Sunday, February 17, 2008

Crux Fidelis


Crux fidelis, inter omnes, arbor una nobilis.
Nulla silva talem profert fronde, flore, germine.
Dulce lignum, dulces clavos, dulce pondus sustinet.

Flecte ramos, arbor alta, tensa laxa viscera
Et rigor lentescat ille, quem dedit nativitas
Et superni membra Regis tende miti stipite.

Sola digna tu fuisti ferre mundi victimam,
Atque portum praeparare arca mundo naufrago
Quam sacer cruor perunxit, fusus Agni corpore.

Sempiterna sit beatae Trintiati gloria
Aequa Patri Filoque, par decus Parcalito;
Unjus Trinique nomen laudet universitas.

Faithful cross, noblest of all trees,
No forest ever produced your like in leaf, in flower, in seed.
Sweet wood to hold sweet nails and bear sweet weight.

Bend your branches, tall tree, relax your tense muscles
And may your native stiffness be softened.
Extend the limbs of the supreme King with your gentle trunk.

You alone have been worthy to bear the world's sacrifice
and anointed with holy blood, shed from the body of the Lamb,
Like the ark to furnish a harbour for a shipwrecked world.

Eternal glory be to the blessed trinity;
Equal glory to the Father and the Son, equal honour to the Comforter;
May the universe praise the name of the one and the three.

Meditation for Good Friday of Holy Week. I'm listening to it on the new King's Singer's CD "The Golden Age" in which the setting is attributed to King John IV of Portugal (1604-56). Breathtaking.

1 comment:

Jules said...

The music may be breathtaking but the translation sucks. Here's the way I learned it:

Faithful cross, among all others
One and only noble tree
None in foliage, none in blossom
None in fruit thy peer may be.
Sweetest wood and sweetest iron
Sweetest weight was hung on thee.

Bend thy boughs, o tree of glory
Thy relaxing sinews bend
For a while the ancient rigor
that thy birth bestowed suspend,
And the king of heavenly beauty
on thy bosom gently tend.

The images in those words are almost as sublime as the music.