February 18, 2013

Hail, This Festival Day

Ave Maria, the Maid Who Bore Us the Redeemer

Hail, This Festive Day is a John Dunn adaption of the 1906 Maurice Frederick Bell (1862-1947) translation of the Latin hymn: Salve, Festa Dies by the poet and priest of the Merovingian CourtVenantius Fortunatus (530-609). It remains a custom in some monasteries to go in procession through the cloister singing Salve, Festa Dies on the way to Chapel for the praying of Lauds on Easter morning. Hail, This Festive Day is sung to the original tune, Salve Festa Dies. First published in the English Hymnal of 1906 with Bell's translation, the melody was originally credited to "Anonymous", but later publications named the English composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) as the writer. In the Liturgy of the Hours it is used for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord and in the Commons of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

HAIL THEE, FESTIVAL DAY by Maurice F. Bell (Public Domain)

Refrain: Hail thee, festival day!
              Blest day that art hallowed forever;
              Day wherein Christ arose,
              Breaking the kingdom of death.

1. Lo, the fair beauty of earth,
from the death of the winter arising,
every good gift of the year
now with its Master returns.

2. He who was nailed to the Cross
 is God and the Ruler of all things;
all things created on earth
worship the Maker of all.

3. God of all pity and power,
let thy word be assured to the doubted;
light on the third day returns:
rise, Son of God, from the tomb!

4. Ill doth it seem that thy limbs
 should linger in lowly dishonor;
ransom and price of the world,
veiled from the vision of men.

5. Loosen, O Lord, the enchained,
the spirits imprisoned in darkness;
rescue, recall into life those
who are rushing to death.

6. Ill it beseemeth that thou,
by whose hand all things are encompassed,
captive and bound shouldst remain,
deep in the gloom of the rock.

7. Rise now, O Lord, from the grave
and cast off the shroud that enwrapped thee;
thou art sufficient for us;
nothing without thee exists.

8. Mourning they laid thee to rest,
who art Author of life and creation;
treading the pathway of death,
life thou bestowedst on man.

9. Show us thy face once more,
that the ages may joy in thy brightness;
give us the light of day,
darkened on earth at thy death.

10. Out of the prison of death
thou art rescuing numberless captives;
freely they tread in the way
whither their Maker has gone.

11. Jesus has harrowed hell;
he had led captivity captive;
darkness and chaos and death
flee from the face of the light.

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