Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Salve Caput Cruentatem

The poem Salve Caput Cruentatum is the original Latin version from which we derive the famous hymn to the Sacred Head, 'O Sacred Head sore wounded' and 'O Sacred Head ill used', depending on which translation we use!  The main text is the stanza Ad Faciem from the Medieval hymn Salve mundi salutare – also known as the Rhythmica oratio –, a poem ascribed to Bernard of Clairvaux, but also thought likely to have been written by Medieval poet Arnulf of Louvain (died 1250). It is divided into seven parts, each addressed to a different part of Christ's crucified body: feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and head.  Here is a video of Dieterich Buxtehude's version from his Membra Jesu Nostri BuxWV 75, a series of seven cantatas composed in 1680, performed by the Margaretha Consort and Choir:

Here is the text, with a literal English translation:

1      Salve, caput cruentatum,
Totum spinis coronatum,
Conquassatum, vulneratum,
Arundine sic verberatum

Facie sputis illita,

Hail, head covered in blood,
all crowned with thorns,
battered, wounded,
beaten in this way with a reed,
with your face smeared with spit.

     Salve, cuius dulcis vultus,
Immutatus et incultus

Immutavit suum florem
Totus versus in pallorem
Quem coeli tremit curia.

Hail, you whose sweet face,
changed and disfigured,
has lost its bloom
and turned completely pale,
-that face at which the court of heaven trembles.

     Omnis vigor atque viror
Hinc recessit, non admiror,
Mors apparet in aspectu,
Totus pendens in defectu,
Attritus aegra macie.

All strength and vigour
have left you – I am not surprised
death appears in your look,
as you hang utterly weak,
worn away, sick and thin.

     Sic affectus, sic despectus
Propter me sic interfectus,
Peccatori tam indigno

Cum amoris intersigno
Appare clara facie.

Treated in this way, despised in this way,
killed in this way on my account,
to a sinner so unworthy
with the sign of your love
show your clear face.

     In hac tua passione
Me agnosce, pastor bone,
Cuius sumpsi mel ex ore,
Haustum lactis ex dulcore

Prae omnibus deliciis,

In this passion of yours
acknowledge me, good shepherd,
from whose mouth I have fed on honey,
drunk milk sweeter
than all delights.

     Non me reum asperneris,
Nec indignum dedigneris

Morte tibi iam vicina
Tuum caput hic acclina,
In meis pausa brachiis.

Do not spurn me as guilty
nor disdain me as unworthy;
with your death near to you
turn your head towards me,
rest in my arms.

     Tuae sanctae passioni
Me gauderem interponi,
In hac cruce tecum mori

Praesta crucis amatori,
Sub cruce tua moriar.

In your holy passion
I would rejoice to take part,
to die with you on this cross.
Grant to one who loves your cross
that I may die beneath your cross.

     Morti tuae iam amarae
Grates ago, Jesu care,
Qui es clemens, pie Deus
Fac quod petit tuns reus,
Ut absque te non finiar.

For your death so bitter
I thank you, dear Jesus,
you who are merciful, holy God,
Grant what your sinner asks,
that I may not meet my end away from you.

     Dum me mori est necesse,
Noli mihi tunc deesse;
In tremenda mortis hora

Veni, Jesu, absque mora,
Tuere me et libera.

When I must die
do not fail me then;
in the terrifying hour of death,
come, Jesus, without delay,
guard me and set me free.

1     Cum me jubes emigrare,
Jesu care, tunc appare;
O amator amplectende,
Temet ipsum tunc ostende

In cruce salutifera.

When you order me to leave this world,
dear Jesus, then appear,
o lover whom I must embrace
then show yourself to me
on your cross that brings salvation.

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