Wednesday, 22 October 2014

An early Cristmas post.

I know it is still a bit early for Christmas posts, but a befriended cellist and leader of a baroque ensemble asked me to translate the following text. It has been set on music and she wants to perform it for her Christmas program. I have been unable to trace the author, but my guess is late Mediaeval or Renaissance period.
There is no performance of this song on Youtube, but maybe early next year with me amongst the public!

1.Illibata, ter beata
Jesu natalitia
Collaudemus, et clamemus
Omnia felicia.
Terra plaude, caelum gaude
Resonet laetitia.

2.Virgo mirum, ventre virum
Amplexata tenuit
Et Creator, hic Viator
Fieri non renuit.
Terra plaude, caelum gaude
Virgo Deum genuit

 3.Ille piae, flos Mariae
Virginale lilium
Huc de caelo, magno zelo
Venit in exilium.
Terra plaude, caelum gaude
Lauda Dei Filium.

4.Non in aula, sed in caula
Natus est puerulus.
Deus gemit, vento tremit,
Flet pro nobis querulus.
Terra plaude, caelum gaude
Venit ad nos Iesulus

illibatus: uninjured, immaculate
Illibata  natalitia: unlike the Buddha, who is born every aeon again, Jesus as far as I know has only been born once, so why the plural? One could argue that it is because of the rhyme with felicia and laetitia, but the plural in Latin is sometimes used to intensify, like soles is used for `great heat’, so: the great immaculate birth.
Virgo mirum, ventre virum amplexata tenuit = Virgo mirum virum tenuit, amplexata ventre
venter ventris (m.): belly
amplexor amplexatus sum: to embrace
teneo tenui: to keep, hold
Viator: the idea is that a human being is just passers-by (viator) on earth, so viator = homo
hic fieri non renuit: does to refuse to become here
Ille piae, flos Mariae Virginale lilium = Ille flos piae Mariae, virginale lilium,
lilium: the lily is the flower of purity
huc: to this place
zelus: zeal
exilium: again the idea of the world as a transitory place
caula (Late Latin): stable
gemo gemui: to sigh, groan
tremo tremui: tremble, shiver
querulus: complaining


  1. I think I was at the same Christmas programme you mention (two days back, in Vries). This song has been stuck in my head. The tenor sung it beautifully.

    Can barely find anything about this song online, although the melody is mentioned here (with a different text set to it):

    1. I had no booklet and it wasn't always clear what Latin texts they were singing, but I believe you immediately!