The Greek Sequence of St Dionysius

Dionysius 7
Yves de Saint-Denis, Life and Martyrdom of St. Denis and His Companions Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Français 2090, fol. 107v.

As we saw on Friday, for centuries the Abbey of St-Denys used to celebrate the Octave Day of its patron with a Mass where all the sung portions were in Greek. The translation of the sequence Gaude prole Grecia, attributed to both King Robert the Pious and Adam of St-Victor, is especially remarkable for its successful effort to preserve the metrical structure needed to fit the text to the melody.

Click here for the full sequence.

Beginning with the new Parisian missal promulgated by the Lord Archsbishop François de Harlay in 1684, the neo-Gallican liturgical books that festered in France during the Enlightenment Age altered this sequence to expunge any connection between St Dionysius the Areopagite and St Dionysius of Paris. The Abbey of St-Denys, however, remained firm in defending the Greek origins of its patron, and sung the original text until the Revolution.

Dionysius 1


Ἑλλὰς, ἐν τέκνῳ χαῖρε·
Γαλλία περίσσευε
Ἐν πατρὶ Διονύσῳ.

Ἀγαλλιάσθω πλέον
Παρίσιος, εὐσχήμων
Ὁσίου τῷ θανάτῳ.

Χαρὰν μέιζονα χαίρῃ
Εὐδάιμων συνουσίη
Μαρτύρων παρουσίᾳ.

Ἐφ’ ὧν συνηγορίῃ
Πᾶσα καυχᾶται χώρη,
Ἀρχῆς ἐστιν οὐσία.

Πρὸς γονῆα κείμε νοι
Στρατιῶται δόκιμοι
Μνήμης λάχον ἄξια.

Ἀλλὰ τουτονὶ πάντως
Σέβεται διηνεκῶς
Βασιλὶς Ἐκκλησία.

Ἀπὸ τ’ Ἀρχιερέως
Πεμφθεὶς εὶς Γαλατίαν,
Ἀπίστου τοῦ ἔθνεος
Οὐ φοβεῖται μανίαν.

Ὁ Γάλλων Ἀπόστολος
Ἦλθεν εἰς Λουτηκίαν
Ἣν κατέσχε δόλιος
Ἐχθρὸς ὡς τὴν ἰδίαν.

Τὸν τοῦ Χριστοῦ ναὸν κτίζει,
Ἅπασιν εὐαγγελίζει,
Τοῖς σημείοις φανερός.

Ὄχλος πιστεῖ, πλάνη φεύγει,
Πίστις αὔξει, καὶ αὐγάζει
Τ’ οὔνομ’ Ἀρχιερέως.

Πυθόμενος δὲ μαίνεται
Δομίτιος, καὶ πέμπεται
Ἄφρονα Σισίννιον.

Ὃς ἕλκει ποιμένα ψυχῶν,
Ζωῇ, τέρασιν ἔνδοξον,
Εἰς τὸ δεσμοτήριον.

Πρεσβύτερος πάσχει δίκας,
Φυλακὴν, δεσμὰ, μάστιγας,
Καταστὴν, στρῶμα σιδηρὸν,
Νικᾷ καῦσον ἔμπυρον.

Εὐχῇ δαμάζει θηρία,
Σταυρὸν ἔτλη, καὶ τὰ πῦρα,
Μετὰ πληγὰς ἐς σκοτεινὸν
Ἄγεται τὸ σπήλαιον.

Πρεσβυτέρου λειτουργοῦντος,
Τοῦ ὄχλου περιεστῶτος,
Χριστὸς ἦλθε, περιόντος
Οὐρανίης στρατίας.

Ἄρτῳ ζωῆς δεδεσμένον
Ἐβόσκησε τὸν ἅγιον,
Δόξης κοινωνησόμενον
Ἐν πόλῳ ἀϊδίας.

Ἴεται μαχησόμενος,
Ὑπὸ τὸ ξίφος ἄφοβος,
Ὁ μὲν παίων, ὁ δὲ νικῶν
Στεφανοῦται μαχάρᾳ.

Αὐτὸ νεκρὸν ἀνέστησε,
Κολοβὸς κεφαλὴν ᾖρε,
Ὅυ φερόντα προσήγαγε
Αγγέλων συνουσία.

Ὅσιον τὸ πάθημα
Ὑμνῶμεν εἰς αἱῶνα.

Ἀμήν. Ἀλληλούια.

Gaude prole Grecia,
Glorietur Gallia
Patre Dionysio.

Exultet uberius
Felici Parisius
Illustris martyrio.

Speciali gaudio
Gaude felix contio
Martyrum presentia.

Quorum patrocinio
Tota gaudet regio,
Regni stat potentia.

Iuxta Patrem positi,
Bellatores incliti
Digni sunt memoria.

Sed illum precipue
Recolit assidue
Regalis ecclesia.

Hic a summo presule
Directus ad Galliam,
Non gentis incredule
Veretur insaniam.

Gallorum apostolus,
Venerat Lutetiam,
Quam tenebat subdolus
Hostis velut propriam.

Hic constructo Christi templo,
Verbo docet et exemplo,
Coruscat miraculis.

Turba credit, error cedit,
Fides crescit, et clarescit
Nomen tanti presulis.

His auditis fit insanus
Immitis Domicianus,
Mittitque Sisinnium:

Qui pastorem animarum,
Fide, vita, signis clarum
Trahat ad supplicium.

Infliguntur seni pene,
Flagra, carcer et catene;
Catastam, lectum ferreum,

Et estum vincit igneum.
Prece domat feras truces,
Sedat rogum, perfert cruces:
Per clavos et patibulum
Translatus ad ergastulum.

Seniore celebrante
Missam, turba circumstante,
Christus adest, comitante
Celesti militia.

Specu clausum carcerali
Consolatur, et uitali
Pane cibat, immortali
Coronandum gloria.

Prodit Martyr conflicturus,
Sub securi stat securus:
Ferit lictor, sicque uictor

Consummatur gladio.
Se cadaver mox erexit,
Truncus truncum caput vexit,
Quo ferentem huc direxit
Angelorum legio.

Tam praeclara passio
Repleat nos gaudio.

Amen. Alleluia.

Rejoice, O Greece, in thy progeny;
Glory, O Gaul
In thy father Dionysius.

Exalt richly,
Lustrous Paris,
In the happy martyrdom.

With a special joy,
Rejoice, O happy assembly
In the presence of the martyrs.

Of whose patronage
The whole realm rejoiceth,
And on whom its power is founded.

Placed at the Father’s side,
These famous warriors,
Are worthy of remembrance.

But him especially
Recalleth with devotion
The royal church.

He, by the supreme Bishop
Directed to Gaul,
Never feared the madness
Of an infidel race.

The apostle of the Gauls
Came to Paris,
Whom the treacherous
Enemy held as his own.

Having built a temple to Christ,
He teacheth by word and deed,
He glittereth with miracles.

The multitude believeth, error recedeth,
Faith groweth, and gloweth
The name of such a great prelate.

Hearing this, cruel
Domitian rages,
And sends Sisinnius.

Who that pastor of souls,
So bright in faith, life, and miracles,
draggeth off to torture.

Punishments are inflicted on the old man,
Scourges, prison, and chains;
He conquereth scaffold, rack,
And scorching flames.

By prayer he tameth wild beasts,
Douseth pyres, and beareth crosses:
After nails and beams, he is
Transferred to hard labour.

As the old man celebrateth mass,
As the multitude crowdeth around him,
Christ is present,
Attended by the heavenly host.

He consoleth him
Imprisoned in a dungeon,
Feedeth him with life-giving bread,
To crown him with life everlasting.

The martyr goeth forth to battle,
Under the falling axe he standeth fearless,
The lictor striketh, and thus the champion is finished off by the sword.

Anon the corpse ariseth,
Beheaded, he taketh his stricken head,
And bearing, goeth forth
Guided by a host of angels

Let such a glorious passion
Fill us with joy.

Amen. Alleluia.

Dionysius 3
Unknown Artist
Martyrdom of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite
fresco, Church of Saint Michael, Vithkuq (Albania), 1712



Dionysius 2 (Complete Works, Palaiologos)
Portrait of Manuel II Palaeologus and his family, from a manuscript of St. Dionysius’s complete works sent by the emperor to the Abbey of St. Denis.

One thought on “The Greek Sequence of St Dionysius

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