01 June, 2008

Lucis creator optime

I have translated a number of Latin hymns for this weblog, but I never translated my favorite one. The sweetness of the tune is matched by the spirit of the words. I always wanted to sit down and write an English translation worthy of the words' beauty, and I thought I came close once, but I've subsequently lost that translation, so I never got around to improving it. It's probably lying in one of the piles around this place.

I'll translate it now, and pray that the poverty of my words won't obscure the richness of its spirituality.

Lucis creàtor òptime,
lucem dièrum pròferens,
primòrdiis lucis novae
mundi parans orìginem;
O blessed creator of light,
bringing forth the light of the ages,
and laying the foundation of the world
in the origins of that new light;
Qui mane iunctum vèsperi
diem vocàri praecipis;
taetrum chaos illàbitur;
audi preces cum flètibus.
You decreed that the union
of morning and evening be called day;
the chaos of darkness sinks down;
hear our tearful prayers.
Ne mens gravàta crìmine
vitae sit exsul mùnere,
dum nil perènne cògitat
seseque culpis ìlligat.
May our minds, weighed down by grievous accusations,
not wander from the reward of life,
while thinking of nothing eternal
and attaching themselves to faults.
Caelòrum pulset ìntimum,
vitàle tollat praemium;
vitèmus omne nòxium,
purgèmus omne pèssimum.
May they knock on the innermost gate of heaven,
may they take up the reward of life;
let us shun everything harmful,
let us purify ourselves of everything evil.
Praesta, Pater piìssime,
Patrìque compar Unice,
cum Spìritu Paràclito
regnans per omne saeculum. Amen.
Grant this, most tender Father,
through your Only Son, equal to you,
ruling with the Holy Spirit
through every age. Amen.


Unknown said...

Thank you for raising awareness of this beautiful hymn. There is a new translation in 7 6 7 6 meter with a new musical setting available at www.caf.org.hk/lucis_creator_optime.htm

jack perry said...

Thank you very much! I dislike the rewording of the phrase, "knocking at heaven's innermost gate"; for me it sounds a lot like the changing of "et cum spiritu tuo" to "and also with you". Otherwise it is nice. People should definitely check it out.