Monday, April 14, 2008

Victimae paschali laudes

Victimae paschali laudes is the sequence hymn for Easter Day, one of only four   medieval Sequences approved for liturgical use at the Council of Trent (1545-63) - and a glorious hymn it is!   Here's a video of the song in Latin, apparently by "Cantori Gregoriani, Fulvio Rampi."  The images comes from the Basilica of San Marco, Venice:

Here are the Latin words and what I think is a wonderful English translation:

Victimae paschali laudes
immolent Christiani.

Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
Reconciliavit peccatores.

Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando,
Dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus.

Dic nobis Maria, quid vidisti in via?
Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
Et gloriam vidi resurgentis:

Angelicos testes, sudarium et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea:
Praecedet vos in Galilaeam.

Credendum est magis soli
Mariae veraci
Quam Judaeorum
Turbae fallaci.

Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
Tu nobis, victor Rex, miserere.
Amen. Alleluia.

Christians, to the Paschal victim
offer your thankful praises!

A lamb the sheep redeemeth:
Christ, who only is sinless,
reconcileth sinners to the Father.

Death and life have contended
in that combat stupendous:
the Prince of life, who died,
reigns immortal.

Speak, Mary, declaring
what thou sawest, wayfaring:

"The tomb of Christ, who is living,
the glory of Jesus' resurrection;

"Bright angels attesting,
the shroud and napkin resting.

"Yea, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he will go before you."

Christ indeed from death is risen,
our new life obtaining;
have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!

"Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: the Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal." What a terrific (or is it terrifying?) image! This is the translation used in the 1982 Hymnal (it's #183), which gives attribution thusly:
Words: Wigbert [Wipo of Burgundy] (d. 1050?); tr. The Antiphoner and Grail, 1880, alt.
Music: Victimae Paschai laudes, plainsong, Mode I; melody att. Wigbert [Wipo of Burgundy] (d. 1050?)

And how about that verse about Mary and her "wayfaring"? I just love this piece!

We sang the hymn congregationally as the sequence hymn yesterday at St. Mary the Virgin; that is, we sang it as the procession was moving into the nave for the reading of the Gospel. It was a gorgeous moment. Perhaps they use it there on every Sunday in Easter, which is a great idea.

Here's a plain audio (.ogg) file of another lovely version, found on this Wikipedia page.   ( You can download an .ogg player in order to hear it, if your browser requires it.)

Here is the midi version at Oremus Hymnal, along with the words as given above. And here again is the mp3 of the hymn as sung by the Benedictine monks of Brazil.

Here's the New Advent page about this hymn.

Here's what TPL says about Victimae Paschali (and you can see the words at that link also):
Victimae Paschali is the Sequence for Easter Sunday. At one time there were many sequences in use, but the Council of Trent abolished all but a few. Today only four are used: Victimae Paschali (Easter), Veni, Sancte Spiritus (Pentecost), Lauda Sion (Corpus Christi), and Stabat Mater (Our Lady of Sorrows), of which the first two are obligatory and the later two are optional. Victimae Paschali is usually attributed to Wipo of Burgundy (1039), chaplain of the German Emperor Conrad II in the 11th century. It has also been attributed to Notker Balbulus (10th century) and Adam of St. Victor (13th century).

I cannot post a copy of the chant score that was in the service leaflet from yesterday, either, as the 1982 Hymnal is still under copyright; it's too bad, because it's in English. But here's the square note version from the Brazilians, in Latin:

More about Sequence Hymns later; it's a really fascinating topic. Meanwhile, here's a quite interesting piece of anonymous early 15th century art - a "Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene" - found at this page:


Anonymous said...


I'm looking for the score for an English language version of the Nunc Dimittis antiphone for Eastertide (Salva nos, Domine vigilantes..), like the one on this page Do you know if such a thing exists and where I might find it? Your blog seems to come closest of the things I've found online!

Many thanks,


bls said...

Hi Chris:

Compline is a new addition to the US Book of Common Prayer, so your request may be difficult to fulfill. (Any BCP previous to the modern one, IOW, would not contain the antiphon - and in the monastic offices, it would be in Latin.)

However, the tune used today for this antiphon is not complex - and you can listen to it on this CD via (This is a recording of the service of Compline put out by the (Episcopal) Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, MA.)

Meantime, I'll hunt around to see if I have it someplace; I don't think I do, but you never know. As far as I know, BTW, the antiphon is always the same and does not change in Easter - but I could be wrong about that.

bls said...

(The English antiphon, BTW, goes like this:

"Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping;
That awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace."

See this page in the BCP online (where it does add 3 "Alleluias," BTW).

bls said...

You can also listen to complete services of Compline here; maybe you'll get an idea of how to write up and point the antiphon yourself. The April 6 service, at least, uses the correct tune.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...