Friday, April 02, 2010

salve caput cruentatum

Here's a Latin hymn for Easter, dating from the 14th century:

Salve, caput cruentatum,
Totum spinis coronatum,
Conquassatum, vulneratum,
Arundine sic verberatum
Facie sputis illita,

Hail, head covered in blood,
all crowned with thorns,
battered, wounded,
beaten so with a reed,
your face smeared with spit,

Salve, cuius dulcis vultus,
Immutatus et incultus
Immutavit suum florem
Totus versus in pallorem
Quem coeli tremit curia.

Hail, you whose sweet face,
changed and disfigured,
has lost its bloom,
turned completely pale,
-that face at which the court of heaven trembles.
It goes on for a while... you can read the full version here. At some point it was loosely translated into German, given an arrangement by Bach, and then translated again from German into English to give us O Sacred Head Now Wounded:

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

You can hear a pretty impressive version of Bach's arrangement (on guitar) here.


kristine said...

thanks joel
just what i needed to hear traveling as i am in these faraway lands
love mum

illunse said...

That's an interesting piece. It's a different sort of Easter hymn. Can't say that I can read all of the Latin, but some of it.