Altus Prosator “F”

Ceiling of the Hagia Sophia, Constantinople, with Seraphim mosaics on pendentives of the main dome.


TITLE: De laude Dei ab angelis in quarta feria dicentes Sanctus
Sanctus Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.

ARGUMENT: ‘Quando feci celum et terram collaudaverunt me
angeli’; ut in Sapientia Salomonis dicitur.

Factis simul sideribus
etheris luminaribus
collaudaverunt angeli
factura praemirabili
immensae molis dominum
opificem celestium
preconia laudabile
debito et immobile
concentuque egregio
grates egerunt domino
amore et arbitrio
non naturae donario.


When together, æther’s wonder,
Shine the Stars, the Angels sing;
To th’ Immensity’s Designer,
Host on host, their anthems ring:
Songs right meet for adoration,
Glorious harmonies they raise;
Since they move not from their courses
Never-ending is their praise.
Noble concert in the highest
Is their offering full and free:—
‘Tis of love’s sincerest rapture
Not of natural decree.

— The Hiberno-Latin abecedarian hymn, Altus prosator, a sequence attributed to St. Columba, from Lays of Iona and Other Poems; English paraphrase by Samuel John Stone.

Altus Prosator “E”

Creation of Adam (Vr) from Liber Chronicarum (the Nuremberg Chronicle).


TITLE: De creatione elementorum mundi et hominis regentis ea
postea more regis

ARGUMENT: ‘In principio fecit Deus celum et terram’ ut in
Genesi dicitur
.–(Gen. i. 1.)

Excelsus mundi machinam
previdens et armoniam
caelum et terram fecerat
mare et aquas condidit
herbarum quoque germina
virgultorum arbuscula
solem lunam ac sidera
ignem ac necessaria
aves pisces et peccora
bestias et animalia
hominum demum regere
protoplastum praesagmine.


God, the Lord Most High, foreseeing
Nature’s concord full and sweet.
Moulded Heaven and Earth and Ocean
To one harmony complete:
Sprang the grasses, fair unfolding.
Copses burgeoned in the sun:
Beamed the sunlight, starlight, moonlight,
Firelight: all of need was done–
Birds for brake, and fish for waters.
Wild or tame kine for the sward–
Last, the highest, first created,
Man, Creation’s crown and lord.

— The Hiberno-Latin abecedarian hymn, Altus prosator, a sequence attributed to St. Columba, from Lays of Iona and Other Poems; English paraphrase by Samuel John Stone.

Macaronic Verses

(Vol. xii., p. 226.)

The macaronic verses of infancy and early boyhood have had such a run in your pages, that it is quite time those of a later age should take an innings. When I was a schoolboy, the verses asked for by X. ran as follows:

Patres conscripti took a boat, and went to Philippi;
Boatum est upsettum, magno cum grandine venti.
Omnes drownderunt qui swim away non potuerunt.
Trumpeter unus erat, qui coatum scarlet habebat;
Et magnum periwig, tied about with the tail of a dead pig.

Verses of this character are tolerably ancient. Wright and Halliwell (Reliqiuæ Antiquæ, p. 91.) give a set, of which the first ten verses are as follows:

Flen, flyys, and freris populum domini male cædunt,
Thystlis and brevis crescentia gramina lædunt;
Christe, nolens guerras, sed cuncta pace tueris,
Destrue per terras brevis, flen, flyyes, and freris.
Flen, flyyes, and freris, foul falle hem thys fyften yeris,
For non that her ys lovit flen, flyyes, ne freris.
Fratres Carmeli navigant in a bothe about Eli
Non sunt in cæli, quia . . . . . . . .
Omnes drencherunt, quia sterisman non habuerunt,
Fratres cum knyvys goth about and . . .

This is from a manuscript of the fifteenth century. My omissions are put in cypher by Mr. Wright, and are not producible.

The following, taken by Halliwell from a manuscript of the sixteenth century is worth quoting entire. It is a breaking up song at Christmas; the third and fourth lines are exquisitely saucy:

Ante finem termini baculos portamus,
Capud hustiarii frangere debemus;
Si preceptor nos petit quo debemus ire,
Breviter respondemus, non est tibi scire.
O pro [per?] nobilis docter, now we youe pray
Ut velitis concedere to gyff hus leff to play
Nunc proponimus ire, withowt any ney,
Scolam dissolvere, I tell itt youe in fey.
Sicut istud festum merth is for to make,
Accipimus nostram diem owr leve for to take.
Post natale festum, full sor shall we qwake,
Quum nos revenimus, latens for to make.
Ergo nos rogamus, hartly and holle,
Ut isto die possimus to brek upe the scole.

In Wright’s Political Songs (p. 251.) there is a triglott performance, Latin, French, and English, of the time of Edward II. And this is enough for one kick of the ball.     M.

Notes and Queries, Vol. XII, No. 311, 13 October 1855.

The Worthy Gaelic

Tha Laideann coimhliont,
Torrach, teann nas leòr,
Ach ‘s sgalag thràilleil
I don Ghàidhlig chòir.

San Athen mhòir
Bha ‘Ghreugais còrr ‘na tìm,
Ach b’ ion di h-òrdag
Chur fo h-òirchios grinn.

Latin is perfect / fertile, and firm enough / but it is a slavish servant / compared to worthy Gaelic. / In great Athens / Greek was outstanding in its time / but it had to put its thumb / under its neat golden girdle.

Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair, Moladh an Ùghdair don t-Seann Chànain Ghàidhlig.

Collect for Purity

Deus cui omne cor patet et omnis voluntas loquitur: et quem nullum latet secretum: purifica per infusionem sancti spiritus cogitationes cordis nostri: ut te perfecte diligere et digne laudare mereamur, per dominum nostrum iesum christum filium tuum qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate eiusdem spiritus sancti deus, per omnia secula seculorum. Amen.

Leofric Missal.

A Dhé Uile-chumhachdaich, d’ am bheil gach cridhe fosgailte, gach miann aithnichte, agus o nach ’eil ni uaigneach air bith folaichte; Glan smuaintean ar cridheachan le deachdadh do Spioraid naoimh; a chum gu’n toir sinn gràdh iomlan dhuit, agus gu’n àrd-mhol sinn gu h-iomchuidh d’ Ainm naomh, tre Chriosd ar Tighearn. Amen.

1895 Gaelic translation of the Prayer-book, from David Griffith, Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer, 37:5.

God, unto Whom alle hertes ben open, and unto Whom alle wille spekith, and unto Whom no privé thing is hid: I beseche Thee so for to clense the entent of myn hert with the unspekable gift of Thi grace that I may parfiteliche love Thee, and worthilich preise Thee. Amen.

The Cloude of Unknowyng.

“I Learned It By Watching You!”

Yet, from letters which some of you have sent, and from many other sources, We learn that discordant practices have been introduced into the sacred liturgy by your communities or provinces (We speak of those only that belong to the Latin Rite). For while some are very faithful to the Latin language, others wish to use the vernacular within the choral office. Others, in various places, wish to exchange that chant which is called “Gregorian,” for newly-minted melodies. Indeed, some even insist that Latin should be wholly suppressed.

We must acknowledge that We have been somewhat disturbed and saddened by these requests. One may well wonder what the origin is of this new way of thinking and this sudden dislike for the past; one may well wonder why these things have been fostered.

Apostolic Letter, Sacrificium Laudis, of Pope Paul VI, 15 August 1966.

Altus Prosator “C”

The Fall of the Rebel Angels by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1562, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
The Fall of the Rebel Angels by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1562, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.


TITLE: De transmigratione novem graduum principis.
ARGUMENT: ‘Vidi stellam de celo cecidisse in terram’; et in Esaiâ, ‘Quomodo cecidisti Lucifer, qui mane oriebaris.’

CELI de regni apice
stationis angelicae
claritate prefulgoris
venustate speciminis
superbiendo ruerat
lucifer quem formaverat
apostataeque angeli
eodem lapsu lugubri
auctoris ceno-doxiae
pervicacis invidiae
ceteris remanentibus
in suis principatibus.

PRONE, from splendour of that kingdom
Where GOD’S angels crown the height,
From all loveliness of beauty
All transcendency of light,
Lucifer, by GOD created,
Fell by his vainglorious pride—
Fell by envy still persisting,
Fell with all his host allied,
From the same high place apostate
In the same sad ruin prone,—
While the faithful angel princes
Kept their state before the Throne.

— The Hiberno-Latin abecedarian hymn, Altus prosator, a sequence attributed to St. Columba, from Lays of Iona and Other Poems; English translation by Samuel John Stone.