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On the Nativity of Christ. A poem by William Dunbar. Words + Youtube

June 7, 2009

On the Nativity of Christ. A poem by William Dunbar

William Dunbar (c 1460 – c 1520) was a Franciscan friar and also a “Makar”  ie a Poet.  He was court poet to James IV of Scotland. The video features Alan and Camilla Mars performing a selection of verses from this poem.  The poem was performed as a part of the Brighton Early Music Consorts Christmas concert 2008. At the concert itself the verses were interspersed with songs and stories -which have been edited out for this video.  There is a full text under the video and also a translation of the verses performed.

On the Nativity of Christ

Rorate, celi, desuper!
Hevins distill your balmy schouris,
For now is rissin the brycht day ster
Fro the ros Mary, flour of flouris.
The cleir sone quhome no clud devouris,
Surminting Phebus in the est
Is cumin of His hevinly touris;
Et nobis puer natus est.

Archangellis, angellis, and dompnationis,
Tronis, potestatis, and marteiris seir,
And all ye hevinly operationis,
Ster, planeit, firmament, and speir,
Fyre, erd, air, and watter cleir,
To Him gife loving, most and lest,
That come into so meik maneir;
Et nobis puer natus est.

Synnaris be glaid and pennance do,
And thank your Makar hairtfully,
For He that ye mycht nocht cum to,
To yow is cumin full humly,
Your saulis with His blud to by,
And lous yow of the feindis arrest,
And only of His awin mercy;
Pro nobis puer natus est.

All clergy do to him inclyne,
And bow unto that barne benyng,
And do your observance devyne
To Him that is of kingis King;
Ensence His altar, reid and sing
In haly kirk, with mynd degest,
Him honouring attour all thing,
Qui nobis puer natus est. 

Celestiall fowlis in the are,
Sing with your nottis upoun hicht;
In firthis and in forrestis fair
Be myrthfull now at all your mycht,
For passit is your dully nycht.
Aurora hes the cluddis perst,
The son is rissin with glaidsum lycht,
Et nobis puer natus est.

Now spring up, flouris, fra the rute,
Revert yow upwart naturaly,
In honour of the blissit frute
That rais up fro the rose Mary.
Lay out your levis lustely,
Fro deid tak lyfe now at the lest
In wirschip of that Prince wirthy,
Qui nobis puer natus est.

Syng, hevin imperiall, most of hicht,
Regions of air mak armony;
All fische in flud and foull of flicht
Be myrthfull and mak melody.
All Gloria in excelsis cry –
Hevin, erd, se, man, bird, and best –
He that is crownit abone the sky
Pro nobis puer natus est.

On the Nativity of Christ – a translation

Rorate, celi, desuper!
Heavens distill your balmy showers,
For now is risen the bright day star
From the rose Mary, flower of flowers.
The clear Son/sun whom no cloud devours,
Surmounting Phebus in the east
Is coming of His heavenly towers;
Et nobis puer natus est.

Archangels, angels, and dominations,
Thrones, powers, and martyrs many,
And all your heavenly operations,
Star, planet, firmament, and sphere,
Fire, earth, air, and water clear,
To Him give loving, most and least,
That come into so meek manner;
Et nobis puer natus est.

Sinners be glad and pennance do,
And thank your Maker heartfully,
For He that ye might not come to,
To you is coming full humbly,
Your souls with His blood to buy,
And lose you of the feinds arrest,
And only of His own mercy;
Pro nobis puer natus est.

All clergy do to him incline,
And bow unto that bairn bening,
And do your observance divine
To Him that is of kings King;
Ensence His altar, read and sing
In holy church, with sober mind,
Him honouring above all thing,
Qui nobis puer natus est.

Celestiall fowls(birds) in the air,
Sing with your notes upon high;
In firths and in forests fair
Be mirthful now at all your might,
For passed is your dull night.
Aurora has the clouds pierced,
The son is risen with gladsome light,
Et nobis puer natus est.

Now spring up, flowers, from the root,
Revert you upward naturally,
In honour of the blessed fruit
That rose up from the rose Mary.
Lay out your leaves lustily,
From death take life now at the least
In worship of that Prince worthy,
Qui nobis puer natus est.

Sing, heavin imperial, most of high,
Regions of air make harmony;
All fish in flood and fowl of flight
Be mirthful and make melody.
All Gloria in excelsis cry –
Heavin, earth, sea, man, bird, and beast –
He that is crowned above the sky
Pro nobis puer natus est.

 

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