16 November, 2005

Scientiárum Dómino

This is not going to be one of my better hymn translations; my Latin is gets rusty with disuse, and there aren't any other English translations of this one that I can find. Some notes follow the hymn.

Scientiárum Dómino,
sit tibi iubilátio
qui nostra vides íntima
tuáque foves grátia.
Lord of all knowledge,
jubilation be to you
who sees our innermost being
and fosters us by your grace.
Qui bonum, pastor óptime,
dum servas, quæris pérditum,
in páscuis ubérrimis
nos iunge piis grégibus.
Good shepherd, you seek the lost sheep
while keeping the good one safe;
join us to your pious flock
in fertile pastures.
Ne terror iræ iúdicis
nos hædis iungat réprobis,
sed simus temet iúdice
oves ætérnæ páscuæ.
May dread of the judge's wrath
not join us with the condemned goats,
but may you, our judge, join us
to the sheep of the eternal pasture.
Tibi, Redémptor, glória,
honor, virtus, victória,
regnánti super ómnia
per sæculórum sæcula. Amen.
Glory, honor, excellence, victory
to you, our Redeemer,
ruling over all things
through ages of ages. Amen.
to you, our Redeemer,

I sang this hymn at prayer today, and I found the opening words — scientiárum Domino, to the Lord of all sciences — interesting enough that I thought, I should translate this for my weblog. Literally, scientia means knowledge, as opposed to wisdom (sapientia). The actual Latin word used is scientiarum, which is genitive plural: "of the knowledges." How on earth does one translate that?!? I thought, "of all knowledge," or "of all sciences." I opted for "knowledge" in the actual hymn translation, but "of all sciences" is not inaccurate, so long as "sciences" is properly understood.

The thoughts that follow these opening words are rather less captivating for me; okay, it's a mixed meditation on the good shepherd and the separation of the sheep and the goats at the final judgment. Very medieval! Thanks to the monks at Solesmes who assembled the Liber Hymnarius.

Finally, note that many people translate the phrase "sæcula sæculórum" as "for ever and ever," but that's rather overused in English. Latin hymns have all sorts of ways to express eternity; if you page through my past translations, you'll see quite a few. To keep that spice, I opted for the word-for-word translation.

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