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A sixth-century Latin hymn generally credited to the Christian poet St Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers. The version heard here is sung during the Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday.

lyrics

Crux fidelis,
inter omnes
arbor una nobilis;
nulla silva talem profert,
fronde, flore, germine.
Dulce lignum, dulces clavos,
dulce pondus sustinet.

Pange, lingua, gloriosi
Lauream certaminis,
et super Crucis trophaeo
dic triumphum nobilem,
qualiter Redemptor orbis
immolatus vicerit. Crux fidelis...

De parentis protoplasti
fraude Factor condolens,
quando pomi noxialis
in necem morsu ruit,
ipse lignum tunc notavit,
damna ligni ut solveret. Dulce lignum...

Hoc opus nostrae salutis
ordo depoposcerat,
multiformis proditoris
ars ut artem falleret,
et medelam ferret inde,
hostis unde laeserat. Crux fidelis...

Quando venit ergo sacri
plenitudo temporis,
missus est ab arce Patris
natus, orbis, Conditor,
atque ventre virginali
carne amictus prodiit. Dulce lignum...

Vagit infans inter arcta
conditus praesepia:
membra pannis involuta
Virgo Mater alligat:
et Dei manus pedesque
stricta cingit fascia. Crux fidelis...

Lustra sex qui iam peregit
tempus implens corporis,
sonte Libera Redemptor
passioni deditus,
Agnus in crucis levatur
immolandus stipite. Dulce lignum...

Felle potus ecce languit
spina, clavi, lancea:
mite corpus perforarunt,
unda manant et cruor
terra, pontus, astra, mundus,
quo lavantur flumine! Crux fidelis...

Flecte ramos, arbor alta,
tensa laxa viscera,
et rigor lentescat ille,
quem dedit nativitas,
et superni membra Regis
tende miti stipite. Dulce lignum...

Sola digna tu fuisti
ferre mundi Victimam,
atque portum praeparare
arca mundo naufrago,
quam sacer cruor perunxit,
fusus Agni corpore. Crux fidelis...

Sempiterna sit beatae
Trinitati gloria:
Aequa Patri, Filioque
Par decus Paraclito.
Unius Trinique nomen
Laudet universitas. Amen. Dulce lignum...


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TRANSLATION
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Faithful Cross!
above all other,
one and only noble Tree!
No other wood shows itself so excellent
None in leaf, in flower, in shoot.
Sweetest wood and sweetest spike
You bear the sweetest burden.

Speak, my tongue, the Savior's glory;
Triumphant in the struggle
And triumphant over the cross
Appointed the noble victor
The redeemer of the world
Conquers through sacrifice.

With regard to our forebears
Suffering with the perpetrators of the deceit
because of the crime of the fruit tree
In order to thwart death, anguish, and ruin,
He himself then signified by [another] tree
Condemned the wood of the cross to absolve us.

This work is our salvation,
Demanding a new order.
The traitor takes many forms
Beguiling with his wiles and ways.
Thence bring healing
To the enemy from whence comes the wound.

When, therefore the sacred vessel came forth
In the fullness of time
Cast out from the protection of the Father
born to restore the world
Even from a virgin's womb
Appearing dressed in flesh.

The wail of an infant tightly wrapped
and put in a manger:
The Virgin Mother has
wrapped his limbs in cloth
and the hand of God
has bound his feet.

Five years times six already completed,
the time passed in mortal flesh
Absolved of guilt, the redeemer
consigned himself to suffering
The Lamb raised on a cross
Sacrificed on a stake.

Behold, faint, he drinks the gall
Thorns, spikes, spears
pierce his gentle flesh:
the blood gushes and flows
Earth, sea, stars - the whole universe
Is cleansed by that stream

Lofty tree, bend your branches,
Loose the tension on his flesh
And relax the severity of the stakes
on the distended, heavenly limbs
of the King who has
meekly surrendered himself by His birth.

You, who were alone found worthy
to bear Mankind's sacrificial victim
Also now prepare a place of refuge
An ark for the shipwrecked world
Anointed with sacred blood
shed from the body of the Lamb.

May there be everlasting blessings
to the glorious Trinity:
equal honor to the Father, and to the Son
and to the Holy Ghost
One three-fold name
Universally lauded. Amen.

(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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