This Christmas we will sing, as is always fitting, “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming”, but today (September 8) we commemorate a related birth, also sprouting from Jesse’s lineage: Our Blessed Virgin Mary is the dear branch from which that blessed Rose bloomed. To mark this day, here are two new translations of Marian hymns.
The first was sung by Paul (Latin only) in this morning’s Lauds. It is a happy birthday meditation for the Blessed Mother of the Church. The second is similar; it also includes a request that Mary, by her prayers, would cause us to be planted with her in God’s garden. Both give glory to God for his great plan of salvation, that includes the gift of such a mother of our Lord and of us.
O sancta mundi domina
O sancta mundi domina, regina caeli inclita, o stella maris fulgida, virgo mater mirifica. O holy mistress of the world, Queen of the heavens’ high acclaim, O star above the sea aflame, Virgin and mother admirable! Appare, dulcis filia, nitesce iam, virguncula, florem latura nobilem, Christum Deum et hominem. Appear to us, a daughter sweet, Be radiant now, a little maid, Who shall yet bear that blossom fair, Christ who is God and also man. Natalis tui annua en colimus sollemnia, quo stirpe delectissima mundo fulsisti genita. Your birthday’s yearly festivals We cultivate in order due; Arisen from the choicest stock, You set the world alight in birth. Per te sumus, terrigenae simulque iam caeligenae, pacati pace nobili, more non aestimabili. Through you we are, though earthly born, Yet also now of heaven born, Made peaceable by noble peace, A rule of life past reckoning. Sit Trinitati gloria per saeculorum saecula, cuius vocaris munere mater beata Ecclesiae. Glory to God the Trinity As ages long of ages be, In Whose high service you are called The Blessed Mother of the Church.
Beata Dei genetrix nitor
Beata Dei genetrix, nitor humani generis, per quam de servis liberi lucisque sumus filii; O bless’d of God, His birth-mother, Bright splendor of the human race: Through you from slaves to children free, Of light we are the offspring now. Maria, virgo regia, David stirpe progenita, non tam paterna nobilis quam dignitate subolis. O Mary, royal virgin queen, Of David’s root you take your birth, Not by paternal name renowned, But by your offspring’s dignity. Tu nos, avulso veteri, complanta novo germini; per te sit genus hominum regale sacerdotium. Plant us, the old growth torn away, Together as a seedling new; By you may we, the race of men, A royal priestly order be. Tu nos culparum nexibus sacris absolve precibus; tua promentes merita ad caeli transfer praemia. Untangle us from snaring faults, Absolve us by your holy prayers; And as we praise your merits won, Bear us across to heaven’s prize. Sit Trinitati gloria, o Virgo nobilissima, quae te suorum munerum thesaurum dat magnificum. To God the Three all glory be, O Virgin noblest in renown, Who grants in you, of all His gifts, A treasury magnificent.
As usual, in these particular translations I aim to make the underlying Latin as transparent as possible to English speakers. That is, both word choices and grammar are (mostly) literally accurate, subject to limits of English grammar and iambic tetrameter. The English can be sung to the original melody, and it is also recitable. Latin grammar and poetic wordplay are preserved when possible. You may find your sense of English grammar and vocabulary stretched, but hopefully not broken. Enjoy!
translations copyright ©2021 John R. Rose under CC BY-SA 4.0
Acknowledgements: Holly Coty, who held me back from some bad translation choices; thanks Holly!