Stabat Mater dolorosa (contributed by Mark Walker)

‘A supreme achievement of the Franciscan, and, indeed, of the religious verse of the Middle Ages,’ (according to F.J.E. Raby in his History of Christian Latin Poetry) the Stabat Mater has been variously attributed to Jacopone da Todi (c.1228-1306),  Pope Innocent III (c.1160-1216), and St. Bonaventura (d. 1274), but its authorship remains unknown for certain. The poem’s vivid depiction of and sensitive empathy with the sufferings of a mother at the feet of her dying son has inspired many composers over the centuries, from Palestrina to Rossini and Dvorak.

  The Stabat Mater, like the great Dies Irae of the Requiem, is a poem designed to be sung – originally to a plainchant melody. Each of the twenty stanzas has three lines; while each pair of stanzas rhymes in the pattern AAB CCB.

Mark Walker


Stabat Mater dolorosa,

iuxta crucem lacrimosa,

dum pendebat Filius.

 

Cuius animam gementem,

contristantem et dolentem,

pertransivit gladius.

 

O quam tristis et afflicta

Fuit illa benedicta

Mater Unigeniti.

 

Quae maerebat et dolebat,

et tremebat cum videbat

nati poenas incliti.

 

Quis est homo qui non fleret

Christi Matrem si videret

in tanto supplicio?

 

Quis non posset contristari,

Piam Matrem contemplari

dolentem cum Filio?

 

Pro peccatis Suae gentis

vidit Iesum in tormentis,

et flagellis subditum.

 

Vidit suum dulcem natum

morientem desolatum

dum emisit spiritum.

 

Eia Mater, fons amoris,

me sentire vim doloris,

fac, ut tecum lugeam.

 

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum

in amando Christum Deum,

ut sibi complaceam.

 

Sancta Mater, istud agas,

crucifixi fige plagas

cordi meo valide.

 

Tui nati vulnerati,

tam dignati pro me pati

poenas mecum divide.

 

Fac me vere tecum flere

crucifixo condolere

donec ego vixero.

 

Iuxta crucem tecum stare,

te libenter sociare,

in planctu desidero.

 

Virgo virginum praeclara,

mihi iam non sis amara

fac me tecum plangere.

 

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,

passionis fac consortem,

et plagas recolere.

 

Fac me plagis vulnerari,

cruce hac inebriari

ob amorem Filii

 

Inflammatus et accensus

per te, Virgo, sim defensus

in die iudicii.

 

Fac me cruce custodiri,

morte Christi praemuniri,

confoveri gratia.

 

Quando corpus morietur,

fac ut animae donetur

paradisi gloria.

 

The sorrowful Mother was standing,

next to the cross weeping,

while the Son was hanging.

 

Whose soul groaning,

saddening and grieving,

The sword pierced through.

 

O how sad and desponding

Was that blessed

Mother of the only-begotten.

 

She was mourning and grieving,

and trembling while watching

the punishments of her famous son.

 

Is there any man who would not weep

if he saw the Mother of Christ

in such distress?

 

Who would not be sad,

contemplating the Devoted Mother

grieving with the Son?

 

For the sins of His race

She saw Jesus in torments,

and subjected to the whips.

 

She saw her sweet son

dying forsaken

while he let loose his spirit.

 

Oh Mother, fount of love,

make me feel the power of your sorrow,

So that I may mourn with you.

 

Grant that my heart may glow

in the loving of Christ God,

So that I may greatly please him.

 

Holy Mother, may you do that,

drive the wounds of the crucified

strongly through my heart.

 

Divide with me the wounds

of your wounded son

who so deigned to suffer for me.

 

Make me truly weep with you

feel the pain of the crucifixion

while I am alive.

 

I long to stand next to the cross with you,

To join willingly with you

in lamentation.

 

Admirable Virgin of virgins,

May you not be severe towards me,

make me grieve with you.

 

Grant that I may carry the death of Christ,

make me share in his suffering,

and reflect upon his wounds.

 

Make me wounded with his wounds,

Steeped in this cross

on account of the Son.

 

When I am burnt and set on fire

Through you, O Virgin, may I be defended

on the day of judgement.

 

Make me guarded by the cross,

fortified by the death of Christ,

cherished by His grace.

 

When my body will die,

grant that the glory of paradise

may be given to my soul.

Amen.

 

 

Chosen and translated by Mark Walker (www.pineapplepubs.co.uk).

 

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