Regis Olim Urbe David

Today's carol is a 19th-century English song by Cecil Frances Humphreys Alexander, published in Hymns for Little Children. You can find the English lyrics at the Hymns and Carols of Christmas website, along with a MIDI file and sheet music. The lyrics clearly show that this was a hymn composed for children, mixing traditional nativity motifs but with a special message for little children.

I first found the Latin translation for this hymn at the about.com website. You can also find this hymn in Latin, English, and Japanese (!) online, together with a MIDI file you can play to hear the music.

(Translator unknown: does anyone know who prepared this Latin translation?)

Regis olim urbe David,
sub bovili misero,
mater posuit infantem
in praesaepi pro lecto:
Mitis Maria mater,
Iesus Christus eius puer.

De caelo ad nos descendit
Deus, Dominus orbis.
Ei tectum est bovile
et praesaepe pro cunis.
Pauperum virum amator
Sancte vixisti Salvator.

Et puertiam per miram
observanter parebat
Virgini eidem matri,
quae eum pepererat.
Tentent et discipuli
esse similes ei.

Nam exemplum ille nobis:
nostri crescebat instar;
parvus quondam, imbecillus,
flens et ridens nobis par,
particeps tristitiae
idem et laetitiae.

Tandem illum nos cernemus
ex amore aeterno.
Puer enim ille parvus
summo regnat iam caelo,
atque eo nos ducit
quo et ipse praeiit.

Nec in stabulo misello,
bubus prope stantibus,
tunc videbitur, sed celsus,
sedens Deo proximus;
comites tum coronati
circumstabunt candidati.

Here is a choral performance of the song in English:


Anonymous said...

If you have not heard the Kings' College Cambridge choir sing this as the processional for their Service of Lessons and Carols, you have really missed a treat. It is a standard in this service and it truly glorious.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful site - especially for lovers of Latin, like me. However the notes are often incorrect. The words of this carol were written by an Irishwoman, Mrs Cecil Alexander, the wife of an Irish bishop, in 1848. The music is is by Henry Gauntlett, 1849.

Laura Gibbs said...

As you can see, I am a Latinist; for the notes, I am reporting only what I learned from this source
Hymns and Carols of Christmas
I have linked to that source - but any corrections you can provide to that source are most welcome!