December 14, 2014

O Felix Culpa (Adam Lay Ybounden)

15th Century Painting by Berthold Furtmeyr - Courtesy Wikipedia

O Felix Culpa is an anonymous English poem which dates back to a 15th century manuscript, but likely goes back in oral tradition much further. Scholars have suggested that it may be an example of a minstrel's begging song or that it was intended for use in a mystery play. The Latin phrase felix culpa is often translated as "happy fault," and is derived from the writings of St. Augustine regarding the Fall of Man and original sin. O Felix Culpa is included in the Poems for Advent and Christmas Appendix of the Divine Office (1974).

Setting by Boris Ord (1897-1961), performed by Kings College Choir

O FELIX CULPA (Anonymous, 15th century)

Adam lay y-bounden,
   Bounden in a bond;
Four thousand winter
   Thought he not too long;
And all was for an apple,
   An apple that he took,
As clerkès finden written
   In theirè book.
Ne had one apple taken been,
   The apple taken been,
Then haddè never Our Lady
   A been heaven's queen.
Blessed be the time
   That apple taken was!
Therefore we may singen
   'Deo Gratias!'

November 29, 2014

Poem: Of the Birth of Christ

Painting by Gerard van Honthorst - Courtesy of Wikipedia

Of the Birth of Christ is a translation by Edgar Allison Peers (1891-1952) of a poem by St. John of the Cross (1542-1591). Peers published a number of translations of Spanish works into English, including the complete writings of St John of the Cross and of St Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582). Of the Birth of Christ is included in the Poems for All Seasons Appendix of the Divine Office (1974). The complete text can be found here.

November 26, 2014

Poem: Concerning the Divine Word

15th Century Painting by Meister de Marienlebens - Courtesy of Wikipedia

Concerning the Divine Word is a translation by Roy Campbell (1901-1957) of the Spanish poem: Del Verbo Divino, by St. John of the Cross (1542-1591).  It is included in the Poems for All Seasons Appendix of the Divine Office (1974).  The complete text can be found here.

Del Verbo Divino performed by Amancio Prada with English Subtitles