Quid est, quod artum circulum

sol iam recurrens deserit?

Christusne terris nascitur,

qui lucis auget tramitem?


  5Heu quam fugacem gratiam

festina volvebat dies,

quam pene subductam facem

sensim recisa extinxerat!


Caelum nitescat laetius,

  10gratetur et gaudens humus,

scandit gradatim denuo

iubar priores lineas.


Emerge dulcis pusio,

quem mater edit castitas,

  15parens et expers coniugis,

mediator et duplex genus.


Ex ore quamlibet Patris

sis ortus et verbo editus,

tamen paterno in pectore

  20sophia callebas prius.


Quae prompta caelum condidit,

caelum diemque et cetera,

virtute verbi effecta sunt

haec cuncta: nam verbum Deus.


  25Sed ordinatis seculis,

rerumque digesto statu

fundator ipse et artifex

permansit in Patris sinu,


donec rotata annalium

  30transvolverentur milia,

atque ipse peccantem diu

dignatus orbera viseret.


Nam caeca vis mortalium

venerans inanes nenias

  35vel aera vel saxa algida,

vel ligna credebat Deum.


Haec dum sequuntur, perfidi

praedonis in ius venerant,

et mancipatam fumido

  40vitam barathro inmerserant:


Stragem sed istam non tulit

Christus cadentum gentium

inpune ne forsan sui

Patris periret fabrica.


  45Mortale corpus induit,

ut excitato corpore

mortis catenam frangeret

hominemque portaret Patri.


Hic ille natalis dies,

  50quo te creator arduus

spiravit et limo indidit

sermone carnem glutinans.


Sentisne, virgo nobilis,

matura per fastidia

  55pudoris intactum decus

honore partus crescere?


O quanta rerum gaudia

alvus pudica continet,

ex qua novellum seculum

  60procedit et lux aurea!


Vagitus ille exordium

vernantis orbis prodidit,

nam tunc renatus sordidum

mundus veternum depulit.


  65Sparsisse tellurem reor

rus omne densis floribus,

ipsasque arenas syrtium

fragrasse nardo et nectare.


Te cuncta nascentem puer

  70sensere dura et barbara,

victusque saxorum rigor

obduxit herbam cotibus.


Iam mella de scopulis fluunt,

iam stillat ilex arido

  75sudans amomum stipite,

iam sunt myricis balsama.


O sancta praesepis tui,

aeterne rex, cunabula,

populisque per seclum sacra

  80mutis et ipsis credita.


Adorat haec brutum pecus

indocta turba scilicet,

adorat excors natio,

vis cuius in pastu sita est.


  85Sed cum fideli spiritu

concurrat ad praesepia

pagana gens et quadrupes,

sapiatque quod brutum fuit:


Negat patrum prosapia

  90perosa praesentem Deum:

credas venenis ebriam

furiisve lymphatam rapi.


Quid prona per scelus ruis?

agnosce, si quidquam tibi

  95mentis resedit integrae,

ducem tuorum principum.


Hunc, quem latebra et obstetrix,

et virgo feta, et cunulae

et inbecilla infantia

  100regem dederunt gentibus,


peccator intueberis

celsum coruscis nubibus,

deiectus ipse et inritus

plangens reatum fletibus:


  105Cum vasta signum bucina

terris cremandis miserit,

et scissus axis cardinem

mundi ruentis solverit:


Insignis ipse et praeminens

  110meritis rependet congrua,

his lucis usum perpetis,

illis gehennam et tartarum.


Iudaea tunc fulmen crucis

experta, qui sit, senties,

  115quem te furoris praesule

mors hausit et mox reddidit.


Why doth the sun re-orient take

A wider range, his limits break?

Lo! Christ is born, and o'er earth's night

Shineth from more to more the light!


Too swiftly did the radiant day

Her brief course run and pass away:

She scarce her kindly torch had fired

Ere slowly fading it expired.


Now let the sky more brightly beam,

The earth take up the joyous theme:

The orb a broadening pathway gains

And with its erstwhile splendour reigns.


Sweet babe, of chastity the flower,

A virgin's blest mysterious dower!

Rise in Thy twofold nature's might:

Rise, God and man to reunite!


Though by the Father's will above

Thou wert begot, the Son of Love,

Yet in His bosom Thou didst dwell,

Of Wisdom the eternal Well;


Wisdom, whereby the heavens were made

And light's foundations first were laid:

Creative Word! all flows from Thee!

The Word is God eternally.


For though with process of the suns

The ordered whole harmonious runs,

Still the Artificer Divine

Leaves not the Father's inmost shrine.


The rolling wheels of Time had passed

O'er their millennial journey vast,

Before in judgment clad He came

Unto the world long steeped in shame.


The purblind souls of mortals crass

Had trusted gods of stone and brass,

To things of nought their worship paid

And senseless blocks of wood obeyed.


And thus employed, they fell below

The sway of man's perfidious foe:

Plunged in the smoky sheer abyss

They sank bereft of their true bliss.


But that sore plight of ruined man

Christ's pity could not lightly scan:

Nor let God's building nobly wrought

Ingloriously be brought to nought.


He wrapped Him in our fleshly guise,

That from the tomb He might arise,

And man released from death's grim snare

Home to His Father's bosom bear.


This is the day of Thy dear birth,

The bridal of the heaven and earth,

When the Creator breathed on Thee

The breath of pure humanity.


Ah! glorious Maid, dost thou not guess

What guerdon thy chaste soul shall bless,

How by thy ripening pangs is bought

An honour greater than all thought?


O what a load of joy untold

Thy womb inviolate doth hold!

Of thee a golden age is born,

The brightness of the earth's new morn!


Hearken! doth not the infant's wail

The universal springtide hail?

For now the world re-born lays by

Its gloomy, frost-bound apathy.


Methinks in all her rustic bowers

The earth is spread with clustering flowers:

Odours of nard and nectar sweet

E'en o'er the sands of Syrtes fleet.


All places rough and deserts wild

Have felt from far Thy coming, Child:

Rocks to Thy gentle empire bow

And verdure clothes the mountain brow.


Sweet honey from the boulder leaps:

The sere and leafless oak-bough weeps

A strange rich attar: tamarisks too

Of balsam pure distil the dew.


Blessèd for ever, cradle dear,

The lowly stall, the cavern drear!

Men to this shrine, Eternal King,

With dumb brutes adoration bring.


The ox and ass in homage low

Obedient to their Maker bow:

Bows too the unlearn'd heartless crowd

Whose minds the sensual feast doth cloud.


Though, by the faithful Spirit impelled,

Shepherds and brutes, unreasoning held,

Yea, folk that did in darkness dwell

Discern their God in His poor cell:


Yet children of the sacred race

Blindly abhor the Incarnate grace:

By philtres you might deem them lulled

Or by some bacchic phrenzy dulled.


Why headlong thus to ruin stride?

If aught of soundness in you bide,

Behold in Him the Lord divine

Of all your patriarchal line.


Mark you the dim-lit cave, the Maid,

The humble nurse, the cradle laid,

The helpless infancy forlorn:

Yet thus the Gentiles' King was born!


Ah sinner, thou shalt one day see

This Child in dreadful majesty,

See Him in glorious clouds descend,

While thou thy guilty heart shalt rend.


Vain all thy tears, when loud shall sound

The trump, when flames shall scorch the ground,

When from its hinge the cloven world

Is loosed, in horrid tumult hurled.


Then throned on high, the Judge of all

Shall mortals to their reckoning call:

To these shall grant the prize of light,

To those Gehenna's gloomy night.


Then, Israel, shalt thou learn at length

The Cross hath, as the lightning, strength:

Doomed by thy wrath, He now is Lord,

Whom Death once grasped but soon restored.

Roman Empire / Latin Authors / Praefatio / Preface / I. Hymnus ad Galli Cantum / I. Hymn at Cock-Crow / II. Hymnus Matutinus / II. Morning Hymn / III. Hymnus ante Cibum / III. Hymn before Meat / IV. Hymnus post Cibum / IV. Hymn after Meat / V. Hymnus ad Incensum Lucernae / V. Hymn for the Lighting of the Lamps / VI. Hymnus ante Somnum / VI. Hymn before Sleep / VII. Hymnus Ieiunantium / VII. Hymn for Those Who Fast / VIII. Hymnus post Ieiunium / VIII. Hymn after Fasting / IX. Hymnus Omnis Horae / IX. Hymn for All Hours / X. Hymnus ad Exequias Defuncti / X. Hymn for the Burial of the Dead / XI. Hymnus Kalendas Ianuarias / XI. Hymn for Christmas-Day / XII. Hymnus Epiphaniae / XII. Hymn for the Epiphany / Epilogus / Epilogue /