I have received the following note from Ragnar Håkanson. I forward his
note, and my reply, as it may be of interest to list-members, who may in
turn may be able to add to my scanty knowledge. May I suggest that you
reply to the list, sending a copy to the aforsaid Ragnar, whose address is
below and who, I assume, is not a member of the list. Perhaps he'd like to
Date: Sun, 06 Sep 1998 17:27:51 +0200
From: "Ragnar Håkanson" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: [log in to unmask]
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Crux fidelis
I just find your notes about Crux fidelis. Can you tell me something
about the story of that song.
I also would be very grateful if you could tell me something about
Puer natus in Bethlehem
Veni redemptor genitum
Thank you very much
church of Sweden
The Crux Fidelis was written by Venantius Fortunatus, 530-610 (approx.).
Born in Treviso, near Venice, he was educated at Ravenna. He eventually
settled in Poitiers, where he became acquainted with the former Queen
Radegunde, now a nun. Radegunde had acquired a fragment of the True Cross,
and Venantius' two hymns, "Pange Lingua" (Crux Fidelis) and "Vexilla Regis
Prodeunt", were written in honour of this relic. Both found their way into
the services of the Catholic Church, the "Vexilla" as an office hymn during
Passiontide, and the "Crux Fidelis" as part of the Good Friday liturgy. The
notes which you have discovered - presumably forwarded to you from the
medieval-religion list - will give you a fuller commentary.
"Veni redemptor gentium" was written by St Ambrose for Christmas. I do not
have the Latin text to hand, but I have a translation by J.M. Neale, which
Come, thou redeemer of the earth,
And manifest thy virgin-birth:
Let every age adoring fall;
Such birth befits the God of all.
Perhaps some member of the medieval-studies list would be kind enough to
supply the Latin.
The "Victimae paschali" is the Sequence for Easter Day, written by Wipo (d.
1050), a hymn-writer of Burgundy or Swabia. A sequence is a hymn inserted
into the Alleluia of the Mass. The text is as follows:
Victimae paschali laudes
Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens patri
Mors et vita duello
dux vitae mortuus
regnat vivus. (10)
Dic nobis Maria
'quid vidisti in via?'
'sepulchrum Christi viventis
et gloriam vidi resurgentis:
Angelicos testes (15)
sudarium et vestes.
surrexit Christus spes mea,
praecedet suos in Galilaea.'
Credendum est magis soli
Mariae veraci (20)
quam Iudaeorum turbae fallaci.
Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere;
tu nobis, victor rex, miserere!
There are several English translations, of which this is one:
Christians, to the Paschal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeemeth:
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconcileth sinners to the Father;
Death and life have contended
In that combat stupendous:
The Prince of Life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak Mary, declaring
What thou sawest wayfaring:
'The Tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesu's Resurrection:
Bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yea, Christ my hope is arisen:
To Galilee he goes before you.'
Happy they who hear the witness, Mary's word believing
Above the tales of Jewry deceiving.
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
It may be helpful to append a few explanatory notes:
Line 1: The idea of Christ as the paschal, or passover, sacrifice, derives
particularly from 1 Corinthians 5:7, "Christ, our paschal lamb, has been
sacrificed". There are numerous other biblical references to Christ as a
sacrificial lamb, e.g. John 1:36, "Behold the Lamb of God" and Revelation
5:6, "I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain" - cf. also Rev.
5:12-13, 6:16, 7:9-17, 8:1, 14:1-5, 21:9, 21:22-23, 22:1-3.
Line 11: The reference is to Mary Magdalene, cf. John 20, passim.
Lines 15-16: Cf Mary Magdalene's vision in John 20:12, "She saw two angels
in white." The "sudarium et vestes" were actually seen, not by Mary
Magdalene, but by Peter and the "Beloved Disciple". Cf John 20:4-7, "They
both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first;
and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not
go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he
saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not
lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself."
Line 18: The reference to Galilee is not from John's Gospel but from
Matthew's: cf Matthew 28:7, "Go quickly and tell his disciples that he has
risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee."
Line 21: The reference is to Matthew 28:11-15.
I am afraid I am not familiar with the hymn, "Puer natus in Bethlehem".
Perhaps members of the medieval-religion list can come to our aid.