Hail thee, festival day!
Blest day that art hallowed forever;
day wherein Christ arose,
breaking the kingdom of death.
Lo, the fair beauty of earth,
from the death of the winter arising,
every good gift of the year
now with its Master returns.
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.
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!
Ill doth it seem that thy limbs
should linger in lowly dishonor;
ransom and price of the world,
veiled from the vision of men.
Loosen, O Lord, the enchained,
the spirits imprisoned in darkness;
rescue, recall into life those
who are rushing to death.
Ill it beseemeth that thou,
by whose hand all things are encompassed,
captive and bound shouldst remain,
deep in the gloom of the rock.
Rise now, O Lord, from the grave
and cast off the shroud that enwrapped thee;
thou art sufficient for us;
nothing without thee exists.
Mourning they laid thee to rest,
who art Author of life and creation;
treading the pathway of death,
life thou bestowedst on man.
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.
Out of the prison of death
thou art rescuing numberless captives;
freely they tread in the way
whither their Maker has gone.
Jesus has harrowed hell;
he had led captivity captive;
darkness and chaos and death
flee from the face of the light.
Words: St. Venantius Fortunatus (530-609); tr. Maurice F. Bell, 1906
Tune: “Salve, festa dies” Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906.
Here is the original Latin text:
Salve festa dies, toto venerabilis aevo,
Quae Deus infernum vicit et astra tenet.
Ecce renascentis testatur gratia mundi
Omnia cum Domino dona redisse suo.
Tempora florigero rutilant distincta sereno
Et majore poli lumine porta patet.
Altius ignivomum solem coeli orbita ducit,
Qui vagus Oceani exit et intrat aquas.
Jamque triumphanti post tristia tartara Christo
Undique fronde nemus, gramina flore favent.
Legibus inferni oppressis super astra meantem
Laudent rite Deum lux, polus, astra, fretum.
Qui crucifixus erat Deus ecce per omnia regnat,
Dantque Creatori cuncta creata preces.
Nobilitas anni, mensium decus, alme dierum,
Horarum splendor, scrupula cuncta patent.
Christe salus rerum, bone conditor atque redemptor,
Unica progenies ex Deitate patris.
Qui genus humanum cernens mersisse profundo,
Ut hominem eriperes, es quoque factus homo.