Hail thee, festival day!
Blest day that art hallowed forever;
day when our God ascends
high in the heavens to reign.
Lo, the fair beauty of earth,
from the death of the winter arising,
every good gift of the year
now with its Master returns.
Daily the loveliness grows,
adorned with the glory of blossom;
heaven her gates unbars,
flinging her increase of light.
Christ in his triumph ascends,
who hath vanquished the devil’s dominion;
gay is the woodland with leaves,
bright are the meadows with flowers.
Christ overwhelms the domain
of Hades and rises to heaven;
fitly the light gives him praise–
meadows and ocean and sky.
Loosen, O Lord, the enchained,
the spirits imprisoned in darkness;
rescue, recall into life those
who are rushing to death.
So shalt thou bear in thine arms
an immaculate people to heaven,
bearing them pure unto God,
pledge of thy victory here.
Jesus, the health of the world,
enlighten our minds, thou Redeemer,
Son of the Father supreme,
only-begotten of God!
Equal art thou, co-eternal,
in fellowship ay with the Father;
in the beginning by thee
all was created and made.
And it was thou, blessèd Lord,
who discerning humanity’s sorrow,
humbledst thyself for our race,
taking our flesh for thine own.
Words: St. Venantius Fortunatus (530-609); tr. Percy Dearmer, 1906
Music: “Salve, festa dies” Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906.
Here is the original Latin text:
Salve festa dies, toto venerabilis aevo,
Qua Deus ad coelos scandit et astra tenet,
Qui paucis postquam surrexerat ipse diebus
Pectora confirmans, discipulos solidas.
Atque potestatem laxandi crimina praestans,
Discipulos pariter posse ligare dedit.
Ite meum nomen per totum gentibus orbem,
Dicite credentibus notificare Deum.
Et qui crediderit, et quem baptismatis unda
Tinxerit in Christi nomine, salvus erit.
Quem mittam vobis, vos spiritus ille docebit
In linguis variis omnia posse loqui.
Post modicum veniet qui suggerit omnia vobis,
Et visurus eum vado parare locum.
Hoc cum dixisset cunctis cernentibus illum
Nubes suscepit [eum] dum super astra meat.