Off topic: Looking for explanation/translation of a medieval christmas carol
Thread poster: Els Hoefman

Els Hoefman  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:56
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English to Dutch
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Nov 24, 2004

I'm helping out a local choir who asked me to translate the lyrics of their christmas carols to publish in the programme of this year's concert. I'm having a hard time translating the 15th century text of "Out of your sleep" by Richard Rodney Bennett.
I wonder if I could find the explanation or the modern version of the text on the Internet, or if there are any on-line dictionaries that could be of use. I have tried a Google search to no avail.
Thank you for your help!


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Desi_vdb
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:56
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Tell us what you don't understand. Nov 24, 2004

Out of your sleep

Out of your sleep arise and wake,
For God mankind hath now ytake.
All of a maid without any make;
Of all women she beareth the bell.

And through a maidè fair and wise,
Now man is made of full great price;
Now angels knelen to man's service,
And at this time all this befell.

Now man is brighter than the sun;
Now man in heaven on high shall won;
Blessed be God this game is begun
And his mother the Empress of hell.

That ever was thrall now is he free;
Now ever was small now great is she;
Now shall God deem both thee and me
Unto his bliss if we do well.

Now man he may to heaven wend;
Now heaven and earth to him they bend.
He that was foe now is our friend.
This is no nay that I you tell.

Now blessed Brother grant us grace,
At doomès day to see thy face,
And in thy court to have a place,
That we may there sing thee nowell.

words Anon (15th century)

As far as I understand it, it's about the birth and death of Jesus. (the blessed brother in the last paragraph).

If I were you, I would post it on a poetry forum, like for example: http://www.emule.com/2poetry/phorum/list.php?f=4
and see what they come up with.


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Els Hoefman  Identity Verified
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What I don't understand Nov 24, 2004

I get the general idea of course, but I need to translate every single line and I have found some explanations (beareth the bell, for instance, is something like "chosen") but some things still puzzle me.

For instance, what is :
man is made of full great price
Now man in heav’n on high shall won (man will be allowed to enter heaven?)
game
This is no nay that I you tell (this is true?)

Nor do I see why His mother would be the "empress of hell".

I don't want to guess and make the wrong guess! That's why I'm looking for resources.

Thank you for the link to the poetry forum!


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Parrot  Identity Verified
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Uhmmm... Nov 24, 2004

When in DEEP DOUBT, I pull out my National Library card and spend the day beside the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary they have (and which I can't afford in terms of money or space). However, I just saw it can be consulted on-line on a subscription basis:

http://www.oed.com/

As regards the "Empress of Hell" part, JUST MAYBE the answer may lie in the expurgated fifth gospel, or so-called "Gospel of Nicodemus" (part of the church Apocrypha) on the theme of "the Harrowing of Hell". A part of this has survived in the Apostle's Creed ( http://www.ccel.org/creeds/apostles.creed.html ) - see line 4.

The part about "He descended into hell" was recounted vividly in the suppressed gospel (an appendix or part III, Descensus ad infernos). After Christ had scourged the devil, he supposedly took Adam and Eve by the hand and led them out. Throughout the Dark Ages, Eve had been regarded as the cause of man's downfall, even though she was also considered to have been the mother of all mankind.

Another explanation attributing the title to Mary is offered at: http://www.cichw.net/ghel1.html

Anyway, it could give you a few clues to try.

[Edited at 2004-11-24 12:54]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
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Found it! Nov 24, 2004

"Empress of hell" is literal for "imperatrix inferni":

http://www.signumrecords.com/catalogue/sigcd001/programme.htm


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Els Hoefman  Identity Verified
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Empress of hell Nov 24, 2004

Thank you, Parrot. I wonder if I should keep the literal translation when I translate it into Dutch.

P.S. Isn't this an unusual thread?


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Parrot  Identity Verified
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Well Nov 24, 2004

a pun on the Internet gave me the clue. "Empress of hell" relates to the title "Regina coeli". So the joke would be (in verse) "imperatrix...?"

In Latin this was supposed to be funny

I'd translate it, but the footnotes were more interesting... (yes, what a thread).


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Pamela Cruz  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 16:56
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"Empress of Hell" Nov 24, 2004

Mary is called the "Empress of Hell" here because when she accepted to be the mother of Jesus, she defeated Satan, as it was profetized in Genesis 3, 15.

15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring [1] and hers;
he will crush [2] your head,
and you will strike his heel."

(I am also a cathechist )

Pamela

P.S. What a Christmas thread !!!

[Edited at 2004-11-24 13:40]

[Edited at 2004-11-24 13:43]


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