A solis ortus cardine

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General information

This famous hymn was written by Caelius Sedulius (d. circa 450) with its stanzas starting with each subsequent letter of the Latin alphabet, 23 in total; a device known as abecedarius or acrostichon. Sedulius called his poem Paean Alphabeticus de Christo.

Two parts from it entered Catholic liturgy:

  • A solis ortus cardine, used for Lauds during the Christmas season, consisting of stanzas 1-7, followed by a new closing stanza (a doxology);
  • Hostis Herodes impie, the Vesper hymn for Epiphany, consisting of stanzas 8, 9, 11 and 13, once again followed by a doxology.

Hence, settings of A solus ortus cardine are usually of this 8-stanza form, or some of its stanzas.

In this form, it was translated by Luther and published in his first collection of hymns (1524) as Christum wir sollen loben schon.

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Text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

A solis ortus cardine
Ad usque terrae limitem
Christum canamus Principem,
Natum Maria Virgine.

Beatus auctor saeculi
Servile corpus induit,
Ut carne carnem liberans
Non perderet quod condidit.

Clausae1 parentis viscera
Caelestis intrat gratia;
Venter puellae baiulat
Secreta quae non noverat.

Domus pudici pectoris
Templum repente fit Dei;
Intacta nesciens virum
Verbo concepit Filium.2

Enixa3 est puerpera
Quem Gabriel praedixerat,
Quem matris alvo gestiens4
Clausus Ioannes senserat.5

Foeno iacere pertulit,
Praesepe non abhorruit,
Parvoque lacte pastus est6
Per quem nec ales esurit.

Gaudet chorus caelestium
Et Angeli canunt Deum,
Palamque fit pastoribus
Pastor, Creator omnium.

Iesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula. Amen.

English.png English translation

From the rising of the sun
to the ends of the earth,
let us sing of Christ the Prince,
born of the Virgin Mary.

The blessed creator of the world
put on a servant’s body,
so that, liberating the flesh through taking flesh,
he would not lose what he had made.

The virgin mother's belly
is filled with heavenly grace;
the girl’s womb carries
secrets which she has not known.

The modest dwelling of her body
becomes God’s new temple;
untouched, not knowing a man,
at a word she conceived the Son in her womb.

By her birth pangs she brought forth
the one whom Gabriel had foretold,
and whom the Baptist, leaping within the womb,
had recognised as Lord.

He consented to lie in the hay;
he did not shrink from the manger;
and with little milk he was fed,
who does not allow even the birds to hunger.

The heavenly chorus rejoices,
and the angels sing God's praise,
and to the shepherds is now made known
the Shepherd who is the creator of all.

Jesus, to you be glory,
who are born of a virgin,
with the Father and the loving Spirit,
for eternal ages. Amen.

Translation by Mick Swithinbank
with thanks to Jamie Reid Baxter for much help
English.png English translation

From lands that see the sun arise,
To earth’s remotest boundaries,
The virgin born today we sing,
The Son of Mary, Christ the King.

Blest Author of this earthly frame,
To take a servant’s form He came,
That liberating flesh by flesh,
Whom He had made might live afresh.

In that chaste parent’s holy womb,
Celestial grace hath found its home:
And she, as earthly bride unknown,
Yet call that Offspring blest her own.

The mansion of the modest breast
Becomes a shrine where God shall rest:
The pure and undefiled one
Conceived in her womb the Son.

That Son, that royal Son she bore,
Whom Gabriel’s voice had told afore:
Whom, in his Mother yet concealed,
The Infant Baptist had revealed.

The manger and the straw He bore,
The cradle did He not abhor:
A little milk His infant fare
Who feedeth even each fowl of air.

The heavenly chorus filled the sky,
The angels sang to God on high,
What time to shepherds watching lone
They made creation’s Shepherd known.

All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesu, virgin born, to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To the Father and to Paraclete.

Translation by John Mason Neale

Changes by Pope Urban VIII in 1632 to the Roman Breviary (some incorporated by Palestrina):

1 Castae
2 Enititur (not in Palestrina)
3 Concepit alvo Filium.
4 Quem ventre Matris gestiens, (not in Palestrina)
5 baptismata clausum senserat (not in Palestrina)
6 Et lacte modicus pastus est
Hungarian.png Hungarian translation

Naptámadat mesgyéitől
A föld végső határaig
Krisztust daloljuk, a Királyt,
Szűz Máriának egy Fiát.

A boldog Úr, az Alkotó,
Magára szolgatestet ölt:
A húst a hús hadd mentse meg,
S ne vesszen el, kit alkotott.

A Szűzanyának belsején
Megszáll az égi kegyelem.
Hord a Leány szíve alatt
Soha nem ismert titkokat.

Szemérmes szíve hajloka
Immár az Isten temploma.
Ki sosem ismert férfiút,
Angyal-igén fogant fiút.

A Szűz megszülte Gyermekét,
Kit Gábor angyal megígért,
Kit János érzett boldogan
Már anyja méhe rejtekén.

Hitvány jászolba fektetik,
Szénától sem húzódozik,
Ki a madárnak enni ád:
Egy csöppnyi tejjel jóllakik.

Újjong az égiek kara,
Ünneplik zengő angyalok,
S a pásztoroknak felragyog
A mindeneknek Pásztora.

Dutch.png Dutch translation

Vanwaar de zon opgaat
tot aan het einde van de aarde
laten wij zingen voor Christus, onze vorst
die geboren is uit de maagd Maria.

German.png German translation

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