Saturday 31 December 2011

Seven Swans-a-Swimming

I think it's illegal to eat swans over here, except with special permission of the Queen or someone important. I'm told the ones on Wanstead Lake were swimming quite happily today; I didn't get there to have a look, myself.

Image from

Just a little something to bring in the New Year. The Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols says "This may have been written for the rumbustious festival of the subdeacons/lay brothers on New Year's Day." Of course I would never encourage any early rumbustiousness*.

Verbum Patris Umanatur by artsyhonker

Verbum Patris umanatur, O! O!
Dum puella salutatur, O! O!
Salutata fecundatur viri nescia.
He! he! hei! nova gaudia!

Novus modus geniture, O! O!
Sed excedens ius nature, O! O!
Dum unitur creature Creans omnia.
He! he! hei! nova gaudia!

Audi partum praeter morem, O! O!
Virgo parit Salvatorem, O! O!
Creatura Creatorem, Patrem filia.
He! he! hei! nova gaudia!

In parente Salvatoris, O! O!
Non est parens nostri moris, O! O!
Virgo parit, nec pudoris marcent lilia.
He! he! hei! nova gaudia!

Homo Deus nobis datur, O! O!
Datus nobis demonstratur, O! O!
Dum pax terris nuntiatur celis gloria.
He! he! hei! nova gaudia!

The translation is, roughly:

The word of the Father is made man, maiden, conception, mumble, hurrah, new joy!

This is a new manner of birth, exceeding the power of nature, mumble Creator united with everything mumble, hurrah, new joy!

Hear of a birth mumble, a Virgin has borne the Saviour, mumble creature/Creator, daughter of the Father, hurrah, new joy!

Something about the parent of the Saviour being different from what we know as parenting, Virgin, lilies, hurrah, new joy!

God made man is given to us; this is demonstrated, peace on earth mumble glory in the heavens, hurrah, new joy!

No, I have never studied Latin. And the translation in the Shorter New Oxford Book of Carols is, as far as I can tell, not in the public domain.

*Any rumbustiousness I get up to tonight will have to be comparatively early, as tomorrow is Sunday and that means I will be at church making rather a lot of noise at everyone else's hangover.

1 comment:

DaviGoss said...

There is another version here with an English translation below. - & change of time sig in vs 3.