A Sequence for St Charlemagne

During the Age of Faith, a number of churches in France and Germany kept the feast of the Most Serene and August Emperor Charles on 28 January, but his cultus always enjoyed its greatest popularity in his beloved city of Aachen. The city has long reciprocated Charlemagne’s unaccountable love for their fœtid hot water springs, and, with the approbation of the Holy See, has for centuries sung this admirable sequence at Mass in honour of its Cæsarian patron.

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The students of the University of Paris toast their patron St Charlemagne on his feast day.

The stanzas in italics are present in the earliest attested copy of this sequence (Aachen MS. G13), but not in the 1931 supplement to the Missal for the diocese of Aachen.

Urbs Aquensis, urbs regalis,
regni sedes principalis,
prima regum curia.
Regi regum pange laudes,
quae de magni regis gaudes
Karoli præsentia.
City of Aachen! Royal city!
Foremost seat of the foremost kingdom!
Chief court of kings!
Sing praises to the king of kings,
thou who rejoicest in the presence
of the great king Charles.
Iste cœtus psallat laetus,
psallat chorus hic sonorus
vocali concordia.
At dum manus operatur
bonum, quod cor meditatur,
dulcis est psalmodia.
Let this glad assembly sing!
Let this melodious quire sing
with harmonious voices!
But when the hand effects
the good that the heart doth meditate,
sweet is the psalmody!
Hac in die, die festa,
magni regis magna gesta
recolat Ecclesia.
Reges terrae, et omnes populi,
omnes simul plaudant
et singuli celebri lætitia.
On this day, this festive day,
the great deeds of a great king
let the Church recall.
Let the kings of the earth and all the people,
each and all applaud
with a joyful celebration.
Hic est Christi miles fortis,
hic invictae dux cohortis,
ducum sternit milia.
Terram purgat lolio,
atque metit gladio
ex messe zizania.
He is the mighty knight of Christ,
he the commander of an army unvanquished:
he casteth down a thousand chieftains.
He weedeth the earth of its tares,
and with his sword cutteth away
the cockle from the harvest.
Hic est magnus imperator,
boni fructus bonus sator
et prudens agricola.
Infideles hic convertit,
fana,[1] deos hic evertit
et confringit idola.
He is the great emperor,
the good sower of good fruit,
and a wise husbandman.
He converteth the heathen,
he overturneth their temples and gods,
and shattereth their idols.
Hic superbos domat reges,
hic regnare sacras leges
facit cum justitia,
quam tuetur eo fine,
ut et justus sed nec sine
sit misericordia.
He subdueth haughty kings,
he upholdeth hallowed laws
with justice,
which he protecteth in order
that he mayest be just,
but not without mercy.
Oleo laetitiae
unctus dono gratiae
ceteris prae regibus.
Cum corona gloriae,
majestatis regiae
insignitur fascibus.
With the oil of gladness
he is anointed, and with the gift of grace,
afore all other kings.
With the crown of glory
he is bedecked, and with the
fasces of kingly majesty.
O rex, mundi triumphator,
Jesu Christi conregnator,
sis pro nobis exorator,
sancte pater Karole,
emundati a peccatis,
ut in regno claritatis,
nos, plebs tua, cum beatis
cæli simus incolæ.
O king! Conqueror of the world!
Who reignest together with Jesus Christ!
Be for us a suppliant,
O holy father Charles!
That cleansed from our sins,
in the heavenly kingdom,
we, thy people, might with the blessed
be dwellers of heaven.
Stella maris, o Maria,
mundi salus, vitae via,
vacillantum rege gressus
et ad regem des accessus
in perenni gloria.
Star of the sea! O Mary!
Salvation of the world! Way of life!
Guide our faltering steps
and grant us audience with the king
in glory everlasting.
Christe, splendor Dei Patris,
incorruptae fili matris,
per hunc sanctum, cujus festa
celebramus, nobis praesta
sempiterna gaudia. Amen.
Christ, splendour of God the Father,
Son of an inviolate mother,
by this saint, whose feast
we celebrate, vouchsafe to us
eternal joy. Amen.
Screen Shot 2020-01-27 at 9.26.00 AM
Charles IV reading the seventh Lesson at Christmas Matins, Cambrai, 1377 (BN MS 2813, fol 467v)

 

NOTE:

[1] Phanos in MS. G13

One thought on “A Sequence for St Charlemagne

  1. Thank you for this! Readers may be interested in the recording Heiligen uit de Euregio by Schola Maastricht which includes versions of Francorum gemma Karolus; Tota poscente; Secularis potentiae; O quam felicis; Gloriose Christi confessor; Laetare pia mater Aquensis; as well as Urbs Aquensis, for the Feast of St. Charlemagne.

    Liked by 1 person

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