Wednesday, December 27, 2006


This post's title is the opening word of the Sequence sung at St. Thomas Aquinas last Sunday. It means full of joy. And it gives some good reasons for the joy we call everyone to join in at Christmas. Note that people didn't just follow in lock-step in medieval times, when this poem was written; they needed convincing back then, too.

Here's the Latin, then the English:

Exsultet fidelis chorus.

Full of joy
let the chorus of the faithful exult,

Regem regum
Intactae profundit torus;
Res miranda!

A spotless womb brings forth
the King of kings,
cause for wonder!

Angelus Consilii
Natus est de Virgine,
Sol de stella.

The Angel of Great Counsel
is born of the virgin,
Sun is born of a star.

Sol occasum nesciens,
Stella semper rutilans,
Semper clara.

A Sun which knows no setting,
a star forever shining,
always bright.

Sicut sidus radium,
Profert Virgo Filium
Pari forma.

The Virgin as unsullied
by bringing forth her son
as the star by its light.

Neque sidus radio
Neque Mater Filio
Fit corrupta.

The star loses nothing of its radiance
Nor is the Mother corrupted
by the Son.

Cedrus alta Libani
Conformatur hyssopo
Valle nostra.

The tall cedar of Lebanon
conforms itself to hyssop-size
in our valley.

Verbum ens Altissimi
Corporari passum est,
Carne sumpta.

He the Word of the Most-High
suffers to become embodied,
taking flesh.

Isaias cecinit,
Omnis terra meminit;
Numquam tamen desinit
Esse caeca.

Isaiah sang of it,
All the world remembered it,
yet it has never ceased
to remain blind.

Si non Judae vatibus,
Credat vel gentilibus,
Sybillinus versibus
Haec praedicta;

If not the prophets of the Jews,
One might believe the gentiles,
in the verses of the Sybils
it was predicted;

Infelix, propera,
Crede vel vetera:
Cur meditaberis

Hurry, unhappy one,
believe these ancient wonders:
Why will you meditate
on vain things?

Quem docet littera
Natum considera:
Ipsum genuit

Behold His birth of whom
all scriptures taught:
she who was in labor
has brought Him forth.


I like the part about "if you won't believe the prophets of the Jews, how about all the others, like the Sybils?" Unbelief, and endless meditation on vain things, have always been with us.