What Tongue, Illustrious Spear, Can Duly Sound

This hymn is a hymn for Vespers on the Friday after the First Sunday in Lent, dedicated to the Spear and Nails of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The text comes from the Office of the Instruments of the Passion, or the Passion Offices, and was translated by Fr. Caswall for the Lyra Catholica in 1849. 

What tongue, illustrious Spear, can duly sound
Thy praise, in Heav’n or earth?
Thou, who didst open that life-giving wound,
From whence the Church had birth.

From Adam, sunk in an ecstatic sleep,
Came Eve divinely framed;
From Christ, – his Spouse; when from that wound so deep
The Blood and Water stream’d.

And equal thanks to you, blest Nails, whereby,
Fast to the sacred Rood,
Was clench’d the sentence dooming us to die,
All blotted out in blood.

To Him who still preserves in highest Heaven
The wounds which here He bore,
Be glory, with th’eternal Father, given,
And Spirit evermore. Amen.

Words: Passion Offices; tr. Fr. Edward Caswall, 1849.

The Latin text of this hymn is as follows:

Quaenam lingua tibi, O Lancea, debitas.
Grates pro merito est apta rependere?
Christi vivificum namque aperis latus,
Unde Ecclesia nascitur.

Haec est Heva viri de latere exiens,
Olli membra gravis dum sopor occupat;
Hanc quippe alter Adam corde scatentibus
Unda, et sanguine procreat,

O Clavi! aequa manet vos quoque gratia,
Christi quando sacris artubus insiti,
Deletum Domini sanguine figitis
Mortis chirographum Cruci.

Te, Iesu, superi laudibus efferant,
Qui Clavorum aditus, signaque Lanceae
In Caelo retines, vivus ubi imperas
Cum Patre, atque Paraclito. Amen.

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About Noah

musings of a young Catholic aspiring to be faithful to his Lord and God Jesus Christ through His Holy Catholic Church
This entry was posted in Edward Caswall, Evening Prayer / Vespers, Hymns By The Greats, Jesus Christ Our Lord, Latin Hymns, Lent, Non-English Hymns, Passion Offices/Office of the Instruments of the Passion, The Church Year, The Liturgy of Hours/Breviary, The Passion, The Spear and Nails. Bookmark the permalink.

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