O magnum mysterium

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Geertgen tot Sint Jans, c. 1485

Nativity Scene
by Geertgen tot Sint Jans, c. 1485

General Information

Fourth of the nine responsories for Matins of Christmas Day.

The versicle of the responsory (Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum) is missing from most of the polyphonic settings.

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Text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

O magnum mysterium
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum
jacentem in praesepio.
O beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt
portare Dominum Jesum Christum.

English.png English translation

O most awesome mystery
and sacrament divine and most wondrous:
that animals should look and see the Lord a babe newborn
beside them in a manger laid.
O how truly blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy
to bear and bring forth the Lord Christ Jesus.

(Translation by Allen H Simon)

another English translation of first half:
O great mystery
and wonderful sacrament
that animals could see the birth of the Lord
lying in a manger.
and of the second half:
Whom did you see, shepherds, say, tell us
who has appeared?
We saw the child new-born and choirs of angels
praising the Lord, alleluia.
(translation by Mick Swithinbank)

another English translation:

O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament,
that the animals should see the new-born Lord lying in a manger.
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia.
Lord, I heard your voice and was afraid.
I considered your works and I trembled:
between two animals, lying in a manger.
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia.

Italian.png Italian translation

O grande mistero,
E mirabile sacramento,
Che gli animali vedessero il signore appena nato giacere nel presepio,
O beata Vergine, il cui grembo meritò di portare Gesù cristo nostro Signore,

(Translation by Daniele Ventre)

Spanish.png Spanish translation

O Gran Misterio,
y Maravilloso Sacramento,
Que los animales hayan visto
Al Señor recién nacido
yacer en un pesebre.
Alabada seas, o Virgen,
pues tu Vientre mereció llevar
a Jesús Cristo, nuestro Señor,

(Translation by Manuel Espejo (Colombia))

External links

IPASource.com (http://www.ipasource.com/Documents/Latin/main/index.htm): Link to PDF file with IPA pronunciation and word-by-word translation.