Friday, May 27, 2011

The Golden Sequence

One of the hymns used in morning prayer during the Easter Season is Chorus Novae Jerusalem, also known as the Golden Sequence. This hymn depicts the triumphant, risen Christ leading a victory procession of the just dead from the underworld to the heavenly homeland. It was written by Fulbert, bishop of Chartres around the year 1000 (Early Christian Hymns: Series II, ed. Daniel Joseph Donahoe). Typically, the version in the office doesn't quite match the original, but it is very close:

The original:
Chorus novæ Jerusalem
Novam meli dulcedinem
Promat colens cum sobriis
Paschale festum gaudiis.

Quo Christus invictus leo,
Dracone surgens obruto,
Dum voce viva personat,
A morte functos excitat.

Quam devorarat, improbus,
Prædam refundit tartarus,
Captivitate libera
Iesum sequntur agmina.

Triumphat ille splendide
Et dignus amplitudine,
Soli polique patriam
Unam facit rempublicam.

Ipsum canendo supplices
Regem precemur milites,
Ut in suo clarissimo
Nos ordindet palatio.

Per sæcla metæ nescia
Patri supremo gloria
Honorque sit cum filio
Et spiritu paraclito.

In the office the second line of the first verse is:

hymni novam dulcedinem

The last stanza is replaced by two boilerplate Easter stanzas.

Esto perene mentibus
paschal, Jesu, Gaudium,
et non renatos gratiae
tuis triumphis aggrega.

Jesu, tibi sit Gloria,
qui morte victa praenites,
cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
in sempiterna secula. Amen

Here are a couple of translations on cyberhymnal.

Here's a German translation.

The translation in Early Christian Hymns (cited above) is:

Sing out, O New Jerusalem,
A new and gladsome song;
Revere the feast of Paschaltide,
Its holy joy prolong.

This day the conquering Lion, Christ,
Uprising, rent the tomb,
O'erwhelmed in light the power of hell,
And roused the soul from gloom.

The prison bars are burst apart,
The ransomed band are free,
They follow their Redeemer, Christ,
From long captivity.

He triumphs in his glorious strength,
His triumphs by the Rood,
And joins the earth with heaven above
in one vast brotherhood.

And we, his warriors on the earth,
Our Leader's praise shall sing,
And strive as our reward to gain
the palace of the King.

Let praise and love and glory crown
The Father and the Son,
And Holy Ghost, the Paraclete,
While endless ages run.

Here is my rough, literal translation:

The chorus of the New Jerusalem brings forth the new sweetness of a hymn,
celebrating with solemn joy the Paschal feast

On which the rising Christ, the victorious lion, the dragon having been buried,
While he shouts aloud with a living voice, arouses the dead from death.

The underworld returns the spoils the wicked had devoured,
from captivity they follow Jesus in free procession.

Worthy, he triumphs fully and splendidly,
and makes one nation out of the land of the sun and the stars.

The king of which [nation] we kneeling soldiers implore, singing,
That he might ordain us into his most gleaming palace.

Jesus, be the eternal paschal joy to the mind,
and gather us who are renewed into your triumph of grace.

Jesus, to you be the glory, who, having conquered death, shine forth
with the Father and the kindly Spirit, world without end, amen.


Hieronymus said...
This is a choral version by Charles Villiers Stanford with words by Robert Campbell and John Mason Neale. The Notre Dame Liturgical Choir has sung it on occasion.

Robert Gotcher said...

It doesn't really sound like a triumphal march to me.