Looking for English translation Te lucis ante terminum
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 838
    I'm looking for an English translation of the Latin hymn for Compline Te lucis ante terminum, which must be in the public domain. Also, the English text should match the traditional Gregorian hymn tunes. There is an older and a newer version of this hymn, and I'm looking for the latter:

    Te lucis ante términum
    rerum creátor póscimus
    ut sólita cleméntia
    sis præsul ad custódiam.

    Te corda nostra sómnient,
    te per sopórem séntiant,
    tuámque semper glóriam
    vicína luce cóncinant.

    Vitam salúbrem tríbue
    nostrum calórum réfice,
    tætrum noctis calíginem
    tua collústret cláritas.

    Præsta, Pater omnípotens,
    per Iesum Christum Dóminum,
    qui tecum in perpétuum
    regnat cum Sancto Spírito. Amen.

    Interesting, this text is a cento from the old version (first and fourth stanza) and the hymn Christe precamur adnue (second and third stanza).
    Does someone know of a copyright free English translation?
  • Three stanzas only, nos. 1, 2, & 4 of the ones you have here, are to be found at no. 164 of The Hymnal 1940. The same three stanzas with slightly different words may also be found at no. 264 of The English Hymnal. Both are variants of the translation by J.M. Neale.
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    Will this from Neale work?
    To Thee, before the close of day
    Creator of the world, we pray
    that with Thy wonted favor, Thou
    wouldst be our Guard and Keeper now.

    From all ill dreams defend our eyes,
    from nightly fears and fantasies:
    tread under foot our ghostly foe,
    that no pollution we may know.

    O Father, that we ask be done
    through Jesus Christ Thine only Son,
    who, with the Holy Ghost and Thee,
    shall live and reign eternally.

    The Treasury of Latin Prayers is a wonderfully useful site.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Do you all know that lovely setting by H. Balfour Gardiner? I think it is his own translation. I like it better than the Neale. Gardiner only ever wrote that one anthem, and then retired to growing trees I believe? Farming, anyway.
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 838
    The translations by Neale and Gardiner (who's wonderful Evening Hymn is found here by the way: http://waltercosand.com/CosandScores/Composers E-K/Gardiner, H. Balfour/Evening_Hymn.pdf) are both translations of the old text of Te lucis ante terminum:

    Te lucis ante terminum,
    rerum Creator, poscimus
    ut pro tua clementia
    sis praesul et custodia.

    Procul recedant somnia
    et noctium phantasmata;
    hostemque nostrum comprime,
    ne polluantur corpora.

    Praesta, Pater piissime,
    Patrique compar Unice,
    cum Spiritu Paraclito
    regnans per omne saeculum.

    Notice that in the new text, the first and last stanza are slightly different, and the second stanza has been replaced by the two stanzas from Christe precamur adnue. This new text is now used for Compline in the Liturgy of the Hours, and I'm looking for a matching translation which can be sung on the same Gregorian tune.
  • Paul F. Ford
    Posts: 814
    To you, be-fore the end of day,
    Cre-a-tor of the world, we pray;
    In love un-fail-ing, hear our prayer,
    En-fold us in your watch-ful care.

    Lord, when we sleep, be in our hearts,
    Your Spir-it peace and rest im-parts;
    Then, with the light of dawn, may we
    Your glo-ry praise un-end-ing-ly.

    Your liv-ing power breathe from a-bove,
    Re-new in us the fire of love;
    And may your bright-ness drive a-way
    All dark-ness in e-ter-nal day.

    O Fa-ther, hear us, through your Son,
    Who, with the Spir-it, ever One
    Now reigns as liv-ing Trin-i-ty
    In time and for e-ter-ni-ty.

    Hymns for Prayer and Praise
    © 1995 Panel of Monastic Musicians
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Not what smvanroode is looking for, but there is a new setting, very lovely, by Nicholas White- used to be asst organist at National Cathedral. Forget where he is now.
  • BachLover2BachLover2
    Posts: 331
    the problem with metrical settings is that they don't accurately translate
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    I know, but they are still beautiful in their own right. Like trying to translate poetry from one language to another- something is always lost, but also something can be gained.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    In the case of the Gardiner and the White versions, both use the Latin text as well as English, so you cando either
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,325
    "the problem with metrical settings is that they don't accurately translate"

    ...in some cases.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    If it's a critical edition, an accurate translation is essential. If it's for performing, you have to go with something that works. Simple.
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 838
    Thank you Paul, for giving this translation. It's the only translation of the new hymn text I have seen so far.

    I needed the English text for a Latin-English booklet of Compline (like the ones found on my website), where both Latin and English texts are set to (same) music.

    Thank you all for your comments.

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,325

    Are you proposing a dynamic equivalence model of hymn translation?

    In the old days people thought of hymns as authoritative texts in the big-T Tradition. For example, every once in a while St. Thomas Aquinas will argue for a point of theology using an Ambrosian hymn as the point of reference in the Tradition.

    Translations should say what the original says.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    I'm just saying it depends on the context: what the source is, what the text is being used for, who the intended recipients are, etc., etc.

    I tend to agree with you that the translation should say what the original says, but should it be exactly what the original says? If so, that assumes there is a 1:1 correspondence between syntax, semiotics, etc. There rarely is, of course.

    To turn the question into musical terms, do we always perform exactly what's on the page? Similar problem with similar issues. Sure, you should sing what the page says to sing, but there is more to it than that!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,325
    I think if somebody wants to write a hymn for a given audience, etc etc, s/he can go ahead and write one. If, on the other hand, someone is translating a hymn, the translation should be accurate.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    I guess it just depends on what your definition of accurate is. Like Paul Ford's post. Is it accurate? It's pretty close, but there is some license taken.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    There is a difference bet a totally accurate translation down ot the 'the' and the 'and'. A world of differnece between that and a singable translation. Surely this is obvious????
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    That's what I thought, Donna. Thank you for saying it better than I could.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,325
    I don't see any reason why a translation can't be singable AND accurate.
  • Surely, one is not suggesting that a prose translation is ipso facto going to be more accurate. There is no logic at all in this. Yes, many verse translations are replete with (poetic!) license. At least they can be sung; which is, to me, no small factor in their faithfulness. If one can't sing it, one has also 'lost' quite a bit that faithful (and usually clumsy or artless) prose does not make up for. If one can't sing it, one has been duped, robbed of the soul of the thing. As the mediaeval Folquet de Marseille put it: 'A verse without music is a mill without water'.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,325
    I've selected almost at random an interior verse of the office hymn Excelsam Pauli gloriam, with my translation.

    I really don't see why we should compromise on anything.

    Micantis more lampadis
    perfundit orbem radiis;
    fugat errorum tenebras,
    ut sola regnet veritas.

    The shining of the lamplight gleams
    And drenches earth with heaven's beams.
    The dark of error's night is past;
    The reign of truth has come at last.
  • MarkThompson
    Posts: 768
    Kathy, that's excellent, but which word of the original got translated as "heaven's"? Or is that just your margin of error?
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    This is an argument/discussion which has been going on for years- probably since the first Pentecost LOL. Certainly I want to knwo what every word means, even the articles b/c it brings greater understanding of the text, but it's just not possible to sing a totally literal translation- not just Latin, but any language, unless it is very simple set of words. . Just think about the placement of sublect and predicate in German for instance. You just can't do it.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,325
    Hah! Good one.

    No, it was pretty clear to me when translating that this light (of truth) was heavenly. Paul was lifted up to heaven and this is where his knowledge for preaching came from (verse 3) and the interplay between heaven and earth was continued in verse 4:

    The word, like seed sown in a field,
    Producing an abundant yield,
    Fills heav'nly barns whose stores of grain
    Were tilled and grown on earthly plains.

    Also, in Latin hymnody the word "orbis" often, as here, means "the world in need of grace." I took the hymnwriter to be saying that the lamps, the saints of verse 4--the harvested crops--shine throughout the world right now, spreading the Truth.

    In the Latin there's a subtle pun on "shining" in verses 4 and 5.

    In other words, by adding "heaven's" I simply made explicit in English an aspect of the imagery that I thought would clear to a Latin singer of the original text.

    Hmm. Maybe *I* believe in dynamic equivalence! ;)
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Kathy, I think we are on the same page but talking past each other. Mr. Osborn (Do you go by Jackson?), I agree with you completely.

    Just to clarify where I'm coming from, Kathy: Like you, I was disgruntled with BachLover's statement, "The problem with metrical settings is that they don't accurately translate." It seemed way off base. Hence my curt defense of singable translations in performance, even if strict accuracy is not maintained.

    If there is fidelity to the meaning as well as beautiful verse, then that is the best translation in my opinion. As I said before, if I were creating a critical translation of a hymn for scholarly consumption, only then I would be absolutely faithful with no poetic license. But then again, if I were doing that, I would also place a second, poetic translation alongside!

    But let's bring it back to BachLover and take Kathy's example under scrutiny (since she offered it to us). It is obvious that the phrase "ut sola regnet veritas" is not close syntactically to "the reign of truth has come at last." It conveys the semantic pretty well and the metric mirroring is exceptionally good, but the syntax is fundamentally different.

    So the question is really for BL: Is Kathy's translation really that bad?

    In case the answer is yes, then let's try something else: "that naught but truth might rule instead" (rhyming with "...fled" from the previous line) fits the actual syntax a smidge better. But it's still not good enough because it's metrical?

    See my frustration with the statement, "The problem with metrical settings is that they don't accurately translate."? The two are not mutually opposed, and I think that is the point that many of us are agreeing on but I am not communicating very well.

    I hope, Kathy, that this clears up what became a discussion that got way beyond what I intended. I think your translation is great.

    BL, I don't mean to come down so hard on you! It's just I don't see a problem with metrical translations, so long as there is a good effort to convey the meaning and aesthetic.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,325
    Ok, Doug, that helps.

    I should be clear that I generally throw syntax out the window. It WOULD be impossible to translate syntax into verse, unless possibly one were working with closely related languages.

    But meaning, imagery, Scripture references--imho these should all stay intact. The overriding question for the translator is, do I consider this Latin text to be a handy jumping-off point for my own ideas, or do I consider myself a servant of the original author? I think that it is possible to hold the latter attitude without compromising poetry.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Ok, now I think we are talking!

    "do I consider this Latin text to be a handy jumping-off point for my own ideas" -- a very lame approach :-)

    As a historian, I am moved that as a translator you put yourself in the shoes of a listener from a era or cultural milieu. So often we don't consider historical understandings of words that have changed over time. And it is all the more impressive to me that you are thinking about historical reception of words as well as their historical creation.

    (I was trying to think of a good Clarence Thomas crack to close with, but nothing came out quite right.)
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    I am confused about the Clarence Thomas crack. I hope you mean that you admire him.

  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    I was only trying to think of a funny way of saying he would approve of this method of translation...
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,325
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585

  • Smvanroode,
    there reigns much confusion as to the hymns. The original Roman hymn texts were changed by order of Pope Urbanus VIII to adapt them to renaissance neo-classical (and often neo-pagan) tastes and sentiments. The Only the ancient monasteries continued to sing the original verisons of the hymns. The Second Vatican Council mandated that the hymns should be restored to their original texts and purged from all renaissance pagan additions. Those in charge of the post-conciliar liturgical reforms (Consilium) , went far beyond their mandate also as regards the hymns, deleting stanzas , changing words, and writing new compositions. However, the First and Last stanzas of Te lucis ante terminum for Completorium in the Liturgia Horarum were indeed restored to their original texts. The third verse of the original text was scrapped as not reflecting contemporary moral and biological understandings. (the second verse - ne polluantur corpora - asks to prevent nocturnal pollution, as being sinful, whereas it is merely a necessary biological occurence...). So instead of this third stanza, which was scrapped by Consilium, two stanzas of another ancient hymn for Completorium were inserted. As Father Hunwicke explains, these two stanzas were taken from a sixth century hymn in the Regula Caesarii ''Christe, precamur, adnue.''
    The english translations in the old hymnals mentioned in other postings translate the corrupted text of Urbanus VIII. Whereas you want the translation of the text as it is in Liturgia Horarum. Is the hymn not translated into English in the English version of Liturgia Horarum? I do not know, as i pray the breviary in Latin, according to the pre-conciliar Breviary.