed,

Tormented, hated, harassed and perplexed,

Our faith by cruel suffering sorely tried,

 

Yet help ne'er fails us in our time of need,

For Thou canst quell the lions' rage, and feed

Our hungry spirits with celestial fare:

And if some soul no meagre taste would gain

Of that repast, but thirstily is fain

Full measure of the heavenly sweets to share,

 

He by the holy seers of old is fed,

And shall partake the loyal reapers' bread

Who labour in the eternal Master's field:

For nothing sweeter than the Word can be

That fell from righteous lips, once touched by Thee,

And nought can richer grace to mortals yield.

 

With this sustained, though vaunting tyranny

By unjust judgment doom us straight to die,

And starvèd lions rush these limbs to tear;

Confessing ever Thine Eternal Son,

With Thee, Almighty Father, ever one,

His cross with faith unshaken will we bear.

V. HYMNUS AD INCENSUM LUCERNAE

Inventor rutili, dux bone, luminis,

qui certis vicibus tempora dividis,

merso sole chaos ingruit horridum,

lucem redde tuis Christe fidelibus.

 

  5Quamvis innumero sidere regiam

lunarique polum lampade pinxeris,

incussu silicis lumina nos tamen

monstras saxigeno semine quaerere:

 

Ne nesciret homo spem sibi luminis

  10in Christi solido corpore conditam,

qui dici stabilem se voluit petram,

nostris igniculis unde genus venit.

 

Pinguis quos olei rore madentibus

lychnis aut facibus pascimus aridis:

  15quin et fila favis scirpea floreis

presso melle prius conlita fingimus.

 

Vivax flamma viget, seu cava testula

sucum linteolo suggerit ebrio,

seu pinus piceam fert alimoniam,

  20seu ceram teretem stuppa calens bibit.

 

Nectar de liquido vertice fervidum

guttatim lacrimis stillat olentibus,

ambustum quoniam vis facit ignea

imbrem de madido flere cacumine.

 

  25Splendent ergo tuis muneribus, Pater,

flammis mobilibus scilicet atria,

absentemque diem lux agit aemula,

quam nox cum lacero victa fugit peplo.

 

Sed quis non rapidi luminis arduam

  30manantemque Deo cernat originem?

Moyses nempe Deum spinifera in rubo

vidit conspicuo lumine flammeum.

 

Felix, qui meruit sentibus in sacris

caelestis solii visere principem,

  35iussus nexa pedum vincula solvere,

ne sanctum involucris pollueret locum.

 

Hunc ignem populus sanguinis incliti

maiorum meritis tutus et inpotens,

suetus sub dominis vivere barbaris,

  40iam liber sequitur longa per avia:

 

qua gressum tulerant castraque caerulae

noctis per medium concita moverant,

plebem pervigilem fulgure praevio

ducebat radius sole micantior.

 

  45Sed rex Niliaci littoris invido

fervens felle iubet praevalidam manum

in bellum rapidis ire cohortibus

ferratasque acies clangere classicum.

 

Sumunt arma viri seque minacibus

  50accingunt gladiis, triste canit tuba:

hic fidit iaculis, ille volantia

praefigit calamis spicula Gnosiis.

 

Densetur cuneis turba pedestribus,

currus pars et equos et volucres rotas

  55conscendunt celeres signaque bellica

praetendunt tumidis clara draconibus.

 

Hic iam servitii nescia pristini

gens Pelusiacis usta vaporibus

tandem purpurei gurgitis hospita

  60rubris littoribus fessa resederat.

 

Hostis dirus adest cum duce perfido,

infert et validis praelia viribus:

Moyses porro suos in mare praecipit

constans intrepidis tendere gressibus:

 

  65praebent rupta locum stagna viantibus

riparum in faciem pervia, sistitur

circumstans vitreis unda liquoribus,

dum plebs sub bifido permeat aequore.

 

Pubes quin etiam decolor asperis

  70inritata odiis rege sub inpio

Hebraeum sitiens fundere sanguinem

audet se pelago credere concavo:

 

ibant praecipiti turbine percita

fluctus per medios agmina regia,

  75sed confusa dehinc unda revolvitur

in semet revolans gurgite confluo.

 

Currus tunc et equos telaque naufraga

ipsos et proceres et vaga corpora

nigrorum videas nare satellitum,

  80arcis iustitium triste tyrannicae.

 

Quae tandem poterit lingua retexere

laudes Christe tuas? qui domitam Pharon

plagis multimodis cedere praesuli

cogis iustitiae vindice dextera.

 

  85Qui pontum rapidis aestibus invium

persultare vetas, ut refluo in salo

securus pateat te duce transitus,

et mox unda rapax devoret inpios.

 

Cui ieiuna eremi saxa loquacibus

  90exundant scatebris, et latices novos

fundit scissa silex, quae sitientibus

dat potum populis axe sub igneo.

 

Instar fellis aqua tristifico in lacu

fit ligni venia mel velut Atticum:

  95lignum est, quo sapiunt aspera dulcius;

uam praefixa cruci spes hominum viget.

 

Inplet castra cibus tunc quoque ninguidus,

inlabens gelida grandine densius:

his mensas epulis, hac dape construunt,

  100quam dat sidereo Christus ab aethere.

 

Nec non imbrifero ventus anhelitu

crassa nube leves invehit alites,

quae conflata in humum, cum semel agmina

fluxerunt, reduci non revolant fuga.

 

  105Haec olim patribus praemia contulit

insignis pietas numinis unici,

cuius subsidio nos quoque vescimur

pascentes dapibus pectora mysticis.

 

Fessos ille vocat per freta seculi

  110discissis populum turbinibus regens

iactatasque animas mille laboribus

iustorum in patriam scandere praecipit.

 

Illic purpureis tecta rosariis

omnis fragrat humus calthaque pinguia

  115et molles violas et tenues crocos

fundit fonticulis uda fugacibus.

 

Illic et gracili balsama surculo

desudata fluunt, raraque cinnama

spirant et folium, fonte quod abdito

  120praelambens fluvius portat in exitum.

 

Felices animae prata per herbida

concentu parili suave sonantibus

hymnorum modulis dulce canunt melos,

calcant et pedibus lilia candidis.

 

  125Sunt et spiritibus saepe nocentibus

paenarum celebres sub Styge feriae

illa nocte, sacer qua rediit Deus

stagnis ad superos ex Acheronticis.

 

Non sicut tenebras de face fulgida

  130surgens oceano Lucifer inbuit,

sed terris Domini de cruce tristibus

maior sole novum restituens diem.

 

Marcent suppliciis tartara mitibus,

exultatque sui carceris otio

  135functorum populus liber ab ignibus,

nec fervent solito flumina sulphure.

 

Nos festis trahimus per pia gaudia

noctem conciliis votaque prospera

certatim vigili congerimus prece

  140extructoque agimus liba sacrario.

 

Pendent mobilibus lumina funibus,

quae suffixa micant per laquearia,

et de languidulis fota natatibus

lucem perspicuo flamma iacit vitro.

 

  145Credas stelligeram desuper aream

ornatam geminis stare trionibus,

et qua bosporeum temo regit iugum,

passim purpureos spargier hesperos.

 

O res digna, Pater, quam tibi roscidae

  150noctis principio grex tuus offerat,

lucem, qua tribuis nil pretiosius,

lucem, qua reliqua praemia cernimus.

 

Tu lux vera oculis, lux quoque sensibus,

intus tu speculum, tu speculum foris,

  155lumen, quod famulans offero, suscipe,

tinctum pacifici chrismatis unguine.

 

Per Christum genitum, summe Pater, tuum,

in quo visibilis stat tibi gloria,

qui noster Dominus, qui tuus unicus

  160spirat de patrio corde paraclitum.

 

Per quem splendor, honos, laus, sapientia,

maiestas, bonitas, et pietas tua

regnum continuat numine triplici

texens perpetuis secula seculis.

V. HYMN FOR THE LIGHTING OF THE LAMPS

Blest Lord, Creator of the glowing light,

At Whose behest the hours successive move,

The sun has set: black darkness broods above:

Christ! light Thy faithful through the coming night.

 

Thy courts are lit with stars unnumberèd,

And in the cloudless vault the pale moon rides;

Yet Thou dost bid us seek the fire that hides

Till swift we strike it from its flinty bed.

 

So man may learn that in Christ's body came

The hidden hope of light to mortals given:

He is the Rock--'tis His own word--that riven

Sends forth to all our race the eternal flame.

 

From lamps that brim with rich and fragrant oil,

Or torches dry this heaven-sent fire we feed;

Or make us rushlights from the flowering reed

And wax, whereon the bees have spent their toil.

 

Bright glows the light, whether the resin thick

Of pine-brand flares, or waxen tapers burn

With melting radiance, or the hollow urn

Yields its stored sweetness to the thirsty wick.

 

Beneath the might of fire, in slow decay

The scented tears of glowing nectar fall;

Lower and lower droops the candle tall

And ever dwindling weeps itself away.

 

So by Thy gifts, great Father, hearth and hall

Are all ablaze with points of twinkling light

That vie with daylight spent; and vanquished Night

Rends, as she flies away, her sable pall.

 

Who knoweth not that from high Heaven first came

Our light, from God Himself the rushing fire?

For Moses erst, amid the prickly brier,

Saw God made manifest in lambent flame.

 

Ah, happy he! deemed worthy face to face

To see heaven's Lord within that sacred brake;

Bidden the sandals from his feet to take,

Nor with his shoon defile that holy place.

 

The mighty children of the chosen name,

Saved by the merits of their sires, and free

After long years of savage tyranny,

Through the drear desert followed still that flame.

 

Striking their camp beneath the silent night

Where'er they went, to lead their darkling way,

The cloud of glory lent its guiding ray

And shone more splendid than the noonday light.

 

But, mad with jealous fury, Egypt's king

Calls his great host to battle for their lord:

Swiftly the cohorts gather at his word,

And down the mail-clad lines the clarions ring.

 

Girding their trusty swords the warriors go

To fill the ranks; hoarse bugles rend the air;

These seize their massy javelins, these prepare

The death-winged arrow and the Cretan bow.

 

The footmen throng in close battalions pressed;

The chariots thunder; to the saddle spring

The riders of the Nile, as forth they fling

Egypt's proud banner with the serpent crest.

 

And now, forgetful of the bondage past,

Thy children, tortured by the desert heat,

Drag to the Red Sea's brink their weary feet,

And on its sandy margin rest at last.

 

See! with their forsworn king the savage foe

Draws nigh: the threatening squadrons nearer ride;

But ever onward urged the intrepid guide

And through the waves bade Israel fearless go.

 

Before that steadfast march the billows fall,

Then raise on either hand their crystal mass,

While through the sundered deep Thy people pass

And ocean guards them with a liquid wall.

 

But, mad with baffled rage, the dusky horde

Of Egypt, by their impious despot led,

Athirst the hated Hebrews' blood to shed

Pursued, all reckless of the o'er-arching flood.

 

Swift as the wind the royal squadrons ride,

But swifter yet the crystal barriers break,

The waves exultantly their bounds forsake

And roll together in a roaring tide.

 

'Mid steeds and chariots and drifting mail

The drownèd lords of Egypt found a grave

With all their swart retainers 'neath the wave;

And in their haughty courts the mourners wail.

 

What tongue, O Christ, Thy glories can unfold?

Thine was the arm, outstretched in wrath, that made

The stricken land of Pharaoh, sore afraid,

Bow down before Thy minister of old.

 

Thy pathless deep did at the voice restrain

Its surging billows, till with Thee for guide

Thy host passed scathless, and the refluent tide

Swept down the wicked to the engulfing main.

 

At Thy command the desert, parched and dry,

Breaks into laughing rills, and water clear

Wells from the smitten rock Thy flock to cheer

And quench their thirst beneath that brazen sky.

 

Then Marah's bitterness grew passing sweet,

Touched by the mystic tree; so by the grace

Of Thine own Tree, O Christ, our sinful race

Regains its lost hopes at Thy piercèd feet.

 

Faster than icy hail the manna falls,

Like snow down drifting from a wintry sky;

The feast is set: they heap the tables high

With that rich food from Thy celestial halls.

 

Fresh blow the breezes from the distant shore

And bear a fluttering cloud that hides the light,

Till the frail pinions, faltering in their flight,

Sink in the wilderness to rise no more.

 

How great the love of God's own Son, that shed

Such wondrous bounty on His chosen race!

And still to us He proffers in His grace

The mystic Feast, wherewith our souls are fed.

 

Through the world's raging sea He bids us come,

And 'twixt the sundered billows guides our path,

Till, spent and wearied with the ocean's wrath,

He calls His storm-tossed saints to Heaven and home.

 

There in His paradise red roses blow,

With golden daffodils and lilies pale

And gentle violets, and down the vale

The murmuring rivulets for ever flow.

 

Sweet balsams, welling from the slender tree,

And precious spices fill the fragrant air,

And, hiding by the stream, that blossom rare

Whose leaves the river hurries to the sea.

 

There the blest souls with one accord unite

To hymn in dulcet song their Saviour's praise,

And as the chanting quire their voices raise

They tread with shining feet the lilies bright.

 

Yea, e'en the spirits of the lost, that dwell

Where the black stream of sullen Acheron flows,

Rest on that holy night when Christ arose,

And for a while 'tis holiday in Hell.

 

No sun from ocean rising drives away

Their darkness, with his flaming shafts far-hurled,

But from the cross of Christ o'er that wan world

There streams the radiance of a new-born day.

 

The sulphurous floods with lessened fury glow,

The aching limbs find respite from their pain,

While, in glad freedom from the galling chain,

The tortured ghosts a short-lived solace know.

 

In holy gladness let this night be sped,

As here we gather, Lord, to watch and pray;

To Thee with one consent our vows we pay

And on Thy altar set the sacred Bread.

 

From pendent chains the lamps of crystal blaze;

By fragrant oil sustained the clear flame glows

With strength undimmed, and through the darkness throws

High o'er the fretted roof a golden haze,

 

As 'twere Heaven's starry floor our wondering eye

Beheld, wherein the Bears their light display,

Where Phosphor heralds the approach of day

And Hesper's radiance floods the evening sky.

 

Meet is the gift we offer here to Thee,

Father of all, as falls the dewy night;

Thine own most precious gift we bring--the light

Whereby mankind Thy other bounties see.

 

Thou art the Light indeed; on our dull eyes

And on our inmost souls Thy rays are poured;

To Thee we light our lamps: receive them, Lord,

Filled with the oil of peace and sacrifice.

 

O hear us, Father, through Thine only Son,

Our Lord and Saviour, by Whose love bequeathed

The Paraclete upon our hearts has breathed,

With Him and Thee through endless ages one.

 

Through Christ Thy Kingdom shall for ever be,

Thy grace, might, wisdom, glory ever shine,

As in the Triune majesty benign

He reigns for all eternity with Thee.

VI. HYMNUS ANTE SOMNUM

Ades Pater supreme,

quem nemo vidit unquam,

Patrisque sermo Christe,

et Spiritus benigne.

 

  5O Trinitatis huius

vis una, lumen unum,

Deus ex Deo perennis,

Deus ex utroque missus.

 

Fluxit labor diei,

  10redit et quietis hora,

blandus sopor vicissim

fessos relaxat artus.

 

Mens aestuans procellis

curisque sauciata

  15totis bibit medullis

obliviale poclum.

 

Serpit per omne corpus

Lethaea vis, nec ullum

miseris doloris aegri

  20patitur manere sensum.

 

Lex haec data est caducis

Deo iubente membris,

ut temperet laborem

medicabilis voluptas.

 

  25Sed dum pererrat omnes

quies amica venas,

pectusque feriatum

placat rigante somno:

 

Liber vagat per auras

  30rapido vigore sensus,

variasque per figuras,

quae sunt operta, cernit.

 

Quia mens soluta curis,

cui est origo caelum,

  35purusque fons ab aethra

iners iacere nescit.

 

Imitata multiformes

facies sibi ipsa fingit,

per quas repente currens

  40tenui fruatur actu.

 

Sed sensa somniantum

dispar fatigat horror,

nunc splendor intererrat

qui dat futura nosse.

 

  45Plerumque dissipatis

mendax imago veris

animos pavore maestos

ambage fallit atra.

 

Quem rara culpa morum

  50non polluit frequenter,

nunc lux serena vibrans

res edocet latentes.

 

At qui coinquinatum

vitiis cor inpiavit,

  55lusus pavore multo

species videt tremendas.

 

Hoc patriarcha noster

sub carceris catena

geminis simul ministris

  60interpres adprobavit.

 

Quorum reversus unus

dat poculum tyranno,

ast alterum rapaces

fixum vorant volucres.

 

  65Ipsum deinde regem

perplexa somniantem

monuit famem futuram

clausis cavere acervis.

 

Mox praesul ac tetrarches

  70regnum per omne iussus

sociam tenere virgam

dominae resedit aulae.

 

O quam profunda iustis

arcana per soporem

  75aperit tuenda Christus,

quam clara! quam tacenda!

 

Evangelista summi

fidissimus magistri

signata quae latebant

  80nebulis videt remotis:

 

ipsum tonantis agnum

de caede purpurantem,

qui conscium futuri

librum resignat unus.

 

  85Huius manum potentem

gladius perarmat anceps

et fulgurans utrimque

duplicem minatur ictum.

 

Quaesitor ille solus

  90animaeque corporisque

ensisque bis timendus

prima ac secunda mors est.

 

idem tamen benignus

ultor retundit iram

  95paucosque non piorum

patitur perire in aevum.

 

Huic inclitus perenne

tribuit Pater tribunal,

hunc obtinere iussit

  100nomen supra omne nomen.

 

Hic praepotens cruenti

extinctor antichristi,

qui de furente monstro

pulchrum refert tropaeum.

 

  105Quam bestiam capacem

populosque devorantem,

quam sanguinis charybdem

Ioannis execratur.

 

Haec nempe, quae sacratum

  110praeferre nomen ausa est,

imam petit gehennam

Christo perempta vero.

 

Tali sopore iustus

mentem relaxat heros,

  115ut spiritu sagaci

caelum peragret omne.

 

Nos nil meremur horum,

quos creber inplet error,

concreta quos malarum

  120vitiat cupido rerum.

 

Sat est quiete dulci

fessum fovere corpus:

sat, si nihil sinistrum

vanae minentur umbrae.

 

  125Cultor Dei memento

te fontis et lavacri

rorem subisse sanctum,

te chrismate innotatum.

 

Fac, cum vocante somno

  130castum petis cubile,

frontem locumque cordis

crucis figura signet.

 

Crux pellit omne crimen,

fugiunt crucem tenebrae:

  135tali dicata signo

mens fluctuare nescit.

 

Procul, o procul vagantum

portenta somniorum,

procul esto pervicaci

  140praestigiator astu!

 

O tortuose serpens,

qui mille per Maeandros

fraudesque flexuosas

agitas quieta corda,

 

  145Discede, Christus hic est,

hic Christus est, liquesce:

signum quod ipse nosti

damnat tuam catervam.

 

Corpus licet fatiscens

  150iaceat recline paullum,

Christum tamen sub ipso

meditabimur sopore.

VI. HYMN BEFORE SLEEP

Draw near, Almighty Father,

Ne'er seen by mortal eye;

Come, O Thou Word eternal,

O Spirit blest, be nigh.

 

One light of threefold Godhead,

One power that all transcends;

God is of God begotten,

And God from both descends.

 

The hour of rest approaches,

The toils of day are past,

And o'er our tired bodies

Sleep's gentle charm is cast.

 

The mind, by cares tormented

Amid life's storm and stress,

Drinks deep the wondrous potion

That brings forgetfulness.

 

O'er weary, toil-worn mortals

The spells of Lethe steal;

Sad hearts lose all their sorrow,

Nor pain nor anguish feel.

 

For to His frail creation

God gave this law to keep,

That labour should be lightened

By soft and healing sleep.

 

But while sweet languor wanders

Through all the pulsing veins,

And, wrapt in dewy slumber,

The heart at rest remains,

 

The soul, in wakeful vigour,

Aloft in freedom flies,

And sees in many a semblance

The hidden mysteries.

 

For, freed from care, the spirit

That came from out the sky,

Born of the stainless aether,

Can never idle lie.

 

A thousand changing phantoms

She fashions through the night,

And 'midst a world of fancy

Pursues her rapid flight.

 

But divers are the visions

That night to dreamers shows;

Rare gleams of straying splendour

The future may disclose;

 

More oft the truth is darkened,

And lying fantasy

Deceives the affrighted sleeper

With cunning treachery.

 

To him whose life is holy

The things that are concealed

Lie open to his spirit

In radiant light revealed;

 

But he whose heart is blackened,

With many a sin imbued,

Sees phantoms grim and ghastly

That beckon and delude.

 

So in the Egyptian dungeon

The patriarch of old

Unto the king's two servants

Their fateful visions told:

 

And one is brought from prison

The monarch's wine to pour,

One, on the gibbet hanging,

Foul birds of prey devour,

 

He warned the king, distracted

By riddles of the night,

To hoard the plenteous harvests

Against the years of blight.

 

Soon, lord of half a kingdom,

A mighty potentate,

He shares the royal sceptre

And dwells in princely state.

 

But ah! how deep the secrets

The holy sleeper sees

To whom Christ shows His highest,

Most sacred mysteries.

 

For God's most faithful servant

The clouds were rolled away,

And John beheld the wonders

That sealed from mortals lay.

 

The Lamb of God, encrimsoned

With sacrificial stains,

Alone the Book can open

That destiny contains.

 

By His strong hand is wielded

A keen, two-edgèd brand

That, flashing like the lightning,

Smites swift on either hand.

 

Before His bar of judgment

Both soul and body lie;

He whom that dread sword smiteth

The second death shall die.

 

Yet mercy tempers justice,

And few the Avenger sends

(Whose guilt is past all pardon)

To death that never ends.

 

To Him the Father yieldeth

The judgment-seat of Heaven;

To Him a Name excelling

All other names is given.

 

For by His strength transcendent

Shall Antichrist be slain,

And from that raging monster

Fair trophies shall He gain:

 

That all-devouring Dragon,

With blood of martyrs red,

On whose abhorrèd power

John's solemn curse is laid.

 

And thus the proud usurper

Of His high name is cast

By Him, the true Christ, vanquished

To deepest hell at last.

 

Upon the saint heroic

Such wondrous slumber falls

That, in the spirit roaming,

He treads heaven's highest halls.

 

We may not, in our weakness,

To dreams like these aspire,

Whose souls are steeped in error

And evil things desire.

 

Enough, if weary bodies

In peaceful sleep may rest;

Enough, if no dark powers

Our slumbering souls molest.

 

Christian! the font remember,

The sacramental vow,

The holy water sprinkled,

The oil that marked thy brow!

 

When at sleep's call thou seekest

To rest in slumber chaste,

Let first the sacred emblem

On breast and brow be traced.

 

The Cross dispels all darkness,

All sin before it flies,

And by that sign protected

The mind all fear defies.

 

Avaunt! ye fleeting phantoms

That mock our midnight hours;

Avaunt! thou great Deceiver

With all thy guileful powers.

 

Thou Serpent, old and crafty,

Who by a thousand arts

And manifold temptations

Dost vex our sleeping hearts,

 

Vanish! for Christ is with us;

Away! 'tis Christ the Lord:

The sign thou must acknowledge

Condemns thy hellish horde.

 

And, though the weary body

Relaxed in sleep may be,

Our hearts, Lord, e'en in slumber,

Shall meditate on Thee.

VII. HYMNUS IEIUNANTIUM

O Nazarene, lux Bethlem, verbum Patris,

quem partus alvi virginalis protulit,

adesto castis Christe parsimoniis,

festumque nostrum rex serenus adspice,

  5ieiuniorum dum litamus victimam.

 

Nil hoc profecto purius mysterio,

quo fibra cordis expiatur uvidi,

intemperata quo domantur viscera,

arvina putrem ne resudans crapulam

  10obstrangulatae mentis ingenium premat.

 

Hinc subiugatur luxus et turpis gula,

vini atque somni degener socordia,

libido sordens, inverecundus lepos,

variaeque pestes languidorum sensuum

  15parcam subactae disciplinam sentiunt.

 

Nam si licenter diffluens potu et cibo

ieiuna rite membra non coerceas,

sequitur frequenti marcida oblectamine

scintilla mentis ut tepescat nobilis,

  20animusque pigris stertat in praecordiis.

 

Frenentur ergo corporum cupidines,

detersa et intus emicet prudentia:

sic excitato perspicax acumine

liberque flatu laxiore spiritus

  25rerum parentem rectius precabitur.

 

Elia tali crevit observantia,

vetus sacerdos, ruris hospes aridi:

fragore ab omni quem remotum et segregem

sprevisse tradunt criminum frequentiam,

  30casto fruentem syrtium silentio.

 

Sed mox in auras igneis iugalibus

curruque raptus evolavit praepete,

ne de propinquo sordium contagio

dirus quietum mundus adflaret virum,

  35olim probatis inclitum ieiuniis.

 

Non ante caeli principem septemplicis

Moyses tremendi fidus interpres throni

potuit videre, quam decem recursibus

quater volutis sol peragrans sidera

  40omni carentem cerneret substantia.

 

Victus precanti solus in lacrimis fuit:

nam flendo pernox inrigatum pulverem

humi madentis ore pressit cernuo,

donec loquentis voce praestrictus Dei

  45expavit ignem non ferendum visibus.

 

Ioannis huius artis hand minus potens,

Dei perennis praecucurrit filium,

curvos viarum qui retorsit tramites

et flexuosa conrigens dispendia

  50dedit sequendam calle recto lineam.

 

Hanc obsequelam praeparabat nuntius

mox adfuturo construens iter Deo,

clivosa planis, confragosa ut lenibus

converterentur, neve quidquam devium

  55inlapsa terris inveniret veritas.

 

Non usitatis ortus his natalibus

oblita lactis iam vieto in pectore

matris tetendit serus infans ubera:

nec ante partu de senili effusus est,

  60quam praedicaret virginem plenam Deo.

 

Post in patentes ille solitudines

amictus hirtis bestiarum pellibus

setisve tectus hispida et lanugine

secessit, horrens inquinari et pollui

  65contaminatis oppidorum moribus.

 

Illic dicata parcus abstinentia

potum cibumque vir severae industriae

in usque serum respuebat vesperum,

parvum locustis et favorum agrestium

  70liquore pastum corpori suetus dare.

 

Hortator ille primus et doctor novae

fuit salutis, nam sacrato in flumine

veterum piatas lavit errorum notas:

sed tincta postquam membra defaecaverat,

  75caelo refulgens influebat spiritus.

 

Hoc ex lavacro labe dempta criminum

ibant renati non secus, quam si rudis

auri recocta vena pulchrum splendeat,

micet metalli sive lux argentei,

  80sudum polito praenitens purgamine.

 

Referre prisci stemma mine ieiunii

libet fideli proditum volumine,

ut diruendae civitatis incolis

fulmen benigni mansuefactum Patris

  85pie repressis ignibus pepercerit.

 

Gens insolenti praepotens iactantia

pollebat olim, quam fluentem nequiter

conrupta vulgo solverat lascivia,

et inde bruto contumax fastidio

  90cultum superni negligebat numinis.

 

Offensa tandem iugis indulgentiae

censura iustis excitatur motibus,

dextram perarmat rhompheali incendio

nimbos crepantes et fragosos turbines

  95vibrans tonantum nube flammarum quatit.

 

Sed paenitendi dum datur diecula,

si forte vellent inprobam libidinem

veteresque nugas condomare ac frangere,

suspendit ictum terror exorabilis

  100paullumque dicta substitit sententia.

 

Ionam prophetam mitis ultor excitat,

paenae inminentis iret ut praenuntius,

sed nosset ille qui minacem iudicem

servare malle, quam ferire ac plectere,

  105tectam latenter vertit in Tharsos fugam.

 

Celsam paratis pontibus scandit ratem,

udo revincta fune puppis solvitur,

itur per altum, fit procellosum mare:

tum causa tanti quaeritur periculi,

  110sors in fugacem missa vatem decidit.

 

Iussus perire solus e cunctis reus,

cuius voluta crimen urna expresserat,

praeceps rotatur et profundo inmergitur:

exceptus inde beluinis faucibus

  115alvi capacis vivus hauritur specu.

      *       *       *       *       *

Intactus exin tertiae noctis vice

monstri vomentis pellitur singultibus,

qua murmuranti fine fluctus frangitur,

salsosque candens spuma tundit pumices,

  130ructatus exit seque servatum stupet.

 

In Ninivitas se coactus percito

gressu reflectit, quos ut increpaverat

pudenda censor inputans opprobria;

Inpendet, inquit, ira summi vindicis,

  135urbemque flamma mox cremabit, credite.

 

Apicem deinceps ardui montis petit

visurus inde conglobatum turbidae

fumum ruinae cladis et dirae struem,

tectus flagellis multinodis germinis,

  140nato et repente perfruens umbraculo.

 

Sed maesta postquam civitas vulnus novi

hausit doloris, heu supremum palpitat:

cursant per ampla congregatim moenia

plebs et senatus, omnis aetas civium,

  145pallens iuventus, eiulantes feminae.

 

Placet frementem publicis ieiuniis

placare Christum, mos edendi spernitur,

glaucos amictus induit monilibus

matrona demptis, proque gemma et serico

  150crinem fluentem sordidus spargit cinis.

 

Squalent recincta veste bullati patres,

setasque plangens turba sumit textiles,

inpexa villis virgo bestialibus

nigrante vultum contegit velamine,

  155iacens arenis et puer provolvitur.

 

Rex ipse Coos aestuantem murices

laenam revulsa dissipabat fibula,

gemmas virentes et lapillos sutiles,

insigne frontis exuebat vinculum

  160turpi capillos inpeditus pulvere.

 

Nullus bibendi, nemo vescendi memor,

ieiuna mensas pubis omnis liquerat,

quin et negato lacte vagientium

fletu madescunt parvulorum cunulae,

  165sucum papillae parca nutrix derogat.

 

Greges et ipsos claudit armentalium

sollers virorum cura, ne vagum pecus

contingat ore rorulenta gramina,

potum strepentis neve fontis hauriant,

  170vacuis querelae personant praesepibus.

 

Mollitus his et talibus brevem Deus

iram refrenat temperans oraculum

prosper sinistrum, prona nam clementia

haud difficulter supplicem mortalium

  175solvit reatum fitque fautrix flentium.

 

Sed cur vetustae gentis exemplum oquor?

pridem caducis cum gravatus artubus

Iesus dicato corde ieiunaverit,

praenuncupatus ore qui prophetico

  180Emanuel est, sive NOBISCUM DEUS.

 

Qui corpus istud molle naturaliter

captumque laxo sub voluptatum iugo

virtutis arta lege fecit liberum:

emancipator servientis plasmatis

  185regnantis ante victor et cupidinis.

 

Inhospitali namque secretus loco

quinis diebus octies labentibus

nullam ciborum vindicavit gratiam,

firmans salubri scilicet ieiunio

  190vas adpetendis inbecillum gaudiis.

 

Miratus hostis posse limum tabidum

tantum laboris sustinere ac perpeti,

explorat arte sciscitator callida,

Deusne membris sit receptus terreis,

  195sed increpata fraude post tergum ruit.

 

Hoc nos sequamur quisque nunc pro viribus,

quod consecrati tu magister dogmatis

tuis dedisti Christe sectatoribus,

ut, cum vorandi vicerit libidinem,

  200late triumphet inperator spiritus.

 

Hoc est, quod atri livor hostis invidet,

mundi polique quod gubernator probat,

altaris aram quod facit placabilem,

quod dormientis excitat cordis fidem,

  205quod limat aegram pectoris rubiginem.

 

Perfusa non sic amne flamma extinguitur,

nec sic calente sole tabescunt nives,

ut turbidarum scabra culparum seges

vanescit almo trita sub ieiunio,

  210si blanda semper misceatur largitas.

 

Est quippe et illud grande virtutis genus

operire nudos, indigentes pascere,

opem benignam ferre supplicantibus,

unam paremque sortis humanae vicem

  215inter potentes atque egenos ducere.

 

Satis beatus quisque dextram porrigit,

laudis rapacem, prodigam pecuniae,

cuius sinistra dulce factum nesciat:

illum perennes protinus conplent opes,

  220ditatque fructus faenerantem centuplex.

VII. HYMN FOR THOSE WHO FAST

O Jesus, Light of Bethlehem,

True Son of God, Incarnate Word;

Thou offspring of a Virgin's womb,

Be present at our frugal board;

Accept our fast, our sacrifice,

And smile upon us, gracious Lord.

 

For by this holiest mystery

The inward parts are cleansed from stain,

And, taming all the unbridled lusts,

Our sinful flesh we thus restrain,

Lest gluttony and drunkenness

Should choke the soul and cloud the brain.

 

Hence appetite and luxury

Are forced their empire to resign;

The wanton sport, the jest obscene,

The ignoble sway of sleep and wine,

And all the plagues of languid sense

Feel the strict bonds of discipline.

 

For if, full fed with meat and drink,

The flesh thou ne'er dost mortify,

The mind, that spark of sacred flame,

By pleasure dulled, must fail and die,

And pent in its gross prison-house

The soul in shameful torpor lie.

 

So be thy carnal lusts controlled,

So be thy judgment clear and bright;

Then shall thy spirit, swift and free,

Be gifted with a keener sight,

And breathing in an ampler air

To the All-Father pray aright.

 

Elias by such abstinence,

Seer of the desert, grew in grace,

Who left the madding haunts of men

And found a peaceful resting-place,

Where, far from sinful crowds, he trod

The pure and silent wilderness.

 

Till by those fiery coursers drawn

The swift car bore him through the air,

Lest earth's defiling touch should mar

The holiness it might not share,

Or some polluting breath disturb

The peace attained by fast and prayer.

 

Moses, through whom from His dread throne

The will of God to man was told,

No food might touch till through the sky

The sun full forty times had rolled,

Ere God before him stood revealed,

Lord of the heavens sevenfold.

 

Tears were his meat, while bent in prayer

Through the long night he bowed his head

E'en to the thirsty dust, that drank

The drops in bitter weeping shed;

Till, at God's call, he saw the flame

No eye may bear, and was afraid.

 

The Baptist, too, was strong in fast--

Forerunner in a later day

Of God's Eternal Son--who made

The byepaths plain, the crooked way

A road direct, wherein His feet

Might travel on without delay.

 

This was the messenger's great task

Who for God's advent zealously

Prepared the way, the rough made smooth,

The mountain levelled to the sea;

That, when Truth came from heaven to earth,

All fair and straight His path should be.

 

He was not born in common wise,

For dry and wrinkled was the breast

Of her that bare him late in years,

Nor found she from her labour rest,

Till she had hailed with lips inspired

The Maid with unborn Godhead blest.

 

For him the hairy skins of beasts

Furnished a raiment rude and wild,

As forth into the lonely waste

He fared, an unbefriended child,

Who dwelt apart, lest he should be

By evil city-life defiled.

 

There, vowed to abstinence, he grew

To manhood, and with stern disdain

He turned from meat and drink, until

He saw night's shadow fall again;

And locusts and the wild bees' store

Sufficed his vigour to sustain.

 

The first was he to testify

Of that new life which man might win;

In Jordan's consecrating stream

He purged the stains of ancient sin,

And, as he made the body clean,

The radiant Spirit entered in.

 

Forth from the holy tide they came

Reborn, from guilt's pollution free,

As bright from out the cleansing fire

Flows the rough gold, or as we see

The glittering silver, purged of dross,

Flash into polished purity.

 

Now let us tell, from Holy Writ,

Of olden fasts the fairest crown;

How God in pity stayed His hand,

And spared a doomed and guilty town,

In clemency the flames withheld

And laid His vengeful lightnings down.

 

A mighty race of ancient time

Waxed arrogant in boastful pride;

Debauched were they, and borne along

On foul corruption's loathsome tide,

Till in their stiff-necked self-conceit

They e'en the God of Heaven denied.

 

At last Eternal Mercy turns

To righteous judgment, swift and dire;

He shakes the clouds; the mighty sword

Flames in His hand, and in His ire

He wields the roaring hurricane

'Mid murky gloom and flashing fire.

 

Yet in His clemency He grants

To penitence a brief delay,

That they might burst the bonds of lust

And put their vanities away;

His sentence given, He waits awhile

And stays the hand upraised to slay.

 

To warn them of the wrath to come

The Avenger in His mercy sent

Jonah the seer; but,--though he knew

The threatening Judge would fain relent

Nor wished to strike,--towards Tarshish town

The prophet's furtive course was bent.

 

As up the galley's side he climbed,

They loosed the dripping rope, and passed

The harbour bar: then on them burst

The sudden fury of the blast;

And when their peril's cause they sought,

The lot was on the recreant cast.

 

The man whose guilt the urn declares

Alone must die, the rest to save;

Hurled headlong from the deck, he falls

And sinks beneath the engulfing wave,

Then, seized by monstrous jaws, is plunged

Into a vast and living grave.

      *       *       *       *       *

At last the monster hurls him forth,

As the third night had rolled away;

Before its roar the billows break

And lash the cliffs with briny spray;

Unhurt the wondering prophet stands

And hails the unexpected day.

 

Thus turned again to duty's path

To Nineveh he swiftly came,

Their lusts rebuked and boldly preached

God's judgment on their sin and shame;

"Believe!" he cried, "the Judge draws nigh

Whose wrath shall wrap your streets in flame."

 

Thence to the lofty mount withdrew,

Where he might watch the smoke-cloud lower

O'er blasted homes and ruined halls,

And rest beneath the shady bower

Upspringing in swift luxury

Of twining tendril, leaf and flower.

 

But when the guilty burghers heard

The impending doom, a dull despair

Possessed their souls; proud senators,

Poor craftsmen, throng the highways fair;

Pale youth with tottering age unites,

And women's wailing rends the air.

 

A public fast they now decree,

If they may thus Christ's anger stay:

No food they touch: each haughty dame

Puts silken robes and gems away,

In sable garbed, and ashes casts

Upon her tresses' disarray.

 

In dark and squalid vesture clad

The Fathers go: the mourning crowd

Dons rough attire: in shaggy skins

Enwrapped, fair maids their faces shroud

With dusky veils, and boyish heads

E'en to the very dust are bowed.

 

The King tears off his jewelled brooch

And rends the robe of Coan hue;

Bright emeralds and lustrous pearls

Are flung aside, and ashes strew

The royal head, discrowned and bent,

As low he kneels God's grace to sue.

 

None thought to drink, none thought to eat;

All from the table turned aside,

And in their cradles wet with tears

Starved babes in bitter anguish cried,

For e'en the foster-mother stern

To little lips the breast denied.

 

The very flocks are closely penned

By careful hands, lest they should gain

Sweet water from the babbling stream

Or wandering crop the dewy plain;

And bleating sheep and lowing kine

Within their barren stalls complain.

 

Moved by such penitence, full soon

God's grace repealed the stern decree

And curbed His righteous wrath; for aye,

When man repents, His clemency

Is swift to pardon and to hear

His children weeping bitterly.

 

Yet wherefore of that bygone race

Should we anew the story tell?

For Christ's pure soul by fasting long

The clogging bonds of flesh did quell;

He Whom the prophet's voice foretold

As GOD WITH US, Emmanuel.

 

Man's body--frail by nature's law

And bound by pleasure's easy chain--

He freed by virtue's strong restraint,

And gave it liberty again:

He broke the bonds of flesh, and Lust

Was driven from his old domain.

 

Deep in the inhospitable wild

For forty days He dwelt alone

Nor tasted food, till, thus prepared,

All human weakness overthrown

By fasting's power, His mortal frame

Rejoiced the spirit's sway to own.

 

The Adversary, marvelling

To see this creature of a day

Endure such toil, spent all his guile

To learn if God in human clay

Had come indeed; but soon rebuked

Behind His back fled shamed away.

 

Therefore let each with all his might

Follow the way the Master taught,

The law of consecrated life

Which Christ unto His servants brought;

Till, with the lusts of flesh subdued,

The spirit reigns o'er act and thought.

 

'Tis this our jealous foe abhors,

'Tis this the Lord of earth and sky

Approves; by this the soul is made

Thy holy altar, God Most High:

Faith stirs within the slumbering heart

And sin's corroding power must fly.

 

Swifter than water quenches fire,

Swifter than sunshine melts the snow,

Crushed out by soul-restoring fast

Vanish the sins that rankly grow,

If hand in hand with Abstinence

Sweet Charity doth ever go.

 

This too is Virtue's noble task,

To clothe the naked, and to feed

The destitute, with kindly care

To visit sufferers in their need;

For king and beggar each must bear

The lot by changeless Fate decreed.

 

Happy the man whose good right hand

Seeks but God's praise, and flings his gold

Broadcast, nor lets his left hand know

The gracious deed; for wealth untold

Shall crown him through eternal years

With usury an hundredfold.

VIII. HYMNUS POST IEIUNIUM

Christe servorum regimen tuorum,

mollibus qui nos moderans habenis

leniter frenas facilique septos

lege coerces:

 

  5ipse cum portans onus inpeditum

corporis duros tuleris labores,

maior exemplis famulos remisso

dogmate palpas.

 

Nona submissum rotat hora solem

  10partibus vixdum tribus evolutis,

quarta devexo superest in axe

portio lucis.

 

Nos brevis voti dape vindicata

solvimus festum fruimurque mensis

  15adfatim plenis, quibus inbuatur

prona voluptas.

 

Tantus aeterni favor est magistri,

doctor indulgens ita nos amico

lactat hortatu, levis obsequela ut

  20mulceat artus.

 

Addit et, ne quis velit invenusto

sordidus cultu lacerare frontem,

sed decus vultus capitisque pexum

comat honorem.

 

  25Terge ieiunans, ait, omne corpus,

neve subducto faciem rubore

luteus tinguat color aut notetur

pallor in ore.

 

Rectius laeto tegimus pudore,

  30quidquid ad cultum Patris exhibemus:

cernit occultum Deus et latentem

munere donat.

 

Ille ovem morbo residem gregique

perditam sano male dissipantem

  35vellus adfixis vepribus per hirtae

devia silvae.

 

Inpiger pastor revocat lupisque

gestat exclusis humeros gravatus,

inde purgatam revehens aprico

  40reddit ovili:

 

Reddit et pratis viridique campo,

vibrat inpexis ubi nulla lappis

spina, nec germen sudibus perarmat

carduus horrens:

 

  45Sed frequens palmis nemus et reflexa

vernat herbarum coma, tum perennis

gurgitem vivis vitreum fluentis

laurus obumbrat.

 

Hisce pro donis tibi, fide pastor,

  50servitus quaenam poterit rependi?

nulla conpensant pretium salutis

vota precantum.

 

Quamlibet spreto sine more pastu

sponte confectos tenuemus artus,

  55teque contemptis epulis rogemus

nocte dieque;

 

Vincitur semper minor obsequentum

cura, nec munus genitoris aequat,

frangit et cratem luteam laboris

  60grandior usus.

 

Ergo ne limum fragilem solutae

deserant vires et aquosus albis

humor in venis dominetur aegrum

corpus inervans,

 

  65Laxus ac liber modus abstinendi

ponitur cunctis, neque nos severus

terror inpellit, sua quemque cogit

velle potestas.

 

Sufficit, quidquid facias, vocato

  70numinis nutu prius, inchoare,

sive tu mensam renuas cibumve

sumere temptes.

 

Adnuit dexter Deus et secundo

prosperat vultu, velut hoc salubre

  75fidimus nobis fore, quod dicatas

carpimus escas.

 

Sit bonum, supplex precor et medelam

conferat membris, animumque pascat

sparsus in venas cibus obsecrantum

  80christicolarum.

VIII. HYMN AFTER FASTING

O Christ, of all Thy servants Guide,

Mild is the yoke Thou mak'st us bear,

Leading us gently by Thy side

With gracious care.

 

Thy love took up our life's hard load

And spent in grievous toils its might:

Thy bond-slaves tread the easier road

Led by Thy light.

 

Nine hours have run their course away,

The sun sped three parts of its race:

And what remains of the short day

Fadeth apace.

 

The holy fast hath reached its end;

Our table now Thou loadest, Lord:

With all Thy gifts true gladness send

To grace our board.

 

Such is our Master's gentle sway,

So kind the teaching in His school,

That all find rest who will obey

His easy rule.

 

Thou would'st not have us scorn the grace

Of cleanliness and vesture fair:

Thou lovest not a soilèd face

And unkempt hair.

 

Let him that fasts, Thou saidst, be clean,

Nor lose health's fair and ruddy glow:

Let no wan sallowness be seen

Upon his brow.

 

'Tis better in glad modesty

Of our good works to shun display:

God sees what 'scapes our neighbour's eye

And will repay.

 

That Shepherd keen seeks one lost sheep

Sickly and weak, strayed from the fold,

Fleece torn with briers of thickets deep,

Foolishly bold.

 

He drives the wolves far from the track:

And found He brings on shoulders borne

To sunlit pen the wanderer back,

No more forlorn:

 

Yea, to the meads and grassy fields

The lamb restores, where no thorn balks,

No rough burrs tear, no thistle yields

Its bristling stalks:

 

But leaves of green herbs brightly glance

And in the grove the palm-trees dream,

And laurels shade the eddying dance

Of crystal stream.

 

For all these gifts, O Shepherd dear,

What service can I render Thee?

No grateful vows my debt shall clear

For love so free.

 

Though by self-chosen fasts severe

Our strength of limb we waste away:

Though, spurning food, we Thee revere

By night and day:

 

Yet our works never can o'ertake

Thy love or with Thy gifts compare:

Our toils this earthen vessel break,

The more we dare.

 

Therefore lest failing powers consume

Our fragile life and shrivelled veins

Pale 'neath the tyranny of rheum

And weakening pains:

 

Thou dost not rule perpetual Lent

For man, nor modest fare deny:

Fearless may each unto his bent

His wants supply.

 

Enough that all our acts by prayer

Be sanctified unto Thy will,

Whether we fast, or with due care

Our needs fulfil.

 

Then shall God bless us for our good

And lead us to our soul's true wealth;

For, if but consecrated, food

Shall bring us health.

 

O Lord, grant that our feast may spread

Marrow and strength throughout our flesh:

And may all Christly souls be fed

With vigour fresh.

IX. HYMNUS OMNIS HORAE

Da puer plectrum, choreis ut canam fidelibus

dulce carmen et melodum, gesta Christi insignia:

hunc camena nostra solum pangat, hunc laudet lyra.

 

Christus est, quem rex sacerdos adfuturum protinus

  5infulatus concinebat voce, chorda et tympano,

spiritum caelo influentem per medullas hauriens.

 

Facta nos et iam probata pangimus miracula,

testis orbis est, nec ipsa terra, quod vidit, negat,

cominus Deum docendis proditum mortalibus.

 

  10Corde natus ex parentis, ante mundi exordium

alpha et Ω cognominatus, ipse fons et clausula

omnium, quae sunt, fuerunt quaeque post futura sunt.

 

Ipse iussit et creata, dixit ipse, et facta sunt

terra, caelum, fossa ponti, trina rerum machina,

  15quaeque in his vigent sub alto solis et lunae globo.

 

Corporis formam caduci, membra morti obnoxia

induit, ne gens periret primoplasti ex germine,

merserat quam lex profundo noxialis tartaro.

 

O beatus ortus ille, virgo cum puerpera

  20edidit nostram salutem feta sancto spiritu,

et puer redemptor orbis os sacratum protulit.

 

Psallat altitudo caeli, psallite omnes angeli,

quidquid est virtutis usquam psallat in laudem Dei:

nulla linguarum silescat, vox et omnis consonet.

 

  25Ecce quem vates vetustis concinebant seculis,

quem prophetarum fideles paginae spoponderant,

emicat promissus olim: cuncta conlaudent eum.

 

Cantharis infusa lympha fit Falernum nobile,

nuntiat vinum minister esse promptum ex hydria,

  30ipse rex sapore tinctis obstupescit poculis.

 

Membra morbis ulcerosa, viscerum putredines

mando, ut abluantur, inquit; fit ratum, quod iusserat,

turgidam cutem repurgant vulnerum piamina.

 

Tu perennibus tenebris iam sepulta lumina

  35inlinis limo salubri, sacri et oris nectare,

mox apertis hac medela lux reducta est orbibus.

 

Increpas ventum furentem, quod procellis tristibus

vertat aequor fundo ab imo, vexet et vagam ratem:

ille iussis obsecundat, mitis unda sternitur.

 

  40Extimum vestis sacratae furtim mulier attigit,

protinus salus secuta est, ora pallor deserit,

sistitur rivus, cruore qui fluebat perpeti.

 

Exitu dulcis iuventae raptum ephebum viderat,

orba quem mater supremis funerabat fletibus:

  45surge, dixit: ille surgit, matri et adstans redditur.

 

Sole iam quarto carentem, iam sepulcro absconditum

Lazarum iubet vigere reddito spiramine:

fetidum iecur reductus rursus intrat halitus.

 

Ambulat per stagna ponti, summa calcat fluctuum,

  50mobilis liquor profundi pendulam praestat viam,

nec fatiscit unda sanctis pressa sub vestigiis.

 

Suetus antro bustuali sub catenis frendere,

mentis inpos efferatis percitus furoribus

prosilit ruitque supplex, Christum adesse ut senserat.

 

  55Pulsa pestis lubricorum milleformis daemonum

conripit gregis suilli sordida spurcamina,

seque nigris mergit undis et pecus lymphaticum.

 

Quinque panibus peresis et gemellis piscibus

adfatim refecta iam sunt adcubantum milia,

  60fertque qualus ter quaternus ferculorum fragmina.

 

Tu cibus panisque noster, tu perennis suavitas;

nescit esurire in aevum, qui tuam sumit dapem,

nec lacunam ventris inplet, sed fovet vitalia.

 

Clausus aurium meatus et sonorum nescius

  65purgat ad praecepta Christi crassa quaeque obstacula,

vocibus capax fruendis ac susurris pervius.

 

Omnis aegritudo cedit, languor omnis pellitur,

lingua fatur, quam veterna vinxerant silentia,

gestat et suum per urbem laetus aeger lectulum.

 

  70Quin et ipsum, ne salutis inferi expertes forent,

tartarum benignus intrat, fracta cedit ianua,

vectibus cadit revulsis cardo indissolubilis.

 

Illa prompta ad inruentes, ad revertentes tenax,

obice extrorsum repulso porta reddit mortuos:

  75lege versa et limen atrum iam recalcandum patet.

 

Sed Deus dum luce fulva mortis antra inluminat,

dum stupentibus tenebris candidum praestat diem,

tristia squalentis aethrae palluerunt sidera.

 

Sol refugit et lugubri sordidus ferrugine

  80igneum reliquit axem seque maerens abdidit:

fertur horruisse mundus noctis aeternae chaos.

 

Solve vocem mens sonoram, solve linguam mobilem,

dic tropaeum passionis, dic triumphalem crucem,

pange vexillum, notatis quod refulget frontibus.

 

  85O novum caede stupenda vulneris miraculum!

hinc cruoris fluxit unda, lympha parte ex altera:

lympha nempe dat lavacrum, tum corona ex sanguine est.

 

Vidit anguis inmolatam corporis sacri hostiam,

vidit et fellis perusti mox venenum perdidit,

  90saucius dolore multo colla fractus sibilat.

 

Quid tibi, profane serpens, profuit, rebus novis

plasma primum perculisse versipelli hortamine?

diluit culpam recepto forma mortalis Deo.

 

Ad brevem se mortis usum dux salutis dedidit,

  95mortuos olim sepultos ut redire insuesceret,

dissolutis pristinorum vinculis peccaminum.

 

Tunc patres sanctique multi conditorem praevium

iam revertentem secuti tertio demum die

carnis indumenta sumunt, eque bustis prodeunt.

 

  100Cerneres coire membra de favillis aridis,

frigidum venis resumptis pulverem tepescere,

ossa, nervos, ac medullas glutino cutis tegi.

 

Post, ut occasum resolvit vitae et hominem reddidit,

arduum tribunal victor adscendit Patris,

  105inclitam caelo reportans passionis gloriam.

 

Macte index mortuorum, macte rex viventium,

dexter in parentis arce qui cluis virtutibus

omnium venturus inde iustus ultor criminum.

 

Te senes et te iuventus, parvulorum te chorus,

  110turba matrum virginumque simplices puellulae,

voce concordes pudicis perstrepant concentibus.

 

Fluminum lapsus et undae, littorum crepidines,

imber, aestus, nix, pruina, silva, et aura, nox, dies,

omnibus te concelebrent seculorum seculis.

IX. HYMN FOR ALL HOURS

Let me chant in sacred numbers, as I strike each sounding string,

Chant in sweet, melodious anthems, glorious deeds of Christ our King;

He, my Muse, shall be thy story; with His praise my lyre shall ring.

 

When the king in priestly raiment sang the Christ that was to be,

Voice and lute and clashing cymbal joined in joyous harmony,

While the Spirit, heaven-descended, touched his lips to prophecy.

 

Sing we now the works sure proven, wrought of God in mystic wise;

Heaven is witness; earth confesses how she saw with wondering eyes

God Himself with mortals mingling, man to teach in human guise.

 

Of the Father's heart begotten, ere the world from chaos rose,

He is Alpha; from that Fountain all that is and hath been flows;

He is Omega, of all things yet to come the mystic Close.

 

By His word was all created; He commands and lo! 'tis done;

Earth and sky and boundless ocean, universe of three in one,

All that sees the moon's soft radiance, all that breathes beneath the sun.

 

He assumed this mortal body, frail and feeble, doomed to die,

That the race from dust created might not perish utterly,

Which the dreadful Law had sentenced in the depths of Hell to lie.

 

O how blest that wondrous birthday, when the Maid the curse retrieved,

Brought to birth mankind's salvation, by the Holy Ghost conceived;

And the sacred Babe, Redeemer of the world, her arms received.

 

Sing, ye heights of heaven, His praises; angels and archangels, sing!

Wheresoe'er ye be, ye faithful, let your joyous anthems ring,

Every tongue His name confessing, countless voices answering.

 

This is He whom seer and sibyl sang in ages long gone by;

This is He of old revealèd in the page of prophecy;

Lo! He comes, the promised Saviour; let the world His praises cry!

 

In the urns the clear, cold water turns to juice of noblest vine,

And the servant, drawing from them, starts to see the generous wine,

While the host, its savour tasting, wonders at the draught divine.

 

To the leper worn and wasted, white with many a loathsome sore,

"Be thou cleansed," He said; "I bid it!" swift 'tis done, His words restore;

To the priest the gift he offers, clean and healthful as of yore.

 

On the eyes long sealed in darkness, buried in unbroken night,

Thou didst spread Thy lips' sweet nectar, mixed with clay: then came the sight,

As Thy gracious touch all-healing brought to those dark orbs the light.

 

Thou didst chide the raging tempest, when the waves with foaming crest

Leaped about the fragile vessel, buffeted and sore distressed;

Wind and wave, their fury stilling, sank to calm at Thy behest.

 

Once a woman's timid fingers touched Thy garment's lowest braid,

And the pallor left her visage, healing power the touch conveyed,

For the years of pain were ended and the flow of blood was stayed.

 

Thou didst see men bear to burial one struck down in youth's glad tide,

While a widowed mother followed, wailing for her boy that died;

"Rise!" Thou saidst, and led him gently to his weeping mother's side.

 

Lazarus, who lay in darkness till three nights had passed away,

At Thy voice awoke to soundness, rising to the light of day,

As the breath his frame re-entered touched already with decay.

 

See, He walks upon the waters, treads the billow's rolling crest;

O'er the shifting depths of ocean firm and sure His footsteps rest,

And the wave parts not asunder where those holy feet are pressed.

 

And the madman, chained and tortured by dark powers, from whom all fly,

As the tombs, that were his dwelling, echo to his savage cry,

Rushes forth and falls adoring, when he sees that Christ is nigh.

 

Then the legion of foul spirits, driven from their human prey,

Seize the noisome swine, that feeding high upon the hillside stray,

And the herd, in sudden frenzy, plunges in the waters grey.

 

"Gather in twelve woven baskets all the fragments that remain:"

He hath fed the weary thousands, resting o'er the grassy plain,

And His power hath stayed their hunger with five loaves and fishes twain.

 

Thine, O Christ, is endless sweetness; Thou art our celestial Bread:

Nevermore he knoweth hunger, who upon Thy grace hath fed,

Grace whereby no mortal body but the soul is nourishèd.

 

They that knew not speech nor language, closed to every sound their ears,

To the Master's call responding break the barriers of years;

Now the deaf holds joyous converse and the lightest whisper hears.

 

Sickness at His word departed, pain and pallid languor fled,

Many a tongue, long chained in silence, words of praise and blessing said;

And the palsied man rejoicing through the city bore his bed.

 

Yea, that they might know salvation who in Hades' prison were pent,

In His mercy condescending through Hell's gloomy gates He went;

Bolt and massy hinge were shattered, adamantine portals rent.

 

For the door that all receiveth, but releaseth nevermore,

Opens now and, slowly turning, doth the ghosts to light restore,

Who, the eternal laws suspended, tread again its dusky floor.

 

But, while God with golden glory floods the murky realms of night,

And upon the startled shadows dawns a day serene and bright,

In the darkened vault of heaven stars forlorn refuse their light.

 

For the sun in garb of mourning veiled his radiant orb and passed

From his flaming path in sorrow, hiding till mankind aghast

Deemed that o'er a world of chaos Night's eternal pall was cast.

 

Now, my soul, in liquid measures let the sounding numbers flow;

Sing the trophy of His passion, sing the Cross triumphant now;

Sing the ensign of Christ's glory, marked on every faithful brow.

 

Ah! how wondrous was the fountain flowing from His piercèd side,

Whence the blood and water mingled in a strange and sacred tide,--

Water, sign of mystic cleansing; blood, the martyr's crown of pride.

 

In that hour the ancient Serpent saw the holy Victim slain,

Saw, and shed his hate envenomed, all his malice spent in vain;

See! the hissing neck is broken as he writhes in sullen pain.

 

Aye, what boots it, cursèd Serpent, that the man God made from clay,

Victim of thy baleful cunning, by thy lies was led astray?

God hath ta'en a mortal body and hath washed the guilt away.

 

Christ, our Captain, for a season deigned to dwell in Death's domain,

That the dead, long time imprisoned, might return to life again,

Breaking by His great example ancient sins' enthralling chain.

 

Thus, upon the third glad morning, patriarchs and saints of yore,

As the risen Lord ascended, followed Him who went before,

From forgotten graves proceeding, habited in flesh once more.

 

Limb to limb unites and rises from the ashes dry and cold,

And the life-blood courses warmly through the frames long turned to mould,

Skin and flesh, anew created, muscle, bone and nerve enfold.

 

Then, mankind to life restoring, Death downtrodden 'neath His feet,

Lo! the Victor mounts triumphant to the Father's judgment-seat,

Bringing back to heaven the glory by His passion made complete.

 

Hail! Thou Judge of souls departed: hail! of all the living King!

On the Father's right hand thronèd, through His courts Thy praises ring,

Till at last for all offences righteous judgment Thou shalt bring.

 

Now let old and young uniting chant to Thee harmonious lays,

Maid and matron hymn Thy glory, infant lips their anthem raise,

Boys and girls together singing with pure heart their song of praise.

 

Let the storm and summer sunshine, gliding stream and sounding shore,

Sea and forest, frost and zephyr, day and night their Lord adore;

Let creation join to laud Thee through the ages evermore.

X. HYMNUS AD EXEQUIAS DEFUNCTI

Deus ignee fons animarum,

duo qui socians elementa

vivum simul ac moribundum

hominem Pater effigiasti:

 

  5Tua sunt, tua rector utraque,

tibi copula iungitur horum,

tibi, dum vegetata cohaerent,

et spiritus et caro servit.

 

Rescissa sed ista seorsum

  10solvunt hominera perimuntque,

humus excipit arida corpus,

animae rapit aura liquorem.

 

Quia cuncta creata necesse est

labefacta senescere tandem,

  15conpactaque dissociari,

et dissona texta retexi.

 

Hanc tu, Deus optime, mortem

famulis abolere paratus

iter inviolabile monstras,

  20quo perdita membra resurgant:

 

Ut, dum generosa caducis

ceu carcere clausa ligantur,

pars illa potentior extet,

quae germen ab aethere traxit.

 

  25Si terrea forte voluntas

luteum sapit et grave captat,

animus quoque pondere victus

sequitur sua membra deorsum.

 

At si generis memor ignis

  30contagia pigra recuset,

vehit hospita viscera secum,

pariterque reportat ad astra.

 

Nam quod requiescere corpus

vacuum sine mente videmus,

  35spatium breve restat, ut alti

repetat conlegia sensus.

 

Venient cito secula, cum iam

socius calor ossa revisat

animataque sanguine vivo

  40habitacula pristina gestet.

 

Quae pigra cadavera pridem

tumulis putrefacta iacebant,

volucres rapientur in auras

animas comitata priores.

 

  45Hinc maxima cura sepulcris

inpenditur: hinc resolutos

honor ultimus accipit artus

et funeris ambitus ornat.

 

Candore nitentia claro

  50praetendere lintea mos est,

adspersaque myrrha Sabaeo

corpus medicamine servat.

 

Quidnam sibi saxa cavata,

quid pulchra volunt monumenta,

  55nisi quod res creditur illis

non mortua, sed data somno?

 

Hoc provida Christicolarum

pietas studet, utpote credens

fore protinus omnia viva,

  60quae nunc gelidus sopor urget.

 

Qui iacta cadavera passim

miserans tegit aggere terrae,

opus exhibet ille benignum

Christo pius omnipotenti:

 

  65Quin lex eadem monet omnes

gemitum dare sorte sub una,

cognataque funera nobis

aliena in morte dolere.

 

Sancti sator ille Tobiae

  70sacer ac venerabilis heros,

dapibus iam rite paratis

ius praetulit exequiarum.

 

Iam stantibus ille ministris

cyathos et fercula liquit,

  75studioque accinctus humandi

fleto dedit ossa sepulcro.

 

Veniunt mox praemia caelo

pretiumque rependitur ingens:

nam lumina nescia solis

  80Deus inlita felle serenat.

 

Iam tunc docuit Pater orbis,

quam sit rationis egenis

mordax et amara medela,

cum lux animum nova vexat.

 

  85Docuit quoque non prius ullum

caelestia cernere regna,

quam nocte et vulnere tristi

toleraverit aspera mundi.

 

Mors ipsa beatior inde est,

  90quod per cruciamina leti

via panditur ardua iustis

et ad astra doloribus itur.

 

Sic corpora mortificata

redeunt melioribus annis,

  95nec post obitum recalescens

conpago fatiscere novit.

 

Haec, quae modo pallida tabo

color albidus inficit ora,

tunc flore venustior omni

  100sanguis cute tinget amoena.

 

Iam nulla deinde senectus

frontis decus invida carpet,

macies neque sicca lacertos

suco tenuabit adeso.

 

  105Morbus quoque pestifer, artus

qui nunc populatur anhelos,

sua tunc tormenta resudans

luet inter vincula mille.

 

Hunc eminus aere ab alto

  110victrix caro iamque perennis

cernet sine fine gementem

quos moverat ipse dolores.

 

Quid turba superstes inepta

clangens ululamina miscet,

  115cur tam bene condita iura

luctu dolor arguit amens?

 

Iam maesta quiesce querela,

lacrimas suspendite matres,

nullus sua pignora plangat,

  120mors haec reparatio vitae est.

 

Sic semina sicca virescunt

iam mortua iamque sepulta,

quae reddita caespite ab imo

veteres meditantur aristas.

 

  125Nunc suscipe terra fovendum,

gremioque hunc concipe molli:

hominis tibi membra sequestro

generosa et fragmina credo.

 

Animae fuit haec domus olim

  130factoris ab ore creatae,

fervens habitavit in istis

sapientia principe Christo.

 

Tu depositum tege corpus,

non inmemor illa requiret

  135sua munera fictor et auctor

propriique aenigmata vultus.

 

Veniant modo tempora iusta,

cum spem Deus inpleat omnem;

reddas patefacta necesse est,

  140qualem tibi trado figuram.

 

Non, si cariosa vetustas

dissolverit ossa favillis,

fueritque cinisculus arens

minimi mensura pugilli.

 

  145Nec, si vaga flamina et aurae

vacuum per inane volantes

tulerint cum pulvere nervos,

hominem periisse licebit.

 

Sed dum resolubile corpus

  150revocas, Deus, atque reformas,

quanam regione iubebis

animam requiescere puram?

 

Gremio senis addita sancti

recubabit, ut est Eleazar,

  155quem floribus undique septum

Dives procul adspicit ardens.

 

Sequimur tua dicta redemptor,

quibus atra morte triumphans

tua per vestigia mandas

  160socium crucis ire latronem.

 

Patet ecce fidelibus ampli

via lucida iam paradisi,

licet et nemus illud adire,

homini quod ademerat anguis.

 

  165Illic precor, optime ductor,

famulam tibi praecipe mentem

genitali in sede sacrari,

quam liquerat exul et errans.

 

Nos tecta fovebimus ossa

  170violis et fronde frequenti,

titulumque et frigida saxa

liquido spargemus odore.

X. HYMN FOR THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD

Fountain of life, supernal Fire,

Who didst unite in wondrous wise

The soul that lives, the clay that dies,

And mad'st them Man: eternal Sire,

 

Both elements Thy will obey,

Thine is the bond that joins the twain,

And, while united they remain,

Spirit and body own Thy sway.

 

Yet they must one day disunite,

Sunder in death this mortal frame;

Dust to the dust from whence it came,

The spirit to its heavenward flight.

 

For all created things must wane,

And age must break the bond at last;

The diverse web that Life held fast

Death's fingers shall unweave again.

 

Yet, gracious God, Thou dost devise

The death of Death for all Thine own;

The path of safety Thou hast shown

Whereby the doomèd limbs may rise:

 

So that, while fragile bonds of earth

Man's noblest essence still enfold,

That part may yet the sceptre hold

Which from pure aether hath its birth.

 

For if the earthy will hold sway,

By gross desires and aims possessed,

The soul, too, by the weight oppressed,

Follows the body's downward way.

 

But if she scorn the guilt that mars--

Still mindful of her fiery sphere--

She bears the flesh, her comrade here,

Back to her home beyond the stars.

 

The lifeless body we restore

To earth, must slumber free from pain

A little while, that it may gain

The spirit's fellowship once more.

 

The years will pass with rapid pace

Till through these limbs the life shall flow,

And the long-parted spirit go

To seek her olden dwelling-place.

 

Then shall the body, that hath lain

And turned to dust in slow decay,

On airy wings be borne away

And join its ancient soul again.

 

Therefore our tenderest care we spend

Upon the grave: and mourners go

With solemn dirge and footstep slow--

Love's last sad tribute to a friend.

 

With fair white linen we enfold

The dear dead limbs, and richest store

Of Eastern unguents duly pour

Upon the body still and cold.

 

Why hew the rocky tomb so deep,

Why raise the monument so fair,

Save that the form we cherish there

Is no dead thing, but laid to sleep?

 

This is the faithful ministry

Of Christian men, who hold it true

That all shall one day live anew

Who now in icy slumber lie.

 

And he whose pitying hand shall lay

Some friendless outcast 'neath the sod,

E'en to the almighty Son of God

Doth that benignant service pay.

 

For this same law doth bid us mourn

Man's common fate, when strangers die,

And pay the tribute of a sigh,

As when our kin to rest are borne.

 

Of holy Tobit ye have read,

(Grave father of a pious son),

Who, though the feast was set, would run

To do his duty by the dead.

 

Though waiting servants stood around,

From meat and drink he turned away

And girt himself in haste to lay

The bones with weeping in the ground.

 

Soon Heaven his righteous zeal repays

With rich reward; the eyes long blind

In bitter gall strange virtue find

And open to the sun's clear rays.

 

Thus hath our Heavenly Father shown

How sharp and bitter is the smart

When sudden on the purblind heart

The Daystar's healing light is thrown.

 

He taught us, too, that none may gaze

Upon the heavenly demesne

Ere that in darkness and in pain

His feet have trod the world's rough ways.

 

So unto death itself is given

Strange bliss, when mortal agony

Opens the way that leads on high

And pain is but the path to Heaven.

 

Thus to a far serener day

Our body from the grave returns;

Eternal life within it burns

That knows nor languor nor decay.

 

These faces now so pinched and pale,

That marks of lingering sickness show,

Then fairer than the rose shall glow

And bloom with youth that ne'er shall fail.

 

Ne'er shall crabbed age their beauty dim

With wrinkled brow and tresses grey,

Nor arid leanness eat away

The vigour of the rounded limb.

 

Racked with his own destroying pains

Shall fell Disease, who now attacks

Our aching frames, his force relax

Fast fettered in a thousand chains:

 

While from its far celestial throne

The immortal body, victor now,

Shall watch its old tormentor bow

And in eternal tortures groan.

 

Why do the clamorous mourners wail

In bootless sorrow murmuring?

And why doth grief unreasoning

God's righteous ordinance assail?

 

Hushed be your voices, ye that mourn;

Ye weeping mothers, dry the tear;

Let none lament for children dear,

For man through Death to Life is born.

 

So do dry seeds grow green again,

Now dead and buried in the earth,

And rising to a second birth

Clothe as of old the verdant plain.

 

Take now, O earth, the load we bear,

And cherish in thy gentle breast

This mortal frame we lay to rest,

The poor remains that were so fair.

 

For they were once the soul's abode,

That by God's breath created came;

And in them, like a living flame,

Christ's precious gift of wisdom glowed.

 

Guard thou the body we have laid

Within thy care, till He demand

The creature fashioned by His hand

And after His own image made.

 

The appointed time soon may we see

When God shall all our hopes fulfil,

And thou must render to His will

Unchanged the charge we give to thee.

 

For though consumed by mould and rust

Man's body slowly fades away,

And years of lingering decay

Leave but a handful of dry dust;

 

Though wandering winds, that idly fly,

Should his disparted ashes bear

Through all the wide expanse of air,

Man may not perish utterly.

 

Yet till Thou dost build up again

This mortal structure by Thy hand,

In what far world wilt Thou command

The soul to rest, now free from stain?

 

In Abraham's bosom it shall dwell

'Mid verdant bowers, as Lazarus lies

Whom Dives sees with longing eyes

From out the far-off fires of hell.

 

We trust the words our Saviour said

When, victor o'er grim Death, he cried

To him who suffered at His side

"In Mine own footsteps shalt thou tread."

 

See, open to the faithful soul,

The shining paths of Paradise;

Now may they to that garden rise

Which from mankind the Serpent stole.

 

Guide him, we pray, to that blest bourn,

Who served Thee truly here below;

May he the bliss of Eden know,

Who strayed in banishment forlorn.

 

But we will honour our dear dead

With violets and garlands strown,

And o'er the cold and graven stone

Shall fragrant odours still be shed.

XI. HYMNUS VIII. KALENDAS IANUARIAS

Quid est, quod artum circulum

sol iam recurrens deserit?

Christusne terris nascitur,

qui lucis auget tramitem?

 

  5Heu quam fugacem gratiam

festina volvebat dies,

quam pene subductam facem

sensim recisa extinxerat!

 

Caelum nitescat laetius,

  10gratetur et gaudens humus,

scandit gradatim denuo

iubar priores lineas.

 

Emerge dulcis pusio,

quem mater edit castitas,

  15parens et expers coniugis,

mediator et duplex genus.

 

Ex ore quamlibet Patris

sis ortus et verbo editus,

tamen paterno in pectore

  20sophia callebas prius.

 

Quae prompta caelum condidit,

caelum diemque et cetera,

virtute verbi effecta sunt

haec cuncta: nam verbum Deus.

 

  25Sed ordinatis seculis,

rerumque digesto statu

fundator ipse et artifex

permansit in Patris sinu,

 

donec rotata annalium

  30transvolverentur milia,

atque ipse peccantem diu

dignatus orbera viseret.

 

Nam caeca vis mortalium

venerans inanes nenias

  35vel aera vel saxa algida,

vel ligna credebat Deum.

 

Haec dum sequuntur, perfidi

praedonis in ius venerant,

et mancipatam fumido

  40vitam barathro inmerserant:

 

Stragem sed istam non tulit

Christus cadentum gentium

inpune ne forsan sui

Patris periret fabrica.

 

  45Mortale corpus induit,

ut excitato corpore

mortis catenam frangeret

hominemque portaret Patri.

 

Hic ille natalis dies,

  50quo te creator arduus

spiravit et limo indidit

sermone carnem glutinans.

 

Sentisne, virgo nobilis,

matura per fastidia

  55pudoris intactum decus

honore partus crescere?

 

O quanta rerum gaudia

alvus pudica continet,

ex qua novellum seculum

  60procedit et lux aurea!

 

Vagitus ille exordium

vernantis orbis prodidit,

nam tunc renatus sordidum

mundus veternum depulit.

 

  65Sparsisse tellurem reor

rus omne densis floribus,

ipsasque arenas syrtium

fragrasse nardo et nectare.

 

Te cuncta nascentem puer

  70sensere dura et barbara,

victusque saxorum rigor

obduxit herbam cotibus.

 

Iam mella de scopulis fluunt,

iam stillat ilex arido

  75sudans amomum stipite,

iam sunt myricis balsama.

 

O sancta praesepis tui,

aeterne rex, cunabula,

populisque per seclum sacra

  80mutis et ipsis credita.

 

Adorat haec brutum pecus

indocta turba scilicet,

adorat excors natio,

vis cuius in pastu sita est.

 

  85Sed cum fideli spiritu

concurrat ad praesepia

pagana gens et quadrupes,

sapiatque quod brutum fuit:

 

Negat patrum prosapia

  90perosa praesentem Deum:

credas venenis ebriam

furiisve lymphatam rapi.

 

Quid prona per scelus ruis?

agnosce, si quidquam tibi

  95mentis resedit integrae,

ducem tuorum principum.

 

Hunc, quem latebra et obstetrix,

et virgo feta, et cunulae

et inbecilla infantia

  100regem dederunt gentibus,

 

peccator intueberis

celsum coruscis nubibus,

deiectus ipse et inritus

plangens reatum fletibus:

 

  105Cum vasta signum bucina

terris cremandis miserit,

et scissus axis cardinem

mundi ruentis solverit:

 

Insignis ipse et praeminens

  110meritis rependet congrua,

his lucis usum perpetis,

illis gehennam et tartarum.

 

Iudaea tunc fulmen crucis

experta, qui sit, senties,

  115quem te furoris praesule

mors hausit et mox reddidit.

XI. HYMN FOR CHRISTMAS-DAY

Why doth the sun re-orient take

A wider range, his limits break?

Lo! Christ is born, and o'er earth's night

Shineth from more to more the light!

 

Too swiftly did the radiant day

Her brief course run and pass away:

She scarce her kindly torch had fired

Ere slowly fading it expired.

 

Now let the sky more brightly beam,

The earth take up the joyous theme:

The orb a broadening pathway gains

And with its erstwhile splendour reigns.

 

Sweet babe, of chastity the flower,

A virgin's blest mysterious dower!

Rise in Thy twofold nature's might:

Rise, God and man to reunite!

 

Though by the Father's will above

Thou wert begot, the Son of Love,

Yet in His bosom Thou didst dwell,

Of Wisdom the eternal Well;

 

Wisdom, whereby the heavens were made

And light's foundations first were laid:

Creative Word! all flows from Thee!

The Word is God eternally.

 

For though with process of the suns

The ordered whole harmonious runs,

Still the Artificer Divine

Leaves not the Father's inmost shrine.

 

The rolling wheels of Time had passed

O'er their millennial journey vast,

Before in judgment clad He came

Unto the world long steeped in shame.

 

The purblind souls of mortals crass

Had trusted gods of stone and brass,

To things of nought their worship paid

And senseless blocks of wood obeyed.

 

And thus employed, they fell below

The sway of man's perfidious foe:

Plunged in the smoky sheer abyss

They sank bereft of their true bliss.

 

But that sore plight of ruined man

Christ's pity could not lightly scan:

Nor let God's building nobly wrought

Ingloriously be brought to nought.

 

He wrapped Him in our fleshly guise,

That from the tomb He might arise,

And man released from death's grim snare

Home to His Father's bosom bear.

 

This is the day of Thy dear birth,

The bridal of the heaven and earth,

When the Creator breathed on Thee

The breath of pure humanity.

 

Ah! glorious Maid, dost thou not guess

What guerdon thy chaste soul shall bless,

How by thy ripening pangs is bought

An honour greater than all thought?

 

O what a load of joy untold

Thy womb inviolate doth hold!

Of thee a golden age is born,

The brightness of the earth's new morn!

 

Hearken! doth not the infant's wail

The universal springtide hail?

For now the world re-born lays by

Its gloomy, frost-bound apathy.

 

Methinks in all her rustic bowers

The earth is spread with clustering flowers:

Odours of nard and nectar sweet

E'en o'er the sands of Syrtes fleet.

 

All places rough and deserts wild

Have felt from far Thy coming, Child:

Rocks to Thy gentle empire bow

And verdure clothes the mountain brow.

 

Sweet honey from the boulder leaps:

The sere and leafless oak-bough weeps

A strange rich attar: tamarisks too

Of balsam pure distil the dew.

 

Blessèd for ever, cradle dear,

The lowly stall, the cavern drear!

Men to this shrine, Eternal King,

With dumb brutes adoration bring.

 

The ox and ass in homage low

Obedient to their Maker bow:

Bows too the unlearn'd heartless crowd

Whose minds the sensual feast doth cloud.

 

Though, by the faithful Spirit impelled,

Shepherds and brutes, unreasoning held,

Yea, folk that did in darkness dwell

Discern their God in His poor cell:

 

Yet children of the sacred race

Blindly abhor the Incarnate grace:

By philtres you might deem them lulled

Or by some bacchic phrenzy dulled.

 

Why headlong thus to ruin stride?

If aught of soundness in you bide,

Behold in Him the Lord divine

Of all your patriarchal line.

 

Mark you the dim-lit cave, the Maid,

The humble nurse, the cradle laid,

The helpless infancy forlorn:

Yet thus the Gentiles' King was born!

 

Ah sinner, thou shalt one day see

This Child in dreadful majesty,

See Him in glorious clouds descend,

While thou thy guilty heart shalt rend.

 

Vain all thy tears, when loud shall sound

The trump, when flames shall scorch the ground,

When from its hinge the cloven world

Is loosed, in horrid tumult hurled.

 

Then throned on high, the Judge of all

Shall mortals to their reckoning call:

To these shall grant the prize of light,

To those Gehenna's gloomy night.

 

Then, Israel, shalt thou learn at length

The Cross hath, as the lightning, strength:

Doomed by thy wrath, He now is Lord,

Whom Death once grasped but soon restored.

XII. HYMNUS EPIPHANIAE

Quicumque Christum quaeritis,

oculos in altum tollite,

illic licebit visere

signum perennis gloriae.

 

  5Haec stella, quae solis rotam

vincit decore ac lumine,

venisse terris nuntiat

cum carne terrestri Deum.

 

Non illa servit noctibus

  10secuta lunam menstruam,

sed sola caelum possidens

cursum dierum temperat.

 

Arctoa quamvis sidera

in se retortis motibus

  15obire nolint, attamen

plerumque sub nimbis latent.

 

Hoc sidus aeternum manet,

haec stella nunquam mergitur,

nec nubis occursu abdita

  20obumbrat obductam facem.

 

Tristis cometa intercidat,

et si quod astrum Sirio

fervet vapore, iam Dei

sub luce destructum cadat.

 

  25En Persici ex orbis sinu,

sol unde sumit ianuam,

cernunt periti interpretes

regale vexillum Magi.

 

Quod ut refulsit, ceteri

  30cessere signorum globi,

nec pulcher est ausus suam

conferre formam Lucifer.

 

Quis iste tantus, inquiunt,

regnator astris inperans,

  35quem sic tremunt caelestia,

cui lux et aethra inserviunt.

 

Inlustre quiddam cernimus,

quod nesciat finem pati,

sublime, celsum, interminum,

  40antiquius caelo et chao.

 

Hic ille rex est gentium

populique rex Iudaici,

promissus Abrahae patri

eiusque in aevum semini.

 

  45Aequanda nam stellis sua

cognovit olim germina

primus sator credentium,

nati inmolator unici.

 

Iam flos subit Davidicus

  50radice Iesse editus,

sceptrique per virgam virens

rerum cacumen occupat.

 

Exin sequuntur perciti

fixis in altum vultibus,

  55qua stella sulcum traxerat

claramque signabat viam.

 

Sed verticem pueri supra

signum pependit inminens,

pronaque submissum face

  60caput sacratum prodidit.

 

Videre quod postquam Magi,

eoa promunt munera,

stratique votis offerunt

tus, myrrham, et aurum regium.

 

  65Agnosce clara insignia

virtutis ac regni tui,

puer o, cui trinam Pater

praedestinavit indolem.

 

Regem Deumque adnuntiant

  70thesaurus et fragrans odor

turis Sabaei, ac myrrheus

pulvis sepulcrum praedocet.

 

Hoc est sepulcrum, quo Deus,

dum corpus extingui sinit

  75atque id sepultum suscitat,

mortis refregit carcerem.

 

O sola magnarum urbium

maior Bethlem, cui contigit

ducem salutis caelitus

  80incorporatum gignere.

 

Altrice te summo Patri

haeres creatur unicus,

homo ex tonantis spiritu

idemque sub membris Deus.

 

  85Hunc et prophetis testibus

isdemque signatoribus,

testator et sator iubet

adire regnum et cernere:

 

Regnum, quod ambit omnia

  90diva et marina et terrea

a solis ortu ad exitum

et tartara et caelum supra.

 

Audit tyrannus anxius

adesse regum principem,

  95qui nomen Israel regat

teneatque David regiam.

 

Exclamat amens nuntio,

successor instat, pellimur;

satelles i, ferrum rape,

  100perfunde cunas sanguine.

 

Mas omnis infans occidat,

scrutare nutricum sinus,

interque materna ubera

ensem cruentet pusio.

 

  105Suspecta per Bethlem mihi

puerperarum est omnium

fraus, ne qua furtim subtrahat

prolem virilis indolis.

 

Transfigit ergo carnifex

  110mucrone destricto furens

effusa nuper corpora,

animasque rimatur novas.

 

Locum minutis artubus

vix interemptor invenit,

  115quo plaga descendat patens

iuguloque maior pugio est.

 

O barbarum spectaculum!

inlisa cervix cautibus

spargit cerebrum lacteum

  120oculosque per vulnus vomit.

 

Aut in profundum palpitans

mersatur infans gurgitem,

cui subter artis faucibus

singultat unda et halitus.

 

  125Salvete flores martyrum,

quos lucis ipso in limine

Christi insecutor sustulit,

ceu turbo nascentes rosas.

 

Vos prima Christi victima,

  130grex inmolatorum tener,

aram ante ipsam simplices

palma et coronis luditis.

 

Quid proficit tantum nefas,

quid crimen Herodem iuvat?

  135unus tot inter funera

inpune Christus tollitur.

 

Inter coaevi sanguinis

fluenta solus integer

ferrum, quod orbabat nurus,

  140partus fefellit virginis.

 

Sic stulta Pharaonis mali

edicta quondam fugerat

Christi figuram praeferens

Moyses, receptor civium.

 

  145Cautum et statutum ius erat,

quo non liceret matribus,

cum pondus alvi absolverent,

puerile pignus tollere.

 

Mens obstetricis sedulae

  150pie in tyrannum contumax

ad spem potentis gloriae

furata servat parvulum:

 

Quem mox sacerdotem sibi

adsumpsit orbis conditor,

  155per quem notatam saxeis

legem tabellis traderet.

 

Licetne Christum noscere

tanti per exemplum viri?

dux ille caeso Aegyptio

  160absolvit Israel iugo.

 

At nos subactos iugiter

erroris inperio gravi

dux noster hoste saucio

mortis tenebris liberat.

 

  165Hic expiatam fluctibus

plebem marino in transitu

repurgat undis dulcibus,

lucis columnam praeferens:

 

Hic praeliante exercitu,

  170pansis in altum brachiis,

sublimis Amalech premit,

crucis quod instar tunc fuit.

 

Hic nempe Iesus verior,

qui longa post dispendia

  175victor suis tribulibus

promissa solvit iugera.

 

Qui ter quaternas denique

refluentis amnis alveo

fundavit et fixit petras,

  180apostolorum stemmata.

 

Iure ergo se Iudae ducem

vidisse testantur Magi,

cum facta priscorum ducum

Christi figuram finxerint.

 

  185Hic rex priorum iudicum,

rexere qui Iacob genus,

dominaeque rex ecclesiae,

templi et novelli et pristini.

 

Hunc posteri Efrem colunt,

  190hunc sancta Manasse domus

omnesque suspiciunt tribus

bis sena fratrum semina.

 

Quin et propago degener

ritum secuta inconditum,

  195quaecumque dirum fervidis

Baal caminis coxerat,

 

fumosa avorum numina

saxum, metallum, stipitem,

rasum, dolatum, sectile,

  200in Christi honorem deserit.

 

Gaudete quidquid gentium est,

Iudaea, Roma, et Graecia,

Aegypte, Thrax, Persa, Scytha,

rex unus omnes possidet.

 

  205Laudate vestrum principem

omnes beati, ac perditi,

vivi, inbecilli ac mortui:

iam nemo posthac mortuus.

XII. HYMN FOR THE EPIPHANY

Lift up your eyes, whoe'er ye be

That fare the new-born Christ to see:

For yonder is the shining sign

Of grace perennial and divine.

 

What means this star, whose piercing rays

Outshine the sun's resplendent blaze?

'Tis token sure that God is come

In mortal flesh to make His home.

 

No courtier of the realms of night

Nor monthly moon's bright acolyte,

This star directs the course of day,

Sole sovereign of the heavenly way.

 

Although the Bears their track retrace,

Nor wholly their clear beams efface,

Yet ofttimes 'neath the dun cloud's haze

They hide themselves from mortal gaze.

 

But yon Star's glory hath no end,

Nor to the depths can it descend:

It ne'er is whelmed by envious cloud

That seeks its beauty to enshroud.

 

Now let the baleful comet die,

The brood of blazing Sirius fly:

God's orb shall quench their sultry heats

And drive them from their haughty seats.

 

Lo! from the regions of the morn

Wherein the radiant sun is born,

The Persian sages see on high

God's ensign shining in the sky.

 

Soon as its rising beams prevail

The starry hosts in order pale:

E'en Lucifer durst not upraise

The silvery splendours of his face.

 

Who is this sovereign (they enquire)

That lords it o'er the ethereal choir?

'Fore whom the heavens bow down afraid,

Of all the worlds of light obeyed?

 

Sure 'tis the sign most reverend

Of Being that doth know no end:

Of One in state sublime arrayed

Ere sky and chaos yet were made.

 

This is the King of Israel,

Of all in Gentile lands that dwell:

The King to Abram and his seed

Throughout all ages erst decreed.

 

To him 'twas given his progeny

As stars innumerous to see:

First of believers! moved to slay

His only son, so God to obey.

 

Behold the Flower of David shine,

Of Jesse's root the Branch benign:

The sceptre spread with blossoms rare

Wields o'er the world its lordship fair.

 

Roused by the portent of the sky

The sages fix their gaze on high,

And speed them 'neath the furrowed way

Marked by the star's effulgent ray.

 

At length its flaming steps it stayed

Poised over where the Child was laid:

Straightway with downcast mien it shed

Its splendours on the sacred Head.

 

Whereat the travellers outpour

Of Eastern gifts their treasure-store,

Myrrh and sweet-smelling frankincense,

Gold meet for regal opulence.

 

Behold herein the triple sign

Of Thy pure being, King divine:

Seeing the Father willed in Thee

To plant a threefold majesty.

 

The gift of gold thee King proclaims:

Thee God the fragrant incense names:

The myrrh declares that Death shall thrust

Within the tomb Thy body's dust.

 

Ah! that dark sepulchre, whose fold

God's body quenched in death doth hold:

Yet shall He from that durance wake

And Death's strong prison-fetters break.

 

O Bethlehem! no longer thou

The least of cities: all shall vow

That thou art greatest on the earth:

For thou man's King didst bring to birth.

 

Yea thou didst on thy bosom bear

The All-loving Father's only heir:

Man of the Thunderer's Spirit made

And God in human flesh arrayed.

 

The prophets witnessed to the bond

Which sealed to Him the realm profound:

The Father's Kingdom He received

And the vast legacy perceived.

 

All things are His in sea and sky,

In hell beneath, in heaven on high:

From East to setting sun, in fee

He holds the earth's immensity.

 

Distraught, the tyrant base doth hear

That now the King of Kings draws near

To reign in David's seat of state

And Israel's empire dominate.

 

"Betrayed are we," he maddened cries,

"Our throne's usurper doth arise:

Go, soldiers, go with sword in hand

And slay all babes within my land.

 

"Spare no male child: each nurse's robe

Your scrutinizing steel must probe:

Spare not the suckling infant, though

O'er mother's breast its life-blood flow.

 

"On Bethlehem our suspicion falls,

On every hearth within its walls:

Lest mothers with love's tender zeal

Some manly scion may conceal."

 

With daggers drawn the infuriate crew

Upon their murderous errand flew:

Each latest offspring of the womb

To bloody death they foully doom.

 

Ah tiny limbs! 'twas hard to know

How best to strike the fatal blow:

Too wide the sword-blades are to smite

Those throats so silken-fragile, slight.

 

O horrid sight! the tender bones

Are dashed against the jaggèd stones:

Sightless and mangled there they lie,

Poor babes! untimely doomed to die.

 

Perchance the still deep river laves

Their bodies thrust into the waves:

The current with their sighing sighs,

Sobs with their latest, broken cries.

 

Ye flowers of martyrdom, all hail!

Of rising morn pure blossoms frail!

By Jesu's foe were ye downcast,

Like budding roses by the blast.

 

Lambs of the flock too early slain,

Ye first fruits of Christ's bitter pain!

Close to His very altar, gay

With palms and crowns, ye now do play.

 

Of what avail is deed so vile?

Doth Herod gain by murderous guile?

Of all to death so foully done

Escapes triumphant Christ alone.

 

Amidst that tide of infant gore

Alone He wins the sheltering shore:

The virgin's Child survives the stroke,

When every mother's heart was broke.

 

Thus Moses 'scaped the mad decree

Of evil Pharaoh and set free

The flock of God, prefiguring so

Christ spared from fate's malignant blow.

 

Vain too the king's hostility

Who framed the pitiless decree

That Israel's mothers should not rear

To manhood's strength their offspring dear.

 

Quickened by love, a woman's mind

Found means to thwart that law unkind,

And, falsely true, the child concealed

Destined to be his people's Shield.

 

On him it was that God did place

The august priesthood's holy grace,

The law on stony tablets writ

Did to his trembling hands commit.

 

And may we not with prophet's eye

In such a hero Christ descry?

The proud Egyptian's might he broke

And freed his kinsmen from the yoke.

 

So we by Error's might hemmed round

Were by our Captain's strength unbound:

His foe He wounded in the fight

And saved us from Death's horrid night.

 

Cheering by sign of flame their feet,

Moses renewed with waters sweet

His folk, albeit purified

From stain, what time they crossed the tide.

 

And he, remote on peaceful height,

Amalek's banded hosts did smite:

He prayed with arms stretched out above,

Foreshadowing the Cross of Love.

 

Yet truer Jesus surely he,

Who after many a victory

And labours long the tribes' renown

With promised heritage did crown;

 

Who when the waters rose on high

And now the Jordan's bed was dry,

Set up twelve stones of memory,

Types of apostles yet to be.

 

Rightly the Wise Men said, I ween,

That they Judaea's King had seen,

Since noble deeds of other days

Prophetic chant the Saviour's praise.

 

Of those old rulers He is King

Who did to Jacob judgment bring,

King of the Mother Church divine,

God's ancient and God's present Shrine.

 

Of Ephraim's sons He is adored:

Manasseh's sacred house as Lord

Reveres Him: to His might the seed

Of brethren twelve their fealty plead.

 

Nay, each degenerate race hath fled

Its shameful rites and orgies dread:

Grim Baal in glowing furnace cast

Sinks to the earth, forsook at last.

 

Idols smoke-blackened, wooden-hewn,

Of brass and stone, in dust are strewn:

The chiselled deities downtrod:

For all confess in Christ their God.

 

Rejoice all peoples, Jewry, Rome,

Fair Hellas, Thrace, Aegyptus' home:

Persians and Scythian land forlorn,

Rejoice: the world's great King is born!

 

Behold your Chief! His praise forth tell:

Ye sick, ye hale, all heaven and hell:

Ay, you whose vital spark hath sped:

For lo! in Him e'en Death is dead.

EPILOGUS

Inmolat Deo Patri

pius, fidelis, innocens, pudicus

dona conscientiae,

quibus beata mens abundat intus:

  5alter et pecuniam

recidit, unde victitent egeni.

Nos citos iambicos

sacramus et rotatiles trochaeos,

sanctitatis indigi

  10nec ad levamen pauperum potentes;

adprobat tamen Deus

pedestre carmen, et benignus audit.

Multa divitis domo

sita est per omnes angulos supellex.

  15Fulget aureus scyphus,

nec aere defit expolita pelvis:

est et olla fictilis,

gravisque et ampla argentea est parabsis.

Sunt eburna quaepiam,

  20nonnulla quercu sunt cavata et ulmo:

omne vas fit utile,

quod est ad usum congruens herilem,

Instruunt enim domum

ut empta magno, sic parata ligno.

  25Me paterno in atrio

ut obsoletum vasculum caducis

Christus aptat usibus,

sinitque parte in anguli manere.

Munus ecce fictile

  30inimus intra regiam salutis;

attamen vel infimam

Deo obsequelam praestitisse prodest.

Quidquid illud accidit,

iuvabit ore personasse Christum.

EPILOGUE

The pure and faithful saint, whose heart is whole,

To God the Father makes his sacrifice

From out the treasures of a stainless soul,

Glad gifts of innocence, beyond all price:

Another with free hand bestows his gold,

Whereby his needy neighbour may be fed.

No wealth of holiness my heart doth hold,

No store have I to buy my brothers bread:

So here I humbly dedicate to Thee

The rolling trochee and iambus swift;

Thou wilt approve my simple minstrelsy,

Thine ear will listen to Thy servant's gift.

The rich man's halls are nobly furnishèd;

Therein no nook or corner empty seems;

Here stands the brazen laver burnishèd,

And there the golden goblet brightly gleams;

Hard by some crock of clumsy earthen ware,

Massive and ample lies a silver plate;

And rough-hewn cups of oak or elm are there

With vases carved of ivory delicate.

Yet every vessel in its place is good,

So be it for the Master's service meet;

The priceless salver and the bowl of wood

Alike He needs to make His home complete.

Therefore within His Father's spacious hall

Christ fits me for the service of a day,

Mean though I be, a vessel poor and small,--

And in some lowly corner lets me stay.

Lo in the palace of the King of Kings

I play the earthen pitcher's humble part;

Yet to have done Him meanest service brings

A thrill of rapture to my thankful heart:

Whate'er the end, this thought will joy afford,

My lips have sung the praises of my Lord.


This edition of the Cathemerinon of Prudentius has been prepared for the Temple Classics by Rev. R. MARTIN POPE, M.A. (St John's College, Cambridge, translator of the "Letters of John Hus"), who has done the translation of the Praefatio and Hymns i., ii., iii., viii., xi., xii., with notes thereon and the note on Prudentius. For the rendering of Hymns iv., v., vi., vii., ix., x., and the Epilogus with notes thereon, Mr R.F. DAVIS, M.A. (St John's College, Cambridge), is responsible. The text, with some minor alterations in orthography and punctuation, is that of Dressel (Lipsiae, 1860). The frontispiece is due to the kind suggestion of Dr SANDYS, Public Orator of Cambridge University, to whom the thanks of the translators are hereby presented.

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE

AURELIUS PRUDENTIUS CLEMENS (to give his full title) was born, probably at Saragossa (Caesaraugusta), in Spain, in the year of our Lord 348. The fourth century exercised a profound influence alike on the destiny of the Roman Empire and of the Christian Church. After a long discipline, strangely alternating between fiery persecution and contemptuous toleration, the Church entered upon a new era, when in 323 Constantine, the first Christian emperor, became master of the Roman world. Two years later the Council of Nicaea met to utter its verdict on the Arian controversy and to establish the terms of the orthodox symbol. A generation later Julian took up the reins of empire and commenced his quixotic and fruitless attempt to revive the glories of Paganism. Athanasius died in 373: but fourteen years later Augustine, his successor in the championship of the faith, was baptized, and in 395, at the death of Theodosius, when the Empire was divided between Honorius and Arcadius, he became Bishop of Hippo, and was marked out by his saintliness and learning as the leader of the Western Church, which he shaped by his splendid ideal of the Civitas Dei into unity and stability, when the secular empire was falling into decay.

We know little more of the life of Prudentius than he himself has disclosed. The Preface, which stands as an introduction to his poems, is a miniature autobiography of great interest. M. Boissier in his Fin du Paganisme calls it mélancolique: though it is rather the retrospect of a serious and awakened, but not morbid, conscience. Prudentius views his past years in the light of that new spiritual truth to which he has opened his soul. We gather that he received a liberal education and was called to the bar. We need not misunderstand the allusion to the deceitfulness of the barrister life, seeing that the ordinary arts of rhetoric stand condemned by his recently adopted ethical standard. He held two important judicial posts and was promoted to a high position, probably in the civil service and not outside the limits of his native province, the provincia Tarraconensis.

He speaks of himself as having reached the age of fifty-seven, which brings us down to 405, and as intending to consecrate his remaining years to the poetic treatment of religious subjects. When and how he became a Christian we do not know, and it were vain to guess, although the suggestion that he may have owed his conversion to the influence of some Christian family of his acquaintance is at least interesting. It is unlikely that he took up poetry for the first time in his old age. His mastery of all kinds of metre--heroic and lyric--prove the practised hand. The probability is that in the years of repose after a busy career his desire to redeem an unspiritual past suggested for the exercise of his natural gifts a field hitherto unoccupied by any of the writers of his age. Why not consecrate his powers to the task of interesting the literary circles of the Empire in the evangel of Christ? Why not present the truths of Christianity in a poetic guise, wrought into forms of beauty and set forth in the classical metres of Roman literature? This became the passion of his life, and however we may view the results of his toil, the spirit in which he went to work, as described in the touching Epilogue, cannot but evoke our profound admiration. He is but a vessel of earth, but whatever the issue may be, it will be a lasting joy to have sounded forth the praise of Christ in song.

This then is how Prudentius becomes the first poet of the Christian Church, or, as Bentley called him, "the Virgil and Horace of the Christians." Doubtless there were other influences at work to determine the sphere to which he was naturally attract. Ambrose, who was Bishop of Milan when Prudentius was twenty-six years of age, had written the first Latin hymns to be sung in church. Augustine in a familiar passage of the Confessions (ix. 7.) describes how "the custom arose of singing hymns and psalms, after the use of the Eastern provinces, to save the people from being utterly worn out by their long and sorrowful vigils." "From that day to this," he adds, "it has been retained and, many might say, all Thy flocks throughout the rest of the world now follow our example." To Ambrose and Augustine the Church of Christ is for ever indebted: to the latter for a devotional treatise which is the most familiar of all the writings of the fourth century: to the former for the hymns of praise which he composed and the practice of singing which he thus inaugurated in the worship of the Western Church. But the Church owes something also to Prudentius, a much more gifted poet than Ambrose. The collection of hymns known as the Cathemerinon or Hymns for the day is as little adapted for ecclesiastical worship as Keble's Christian Year, although excerpts from these poems have passed into the hymnology of the Church, just as portions of Keble's work have passed into most hymn books. For example, seven of these excerpts in the form of hymns are to be found in the Roman Breviary, and thus for centuries the lyrics of Prudentius have been sung in the daily services of the Church.

Seeing that Prudentius must address himself to most English readers through the imperfect medium of a translation, it may be well to remind those who make their first acquaintance with him that a historical imagination is an indispensable condition of interest and sympathy. If Prudentius has a habit of leaving the main issue and making lengthy and tedious détours into the picturesque parables and miraculous incidents of the Old Testament, there is method in his digressiveness. He knows that one of the charms of Paganism lies in its rich and variegated mythology. Yet Christianity also can point to an even nobler inheritance of the supernatural and the wonderful in the mysterious evolutions of its history. Hence the stories of the early patriarchs, of the Israelites and Moses, of Daniel and Jonah, are imported by the poet as pictorial illustrations of his theme. If occasionally the details border on the grotesque, he certainly reveals a striking knowledge of the Old Testament.

The New Testament is also adequately represented. In one poem (ix.) the miracles of Christ in His earthly ministry and His descent into Hades are narrated with considerable spirit and eloquence. Besides being a student of the Bible, Prudentius is a theologian. His theology is that of the Nicene Creed. The Fall of man, the personality of the Tempter, the mystery of the Trinity and of the Incarnation, the Virgin-birth, the Death and Resurrection of Christ, the pains of the lost and the bliss of the saints, the resurrection of the Body and the life everlasting--these are the themes of his pen, the themes too of the theology of his age. If the poet's treatment of these truths occasionally appears antiquated and crude to modern ideas, it is at least dignified and intelligent. His mind has absorbed the Christian religion and the Christian theology, and he not unfrequently rises to noble heights in the interpretation of their mysteries. His didactic poems, the Hamartigenia or the Origin of Evil and the Apotheosis, a treatise on the Person of Christ, prove him to be a theologian of no mean calibre. He is also an allegorist, as is proved by the Psychomachia or the Battle of the Soul, a kind of Holy War which was very popular in the Middle Ages. He is a martyrologist: as witness the Peristephanon, a series of poems on Christian, principally Spanish, martyrs. Moreover, he is an undoubted patriot, and in the Contra Symmachum, which he wrote on the famous affair of the Altar of Victory, he proves that, while a Christian, he is also civis Romanus, loyal to the Empire and the powers that be. He is a skilful versifier, and in this connection the quatrains of the Dittochaeon, verses on themes of the Old and New Testaments, may be mentioned in order to complete the list of his works. His mastery of his very varied metres--hexameter, iambic, trochaic and sapphic--is undoubted: everywhere we note the influence of Virgil and Horace, even when these poets are not recalled by echoes of their diction which are constantly greeting the reader of his poems.

Reference has already been made to the influence of Ambrose of Milan upon the thought and style of Prudentius. But there is a second and even more powerful influence that deserves at least briefly to be noted--namely, the Christian art of the Catacombs. Apart from such definite statements as e.g. are found in Peristephanon xi., it is obvious that Prudentius had a first-hand knowledge of Rome and particularly of the Catacombs. Everywhere in his poems we find evidences of the deep impression made upon his imagination by the paintings and sculptures of subterranean Rome. The now familiar representations which decorate the remains of the Catacombs suggested to him many of the allusions, the picturesque vignettes and glowing descriptions to be found in his poetry. Thus, the story of Jonah--a common theme typifying the Resurrection--the story of Daniel with its obvious consolations for an age of martyrs, the Good Shepherd and the denial of Peter may be mentioned among the numerous subjects which were reproduced in early Christian art and transferred by the poet to his verse. The symbolism of the Cock, the Dove, and the Lamb borne on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd is a perpetually recurring feature in the lyrics and martyr-hymns of Prudentius, who thus becomes one of our most valuable authorities on the Christian art of the fourth century.

The poems, of which a new English rendering is presented in this volume, are acknowledged by most critics to illustrate some of his best qualities, his brightness and dignity, his touches of nature-painting and his capacity for sustained and well-wrought narrative. As we study these lyrics of the early Church, we feel anew the mighty change that Christianity wrought in Roman life by its doctrine of immortality, and we note the curious fascination which the circumstances of the Nativity and especially the Adoration of the Magi had for the Western world. Prudentius had a great vogue in the Middle Ages, and the modern renewal of interest in mediaevalism invests with fresh dignity a poet whose works at the Revival of learning provoked the admiration of Erasmus[1] and the researches of numerous scholars and editors. But it is undoubtedly to the student of ecclesiastical history and dogma and to the lovers of Christian art and antiquities that Prudentius most truly appeals. He claims our interest, not merely because he reflects the Christian environment of his days, but because his poetry represents an attempt to preach Christ to a world still fascinated by Paganism, while conscious that the old order was changing and yielding place to new.

[1]Prudentium, unum inter Christianos vere facundum poetam.


NOTES

HYMNS

THE TITLE

The word Cathemerinon is taken from the Greek and is the genitive of χαθημερινα "daily things": the whole title Liber Cathemerinon is equivalent to "Book of daily hymns," and may be rendered "Hymns for the Christian's day."

THE PREFACE

In one or two of the MSS. this introductory poem is stated to be a preface of the Cathemerinon only: but the great majority of the codices support the view which is undoubtedly suggested by internal evidence, that the poem is a general introduction to the whole of Prudentius' works. It is inserted together with the Epilogus in this volume, because of the intrinsic interest of both poems.

Line
8 The reference is to the toga virilis, the ordinary white-coloured garb of a Roman citizen who at his sixteenth year laid aside the purple-edged toga praetexta, which was worn during the days of boyhood.
16 ff. The cities referred to are unknown: but it is probable that they were two municipia in Northern Spain, and that the office held by Prudentius was that of duumvir or prefect. Provision was made by the twenty-fourth clause of the law of Salpensa (a town in the provincia Baetica of Spain) by which the emperor could be elected first magistrate of a municipium, and could thereupon appoint a prefect to take his place. This would explain the language of the text as to the semi-imperial nature of the post. The phrase militiae gradus need only be taken to indicate advancement in the civil service. But the words have been interpreted in accordance with the more familiar and definite meaning of militia, and understood to refer to a purely military post. Dressel thinks that Prudentius was a miles Palatinus, that is, a member of the best-paid and most highly-privileged imperial troops, who furnished officers for some of the most lucrative posts in the provinces. Though in the translation the usual meaning has been given to militia, it must be regarded as uncertain in the absence of more definite information regarding the office held by Prudentius.
24 The consulship of Salia (or Salias) belongs to the year 348, the date of the birth of Prudentius. An inscription (quoted by Migne from Muratorius, Nov. Thes. Inscrip., i. 379) has been found in the monastery of St. Paul's outside the city bearing the words

FILIPPO · ET · SALLIA · COSS

I

Line
1 Of this poem lines 1-8, 81-84, 97-100, were included in the Roman Breviary as a hymn to be sung at Lauds, on Tuesday.
2 The allusions to the cock in this and the following poem (ii. 37-55) were doubtless inspired by the lines of Ambrose in his morning hymn beginning Aeterne rerum conditor. Cf. ll. 5-8 and 16-24:

"praeco diei iam sonat
noctis profundae pervigil,
nocturna lux viantibus
a nocte noctem segregans.


      *       *       *       *       *

surgamus ergo strenue:
gallus iacentes excitat,
et somnolentos increpat:
gallus negantes arguit.


gallo canente spes redit,
aegris salus refunditur,
mucro latronis conditur,
lapsis fides revertitur."

Translation.

"Dawn's herald now begins to cry,
Lone watcher of the nightly sky:
Light of the dark to pilgrims dear,
Speeding successive midnights drear.

      *       *       *       *       *

Brisk from our couch let us arise!
Hark to the cock's arousing cries!
He chides the sluggard's slumbrous ease,
And shames his unconvincing pleas.

At cock-crow Hope revives again,
Health banishes the stress of pain,
Sheathed is the nightly robber's sword,
And Faith to fallen hearts restored."

See also Ambrose, Hexaem., v. 24, for an eloquent passage in the same strain. The cock was the familiar Christian symbol of early rising or vigilance, and numerous representations of it are found in the Catacombs. Cf. the painting from the Catacomb of St. Priscilla reproduced in Bottari's folio of 1754, where the Good Shepherd is depicted as feeding the lambs, with a crowing cock on His right and left hand. It is also a symbol of the Resurrection, our Lord being supposed to have risen from the grave at the early cockcrowing: see l. 65 et seq. In l. 16 the first bird-notes are interpreted by the poet as a summons to the general judgment. Cf. Mark xiii. 35: "Ye know not when the lord of the house cometh, whether at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning." This passage serves as a kind of text for Prudentius' first two hymns, and perhaps explains why he has one for cockcrowing and another for morning.

26 A common idea in all literatures. Cf. Virg., Aen., vi. 278 (taken from Homer), tum consanguineus Leti Sopor, and Tennyson's "Sleep, Death's twin-brother" (In Memoriam, 68).
44 Cf. Augustine, Serm. 103: "These evil spirits seek to seduce the soul: but when the sun has arisen, they take to flight."
59 The denial of Peter forms a subject of Christian casuistry in patristic literature, and this passage recalls the famous classical parallel in Euripides (Hipp. 612), "the tongue hath sworn: yet unsworn is the heart." Cf. Augustine, cont. mendacium: "In that denial he held fast the truth in his heart, while with his lips he uttered falsehood." For a striking representation of Peter and the cock, on a sarcophagus discovered in the Catacombs and now deposited in the Vatican library, see Maitland's Church in the Catacombs, p. 347. The closing words of the passage in Ambrose's Hexaemeron, already referred to under l. 2, may here be quoted: "As the cock peals forth his notes, the robber leaves his plots: Lucifer himself awakes and lights up the sky: the distressful sailor lays aside his gloom, and all the storms and tempests that have risen in fury under the winds of the evening begin to die down: the soul of the saint leaps to prayer and renews the study of the written word: and finally, the very Rock of the Church is cleansed of the stain he had contracted by his denials before the cock crew."
81 ff. The best commentary on these words is to be found in the following passage from the second epistle of Basil to Gregory Nazianzen: "What can be more blessed than to imitate on earth the angelic host by giving oneself at the peep of dawn to prayer and by turning at sunrise to work with hymns and songs: yea, all the day through to make prayer the accompaniment of our toils and to season them with praise as with salt? For the solace of hymns changes the soul's sadness into mirth."

II

Line
1 This poem furnishes two hymns to the Roman Breviary, one to be sung on Wednesday at Lauds, and consisting of ll. 1-8, 48-53 (omitting l. 50), 57, 59, 60, 67 (tu vera lux caelestium) and 68: the other for Thursday at Lauds, consisting of ll. 25 (lux ecce surgit aurea), 93-108.
17 Cf. Ambrose, ii. 8, de Cain et Abel: "The thief shuns the day as the witness of his crime: the adulterer is abashed by the dawn as the accomplice of his adultery."
51 The practice of praying on bended knees is frequently referred to in early Christian writers. Cf. Clem., 1 Ad. Cor. cc. xlviii.: "Let us fall down before the Lord," and Shepherd of Hermas, vis. 1. i.: "After I had crossed that river I came unto the banks and there knelt down and began to pray." Dressel quotes from Juvencus (iv. 648), a Spanish poet and Christian contemporary of Prudentius, genibus nixi regem dominumque salutant, "on bended knees they make obeisance unto their King and Lord."
63 The Jordan is a poetical figure for baptism, suggested doubtless by the baptism of our Lord in that river. Cf. vii. 73-75.
67 Cf. Milton, Paradise Regained, i. 293: "So spake our Morning Star, then in his rise." The figure is suggested by Rev. xxii. 16: "I am ... the bright, the morning star."
105 The conception of God as speculator may be paralleled by a passage in the epistle of Polycarp ad Philipp. iv., where God is described as the Arch-critic (παντα μωμοσχοπειται) and subsequently (vii.) as παντεποπτην θεον, "the All-witnessing God." The last verse contains a distinct echo of the closing words of the fourth chapter of Polycarp: "None of the reasonings or thoughts, nor any of the hidden things of the heart escape His notice."

III

Line
2 Word-begot. The original verbigena, on the analogy of such words (cf. terrigena, Martigena, etc.), can only mean "begotten of the Word." It is evident, therefore, the "Word" in this connection is not the Johannine Logos or Second Person in the Trinity. Prudentius cannot be guilty of the error which he expressly condemns (Apoth. 249) as perquam ridiculum and regard the Logos as begetting Himself. Consequently, both in this passage and in xi. 18 (verbo editus) the "Word" must be taken as approximating rather to the Alexandrian conception of the Logos as the Divine Reason. In this way Christ is expressly described as the offspring of the Intellectus Dei, the immanent Intelligence of the Deity. If this conception is considered to be beyond Prudentius, we can only suppose that both here and in xi. 18, his language is theologically loose. Some excuse may be offered for this on the ground that the Latin language is ill-adapted for expressing metaphysical truths. The late Bishop Westcott remarked on the inadequacy of the Latin original of "the Word was made flesh" (verbum caro factum est), both substantive and verb falling short of the richness of their Greek equivalents. (Vid. also note on iv. 15.)
11 Cf. Ambrose, Hymn vii.:--

"Christusque nobis sit cibus
Potusque noster sit fides;
Laeti bibamus sobriam
Ebrietatem Spiritus."

Translation.

"May Christ be now the Bread we eat,
Be simple Faith our potion sweet:
Let our intoxication be
The Spirit's calm sobriety."

The idea is familiar to readers of Herbert and Herrick, though it is elaborated by them with quaint conceits somewhat foreign to the Latin poet. Cf. Herbert, The Banquet:--

"O what sweetnesse from the bowl

Fills my soul!

      *       *       *       *       *

Is some starre (fled from the sphere)

Melted there,

As we sugar melt in wine?

      *       *       *       *       *

Doubtless neither starre nor flower

Hath the power

Such a sweetnesse to impart:

Only God, Who gives perfumes,

Flesh assumes,

And with it perfumed my heart."

Also Herrick, A Thanksgiving to God:--

"Lord, I confess too, when I dine,

The pulse is thine.

      *       *       *       *       *

'Tis thou that crown'st my glittering hearth

With guiltless mirth,

And giv'st me wassail bowls to drink,

Spiced to the brink."

28 The original dactylico refers to the metre of the Latin of this poem. For a rendering of ll. 1-65 in the metre of the original see Glover, Life and Letters in the Fourth Century, pp. 267-269.
58 This and the following lines should satisfy the most ardent vegetarian who seeks to uphold his abstinence from animal food by the customs of the early Church. In Christian circles, however, the abstinence was practised on personal and spiritual grounds, e.g., Jerome (de Regul. Monach., xi.) says, "The eating of flesh is the seed-plot of lust" (seminarium libidinis): so also Augustine (de moribus Ecc. Cath., i. 33), who supports what doubtless was the view of Prudentius, namely that the avoidance of animal flesh was a safe-guard but not a binding Christian duty.
75 Unwed. Prudentius thus adopts the view of the ancient world on the question of the generation of bees. Cf. Virgil, Geo. iv. 198, and Pliny, Nat. Hist., xi. 16. Dryden's translation of Virgil (l.c.) is as follows:--

"But (what's more strange) their modest appetites,

Averse from Venus, fly the nuptial rights;

No lust enervates their heroic mind,

Nor wastes their strength on wanton womankind,

But in their mouths reside their genial powers,

They gather children from the leaves and flowers."

86 Cf. Ps. liv. 18, 19 (Vulg.): Vespere et mane et meridie narrabo et annuntiabo et exaudiet vocem meam. "In the evening and morning and at noonday will I pray, and that instantly and he shall hear my voice" (P. B. Version).
127 This is, strictly speaking, an error: it is the woman's seed which is to bruise the serpent's head. The error was perpetuated in the Latin Church by the Vulgate of Gen. iii. 15, ipsa conteret caput tuum, where ipsa refers to the woman (= she herself).
157 The epithet "white-robed" refers to the newly-baptized converts who received the white robe as a symbol of their new nature. Cf. Perist. i. 67: Christus illic candidatis praesidet cohortibus, and Ambrose (de Mysteriis, vii.): "Thou didst receive (that is, after baptism) white garments as a sign that thou hast doffed the covering of thy sins and put on the chaste raiment (velamina) of innocence, whereof the prophet spake (Ps. li. 7), 'Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow'" (Vulg.).
199 Phlegethon (rendered "Hell"), one of the rivers of the Virgilian Hades, is used to express the abode of the lost. Cf. Milton, P. L., ii. 580:--

"... fierce Phlegethon,

Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage."

The subject of the descensus ad inferos was evidently a favourite one with Prudentius and his contemporaries. It has been suggested that apart from the scriptural basis of this conception Prudentius was influenced by the so-called Gospel of Nicodemus, which embodies two books, the Acts of Pilate and the Descent into Hell. The latter is assigned by several critics to 400 or thereabouts, and gives a graphic account of Christ's doings in Hades. Synesius deals with the subject in one of his hymns (ix.), and Mrs Browning's translation (see the essay on The Greek Christian Poets) of a passage in that poem may be quoted:--

"Down Thou earnest, low as earth,
Bound to those of mortal birth;
Down Thou earnest, low as hell,
Where Shepherd-Death did tend and keep
A thousand nations like to sheep,
While weak with age old Hades fell
Shivering through his dark to view Thee.
 
      *       *       *       *       *
 
So, redeeming from their pain
Chains of disembodied ones,
Thou didst lead whom thou didst gather
Upward in ascent again,
With a great hymn to the Father,
Upward to the pure white thrones!"

For a modern treatment of the theme see Christ in Hades, by Stephen Phillips.
202 The words suggest the Catacombs, and perhaps refer to the custom of placing in the tomb a small cup or vase containing spices, of which myrrh (a symbol of death, according to Gregory of Nyssa, cf. xii. 71) was most usually employed. Or the allusion may be to the practice of embalming. (See note on x. 51.) The body was placed not only in an actual sarcophagus or stone coffin, as expressly mentioned in the text, but in hollow places cut out of rock or earth (loculus). The sarcophagus method seems to have been the earlier, but was superseded by that of the loculus, except in the case of the very wealthy.
205 The concluding line is beautifully illustrated by the epitaph on the martyr Alexander, found over one of the graves in the cemetery of Callixtus in the Catacombs:--

ALEXANDER MORTVVS NON EST SED VIVIT

SVPER ASTRA ET CORPVS IN HOC TVMVLO

QVIESCIT ...

"Alexander is not dead, but lives above the stars

and his body rests in this tomb."

IV

Line
15 Prudentius here, as again in v. 160, emphasises his belief in the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son. The "filioque" clause was not actually added to the Nicene Creed till the Council of Toledo (589 A.D.), but the doctrine was expressly maintained by Augustine, and occurs in a Confession of Faith of an earlier Synod of Toledo (447 A.D.?), and in the words of Leo I. (Ep. ad Turib., c. 1), "de utroque processit." The addition was not embodied into the Creed as used at Rome as late as the beginning of the ninth century. (Vid. Harnack, Hist. of Dogma, iv. 132.) Prudentius probably followed, as regards the Trinity, the doctrine generally held by the Spanish Church of his day; in many points it is difficult (cf. note on iii. 2), but appears to be derived partly from Tertullian and partly from Marcellus.
59 The identification of the Habakkuk of this legend (vid. the Apocryphal "Bel and the Dragon") with the O. T. prophet is erroneous. This version of the story of Daniel is sometimes represented in the frescoes of the Catacombs, where the subject is a very favourite one, as is natural in an age when the cry "Christiani ad leones" so often rang through the streets of Rome.

V

Line
1 There has been much doubt as to the title and scope of this hymn. Some early editors (e.g., Fabricius and Arevalus) adopt the title "ad incensum cerei Paschalis," or "de novo lumine Paschalis Sabbati," and confine its object to the ceremonial of Easter Eve, which is specially alluded to in ll. 125 et seq. Others, following the best MSS., give the simpler title used in this text, and regard it as a hymn for daily use. This view is supported by the weight of evidence: the position of the hymn among the first six (none of which are for special days), and the fact that the Benediction of the Paschal Candle was not in use, at any rate in Rome, in the pontificate of Zacharias (ob. 752 A.D.) point in this direction. In the Spanish Church particularly the very ancient custom of praying at the hour when the evening lamps were lighted had developed into the regular office of the lucernarium, as distinct from Vespers. The Mozarabic Breviary (seventh century) contains the prayers and responses for this service, and the Rule of St. Isidore runs: "In the evening offices, first the lucernarium, then two psalms, one responsory and lauds, a hymn and prayer are to be said." St. Basil also writes: "It seemed good to our fathers not to receive in silence the gift of the evening light, but to give thanks as soon as it appeared." It is probable, therefore, that Prudentius intended the hymn for daily use, and that after speaking of God as the source of light, and His manifestations in the form of fire to Moses and the Israelites, his thoughts pass naturally, though somewhat abruptly, to the special festival--Easter Eve--on which the sanctuaries were most brilliantly illuminated. The question is fully discussed by Brockhaus (A. Prudentius Clemens in seiner Bedeutung für die Kirche seiner Zeit), and Roesler (Der catholische Dichter A. Prudentius). Part of this hymn is used in the Mozarabic Breviary for the First Sunday after Epiphany, at Vespers, being stanzas 1, 7, 35, 38-41.
7 The words incussu silicis are perhaps reminiscent of the Spanish ceremonial of Easter Eve, when the bishop struck the flint, lighting from it first a candle, then a lamp, from which the deacons lighted their candles; these were blessed by the bishop, and the procession from the processus into the church followed.
21 Cf. Vaughan, The Lampe:--

"Then thou dost weepe

Still as thou burn'st, and the warm droppings creepe

To measure out thy length."

119 The folium here is probably the ancient malobathrum, generally identified as the Indian cinnamon. The Arab traders who brought this valuable product into the Western markets, surrounded its origin with much mystery.
125 The following stanzas, in which Prudentius elaborates the beautiful fancy that the sufferings of lost spirits are alleviated at Eastertide, have incurred the severe censure of some of the earlier editors. Fabricius calls it "a Spanish fabrication," while others, as Cardinal Bellarmine, declare that the author is speaking "poetically and not dogmatically." That such a belief, however, was actually held by some section of the ancient Church is evident from the words of St. Augustine (Encheiridion, c. 112): Paenas damnatorum certis temporum intervallis existiment, si hoc eis placet, aliquatenus mitigari, dummodo intelligatur in eis manere ira Dei, hoc est ipsa damnatio. "Let men believe, if it so please them, that at certain intervals the pains of the damned are somewhat alleviated, provided that it be understood that the wrath of God, that is damnation itself, abides upon them."
140 It is somewhat startling to find Prudentius speaking of the Holy Eucharist in terms which would recall to his contemporary readers Virgilian phraseology and the honeyed cake (liba) used in pagan sacrifice. It must be remembered, however, that in the early days of the Church paganism and Christianity flourished side by side for a considerable period; and we find various pagan practices allowed to continue, where they were innocent. Thus the bride-cake and the bridal-veil are of heathen origin; the mirth of the Saturnalia survives, in a modified form, in some of the rejoicings of Christmas; and the flowers, which had filled the pagan temples during the Floralia, were employed to adorn God's House at the Easter festival.
141 The brilliant illumination of churches on Easter Eve is very ancient. According to Eusebius, Constantine "turned the mystical vigil into the light of day by means of lamps suspended in every part, setting up also great waxen tapers, as large as columns, throughout the city." Gregory of Nyssa also speaks of "the cloud of fire mingling with the rays of the rising sun, and making the eve and the festival one continuous day without interval of darkness."
153 Cf. Paradise Lost, iii. 51:--

"So much the rather thou, Celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate."

VI

Line
  The last seven stanzas of this hymn are used in the Moz. Brev. at Compline on Passion Sunday, and daily until Maundy Thursday.
56 Cf. Job. vii. 14: "Then Thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions."
95 In the translation of this stanza the explanation of Nebrissensis is adopted, an early editor of Prudentius (1512) and one of the leaders of the Renaissance in Spain. He considers that "the few of the impious who are condemned to eternal death" are the incurable sinners, immedicabiles. Others attempt to reconcile these words with the general belief of the early Church by maintaining that non pii is not equivalent to impii, but rather refers to the class that is neither decidedly good nor definitely bad, and that the mercy of God is extended to the majority of these. A third view is that the poet is speaking relatively, and means that few are condemned in proportion to the number that deserve condemnation. In whatever way the words are explained, it is interesting to find an advocate of "the larger hope" in the fourth century.
105 Cf. Rev. xvii. 8: "The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss, and to go into perdition."
109 Cf. 2 Thess. ii. 4: "The son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."
127 The phrase rorem subisse sacrum would suggest baptism by sprinkling, except that Prudentius uses the word loosely elsewhere. Immersion was undoubtedly the general practice of the early Church, "clinical" baptism being allowed only in cases of necessity.
128 The anointing with oil showed that the catechumen was enrolled among the spiritual priesthood, and with the unction was joined the sign of the Cross on the forehead.

VII

Line
1 This entire hymn is used in the Moz. Brev., divided into fifteen portions for use during Lent.
27 The word sacerdos here, as in ix. 4, is used in the sense of "prophet"; but in both passages there is some idea of the exercise of priestly functions. Elijah may be called "priest" from his having offered sacrifice on Mount Carmel, and David from his wearing the priestly ephod as he danced before the Ark.
69 The old editors discuss these lines with much gravity, and mostly come to the conclusion that "locusts" were "a kind of bird, of the length of a finger, with quick, short flight"; while the "wild honey" was not actual honey at all, but "the tender leaves of certain trees, which, when crushed by the fingers, had the pleasant savour of honey."
76 A gloss on one of the Vat. MSS. adds: "This is not authorised; for John merely baptized with water, and not in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; therefore his baptism was of no avail, save that it prepared the way for Christ to baptize." Many of the Fathers, however, while expressly affirming that John's baptism differed from that of Christ, allowed that the stains of sin were washed away by the former. St. Chrysostom draws this distinction: "There was in John's baptism pardon, but not without repentance; remission of sins, but only attained by grief."
100 The story of Jonah, as a type of the Resurrection, is one of the most frequent subjects of the frescoes of the Catacombs. In one very ancient picture, a man in a small boat is depicted in the act of placing the prophet in the very jaws of the whale.
115 Two stanzas are omitted in the text, which depict the sufferings of Jonah with a wealth of detail not in accordance with modern taste. For the sake of giving a complete text, we append them here:--

"Transmissa raptim praeda cassos dentium
eludit ictus incruentam transvolans
inpune linguam, ne retentam mordicus
offam molares dissecarent uvidi,
os omne transit et palatum praeterit.


Ternis dierum ac noctium processibus
mansit ferino devoratus gutture,
errabat illic per latebras viscerum,
ventris recessus circumibat tortiles
anhelus extis intus aestuantibus.
"

194 Prudentius appears to have believed that the mystery of the Incarnation was concealed from Satan, and that the Temptation was an endeavour to ascertain whether Jesus was the Son of God or no. Cf. Milton, Par. Reg. i.:--

"Who this is we must learn, for Man he seems
In all his lineaments, though in his face
The glimpses of his Father's glory shine."

VIII

Line
9 The day of twelve hours appears to have been adopted by the Romans about B.C. 291. Ambrose (de virginibus, iii. 4), commenting on Ps. cxix. and the words "Seven times a day do I praise thee," declares that prayers are to be offered up with thanksgiving when we rise from sleep, when we go forth, when we prepare to take food, when we have taken it, at the hour of incense, and lastly, when we retire to rest. He probably alludes to private prayer. The stanza here indicates that the second hour after midday has arrived, when the fasting ended and the midday meal was taken.
14 The word festum, as in vii. 4, indicates a special fast day. Until the sixth century, fasting was simply a penitential discipline and was not used as a particular mode of penance. In the fourth century it was a fairly common practice as a preparation for Holy Communion. Fasting before Baptism was a much earlier practice. The stated fasts of the Western Church were (1) annual, that is, ante-paschal or Lent; (2) monthly, or the fasts of the four seasons in the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th months; (3) weekly, on Wednesday and Friday. There was also the fast of the Rogations and the Vigils or Eves of holy days. It is doubtful whether all these were in vogue as early as Prudentius.
33 This passage on the Shepherd reminds us of one of the most common pictorial representations of the Catacombs. Christian art owed something to paganism in this matter; ancient sculptures represent the god Pan with a goat thrown across his shoulders and a Pan's pipe in his hand; while the poets Calpurnius and Tibullus both refer to the custom of carrying a stray or neglected lamb on the shoulders of the shepherd. Going further back, the figure is common in the O. T. to express God's care over His people. Our Lord therefore used for His own purpose and transfigured with new meaning a familiar figure. The gradual transition from paganism to Christianity is curiously illustrated by the fact that in several of the Catacomb bas-reliefs and paintings the Good Shepherd holds in His outstretched hand a Pan's pipe. See Maitland's Church in the Catacombs, p. 315, for a woodcut of the Good Shepherd with a lamb over His shoulders, two sheep at His feet, a palm tree (or poplar) on either side, and a Pan's pipe in His right hand; and also the frontispiece for a reproduction from the Cemetery of St. Peter and St. Marcellinus.

IX

Line
1 This hymn, which first introduced into sacred song the trochaic metre familiar in Greek Tragedy and the Latin adaptations of it, supplies the Moz. Brev. with some stanzas for use during Holy Week. The lines selected are 22-24, 1-21.
11 The use of the symbol Ω, (pronounced here as a single syllable), appears to indicate that the names Omega and Omikron came into use at a later date than Prudentius' time. In Rev. i. 8, the best MSS. read εγω ειμι το αλφα και το ω.
33 The words vulnerum piamina are generally supposed to refer to the "gifts which Moses commanded" to be offered by those healed of leprosy (Lev. xiv. 2). If so, Prudentius' language may imply that the cure was not actually complete until the offering of these gifts, and is at variance with St. Matthew, viii. 43, "and forthwith his leprosy was cleansed." Probably, however, his idea is rather that the gifts to the priest formally marked the leper as a clean man.
71 Cf. note on iii. 199.

X

Line
1 Parts of this hymn are used in the Moz. Brev. in the Office of the Dead, being ll. 1-16, 45-48, 57-68, 157-168.

The burial rites of the primitive Church were simple, and marked by an absence of the ostentatious expression of grief which the pagan peoples displayed. The general practice of cremation was rejected, partly owing to the new belief in the resurrection of the body, and partly from a desire to imitate the burial of the Lord. At Rome, during the first three centuries, the dead were laid in the Catacombs, in which Prudentius took conspicuous interest (see Translator's Note), but after 338 A.D. this practice became less frequent, and was completely abandoned after 410 A.D. Elsewhere, from the earliest times, the Christians purchased special enclosures (areae), which were often attacked and rifled by angry mobs in the days of persecution. The body was frequently embalmed (cf. ll. 51, 52), swathed in white linen (l. 49), and placed in a coffin; vigils and hymns continued for three or four days, but hired mourners were forbidden (l. 113), and instead of the dirges of the heathens, chants expressive of triumphant faith were sung as the body was carried to the grave, where a simple service was held, and evergreens and flowers were strewn about the tomb (ll. 169, 170). The earliest inscriptions are often roughly scratched on plaster, and consist merely of a name and age, or simple words like--

GEMELLA DORMIT IN PACE

but later (cf. l. 171), they were engraved on small marble slabs.

25 In both thought and language this stanza, as vii. 16 et seq., is evidently reminiscent of Horace (Sat. 2, ii. 77): Quin corpus onustum, etc.

"The Body, too, with Yesterday's excess

Burthened and tired, shall the pure Soul depress,

Weigh down this Portion of celestial Birth,

This Breath of God, and fix it to the Earth."

(Francis).

51 Boldetti, in his work on the Catacombs (lib. i. cap. 59), says that on many occasions, when he was present at the opening of a grave, the assembled company were conscious of a spicy odour diffusing itself from the tomb. Cf. Tertullian (Apol. 42): "The Arabs and Sabaeans knew well that we consume more of their precious merchandise for our dead than do the heathen for their gods."
57 Prudentius' firm faith in the resurrection of the body is also nobly expressed in the Apotheosis (ll. 1063 et seq.):--

"Nosco meum in Christo corpus resurgere; quid me
Desperare iubes? veniam, quibus ille revenit
Calcata de morte viis: quod credimus hoc est.


      *       *       *       *       *

Pellite corde metum, mea membra, et credite vosmet
Cum Christo reditura Deo; nam vos gerit ille
Et secum revocat: morbos ridete minaces:
Inflictos casus contemnite; tetra sepulcra
Despuite; exsurgens quo Christus provocat, ite.
"

Translation.

"I know in Christ my body shall arise;
Why bid me, then, despair? for I shall go
By that same path whereby my Lord returned,
Death trodden 'neath His feet: this is my creed.
Banish, my limbs, all terror; and believe
That ye with Christ our God shall yet return;
He beareth you and with Himself recalls.
Laugh at the threats of sickness; scorn the blows
Of fate; despise the horrors of the tomb;
And fare ye where the risen Christ doth call."

61 The poet expresses as a duty owed to Christ Himself the heathen obligation of casting three handfuls of earth upon a body discovered dead.
69 For the incident referred to in these lines, see the Apocryphal book of Tobias, cc. ii. and xi. Tobit, a pious Israelite captive in Nineveh, was reduced to beggary as the result of his zeal in burying those of his countrymen who had been killed and exposed by royal command. He also lost his sight, which was eventually restored by the application of the gall of a fish which attacked his son Tobias, and was killed by him. The "fish" of the legend is probably the crocodile, whose gall was credited with medicinal properties by various Greek and Latin writers. Cf. Pliny, N. H. xxviii. 8: "They say that nothing avails more against cataract than to anoint the eyes with its gall mixed with honey."
113 Cf. Cyprian (De Mortal. 20): "We must not lament our brethren whom the Lord's summons has freed from the world, for we know that they are not lost, but gone before. We may not wear the black robes of mourning while they have put on the white raiment of joy. Nor may we grieve for those as lost whom we know to be living with God."
171 Cf. Perist. vii.:--

"Nos pio fletu, date, perluamus

Marmorum sulcos."

The early Christian epitaphs, of which many thousands exist, are instinct with a faith which is in striking contrast to the unrelieved gloom or sullen resignation of paganism. We may compare with the common

AVE ATQVE VALE

"Hail and farewell"

or inscriptions like

INFANTI DVLCISSIMO QVEM DI IRATI AETERNO SOMNO DEDERUNT

"To a very sweet babe, whom the angry gods gave to unending sleep."

the Christian

DVLCIS ET INNOCENS HIC DORMIT SEVERIANVS SOMNO PACIS CVIVS SPIRITVS IN LVCE DOMINI SVSCEPTVS EST (A.D. 393)

"Here slumbers in the sleep of peace the sweet and innocent Severianus, whose spirit is received in the light of the Lord"

or

NATVS EST LAVRENTIVS IN ETERNVM ANN. XX. DORMIT IN PACE (A.D. 329)

"Laurentius was born into eternity in his twentieth year. He sleeps in peace."

See also note on iii. 205.

XI

Line
1 Virgil's Fourth Eclogue known as the "Pollio" has undoubtedly influenced the thought and style of this poem: the more noticeable parallels will be pointed out as they occur. In Milton's ode On the Morning of Christ's Nativity there are several passages which recall Prudentius' treatment of the theme in this and the succeeding hymn; but curiously enough, the Puritan poet in alluding to the season of the Nativity takes an opposite line of thought, and regards the diminished sunshine of winter as a veiling of an inferior flame before the light of "a greater Sun." Prudentius proclaims the increase of the sun's light, which begins after the winter solstice, as symbolic of the ever-widening influence of the True Light. The idea is given in a terse form by St. Peter Chrysologus, Serm. 159: Crescere dies coepit, quia verus dies illuxit. "The day begins to lengthen out, inasmuch as the true Day hath shone forth."
18 For the somewhat obscure phrase verbo editus, see note on iii. 2.
20 For "Sophia" or the Divine Creative Wisdom, see Prov. iii. 19, 20, and especially viii. 27-31, where the language "has been of signal importance in the history of thought, helping, as it does, to make a bridge between Eastern and Greek ideas, and to prepare the way for the Incarnation" (Davison, Wisdom-Literature of the O. T., pp. 5, 6). In Alexandrian theology the conception of God's transcendence gave rise to the doctrine of an intermediate power or logos, by which creation was effected. In the Prologue of the fourth Gospel the idea was set forth in its purely Christian form. See 1, 3, where the Logos or the pre-incarnate Christ is described as the maker of all things--an idea which is also illustrated by the language of St. Paul in such passages as Col. i. 6.
59 Cf. for the conception of a golden age, Virg., Ecl., iv. 5 et seq.: Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo, etc.
65 Reminiscences of ancient prophecy appear to be embodied in this and following lines. Cf. Joel iii. 18: "And it shall come to pass in that day that the mountains shall drop down sweet wine and the hills shall flow with milk." Amos ix. 13: "The mountains shall drop sweet wine and all the hills shall melt." But cf. especially Virg., Ecl., iv. 18-30: At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu, etc.

"Unbidden earth shall wreathing ivy bring,

And fragrant herbs (the promises of spring)

As her first off'rings to her infant king.

      *       *       *       *       *

Unlaboured harvest shall the fields adorn,

And clustered grapes shall blush on every thorn;

The knotted oaks shall showers of honey weep,

And through the matted grass the liquid gold shall creep."

(Dryden's Trans.)

81 The legend of the ox and ass adoring our Lord arose from an allegorical interpretation of Isa. i. 3: "The ox knoweth his owner, the ass his master's crib." Origen (Homilies on St. Luke xiii.) is the first to allegorise on the passage in Isaiah, where the word for "crib" in the Greek translation of the O. T. is identical with St. Luke's word for "manger" (φατνη). After referring to the circumstances of the Nativity, Origen proceeds to say: "That was what the prophet foretold, saying, 'The ox knoweth,' etc. The Ox is a clean animal: the Ass an unclean one. The Ass knew his master's crib (praesepe domini sui): not the people of Israel, but the unclean animal out of pagan nations knew its master's crib. 'But Israel hath not known me: and my people hath not understood.' Let us understand this and press forward to the crib, recognise the Master and be made worthy of his knowledge." The thought that the Ox = the Jews and the Ass = Pagans, reappears in Gregory Nazianzen, Ambrose and Jerome. See an interesting article by Mr. Austin West (Ox and Ass Legend of the Nativity. Cont. Review, Dec. 1903), who notes the further impetus given to the legend by the Latin rendering of Habb. iii. 2 (LXX.) which in the Vetus Itala version appears as "in medio duorum animalium in notesceris," "in the midst of two animals shalt thou be known" (R.V., in the midst of the years make it known). The legend does not appear in apocryphal Christian literature earlier than in the Pseudo-Matthew Gospel, which belongs to the later fifth century. It is interesting to note that with St. Francis and the Franciscans the ox and the ass are merely animals: the allegorical interpretation of Origen had vanished from Christendom: and in its place we find St. Francis (see Life of St. Francis by St. Bonaventura, "Temple Classics" edition, p. 111) making a presepio at Greccio, to which a living ox and ass are brought, in order that a visible representation of the manger-scene might kindle the devotion of the Brethren and the assembled townsfolk. This act of St. Francis inaugurated the custom, still observed in the Roman Church, of representing by means of waxen images the whole of the Nativity manger-scene, Mother and Child together with the adoring animals.
97 For the obstetrix, cf. Proto-Evangelium of the Pseudo-James (a Greek romance of the fourth century), § 18 et seq., where Joseph is represented as seeking and finding a Hebrew midwife.
100 Cf. Milton's Ode on the Nativity, ll. 157-164:--

"With such a horrid clang

As on Mount Sinai rang

While the red fire and smould'ring clouds outbrake:

The aged earth aghast

With terror of that blast,

Shall from the surface to the centre shake;

When at the world's last session

The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread his throne."

XII

Line
1 This poem has given four hymns to the Roman Breviary:--
(1) For the Feast of the Transfiguration, Vespers and Matins consisting of ll. 1-4, 37-40, 41-44, 85-88.
(2) For the Epiphany at Lauds, beginning O sola magnarum urbium, ll. 77-80, 5-8, 61-72.
(3) For the Feast of Holy Innocents at Matins, beginning Audit tyrannus anxius, ll. 93-100, 133-136.
(4) Also the Feast of Holy Innocents at Lauds, beginning Salvete flores martyrum, ll. 125-132.
5 For a curious parallel to these opening lines see Henry Vaughan's Pious Thoughts and Ejaculations (the Nativity):--

"But stay! what light is that doth stream

And drop here in a gilded beam?

It is Thy star runs Page and brings

Thy tributary Eastern kings.

Lord! grant some light to us that we

May find with them the way to Thee!"

12 Cf. Ignatius, Ep. ad Ephes. xix.: "All the other stars, together with the Sun and Moon, became a chorus to the Star, which in its light excelled them all."
15 Prudentius mentions the constellations of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (to which latter the Pole Star belongs) as examples of stars in constant apparition. All the Little Bear stars are within about 24° from the Pole; hence, if viewed from Saragossa, the birthplace of Prudentius, the lowest altitude of any of them would be 18° above the north horizon. The same applies to the majority of the stars in the Great Bear. Some few would sink below the horizon for a brief time in each twenty-four hours; but the greater number, especially the seven principal stars known as the "Plough," would be sufficiently high up at their lowest northern altitudes to be in perpetual apparition. [My friend, Rev. R. Killip, F.R.A.S., has kindly furnished me with these particulars.] Allusions to the Bears are constantly recurring in the classical poets (cf. e.g. Ovid., Met. xiii. 293, immunemque aequoris Arcton, "the Bear that never touches the sea"). The idea that these stars are mostly hidden by clouds, though perpetually in view, is a poetic hyperbole intended to enhance the uniqueness of the Star of Bethlehem.
49 Jerome (ad Eustoch. Ep. 22) commenting on the passage in Isa. xi. 1, "And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root" (Vulg.), remarks: "The rod (virga) is the mother of the Lord, simple, pure, sincere ... the flower of the rod is Christ, who saith, 'I am the flower of the field and the lily of the valleys.'"
69 This symbolism of the gifts of the Magi is also found in Juvencus (I. 250): "Frankincense, gold and myrrh they bring as gifts to a King, a Man and a God," and is again alluded to by Prudentius in Apoth. 631 et seq. The idea is expressed in the hymn of Jacopone da Todi, beginning Verbum caro factum est (Mone, Hymni Latini, Vol. 2):

"Gold to the kingly,

Incense to the priestly,

Myrrh to the mortal:"

and it has passed into the Office for Epiphany in the Roman Breviary: "There are three precious gifts which the Magi offered to their Lord that day, and they contain in themselves sacred mysteries: in the gold, that the power of a king may be displayed: in the frankincense, consider the great high priest: in the myrrh, the burial of the Lord" et passim.
172 The idea that Moses defeated the Amalekites because his arms were outstretched in the form of a cross is found also in one of the hymns (lxi.) of Gregory Nazianzen. The symbol of the Christian religion, the cross, "was fancifully traced by the Fathers throughout the universe: the four points of the compass, the 'height, breadth, length and depth' of the Apostle expressed, or were expressed by, the cross.... The cross explained everything" (Maitland, Church in the Catacombs, p. 202).
193 The discomfiture of the heathen gods wrought by the Incarnation is elaborated by Milton, whose lines recall this and similar passages in Prudentius:--

"Peor, and Baälim

Forsake their temples dim

      *       *       *       *       *

And sullen Moloch fled,

Hath left in shadows dread,

His burning idol all of blackest hue.

 

Our Babe, to show his Godhead true,

Can in his swaddling bands control the damned crew."

FINIS





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