Saturday, December 18, 2010

Macaronic carol translation

At Christmas-time I like to do a hymn-sing.  I muddle through the songs on the piano, and whoever is around sings. While I was preparing a lyrics sheet for this, I found something interesting about the carol In Dulci Jubilo.  The only lyrics I could find were half-Latin, half-English.   For some reason the adjective for “written in a mixture of languages” is “macaronic,” which prompted the Common Household Son to ask if the hymn was written by Kraft.  In Dulci Jubilo is cool, because mostly the lines rhyme, whether in Latin or in English.

My son is our local Latin student, so I asked him to translate the Latin bits.  The best part was his translation of the second verse (segments in italics were translated from Latin):

O Jesu, little chap, For thee I sing alway;
Comfort my heart’s blindness, O excellent boy,
With all thy loving kindness, O glorious chieftain
Drag me behind you.  Drag me behind you.

I looked for the original, which I supposed to be all Latin, but it isn’t. The original is Latin and German.  We have no German students in the house, so we did not attempt any further translation.  It’s good, therefore, that this carol is available to us in all-English:  Good Christian Friends, Rejoice, or in the original male chauvinist version, Good Christian Men, Rejoice.  (The women couldn’t rejoice because they were too busy wrapping presents.)  Or maybe it has been badly punctuated all these years, and it is supposed to point out a good find to unmarried women looking for a mate:   Good Christian Men!  Rejoice.  

With the original Latin:
1. In dulci jubilo, now sing with hearts a-glow!
Our delight and pleasure lies in praesepio
Like sunshine is our treasure matris in gremio.
Alpha es et O!  Alpha es et O!

2. O Jesu, parvule, For thee I sing alway;
Comfort my heart’s blindness, O puer optime,
With all thy loving kindness, O princeps gloriae
Trahe me post te!  Trahe me post te!

3. O Patris caritas! O nati Lenitas!
Deeply were we stained Per nostra crimina;
But thou for us hast gained Coelorum gaudia
O that we were there!  O that we were there!

4. Ubi sunt gaudia in any place but there?
There are angels singing nova cantica,
And there the bells are ringing In Regis curia,
O that we were there!  O that we were there!

No comments: