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Stabat Mater

April 15, 2019
She sank to her knees on the shaking ground
when she reached the place.
 
A thorn pierced her heart,
as she raised her eyes
from the foot of the cross,
to her dying son.
 
A mother’s pain.
 
And we weep too,
as though we were there.
We see her shudder
to share the deep-bone pain he bore for us.
 
He died alone.
 
Mother, let me too
kneel down with you,
bear all I can of all he bore,
share in his love
and in the path he pointed to.
 
I know he felt those wounds and died for me –
don’t push me away –
mother, I need to feel this too:
I need to know the meaning of this place.
 
He died for us.
 
Let me find my harbour in what happened in this place,
let me find my harbour in your arms,
and in his grace. 


Mater Dolorosa. Workshop of Dieric Bouts. C. 1420-75. Art Institute of Chicago.

This update of the 13th Century Latin hymn Stabat Mater was set to music beautifully by Nicola Burnett Smith and first performed at St Paul’s, Covent Garden, London on 15th April, 2019. The recording can be heard here.

The Latin original, followed by a rough translation, follows.

Stabat Mater

Stabat mater dolorósa
juxta Crucem lacrimósa,
dum pendébat Fílius.

Cuius ánimam geméntem,
contristátam et doléntem
pertransívit gládius.

O quam tristis et afflícta
fuit illa benedícta,
mater Unigéniti!

Quae mœrébat et dolébat,
pia Mater, dum vidébat
nati pœnas ínclyti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si vidéret
in tanto supplício?

Quis non posset contristári
Christi Matrem contemplári
doléntem cum Fílio?

Pro peccátis suæ gentis
vidit Iésum in torméntis,
et flagéllis súbditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriéndo desolátum,
dum emísit spíritum.

Eja, Mater, fons amóris
me sentíre vim dolóris
fac, ut tecum lúgeam.

Fac, ut árdeat cor meum
in amándo Christum Deum
ut sibi compláceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifíxi fige plagas
cordi meo válide.

Tui Nati vulneráti,
tam dignáti pro me pati,
pœnas mecum dívide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifíxo condolére,
donec ego víxero.

Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociáre
in planctu desídero.

Virgo vírginum præclára,
mihi iam non sis amára,
fac me tecum plángere.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passiónis fac consórtem,
et plagas recólere.

Fac me plagis vulnerári,
fac me Cruce inebriári,
et cruóre Fílii.

Flammis ne urar succénsus,
per te, Virgo, sim defénsus
in die iudícii.

Christe, cum sit hinc exíre,
da per Matrem me veníre
ad palmam victóriæ.

Quando corpus moriétur,
fac, ut ánimæ donétur
paradísi glória.
Amen.

Rough translation

The grieving Mother stood weeping beside the cross where her Son was hanging. Compassionate and grieving, a sword passed through her weeping soul. How sad and distressed was that blessed Mother of the Only-begotten, who mourned and grieved and trembled at the torment of her glorious Child.  

Who would not weep, seeing the Mother of Christ in such agony? Who would not feel compassion on beholding Christ’s Mother suffering with her Son? For the sins of His people she saw Jesus in torment, scourged. She saw her sweet child dying, forsaken, while He gave up his spirit.

O Mother, fountain of love, make me feel the power of sorrow, so I can grieve with you. Grant that my heart may burn in the love of Christ my Lord, that I may please Him. Holy Mother, grant that the wounds of the Crucified drive deep into my heart. Share with me the agony of your wounded Son, who so deigned to suffer for me. Let me sincerely weep with you, bemoan the Crucified, as long as I live. I desire to stand beside the cross with you, and gladly share the weeping. Chosen Virgin of virgins, do not be bitter with me, let me weep with you. Grant that I may bear the death of Christ, the fate of his Passion, and commemorate His wounds. Let me be wounded by his wounds, made drunk by the cross because of my love for the Son.

Defend me, O Virgin, lest I burn in the flames of hell on the day of judgement. Christ, when it is time to pass away, grant that through your Mother I may come to the palm of victory. When my body dies, grant that the glory of paradise is given to my soul. Amen

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