A solis ortus cardine


An old hymn (abecedarium, alphabetical poem: 23 stanzas, iambic dimeters) of Sedulius, ca. 450. Biographical data about the author are non-existent. The name (only his family-name, about his first name everything is also hypothetical) is known from the dedicatory epistles accompanying his Carmen Paschale (5 books, hexameters) and its prose rendition (Opus paschale). Next to this impressive poem (very long, but fluent) there are two hymns attributed to the same Sedulius, the most famous and successfull our poem: A solis ortus cardine, of which the first part (7 stanzas) was included in the Church's liturgy of Advent.
The first 7 stanzas (covering A-G) tell the story of Christmas. The remaing 'cento' from H-Z provides a kind of summary of the gospel (a selection of stories and miracles), With at 'V' the crucifixion, 'X' the resurrection, 'Y'  the 'hymns' we sing for the risen Christ, who destroys the 'Zealous' dragon in the final verse, where Ascension Day is also Judgment day. Luther translated the first part, a hymn for Christmas day: Christum wir sollen loben schon. As you can easily see below: he stayed really close to the original, as with his other hymn-translations.

See below with music
German text with simplified tune


A solis ortus cardine
ad usque terrae limitem
Christum canamus principem,
natum Maria virgine.

From the point where the sun rises
right up to the end of the world
let us sing of Christ the king
born from the virgin Mary.

From east to west, from shore to shore,
Let every heart awake and sing
The holy Child Whom Mary bore,
The Christ, the everlasting King.

Christum wir sollen loben schon,
Der reinen Magd Marien Sohn,
Soweit die liebe Sonne leucht't
Und an aller Welt Ende reicht.

Van 't vroeglicht van de dageraad
tot waar de zon weer ondergaat
zingt elk de koning Christus eer,
het kind der maagd is onze Heer.


Beatus auctor saeculi
servile corpus induit,
ut carne carnem liberans
non perderet quod condidit.

The blessed creator of the world
put on a slave's body
so that freeing flesh by flesh
he might not lose what he had made

Behold, the world's Creator wears
The form and fashion of a slave;
Our very flesh our Maker shares,
His fallen creature, man, to save.

Der selig' Schöpfer aller Ding'
Zog an ein's Knechtes Leib gering,
Daß er das Fleisch durchs Fleisch erwürb'
Und sein Geschöpf nicht all's verdürb'.

De Heer die alles deed ontstaan,
Hij neemt de knechtsgestalte aan,
opdat door 't vlees Hij 't vlees bevrijdt
en wat Hij schiep behoudt en leidt.


Clausae parentis viscera
caelestis intrat gratia;
venter puellae baiulat
secreta quae non noverat.

Into the womb of the chaste mother
there enters heavenly grace;
the girl's belly bears
secrets which she does not know.

For this how wondrously He wrought!
A maiden, in her lowly place,
Became, in ways beyond all thought,
The chosen vessel of His grace.

Die göttlich' Gnad' vom Himmel groß
Sich in die keusche Mutter goß;
Ein Mägdlein trug ein heimlich Pfand,
Das der Natur war unbekannt.

Het is de schoot der reine Maagd
die hemelse genade draagt
en zwelt van een geheimenis
dat voor haarzelf verborgen is.


Domus pudici pectoris
templum repente fit Dei;
intacta nesciens virum
verbo concepit Filium.

The house of a chaste breast
suddenly becomes the temple of God;
she who was untouched and did not know man
conceived the Son through a word.

She bowed her to the angel's word
Declaring what the Father willed,
And suddenly the promised Lord
That pure and hallowed temple filled.

Das züchtig' Haus des Herzens zart
Gar bald ein Tempel Gottes ward;
Die kein Mann rühret noch erkannt,
Von Gottes Wort man schwanger fand.

Haar lichaam ongerept en kuis
wordt voor God zelf een heilig huis.
Geen man bekent zij. Door het woord
brengt zij den Zoon des hemels voort.


Enixa est puerpera
quem Gabriel praedixerat,
quem matris alvo gestiens
clausus Ioannes senserat.

The expectant woman has given birth
to him who was predicted by Gabriel,
whom John recognised and leapt for joy
when he was shut in his mother's womb.


Die edle Mutter hat gebor'n
Den Gabriel verhiess zuvorn,
Den Sankt Johann's mit Springen zeigt',
Da er noch lag im Mutterleib.

Hem is het die zij 't leven geeft,
dien Gabriel verkondigd heeft,
en wien de Doper hulde bood,
opspringend in zijn moeders schoot.


Faeno iacere pertulit,
praesepe non abhorruit,
parvoque lacte pastus est
per quem nec ales esurit.

He endured to lie on hay,
he did not shrink from the crib,
he was fed on a little milk
- he who does not allow even a bird to go hungry.

He shrank not from the oxen's stall,
He lay within the manger bed,
And He whose bounty feedeth all
At Mary's breast Himself was fed.

Er lag im Heu mit Armut groß,
Die Krippe hart ihn nicht verdroß;
Es ward ein' kleine Milch sein' Speis',
Der nie kein Vöglein hungern liess.

Hij die het hele leven hoedt,
die ook de kleinste vogel voedt,
ligt hier in 't stro, Hij 's hemels vorst!
Hier drinkt Hij aan zijn moeders borst.


Gaudet chorus caelestium
et angeli canunt Deum,
palamque fit pastoribus
pastor, creator omnium.

The heavenly chorus rejoices
and the angels sing of God,
there is revealed to shepherds
the Shepherd, who is the creator of the universe.

And while the angels in the sky
Sang praise above the silent field,
To shepherds poor the Lord Most High,
The one great Shepherd, was revealed.

Des Himmels Chör' sich freuen drob,
Und die Engel singen Gott Lob;
Den armen Hirten wird vermeld't
Der Hirt und Schöpfer aller Welt.

Luid klinkt het lied van 't englenkoor :
Ere zij God, de hemel door.
Aan herders wijst het in een stal
den groten Herder van 't heelal.


Iesu, tibi sit gloria,
qui natus es de virgine,
cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.

Jesus, glory be to you,
who were born from the virgin.
together with the Father and the lifegiving Spirit
through everlasting ages. Amen


Lob, Ehr' und Dank sei dir gesagt,
Christ, gebor'n von der reinen Magd,
Mit Vater und dem Heil'gen Geist
Von nun an bis in Ewigkeit!



Caedulius (ca. 450)
Paean Alphabeticus de Christo

(strofe 1-7, or A-G) with doxology added)



Francis Brown /span>
(source: Bach cantatas website)


John Ellerton
(Church Hymns, 1871)


Martin Luther
(Enchiridion 1524)


J.W. Schulte Nordholt
(Hymnen, 1967)

The original tune (from a antiphonarium, Skt. Gallen,

The german version (with altered tune by Luther (Walter?), to make it suitable for community hymn singing)
Christum wir sollen loben schon - Wikipedia

The english version with notes (tune a solis ortus) - Lutheran hymnal
Lutheran Book of Worship page 362