Sunday, 5 August 2012

Latin Lesson - Alma Redemptoris Mater


This week we continue with the great Marian antiphons: this time, unseasonably, with the Alma Redemptoris Mater, which is sung from the start of Advent until the feast of the Purification (or Presentation: 2 February. I, of course, prefer the traditional title as it highlights Our Lady’s humility in adhering firmly to her Jewish culture: she the all-pure undergoing ritual purification in accordance with the Law).

So learn this by heart, ready to sing around the Advent wreath in a few months... Teach it to your children and to your children’s children...

Alma Redemptoris Mater


Here are the words, with an over-literal translation underneath, followed by Blessed John Henry Newman’s rather more polished translation.

Alma redemptoris mater, 
Fruitful mother of the Redeemer.

quae pervia caeli porta manes,
thou who remains the open gate of heaven, 

et stella maris succurre cadenti
and the star of the sea, help the fallen

surgere qui curat populo.  
people who strive to rise again.

Tu quae genuisti, 
Thou who gave birth

natura mirante, 
nature wondering,

tuum sanctum Genitorem.  
to thy holy Creator.

Virgo prius, ac posterius, 
Virgin before and after

Gabrielis ab ore, 
From Gabriel’s mouth

summens illud ave, 
accepting that Ave,

peccatorum miserere.
Have mercy on sinners.

Mother of the Redeemer, who art ever of heaven
The open gate, and the star of the sea, aid a fallen people, 
Which is trying to rise again; thou who didst give birth, 
While Nature marveled how, to thy Holy Creator, 
Virgin both before and after, from Gabriel's mouth 
Accepting the All hail, be merciful towards sinners.


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