Thursday, 14 March 2013

'Our weary limbs refreshed now with rest'

A man wakes and greets the sun, from the beginning of Prime in a 13th-century 
English Book of Hours, BL Egerton 1151

Our weary limbs refreshed now with rest,
After our sleep we wake and up arise.
Our sluggish bed no longer be our nest;
We dress us, Lord, as we can best devise,
Singing devoutly hymns of service,
Beseeching thee always be us among,
Who now praise thee most heartily in song.

Our tongue praise thee, good Lord, principally,
And in thy laud most joyously resound.
Our heart and our mind, our spirit worldly,
With ardent will thee clasp and envirowne [embrace]
So that no sin may throw our souls down;
All our acts which yet are following, [are still to come]
Begin thou, Lord, and bring to good ending.

Darkness of sin and all obscurity
Give place to light, that it may clearly shine.
The day coming, the night must needs flee;
Suffer no blame our hearts to undermine,
Illumine us, Lord, with light of grace divine,
Removing sin that stole on us by night,
And guide us, Lord, by clearness of thy light.

We pray thee and beseech thee humbly
With heart and will and our sufficans, [ability]
Our sins all to wash away and wrie [cast out]
And grant us be so perfect in creaunce [belief]
That we may thee praise and do thy pleasance [will]
And perfectly give thee laud and praising
With hymns all that we may read or sing.

This is a fifteenth-century English translation of the Office morning hymn 'Somno refectis artubus', from a collection of hymn translations in the manuscript British Library, Additional 34193.  It's a delightful translation - my favourite line is 'our sluggish bed no longer be our nest'!


Here's the text in the original spelling, which I got from Frank Allen Patterson, 'Hymnal from MS. Additional 34193 British Museum', Medieval Studies in Memory of Gertrude Schoepperle Loomis (New York, 1927), pp.443-488:

Owr wery lymes refreschyd now with rest,
Afftyr our slepe we wak and up a rysse;
Owr sluggisshe bed no lengar be owr nest;
We dresse vs, lord, as we can best devise,
Synggyng deyvowtly hympnes off seruice,
Besesechyng þe all wey ben vs a monge,
That preysyne the most hertyly with songe.

Owr twnge the preysse, god lord, principally,
And in thy lawd most noyously reysown;
Owr hert and owr mynd, owr speryt in wordly,
Wyth ardaunt wyll the clype and envirowne
So þat no synne supprise owr sowlys downe;
Owr actes all that yet ben folowyng,
Begynne thow, lord, and bryng to gud endyng.

Darknes of synne and all obscurite,
Yeve place to lyght þat hyt mey clerly shynne;
The dey commyng, þe nyght most nedes flee;
Suffyr no blame owr hertes vndyr myne,
Illumyne vs, lord, with lyght of grace dyvyne,
Reymevyng synne þat stale one vs be nyght,
And gyd vs, loord, be clerness off þi lyght.

We prey the and besechen hvmbylly
Wyth hert and wyll And owr sufficans,
Owr synnes all to wasshe Awey and wrie
And grawnt vs be so perfyt of creaunce,
We mey the preysse and do thy pleasance
And perfytly yeve the lavd and preysyng
Wythe ympnes all þat we mey rede or synge.

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