Morning Hymn (Hymnus Matutinus)

A poem by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius

English Translation below Original

Hymnus Matutinus

Nox et tenebrae et nubila,
confusa mundi et turbida,
lux intrat, albescit polus,
Christus venit, discedite.

Caligo terrae scinditur
percussa solis spiculo,
rebusque iam color redit
vultu nitentis sideris.

Sic nostra mox obscuritas
fraudisque pectus conscium
ruptis retectum nubibus
regnante pallescit Deo.

Tunc non licebit claudere
quod quisque fuscum cogitat,
sed mane clarescent novo
secreta mentis prodita.

Fur ante lucem squalido
inpune peccat tempore,
sed lux dolis contraria
latere furtum non sinit.

Versuta fraus et callida
amat tenebris obtegi,
aptamque noctem turpibus
adulter occultus fovet.

Sol ecce surgit igneus,
piget, pudescit, paenitet,
nec teste quisquam lumine
peccare constanter potest.

Quis mane sumptis nequiter
non erubescit poculis,
cum fit libido temperans
castumque nugator sapit?

Nunc, nunc severum vivitur,
nunc nemo tentat ludicrum,
inepta nunc omnes sua
vultu colorant serio.

Haec hora cunctis utilis,
qua quisque, quod studet, gerat,
miles, togatus, navita,
opifex, arator, institor.

Illum forensis gloria,
hunc triste raptat classicum,
mercator hinc ac rusticus
avara suspirant lucra.

At nos lucelli ac faenoris
fandique prorsus nescii,
nec arte fortes bellica,
te, Christe, solum novimus.

Te mente pura et simplici,
te voce, te cantu pio
rogare curvato genu
flendo et canendo discimus.

His nos lucramur quaestibus,
hac arte tantum vivimus,
haec inchoamus munera,
cum sol resurgens emicat.

Intende nostris sensibus,
vitamque totam dispice,
sunt multa fucis inlita,
quae luce purgentur tua.

Durare nos tales iube,
quales, remotis sordibus
nitere pridem iusseras,
Iordane tinctos flumine.

Quodcumque nox mundi dehinc
infecit atris nubibus,
tu, rex Eoi sideris,
vultu sereno inlumina.

Tu sancte, qui taetram picem
candore tingis lacteo
ebenoque crystallum facis,
delicta terge livida.

Sub nocte Iacob caerula
luctator audax angeli,
eo usque dum lux surgeret,
sudavit inpar praelium.

Sed cum iubar claresceret,
lapsante claudus poplite
femurque victus debile
culpae vigorem perdidit.

Nutabat inguen saucium,
quae corporis pars vilior
longeque sub cordis loco
diram fovet libidinem.

Hae nos docent imagines,
hominem tenebris obsitum,
si forte non cedat Deo,
vires rebellis perdere.

Erit tamen beatior,
intemperans membrum cui
luctando claudum et tabidum
dies oborta invenerit.

Tandem facessat caecitas,
quae nosmet in praeceps diu
lapsos sinistris gressibus
errore traxit devio.

Haec lux serenum conferat
purosque nos praestet sibi:
nihil loquamur subdolum,
volvamus obscurum nihil.

Sic tota decurrat dies,
ne lingua mendax, ne manus,
oculive peccent lubrici,
ne noxa corpus inquinet.

Speculator adstat desuper,
qui nos diebus omnibus
actusque nostros prospicit
a luce prima in vesperum.

Hic testis, hic est arbiter,
his intuetur quidquid est,
humana quod mens concipit;
hunc nemo fallit iudicem.

Morning Hymn

Newly Translated Into English Verse By R. Martin Pope.

Ye clouds and darkness, hosts of night
That breed confusion and affright,
Begone! o'erhead the dawn shines clear,
The light breaks in and Christ is here.

Earth's gloom flees broken and dispersed,
By the sun's piercing shafts coerced:
The daystar's eyes rain influence bright
And colours glimmer back to sight.

So shall our guilty midnight fade,
The sin-stained heart's gross dusky shade:
So shall the King's All-radiant Face
Sudden unveil our deep disgrace.

No longer then may we disguise
Our dark intents from those clear eyes:
Yea, at the dayspring's advent blest
Our inmost thoughts will stand confest.

The thief his hidden traffic plies
Unmarked before the dawn doth rise:
But light, the foe of guile concealed,
Lets no ill craft lie unrevealed.

Fraud and Deceit love only night,
Their wiles they practise out of sight;
Curtained by dark, Adultery too
Doth his foul treachery pursue,

But slinks abashed and shamed away
Soon as the sun rekindles day,
For none can damning light resist
And 'neath its rays in sin persist.

Who doth not blush o'ertook by morn
And his long night's carousal scorn?
For day subdues the lustful soul,
And doth all foul desires control.

Now each to earnest life awakes,
Now each his wanton sport forsakes;
Now foolish things are put away
And gravity resumes her sway.

It is the hour for duty's deeds,
The path to which our labour leads,
Be it the forum, army, sea,
The mart or field or factory.

One seeks the plaudits of the bar,
One the stern trumpet calls to war:
Those bent on trade and husbandry
At greed's behest for lucre sigh.

Mine is no rhetorician's fame,
No petty usury I claim;
Nor am I skilled to face the foe:
'Tis Thou, O Christ, alone I know.

Yea, I have learnt to wait on Thee
With heart and lips of purity,
Humbly my knees in prayer to bend,
And tears with songs of praise to blend.

These are the gains I hold in view
And these the arts that I pursue:
These are the offices I ply
When the bright sun mounts up the sky.

Prove Thou my heart, my every thought,
Search into all that I have wrought:
Though I be stained with blots within,
Thy quickening rays shall purge my sin.

O may I ever spotless be
As when my stains were cleansed by Thee,
Who bad'st me 'neath the Jordan's wave
Of yore my soil√ęd spirit lave.

If e'er since then the world's gross night
Hath cast its curtain o'er my sight,
Dispel the cloud, O King of grace,
Star of the East! with thy pure face.

Since Thou canst change, O holy Light,
The blackest hue to milky white,
Ebon to clearness crystalline,
Wash my foul stains and make me clean.

'Twas 'neath the lonely star-blue night
That Jacob waged the unequal fight,
Stoutly he wrestled with the Man
In darkness, till the day began.

And when the sun rose in the sky
He halted on his shrivelled thigh:
His natural might had ebbed away,
Vanquished in that tremendous fray.

Not wounded he in nobler part
Nor smitten in life's fount, the heart:
But lust was shaken from his throne
And his foul empire overthrown.

Whereby we clearly learn aright
That man is whelmed by deadly night,
Unless he own God conqueror
And strive against His will no more.

Yet happier he whom rising morn
Shall find of nature's strength forlorn,
Whose warring flesh hath shrunk away,
Palsied by virtue's puissant sway.

And then at length let darkness flee,
Which all too long held us in fee,
'Mid wildering shadows made us stray
And led in devious tracks our way.

We pray Thee, Rising Light serene,
E'en as Thyself our hearts make clean:
Let no deceit our lips defile
Nor let our souls be vexed by guile.

O keep us, as the hours proceed,
From lying word and evil deed,
Our roving eyes from sin set free,
Our body from impurity.

For thou dost from above survey
The converse of each fleeting day:
Thou dost foresee from morning light
Our every deed, until the night.

Justice and judgment dwell with Thee,
Whatever is, Thine eye doth see:
Thou know'st what human hearts conceive
And none Thy wisdom may deceive.

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