A Poor Brother's Hymnal
Thursday, October 25, 2007
  Surrexit Christus sol: Last Night Did Christ the Sun Arise
Sedulius Scottus was an Irishman driven from his native shores by Norse invaders during the mid ninth century. With two friends he blew in with a sleeting wind to the gates of Bishop Hartgar of Liège, France. Recognized immediately as the finest of scholars, Sedulius found thereafter a warm and hospitable home with the Bishop. A Greek text of St. Paul’s Epistles, with an interlinear Latin translation, has survived in what is believed to be Sedulius’ own handwriting. A number of his lyrics have survived as well, including the following Easter “hymn” which caps a letter in verse to a fellow cleric. The terrific medieval scholar, Helen Wadell, rendered the original Latin into the simple and compelling English that follows.

Latin lyrics English translation

Surrexit Christus sol verus vespere noctis,
surgit et hinc domini mystica messis agri.
Nunc vaga puniceis apium plebs laeta labore
floribus instrepitans poblite mella legit.
Nunc variae volucfres permulcent aethera cantu,
temperat et pernox nunc philomena melos.
Nunc chorus ecclesiae cantat per cantica Sion,
alleluia suis centuplicatque tonis.
Tado, pater patriae, caelestis guadia paschae
percipias meritis limina lucis: ave.

Last night did Christ the Sun rise from the dark,
The mystic harvest of the fields of God,
And now the little wandering tribes of bees
Are brawling in the scarlet flowers abroad.
The winds are soft with birdsong; all night long
Darkling the nightingale her descant told,
And now inside church doors the happy folk
The Alleluia chant a hundredfold.
O father of thy folk, be thine by right
The Easter joy, the threshold of the light.

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No comment really. A rectification: Liège is not in France, even if many of the inhabitants would like it would. It is in Belgium. It is the capital of the province of Liège. King Albert II was Prince of Liège before becoming King of the Belgians, in memoy of the Princes Bishops of Liège like that Hartgar.

Two questions. 1) What is the meaning of "poblite" in the 4th verse of the hymn ? 2) Who is that Tado, pater patriae. Could anybody answer ?
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