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.

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.

Altus Prosator “B”


Title: De formatione novem graduum, tribus praetermissis, non per ignorantiam, sed pro augustia capituli praetermisit.
Argument: ‘Fiat lux, et facto, est.’

BONOS creavit angelos
ordines et archangelos
principatuum ac sedium
potestatum virtutium
uti non esset bonitas
otiosa ac maiestas
trinitatis in omnibus
largitatis muneribus
sed haberet celestia
in quibus previgilia
ostenderet magnopere
possibili fatimine.

ALL good angels and archangels,
Powers and Principalities,
Virtues, Thrones, His will created—
Grades and orders of the skies,
That the majesty and goodness
Of the Blessed TRINITY
In its ever bounteous largesse
Never might inactive be;
Having thus wherewith to glory,
All the wide world might adore
The high Godhead’s sole-possession
Everywhere and evermore.

— 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.

Mael Ísu Ua Brolcháin

Cloncha High Cross, Culdaff (Cúil Dabhcha), Inishowen, Co. Donegal.
Cloncha High Cross, Culdaff (Cúil Dabhcha), Inishowen, Co. Donegal.

Mael Ísu Ua Brolcháin, the sage of Erinn in wisdom and in piety, and in the poetry of either language, suum spiritum emisit. Annals of Loch Cé.

Moyle Issa o’Brothloghann, the ealder and sage of Ireland was soe ingenious and witty, and withall soe well learned that he composed great volumes containing many great Misteryes and new sciences devised by himselfe, died this year. Annals of Clonmacnoise.

The Age of Christ, 1086. […] Maelisa Ua Brolchain, learned senior of Ireland, a paragon of wisdom and piety, as well as in poetry and both languages. His wisdom and learning were so great, that he himself wrote books replete with genius and intellect. He resigned his spirit to heaven on the seventh of the Calends of February, as is stated [in this quatrain]:

On the seventeenth of the Calends of February,
The night of fair Fursa’s festival,
Died Maelisa Ua Brolchain,
But, however, not of a heavy severe fit. Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland (Annals of the Four Masters), likewise in the Annals of Ulster.

The patron saint of the parish of Cloncha, in Inishowen, was always regarded as being the present Maelisa Ua Brolchain. In this parish, there stood an ancient monastery, known as Temple Moyle, or Tapal Moule. An old graveyard, surrounded by a stone wall, with an iron gate entrance, is found at this place. John Canon O’Hanlon, Lives of the Irish Saints.

The following hymn attributed to one Máel-ísu is to be found at fo. 31b. col. 2 of the Liber Hymnorum, Trin. Coll. Dub. E. 4. 2.

mæl ísu dixit

INspirut nóeb immunn
innunn ocus ocunn
inspirut nóeb chucunn
tæt achríst cohopunn

INspirut nóeb daittreb
arcuirp isarnanma
diarsnádud cosolma
argábud argalra

Ardemnaib arpheccdaib
ariffern conilulcc
aísu ronnóeba
ronsóera dospirut.     INspirut.


The Holy Spirit (be) around us, in us, and with us! Let the Holy Spirit come to us, O Christ, forthwith!
The Holy Spirit to possess our body and our soul, to protect us with swiftness against danger, against diseases!
Against demons, against sins, against hell with manifold evil, O Jesus, may thy Spirit sanctify us, save us!


The Máel-ísu by whom this little poem was written, was perhaps Máel-ísu Hua-Brolcháin, who died (according to the Annals of Loch Cé) A.D. 1086. He was the author of two hymns, one in the Lebar Brecc, p. 501, half in Latin and half in Irish, beginning thus:—

Deus meus adiuva me
tucc dam doserc amaic modé1
In meum cor ut sanum sit
tucc arí rán dograd cogribb.2

And another in H. 2. 16, col. 336, to S. Michael the Archangel, beginning—

A aingil
beir a michil morfertaig
gusincoimdid mochaingin.
cuinnig codia ndilgudach
dilgud muilc adbail uile

“O Angel! bear, O great-miracled Michael, my complaint to the Lord.
Hearest thou? Ask of forgiving God forgiveness of all my vast evil.”

1 “Give me thy love, O Son of God!”
2 “Give, O right noble King, thy love quickly!”

— Whitley Stokes, Goidelica, Old and Early-Middle-Irish Glosses, Prose and Verse, 1872.

Altus Prosator “A”


Title: De unitate et Trinitate trium personarum.
Argument: Vetustus dierum sedebat super sedem suam. (Daniel vii. 9.)

ALTUS prosator vetustus
dierum et ingenitus
erat absque origine
primordii et crepidine
est et erit in secula
seculorum infinita
cui est unigenitus
christus et sanctus spiritus
coeternus in gloria
dietatis perpetuae
non tris deos depromimus
sed unum deum dicimus
salva fide in personis
tribus gloriosissimis.

HIGH CREATOR Unbegotten,
Ancient of Eternal days,
Unbegun ere all beginning,
Him the world’s one source we praise:
GOD who is and GOD who shall be:
All that was and is before:
Him with CHRIST the Sole-Begotten,
And the SPIRIT we adore,
Co-eternal one in glory,
Evermore and evermore:–
Not Three Gods are,
They we worship,
But the THREE which are the ONE,
GOD in Three most glorious Persons:–
Other saving Faith is none.

— 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.