“O Wash Our Fetid Guilt”: Another Poem of Georg Fabricius

In this post, I translate the second hymn of Georg Fabricius, on Christ washing the apostles’ feet. The meter is the same as last time: Ambrosian iambic dimeters in Latin and equivalent iambic tetrameters in English.

The Latin text:

CHRISTUS LAVANS pedes Apostolorum.

Ioan. XIII. Exemplum praebui vobis, ut quemadmodum ego feci vobis, ita et vos faciatis.


Lavat magister turbidis
    Christus pedes Apostolis:
    Servit suis, in omnibus
    Volens necessitatibus.
Noli tumente pectore
    Exempla Christi spernere:
    Hic usque noster ad crucis
    Aram minister factus est.
Foedos reatus ablue
    O Christe, nosque respice,
    Ut ambulemus in tuis
    Non desides vestigiis.
Da comitate, mutua
    Ut leniamus uulnera:
    Deterreatur caritas
    Nullis ministra sordibus.

In English:

Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles

John 13: “I have given you an example, so that, just as I have done for you, so you also may do for others.”

At the seventh hour.

Though master, Christ washes the feet

     Of his apostles, at a loss;

     He gladly serves His own in all

     Their needs, all heedless of the cost. 

Do not, dear friend, with swelling chest,

     Hold Christ’s example up to scorn:

     To cleanse our souls, the King of kings

     Did not despise a crown of thorns.

O wash our fetid guilt, O Christ,

     And look upon us with Your grace,

     That we may unreluctantly

     Walk in the path Your steps have traced.

Grant that with mutual concern

     We gentle one another’s wounds,

     With love unterrified to wash

     The feet of those whom sin has ruined.


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