The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Faithful People

For Christmas, Epiphany, Candlemas

Words: Lætabundus, A Sequence from an 11th Century Manuscript, with notes 
Erroneously attributed to S. Bernard of Clairvaux (died 1153)
English Translation by the Rev. John O'Connor.

Plainsong Sequence for Christmas. This version of the melody is taken from the Dominican Graduale. Mode VI.

Source: Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MMS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), Carol #35, pp. 65-66.


1. Faithful people,
Sweeten all your song with gladness.

2. Matchless maiden
Bringeth forth the Prince of princes:
O! the marvel. 

3. Virgin compasseth a man,
Yea, the angel of the plan:
Star the Dayspring.

4. Day that sunset shall not close,
Star that light on all bestows,
Ever cloudless.

5. As the star, light crystalline,
Mary hath a Son divine
In her likeness.

6. Star that shining grows not dim,
Nor his Mother, bearing him,
Less a maiden.

7. The great tree of Lebanon
Hyssop's lowliness puts on
In our valley;

8. And the Word of God Most High
Self-imprisoned doth lie
In our body.

9. So Isaias sang of old,
So the Synagogue doth hold,
But the sunrise finds her cold
Hard and blinded. 

10. Of her own she will not mark,
Let her to the gentiles hark;
For the Sybil's verses dark
Tell of these things.

11. Make haste, O luckless one,
Give ear to the saints bygone:
Why perish utterly,
O race undone?

12. He whom thy seers foretell
Born is in Israel:
Mary's little Son, O mark him well.

1. Lætabundus
exsultet fidelis chorus.

2. Regem regum
intactae profudit thorus:
res mirranda.

3. Angelus consilii
natus est de virgine:
sol de stella.

4. Sol occasum nesciens,
stella semper rutilans,
semper clara.

5. Sicut sidus radium,
profert Virgo Filium,
pari forma.

6. Neque sidus radio,
neque mater filio,
fit corrupta.

7. Cedrus alta Libani
conformatur hyssopo,
valle nostra;

8. Verbum ens Altissimi
corporari passum est,
carne sumpta.

9. Isaias cecinit,
Synagoga meminit,
numquam tamen desinit
esse caeca.

10. Si non suis vatibus,
credat vel gentilibus;
Sibyllinis versibus
haec praedicta.

11. Infelix, propera,
crede vel vetera:
cur damnaberis,
gens misera?

12. Quem docet littera,
natum considera:
ipsum genuit puerpera.

Sheet Music from Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MMS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), Carol #35, pp. 65-66.

AMCB78.jpg (627228 bytes) AMCB79.jpg (748549 bytes)

Sheet Music to With Hallowed Mirth from Arthur Henry Brown, ed., The Altar Hymnal (London: Griffith, Farrar, Okeden & Welsh, 1885), #8, p. 26.
“Laetabundus” (Ancient Plain Song)
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / 

Sheet Music to Come Rejoicing, Faithful Men in The English Hymnal (London: Oxford University Press, 1906), Hymn #22a & b, pp. 34-39.

Laetebundus-English_Hymnal-1902-34.jpg (86290 bytes) Laetebundus-English_Hymnal-1902-35.jpg (88393 bytes) Laetebundus-English_Hymnal-1902-36.jpg (81853 bytes)

Laetebundus-English_Hymnal-1902-37.jpg (75596 bytes) Laetebundus-English_Hymnal-1902-38.jpg (78876 bytes) Laetebundus-English_Hymnal-1902-39.jpg (75315 bytes)

First tune was from the Sarum Graduale, Mode V; the second was by Nicholas C. Gatty (1874-1946).

Hymn-Melodies for the Whole Year From the Sarum Service-Books and Other Ancient English Sources. (London: The Plainsong & Medieval Music Society, 1896), "Sequences for the Principal Days of the Year from the Sarum Gradual and Other Sources," Raise Your Voices Faithful Choirs, Lætabundus, Number ii and xxi-xxii.

Laetabundus-Hymn_Melodies-ii.jpg (81374 bytes) Laetabundus-Hymn_Melodies-xxi.jpg (65176 bytes) Laetabundus-Hymn_Melodies-xxii.jpg (37771 bytes)

Sheet Music to Raise Your Voices Faithful Choirs from C.J. Ridsdale, The New Office Hymn Book. Parts I and II. (London: Novello and Company, 1908). Part II.
The First Tune, on pp. 6-8: "Laetabundus." Modes vi. & v. transposed. Irregular. Sarum Gradual (Melody of xith or xiith Century).
The Second Tune, pp. 9-11: "Laetabundus." Irregular. Nicholas Gatty, B. Mus.

Laetabundus-Ridsdale-New_Off_Hym_Bk-II-118-6.jpg (65679 bytes) Laetabundus-Ridsdale-New_Off_Hym_Bk-II-118-7.jpg (84168 bytes) Laetabundus-Ridsdale-New_Off_Hym_Bk-II-118-8.jpg (80796 bytes)

Laetabundus-Ridsdale-New_Off_Hym_Bk-II-118-9.jpg (74990 bytes) Laetabundus-Ridsdale-New_Off_Hym_Bk-II-118-10.jpg (61545 bytes) Laetabundus-Ridsdale-New_Off_Hym_Bk-II-118-11.jpg (61842 bytes)

Sheet Music to Full of Gladness, Let Our Faithful Choir from John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore, eds., The Hymnal Noted, Parts 1 and II. (London & New York: Novello, Ewer and Co., 1851), Hymn #94 (or 89), pp. 184-185.

Laetabundus-Neale-HN-184.jpg (30849 bytes) Laetabundus-Neale-HN-185.jpg (116159 bytes)

Sheet Music to Full of Gladness, Let Our Faithful Choir from Thomas Helmore, ed., Accompanying Harmonies to the Hymnal Noted (London: Novello, Ewer and Co., 1852), pp. 307-311.

Laetabundus-Helmore-AccompHarm-307.jpg (71920 bytes) Laetabundus-Helmore-AccompHarm-308.jpg (106914 bytes) Laetabundus-Helmore-AccompHarm-309.jpg (104772 bytes) Laetabundus-Helmore-AccompHarm-310.jpg (107317 bytes) Laetabundus-Helmore-AccompHarm-311.jpg (115788 bytes)

Editor's Notes:

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

In his "Notes on the Sequences," Rev. C. J. Ridsdale wrote:

118. Christmas. Laetabundus exultet fidelis chorus. Alleluia. In a MS. in the British Museum (Add. 18, 302), c. 1100, and therefore earlier than S. Bernard of Clairvaux, to whom it has generally attributed. Its use was extended throughout Europe. In the Sarum Missal it is given as a Sequence, and in the Sarum Breviary in place of a Hymn. Though clearly intended for use at Christmas, and still used in that season by the Dominicans, it is appointed in the Sarum Missal for the 4th day in the Octaves of the Visitation and the Assumption; and, in the Breviary, for the Purification and the Nativity B.V.M. The translation here given follows almost exactly that in the Second Edition of "The Hymner, 1891." "Laetabundus" represents a Sequence in its second stage, working itself out from being merely rhymical towards being strictly metrical.

Source: C.J. Ridsdale, The New Office Hymn Book. Parts I and II. (London: Novello and Company, 1908). Part II, p. iii. For the text, see: Come Ye Faithful Loud Exalt.

The venerable Dom Prosper Gueranger wrote:

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

He gives 12 Latin and English verses. See: Let The Choir of All The Faithful.

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

In his Dictionary of Hymnology (p.636), Dr. John Julian wrote:

The earliest form known of this Sequence is in a Gradual apparently written in England during the 12th cent. and now in the British Museum (Reg. 2 B. iv. f. 177), and another MS. in the British Museum containing a collection of Sequences, apparently written c. 1199 (Calig. A. xiv. f. 50 b). It is in the St. Gall MS., No. 338, at p. 334, in a hand of the 13th cent. Among Missals it is found in an early 14th cent. Paris, and a 14th cent. Sens in the British Museum ; in a Sarum, c. 1370; a Hereford, c. 1370; and a York, c. 1390, all now in the Bodleian; in the St. Andrews, the Magdeburg of 1480, and many French and German Missals. It was also used as a hymn in the Sarum Breviary, e.g. in a MS. of the 14th cent, in the British Museum (Reg. 2 A. xiv. f. 187 b). The printed text is also in Daniel, ii. p. 61; Kehrein, No. 13, and others.

Of this poem Dr. Neale says " This Sequence or Hymn is of rare perfection in its kind, and perhaps as widely known as any hymn of the Church " (Medieval Hymns, 1851, p. 49). As will be seen by the note above, its use was specially general in England and in France. In the Sarum Missal it was used as the Sequence on the Fourth Day in the octave of the Assumption of the B. V. M.; and in the Sarum Breviary as a hymn at the second Vespers of the Purification, and also of the Assumption of the B. V. M. In the Hereford Missal it is appointed for use within the octave of the Epiphany ; and in the York Missal in the Mass at Daybreak on Christmas day. [J. M.]

Translations in Common Usage:-
1. Full of Gladness, Let Our Faithful Choir, &c. By J. M. Neale, in the Hymnal Noted, 1854, in 6 st.
With Hallowed Mirth, sing all ye faithful choirs on earth. By J. D. Chambers, in his Lauda Syon, Pt. ii., 1866, p. 65. This was repeated with slight variations in the People's Hymnal, 1867.
3. Come Ye Faithful Choirs On Earth. This rendering in the Hymnary, 1872, is based upon the Hymnal Noted as above.
4. Faithful Chorus, Loud Exult, etc. In the Hymner, 1882, is based upon the Hymnal Noted, as above.

Translations not in Common Usage:-
1. Be The Tidings. J. M Neale, in 1st ed. of his Mediæval Hymns. 1851; but afterwards omitted.
2. Full of Joy, In Sweet Accord. J. W. Hewett. 1859. [From his Verses from a Country Curate]
3. With Holy Gladness Full. J. W. Hewett. 1859. A second translation. [From his Verses from a Country Curate]
4. Now Let Thy Faithful Choirs, C. B. [Charles Buchanan] Pearson. In the Sarum Missal in English, 1868, and [a slightly different version in] his Sequences from the Sarum Missal, 1871.
[J. J.]

Editor's Note:

In addition to this enumeration by Dr. Julian, the following additional versions, which were referenced above, exist:

For additional information about this very ancient Sequence, see:

All links open in a new window at an exterior site.

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.