A Poor Brother's Hymnal
Friday, December 28, 2007
  With Terror Doth The Tyrant Hear

With Terror Doth The Tyrant Hear

Words: Audit tyrannus anxius, Cathemerinon ("The Hymns of Prudentius"), Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-405)

1. With terror doth the tyrant hear
the King of kings hath come to dwell
where David's court shall widely rear
A sceptered reign o'er Israel.

2. Then cries out, raging at the word:
"He comes to stand where we have stood:
Hence, soldier, and with ruthless sword
deluge the cradles deep with blood!"

3. What profiteth a crime so dread?
What hope shall Herod's bosom sway?
Alone amidst the thronging dead,
The Christ is safely born away!


This is one of four Epiphany hymns derived from Prudentius' (384-413) Hymnus Epiphaniae (Hymn For The Epiphany), which is 52 stanzas long. Two of these hymns, Audit tyrannus anxius and Salvete, flores Martyrum (All Hail Ye Infant Martyr Flowers), were assigned for the feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec 28).

The following is the R. Martin Pope translation of the stanzas of Audit tyrannus anxius, and its Latin equivalent:

Distraught, the tyrant base doth hear
That now the King of Kings draws near
To reign in David's seat of state
And Israel's empire dominate.

"Betrayed are we," he maddened cries,
"Our throne's usurper doth arise:
Go, soldiers, go with sword in hand
And slay all babes within my land.

Of what avail is deed so vile?
Doth Herod gain by murderous guile?
Of all to death so foully done
Escapes triumphant Christ alone.

Audit tyrannus anxius
adesse regum principem,
qui nomen Israel regat
teneatque David regiam.

Exclamat amens nuntio,
successor instat, pellimur;
satelles i, ferrum rape,
perfunde cunas sanguine.

Quid proficit tantum nefas,
quid crimen Herodem iuvat?
unus tot inter funera
inpune Christus tollitur.

Hymnus Epiphaniae is from the longer Cathemerinon (The Hymns of Prudentius, translated by R. Martin Pope, 1905). The feast day of the Holy Innocents is December 28; see: The Hymns Of The Holy Innocents.

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