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5th century Ambrosian hymn for Lauds on Christmas day.

The 23 verses of the poem, by Coelius Sedulius (died c. 450), are an acrostichon: the first word of each verse begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. The first seven verses have been used since the early Middle Ages as a Christmas Hymn. Four more verses, with an additional doxology, are used as "Hostis Herodes impie", a hymn for the Epiphany.

lyrics

A solis ortus cardine
adusque terrae limitem
Christum canamus Principem, natum Maria Virgine.

Beatus auctor saeculi servile corpus induit,
ut carne carnem liberans
non perderet quod condidit.

Clausae parentis viscera
caelestis intrat gratia;
venter puellae baiulat secreta quae non noverat.

Domus pudici pectoris templum repente fit Dei;
intacta nesciens virum
Concepit alvo Filium.

Enixa est puerpera quem Gabriel praedixerat,
quem matris alvo gestiens
clausus Ioannes senserat.

Feno iacere pertulit, praesepe non abhorruit,
parvoque lacte pastus est
per quem nec ales esurit.

Gaudet chorus caelestium
et Angeli canunt Deum,
palam que fit pastoribus Pastor, Creator omnium.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria, qui natus es de Virgine,
cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.

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TRANSLATION
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From the rising of the sun to the ends of the earth
Let us sing of Christ the prince
Born of the Virgin Mary.

The blessed creator of the generations clothed himself as
a slave in order to liberate the flesh by becoming flesh
without destroying what he had made.

In that chaste parent's holy womb
Heaven has found favor:
the maiden's womb bears an unknowable mystery.

At home in that virtuous breast - an unexpected temple
appointed by God - a virgin unacquainted with man
conceived in her womb a Son.

Who brought forth through her labor the One
whom Gabriel foretold and whom John the Baptist,
leaping within the womb had recognized.

Suffering to lie in hay, He did not shrink from the manger
He was fed on meager milk
Who does not allow even the birds to hunger.

The heavenly chorus rejoices and angels sing God's praise
To the shepherds is made known
the Shepherd who is creator of all.

Jesus, to you be glory, who were born of a virgin
with the father and nurturing Spirit
for eternal ages.

(Translation by Donna Stewart)

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Mignarda Danby, New York

Mignarda specializes in thoughtful programming illuminating the vibrant mingling of renaissance music & poetry. Noted for awakening modern audiences to an appreciation for historical music, their work encompasses concertizing, teaching & recording, with ten critically-acclaimed CDs, a series of 12 music editions, scholarly articles, reviews and the internationally-popular blog, Unquiet Thoughts. ... more

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