A Poor Brother's Hymnal
Friday, December 28, 2007
  Salvete flores Martyrum: All Hail, Ye Infant Martyrs
This hymn has seen several different forms, all ultimately deriving from the Hymn for the Epiphany from Prudentius' (384-413) Cathemerinon, which is 52 stanzas long. In 1568, four short hymns were assembled from selected stanzas from Prudentius' hymn and introduced into the Breviary by Pope Pius V. Two of these hymns, Audit tyrannus anxius and Salvete, flores Martyrum, were assigned for the feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec 28) for Matins and Laudes respectively. With the subsequent revision of the Liturgy of the Hours, these later two hymns were fused into the hymn below which is used at Laudes for the aforementioned feast
AUDIT tyrannus anxius
adesse regum principem,
qui nomen Israel regat
teneatque David regiam.
WITH terror doth the tyrant hear
the King of kings hath come to dwell
where David's court shall widely rear
A sceptered reign o'er Israel.
Exclamat amens nuntio:
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Then cries out, raging at the word:
"He comes to stand where we have stood:
Hence, soldier, and with ruthless sword
deluge the cradles deep with blood!"
Quo proficit tantum nefas?
Quid crimen Herodem iuvat?
Unus tot inter funera
impune Christus tollitur.
What profiteth a crime so dread?
What hope shall Herod's bosom sway?
Alone amidst the thronging dead,
The Christ is safely born away!
SALVETE, flores martyrum,
quos lucis ipso in limine
Christi insecutor sustulit
ceu turbo nascentes rosas.
ALL hail! ye infant Martyr flowers
Cut off in life's first dawning hours:
As rosebuds snapt in tempest strife,
when Herod sought your Savior's life.
Vos prima Christi victima,
grex immolatorum tener,
aram sub ipsam simplices
palma et coronis luditis.
You, tender flock of lambs, we sing,
first victims slain for Christ your King:
beside the very altar, gay
with palms and crowns, ye seem to play.
Iesu, tibi sit gloria,
qui natus es de Virgine,
cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.
All honor, laud, and glory be,
o Jesu, Virgin-born to Thee;
all glory, as is ever meet,
To Father and to Paraclete.


Latin lyrics English translation

Salvete flores martyrum,
quos lucis ipso in limine
Christi insecutor sustulit,
ceu turbo nascentes rosas.

Vos prima Christi victima,
grex inmolatorum tener,
aram ante ipsam simplices
palma et coronis luditis.

Ye flowers of martyrdom, all hail!
Of rising morn pure blossoms frail!
By Jesu's foe were ye downcast,
Like budding roses by the blast.

Lambs of the flock too early slain,
Ye first fruits of Christ's bitter pain!
Close to His very altar, gay
With palms and crowns, ye now do play.



Neale's Translation
Version II

All hail! ye infant Martyr-flowers,
Cut off in life’s first dawning hours:
As rosebuds, snapt in tempest strife,
When Herod sought your Saviour’s life.

You, tender flock of lambs, we sing,
First victims slain for Christ your King:
Beneath the Altar’s heav’nly ray
With Martyr-palms and crowns ye play.

For their redemption glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee,
With Father, and with Holy Ghost,
For ever from the Martyr-host. Amen.




All hail, ye little martyr flowers,
Sweet rosebuds cut in dawning hours!
When Herod sought the Christ to find
Ye fell as bloom before the wind.

First victims of the martyr bands,
With crowns and palms in tender hands,
Around the very altar, gay
And innocent, ye seem to play.

What profited this great offense?
What use was Herod's violence?
A Babe survives that dreadful day,
And Christ is safely borne away.

All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesus, virgin-born, to thee;
All glory, as is ever meet
To Father and to Paraclete.




Version III
Version IV

Sweet flowerets of the martyr band,
Plucked by the tyrant's ruthless hand
Upon the threshold of the morn,
Like rosebuds by a tempest torn

First victims for the incarnate Lord,
A tender flock to feel the sword;
Beside the very altar gay,
With palm and crown, ye seemed to play.

Ah, what availed King Herod's wrath?
He could not stop the Savior's path.
Alone, while others murdered lay,
In safety Christ is borne away.

O Lord, the Virgin-born, to Thee
Eternal praise and glory be,
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Ghost forevermore. Amen.

Sweet flow'rets of the martyr band,
So early pluck's by cruel hand;
Like rosebuds by a tempest torn,
As breaks the light of summer morn;

First victims offer'd for the Lord,
Ye little knew your high reward,
As, at the very altar, gay
With psalms and crowns ye seem'd to play

Ah! what avail'd King Herod's wrath?
He cold not stay your Saviour's path:
The Child he sought alone went free;
That Child is King eternally.

O Lord, the Virgin-born, to Thee
Praise, honour, might, and glory be,
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Ghost for evermore.

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