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Translation of Hymn by Philip Melanchthon

September 16th, 2011
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Another interesting hymn translation from Matthew Carver.

Here is my translation of Dicimus grates tibi summe rerum Conditor (P. Melanchthon, 1539) from the Latin rather than from the German paraphrase by Paul Eber (†1569; translations of that have been made by Seiss and Cronenwett). This one preserves the meter. I provide the melody from Lossius Psalmodia (1579):

THANKS UNTO THEE, O highest Lord, Creator,
We for Thy faithful ministers now render,
Whose host Thine hand as flames of fire created,
Holy and blameless.

2. Of Thine own light they shine with radiant glory,
Ever Thy face with raptured gaze beholding,
From Thee Thy words and heav’nly wisdom drawing,
Filled by their Fountain.

3. Thou dost not suffer this Thy holy people
Idly to throng, nor futilely to flutter
Round the vast realms of ether, nor unheeding
Through winds to frolic.

4. Them hast Thou bidden to be Christ’s attendants,
And to defend the gath’ring of the godly,
Duly revering all Thy holy statutes,
Tending their teaching.

5. For hotly burning with ungodly hatred,
Against Thy camp, the dragon, ever furious,
Wages his war, by whom both sin and dying
This world first entered.

6. Here seeks he naught but ruin and destruction
Of house and city, church and congregation,
And every thought of Law and fitting conduct:—
Fain would he raze them.

7. Yet o’er us watch the heav’nly troops of angels
Following Christ, their Captain and Commander,
Curbing the cruel weapons of the dragon,
Where’er he rages.

8. Angels saved Lot from Sodom’s devastation,
Harbored Elisha from the hostile armies;
Ringed round by angels, he beheld unfearing
Banners of battle.

9. Safe mid the circling lions stood the prophet
Daniel, surrounded by a hedge of angels;
Thus doth God ever by His faithful servants
Keep us all covered.

10. Of Thy protection we would now be mindful,
As unto Thee our choirs, their voices blending
With choirs angelic, thankful anthems render,
O kind Creator.

11. Set these Thy watchmen o’er Thy temple ever,
And o’er Thy people, which esteems as sacred
The Word of Christ, Thy Son; this we beseech Thee
With all devotion.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2011.


1. Dicimus grates tibi, summe rerum
Conditor, gnato tua quod ministros
Flammeos finxit manus angelorum
Agmina pura.

2. Qui tuae lucis radiis vibrantes
Te vident laetis oculis, tuasque
Hauriunt voces, sapientiaeque
Fonte fruuntur.

3. Hos nec [non] ignavum sinis [finis] esse vulgus,
Nec per ingentes volitare frustra
Aetheris tractus, temere nec inter
Ludere ventos.

4. Sed jubes Christo comites adesse
Et pios caetus hominum tueri,
Qui tuas leges venerantur, atque
Discere curant.

5. Impiis ardens odiis et ira
Nam tuis castris draco semper infert
Bella, qui primis scelus atque mortem
Intulit orbi.

6. Hic domos, urbes, tua templa, gentes
Et tuae legis monumenta tota
Et bonos mores abolere tentat
Funditus omnes.

7. Interim sed nos regit angelorum,
Quae ducem Christum sequitur, caterva,
Atque grassantis reprimit cruenta
Arma draconis.

8. Angeli Lothon Sodomae tuentur,
Inter infestos Elisaeus [C…] hostes,
Angelis cinctus, nihil extimescit
Bellica signa.

9. Tutus est inter medios leones,
Angelis s(a)eptus Daniel propheta:
Sic tegit semper Deus his ministris
Omnia nostra.

10. Hoc tuum munus celebramus una,
Et tibi noster chorus angelique
Gratias dicunt simul accinentes,
Conditor alme.

11. Et tuo templo vigiles ut addas
Angelos semper, populoque, Gnati
Qui tui verbum colit, obsecramus
Pectore toto.

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Categories: Lutheran Hymns
  1. Terry Maher (Past Elder)
    September 17th, 2011 at 01:00 | #1

    Great Guido Aretinus OSB, ain’t nobody gonna mention that Melanchthon wrote this for Michaelistag — as God calls it but may be better known locally as St Michael and All Angels — which is coming up at the end of this month? Or that it is included in TLH (Hymn 254) and LSB (Hymn 522)?

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