Friday, 23 December 2011

Rorate coeli desuper...

NC Communion table: panel inserts by the wondrous Theo
All has been a little quiet on the blogging front recently: have been up to my oxters in domestic abuse, slander, and blood feud... of the 15-16th century kind. 
In the meantime, Advent, that waiting time, has fairly sped on and suddenly Christmas is just around the corner.  
On Friday last, we had our annual lessons and carols service at New College, which was a superbly put together event by friend Fran, with a band of merry helpers, and a jolly good turnout of folk.  A superb mix of scripture and poem and song, plus a 'just managing to hit the right note exactly' brief reflection from my old boss at St. Giles, the Very Rev. Gilleasbuig Macmillan, provided a gentle and warm way in which to signal the nearing end of term [there were still a couple of exams to take place in some cases] and waiting time of Advent.  
Amongst the various readings, I was given William Dunbar's poem On the Nativity of Christ to read which, given its reference to synnaris and penance, was rather apt.  The poem has a wonderful 'shout out joy to all the heavens' feel about it and has been given several musical settings; fabby secondary supervisor Dr P. sang me snatches of one setting later over mulled wine.

      

On the Nativity of Christ

RORATE coeli desuper!
   Hevins, distil your balmy schouris!
For now is risen the bricht day ster,
   Fro the rose Mary, flour of flouris:
   The cleir Sone, quhom no cloud devouris,
Surmounting Phebus in the Est,
   Is cumin of his hevinly touris:
   Et nobis Puer natus est.

Archangellis, angellis, and dompnationis,
   Tronis, potestatis, and marteiris seir,
And all ye hevinly operationis,
   Ster, planeit, firmament, and spheir,
   Fire, erd, air, and water cleir,
To Him gife loving, most and lest,
   That come in to so meik maneir;
   Et nobis Puer natus est.

Synnaris be glad, and penance do,
   And thank your Maker hairtfully;
For he that ye micht nocht come to
   To you is cumin full humbly
   Your soulis with his blood to buy
And loose you of the fiendis arrest,
   And only of his own mercy;
   Pro nobis Puer natus est.

All clergy do to him inclyne,
   And bow unto that bairn benyng,
And do your observance divyne
   To him that is of kingis King:
   Encense his altar, read and sing
In holy kirk, with mind degest,
   Him honouring attour all thing
   Qui nobis Puer natus est.

Celestial foulis in the air,
   Sing with your nottis upon hicht,
In firthis and in forrestis fair
   Be myrthful now at all your mycht;
   For passit is your dully nicht,
Aurora has the cloudis perst,
   The Sone is risen with glaidsum licht,
   Et nobis Puer natus est.

Now spring up flouris fra the rute,
   Revert you upward naturaly,
In honour of the blissit frute
   That raiss up fro the rose Mary;
   Lay out your levis lustily,
Fro deid take life now at the lest
   In wirschip of that Prince worthy
   Qui nobis Puer natus est. 


Sing, hevin imperial, most of hicht!
   Regions of air mak armony!
All fish in flud and fowl of flicht
   Be mirthful and mak melody!
   All Gloria in excelsis cry!
Heaven, erd, se, man, bird, and best,
   He that is crownit abone the sky
   Pro nobis Puer natus est! 


                            William Dunbar, 1460-1522

3 comments:

Mrs Gerbil said...

Yeah, it was pretty good and the readings/poems were well balanced.

I did find singing in Latin a bit exclusive, though. But that's just a small gripe in what was a great service of worship at a time when even the best of us can get caught up in the busyness and forget to focus on what it's all about.

Nik said...

On the other hand, given the hymn/ carol concerned is sooooo well known, I suspect folks were able to get the gist.
Plus, Fran didn't have much control over that - it always goes in, no matter what - she kinda had to follow orders on that one. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

Mrs Gerbil said...

Fair point. And I should have said I know it was out of Fran's hands.

In the meantime, have a great Christmas.