Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ad cenam Agni providi

Here's another 5th-century Latin Easter hymn. The Latin original is a theological-liturgical masterpiece, linking the cross and the liturgy in a most profound way.

Resonances of the Exsultet occur throughout; however, the Exsultet is quite possibly a younger text. And verse 4 is easily recognized as the Communion antiphon for the Easter Vigil and Easter Day.

My translation is below, and here are the Latin original and the translation of J.M. Neale, for comparison.

The Lamb’s high supper, long foretold!
In white salvation dress enstoled,
let all his ransomed people sing—
the Red Sea crossed—to Christ our King.

Whose thirsting Body crucified,
upon that altar where he died,
and whose bright precious ruby Blood,
have let us live our lives for God.

He kept us, on that Paschal night,
From that destroying angel’s might,
And saved us in a foreign land
From Pharoah’s dreaded cruel command.

For lo, our Paschal Lamb is Christ,
The guiltless Lamb is sacrificed,
Sincerity’s unleavened Bread,
His flesh he offered in our stead.

O worthy sacrifice and true!
All hell is torn apart by you.
Your captive people are set free:
Your life, the price of liberty.

Now Christ arises from the grave,
The victor from th’abysmal cave,
And binds the tyrant, and restores
The paradisal open doors.

Be always in our minds, we ask,
O Jesus, joy of this great Pasch;
then those reborn by grace may be
in Your parade of victory.

O Jesus Christ, be glorified,
who shining forth in triumph died
whom with the Father we adore
and Holy Spirit evermore.