Adam of Saint-Victor (c.1112-1192?)


Adam von Sankt Victor, Samtliche Sequenzen, ed. and tr. Franz Wellner, Munich, 1955.

IV Sequence on the birth of the Lord


Splendor Patris et figura
Se conformans homini,
Potestate non natura,
[Partum dedit virgini.


The brightness and figure of the father,
making itself into a man
by power not nature
allowed a virgin to give birth.

Adam vetus
tandem laetus:
Novum promat canticum
Fugitivus
et captivus:
Prodeat in publicum.

Let old Adam,
finally happy,
offer a new song;
let the fugitive
and prisoner
come forth openly.


 

Eva luctum: vitae fructum
[10] Virgo gaudens edidit.
Nec sigillum propter illum
Castitatis perdidit.

The joyful virgin
brings forth
Eve’s pain,
the fruit of life,
and does not lose
the seal of chastity
because of it.


Si crystallus sit humecta
Atque soli sit objecta:
[15] Scintillat igniculum
Nec crystallus rumpitur:
Nec in partu solvitur
Pudoris signaculum.

If crystal is made moist
and placed in the sun,
a small flame sparkles;
the crystal is not broken,
nor is the seal of modesty
broken by the act of birth.



[Col. 1432B] Super tali genitura
[20] Stupet usus et natura:
Deficitque ratio.
Res est ineffabilis:
Tam pia tam humilis
Christi generatio.

Custom and nature are astonished
by such a birth,
and reason fails;
the matter is ineffable,
such a pious, humble
birth of Christ.


[25] Frondem, florem, nucem, sicca
Virga profert; et pudica
Virgo Dei Filium.
Fert coelestem vellus rorem:
Creatura Creatorem;
[30] Creaturae pretium.


The dry rod produces leaf, flower, nut,
and the modest virgin brings forth
the son of god;
the fleece bears divine dew,
the creature the creator,
the reward for the creature.


Frondis, floris, nucis, roris,
Pietati Salvatoris
Congruunt mysteria.
Frons est Christus protegendo.
[35] Flos dulcore; nux pascendo.
Ros coelesti gratia.

 

The mysteries of leaf, flower, nut, dew
correspond to the holiness of the savior;
Christ is the leaf for protection,
the flower for sweetness, the nut for nourishment,
dew for divine grace.


Cur quod virgo pepererit,
Est Judaeis scandalum.
Cum virgo produxerit
[40] Sicca sic amygdalum

Why was the virgin birth
a stumbling block for the Jews?
Since the dry rod had produced
an almond.


Contemplemur adhuc nucem,
Nam prolata nux in lucem;
Lucis est mysterium.
Trinam gerens unionem;
[45] Tria confert: unctionem,
Lumen et aedulium.

Let us consider the nut;
for the nut brought forth into the light
is the mystery of light;
bearing triple union
confers three things: ointment,
light and sustenance.


Nux est Christus, cortex nucis
Circa carnem poena crucis.
Testa, corpus ossium.
[50] Carne tecta deitas,
Et Christi suavitas,
Signatur per nucleum.

The nut is Christ; the husk of the nut
is the crucifixion of his flesh,
the shell is the bony body;
deity covered with flesh
and the gentleness of Christ
is signified by the kernel.


Lux est caecis, et unguentum,
Christus aegris, et fomentum
[55] Piis animalibus.
O quam dulce sacramentum
Fenum carnis in frumentum
Convertit fidelibus.

Christ is the light and ointment for the blind
and nourishment for sick, pious souls.
O how the sweet sacrament
changes the hay of the flesh into
wheat for the faithful.


Quos sub umbra sacramenti
[60] Jesu pascis in praesenti,
Tuo vultu satia.
Splendor Patri coaeterne,
Nos hinc transfer ad paternae
[Col. 1434B] Claritatis gaudia. Amen.

Those whom you now feed, Jesus,
in the shadow of the sacrament,
satisfy them with the sight of your face;
brilliance of the coeternal father,
bring us from here to the joys
of the paternal radiance.

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