Venantius_Fortunatus

Sing, my tongue, of warfare ended
Of the Victor’s laurelled crown;
Let the Cross, his trophy splendid,
Be the theme of high renown;
How a broken world was mended:
Life restored by life laid down.

God for man’s rebellion grieving,
When the world his hands had made
Perished by a fruit’s deceiving,
In that hour his counsel laid,
By a tree the race reprieving
Whom a tree long since betrayed.

Man’s eternal health contriving
Wrought he with unfailing art –
Wisdom ’gainst the wisdom striving
Of the tempter’s guileful heart;
From that source the balm deriving
Whence the foe had steeped his dart.

Therefore, when that hallowed hour
Time to its fulfillment brought,
From his Father’s heavenly tower
Came he, whom the worlds had wrought,
From his Mother’s secret bower,
Clothed in flesh, and welcome sought.

See a helpless Infant crying,
Whom a manger doth enfold;
See his Virgin Mother tying
Rags about him in the cold;
Bound both hand and feet, and lying
Mid the beasts, your God behold!

Now, his years of life perfected,
Our atonement’s price to be,
By the doom long since elected,
Bound and nailed to set us free,
Christ, our Victim, hangs rejected
On the Cross of Calvary.

Gall he drinks; his strength subduing,
Reed and thorn and nail and spear
Plot his gentle frame’s undoing;
Blood and water thence appear,
With their cleansing tide renewing
Earth and sea and starry sphere.

Hail, true Cross, of beauty rarest,
King of all the forest trees;
Leaf and flower and fruit thou barest,
Medicine for a world’s disease;
Fairest wood and fairest iron –
Yet more fair, Who hung on thee!

Bend thy branches down to meet him,
Bend that stubborn heart of thine;
Let thy native force, to greet him,
All its ruggedness resign;
Gently let thy wood entreat him,
Royal sufferer, and divine.

Victim of our race, he deignèd
On thy arms to lay his head;
Thou the ark, whose refuge gainèd,
Sinful man no more may dread;
Ark, whose planks are deeply stainèd
With the Blood the Lamb has shed.

Honor, glory, might and merit
To the eternal Trinity,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Throned in heaven co-equally;
All that doth the world inherit,
Praise one God in Persons Three.

Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (c.530–c.600/609) Pange lingua gloriosi proelium certaminis  trans. Mons. Ronald Knox.

 

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