A Preliminary Translation
by Joseph T. Moller
Exult now the Angelic Throng in the heavens: let the divine mysteries exult: and for such a king in his victory, let the trumpet insound salvation. Rejoice also the earth instruck with the rays flashing of such a light; and with the eternal king’s splendor alight, from the whole world, let her feel the darkness sent away. Joyful also be Mother Church, with such a light adorned, flashing brilliancies: and great with the voicings of the people let this church leap re-echoing. Wherefore, you standing here, dear brothers, to this so wondrous brilliance of holy night, together with me, I ask, Almighty God’s mercy invoke. That he who, not through my merits, has deigned me within the number of the Levites to ingather: the brilliance of his light pouring out may this candle full in praise perfect.
Truly worthy and just it is, the invisible God, Father Almighty and His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the whole heart and affection of mind, in ministration of voice and praise to persound. Who for us, Adam’s debt to the eternal Father, has absolved: and the old impediment of impious guilt with His blood in compassionate honor has wiped away. These are indeed the paschal feasts, in which truly that Lamb is slain, by whose blood the doorposts of the faithful are consecrated.
This is the night, in which first our fathers, the sons of Israel, led out of Egypt, the Red Sea dry-trod you made to cross. This therefore is the night, which has the darkness of sinners with the illumination of a pillar of light purged. This is the night, which today, throughout the world, those believing in Christ, from the vices of the times and the darkness of sin, gathers apart, restores to grace, joins to holiness.
This is the night, in which torn down were the chains of death and Christ, from Hell, the victor ascended. Nothing indeed to us in birth would there have been of benefit, except that it brought us to be redeemed. O the wonder that you deemed us worthy of your compassion. O the inconceivable love beyond love, choosing, caring: the slave to ransom, the son you handed over. O surely the necessary sin of Adam which by Christ’s death was blotted out. O happy fault which merited to have such and so great a redeemer.
O truly blessed night, which alone merited to know the time and the hour in which Christ from Hell arose. This is the night, of which it is written: And the night like the day will be lit up: And night, my light in my joy. Therefore the sanctifying act of this night puts to flight crime, guilt it washes away: and it restores innocence to the fallen and to the sorrowful joy. It puts to flight hatreds, harmony it readies, it bends power to mercy.
In this night of grace, therefore, accept, Holy Father, the evening sacrifice of this incense: which to you in the solemn offering of this candle, through the hands of her ministers, from the work of the bees, Holy Church renders. But now already we experience the proclamation spreading of this column of light, which to the honor of God shining red in fire burns, which though divided into parts, still not diminished, experiences no loss of the light borrowed from it. For it is fed by the liquid wax, which into the substance of this precious candle the mother bee has brought forth. O truly blessed night which despoiled the Egyptians, enriched the Hebrews. Night in which to things earthly, the heavenly; and to things human, the divine are joined.
We therefore pray thee, Lord: that this your candle to the honor of your name consecrated, the darkness of this night to destroy, unfailingly persevere. And may it, in the fragrance of its sweetness accepted, with heavenly light-bearers be mingled. Its flames may the morning star find. That morning star light bearer, I say, which knows no setting. He, who returned from hell, brought to humankind serene light.
We pray you therefore, Lord: that to us your family, and all the clergy, and your most devout people: together with our most blessed Pope and our Bishop, a time of peace yield, amidst these paschal joys, and under your assiduous protection, deign to rule, govern, and keep us. Look also to those who rule us in their power, and by the ineffable gift of your compassion and mercy, direct their thoughts to justice and peace, so that from earthly labors they may reach their heavenly home together with all your people.
Thanks for posting this Vincent – it’s beautiful!
Latinist I’m not, but “cælórum” presents some puzzles. Heaven is the usual anglo translation, but really it’s closer to celestial (or cielos in spanish–“skies”, in the plural in NT as well, I believe). Yet the original greek word is…Ouranon, which was in use even in pagan times (found in Aristotle, if not before)–latinized as..Urania (which becomes Uranus). Is that skies, or heavens, or possibly something spooky from greek philosophy? Not sure, but “heaven” (anglo for like “valhalla”) doesn’t seem quite adequate.