“Domained in Mary’s Modesty”: A Fifth-Century Hymn (2)

Last week I translated the first three stanzas of Sedulius’s abecedarian hymn A solis ortus cardine (A, B, C). For this week, I’ve done the next three (D, E, F). I’ve included the first three as well, and will plan to continue that practice in the future, adding the new stanzas to what I have done previously. But that problem is for later. I hope you’re edified.

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.

Clausae puellae viscera

caelestis intrat gratia;

venter puellae baiulat

secreta quae non noverat.

Domus pudici pectoris

templum repente fit Dei;

intacta nesciens virum

verbo creavit filium.

Enixa est puerpera,

quem Gabrihel praedixerat,

quem matris alvo gestiens

clausus Iohannes senserat.

Faeno iacere pertulit,

praesepe non abhorruit,

parvoque lacte pastus est,

per quem nec ales esurit.

Afar from rising of the sun

Unto the limit of the earth,

The Christ, our prince, now let us sing–

His holy Mary-virgined birth.

Behold: the author of the world,

Though blessed, is clothed in slave’s attire,

In order flesh by flesh to free

And save his creatures from the mire.

Concealed within the maiden’s womb,

The grace of heaven enters in;

Her belly does not know it bears

The secret saving us from sin.

Domained in Mary’s modesty,

God makes a temple of her breast.

How strange! Untouched, the girl brought forth

Her Son, the Word-created guest.

Ere long her labor bore the King

Whom Gabriel had once foretold,

Whom John’s prenatal preaching had

Before proclaimed with leaping bold.

For, sleeping, he did not despise

To take the prickling straw as bed;

A mother’s milk sustained the babe

By whom the birds of heav’n are fed.

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