Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Elizabeth Rundle Charles

English author Elizabeth Rundle Charles was born today in 1828, in the Devonshire village of Tavistock.  Though she wrote several popular books and collections of poetry in her day, her hymns are probably her longest surviving work, and a graph at indicates that her hymns are appearing in a growing number of hymnals today.

In addition to original texts, she also translated older texts from traditions outside her own Anglican background.  Today's seasonal hymn dates from the fifteenth century, Heu! quid jaces stabulo, written by Abbé Jean Mauburn as part of a longer work, Rosetum Ex­er­ci­ti­or­um Spir­it­u­al­i­um et Sa­cra­rum Me­di­ta­ti­on­um (1494).  The hymn is a dialogue between the worshipper and Jesus, discussing the paradox of the future Ruler coming to earth as a helpless child.

It's still the ninth day of Christmas...

Dost thou in a manger lie,
Who hast all created,
Stretching infant hands on high,
Savior, long awaited?
If a monarch, where thy state?
Where thy court on thee to wait?
Royal purple, where?
Here no regal pomp we see;
Naught but need and penury:
Why thus cradled here?

"For the world a love supreme
Brought me to this stable;
All creation to redeem,
I alone am able.
By this lowly birth of mine,
Pilgrim, riches shall be thine,
Matchless gifts and free;
Willingly this yoke I take,
And this sacrifice I make,
Heaping joys for thee."

Fervent praise would I to thee
Evermore be raising;
For thy wondrous love to me
Thee be ever praising.
Glory, glory be for ever
Unto that most bounteous Giver,
And that loving Lord!
Better witness to thy worth,
Purer praise than ours on earth,
Angels' songs afford.

Jean Mauburn, 1494
tr. Elizabeth Rundle Charles, 1868; alt.
Tune: MAUBURN (P.M.)
T. Tertius Noble, 1918

English composer and organist T. Tertius Noble emigrated to the United States in 1913. and was soon involved with the committee that selected the music for the Episcopal Hymnal of 1916, where this tune, written for this text, was first published. The hymn remains in the current Episcopal hymnal, but with a different tune.

Four Years Ago: Elizabeth Rundle Charles

Three Years Ago: The Ninth Day of Christmas

Two Years Ago: Elizabeth Rundle Charles

No comments: