A Great and Mighty Mistranslation

You are here

I just ran across a post by Dianne Schapiro asking about how fully folks thought St. Germanus' name's variant forms ought to be cross-referenced in the database. (I concur, incidentally, in the opinion that "Germanicus" ought to be entered as a cross-reference in addition to the alphabetically less proximate "St. Germanus".) Anyhow, I decided to try "Using the site", and I entered "Germanicus" in the search box. I found there were supposedly two of his hymns here, one of which "A Great and Mighty Wonder" was familiar to me. So I clicked on it, and found that something quite unrelated was given as "full text"; the heading reads

Title: A Great and Mighty Wonder
Greek Title: ???? ??? ????????? ?????
Author: St. Anatolius (458)
Author: J. M. Neale
Meter: 7.6.7.6.6.7.6

The first item is the correct title, and the second item is the correct Greek title, but the third line gives the wrong author, the fourth gives the correct translator but calls him "Author", the fifth item gives A (not THE) correct metrical information... and then a completely unrelated "full text" follows, something that Neale could in no wise have derived from "???? ??? ????????? ?????", and that doesn't have enough Victorianism and rhyme about it to be Neale's work, anyway, to wit:

In Bethlehem is He born,
Maker of all things, everlasting GOD!
He opens Eden’s gate,
Monarch of Ages! Thence the fiery sword
Gives glorious passage; thence
That severing mid-wall overthrown, the Powers
Of earth and Heav’n are one:
Angels and men renew their ancient league,
The pure rejoin the pure
In happy union! Now the Virgin-womb,
Like some cherubic throne,
Containeth Him, the Uncontainable:
Bears Him, Who while they bear
The Seraphs tremble: bears Him, as He comes
To shower upon the world
The fulness of His everlasting love.

The text should be something more along the lines of

A great and mighty wonder,
a full and holy cure!
The Virgin bears the infant
with virgin-honor pure:
Refrain:
Repeat the hymn again!
"To God on high be glory,
and peace on earth to men."

The Word becomes incarnate,
and yet remains on high;
and cherubim sing anthems
to shepherds from the sky; Refrain

While thus they sing your Monarch,
those bright angelic bands,
rejoice, ye vales and mountains,
ye oceans, clap your hands: Refrain

Since all he comes to ransom,
by all be he adored,
the infant born in Bethlehem,
the Savior and the Lord: Refrain

And idol forms shall perish,
and error shall decay,
and Christ shall wield his scepter,
our Lord and God for ay: Refrain

(The foregoing is the text as given on the Oremus wiki, where I contributed to it.)

Then at the bottom of the page two tune names are given, ES IST EIN ROS' and ROSA MYSTICA. In my experience the latter is simply a "Hun-shunning" euphemism for the former, an alternate name popularized in the Allied countries at a time when names German were nomina non grata. The tune is essentially one and the same. And there's no mention of ST. ALPHEGE, which is an associated tune of the form of the text that doesn't make one of Neale's stanzas play refrain, a textual modification apparently first adopted in the 1906 English Hymnal.

I'm sure soon I will have figured out how to do editing here, but in the meantime maybe one of you who already knows how would like to fix this stuff.

Leland aka Haruo


Comments

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. The wrong text was inserted, but this has now been corrected. The text is from "Hymns of the Eastern Church" (1866). In the first edition (which this is from) J. M. Neale attributed the hymn to St. Anatolius, but in the second edition it was corrected to St. Germanus.

The tune ROSA MYSTICA has also now been merged into ES IST EIN ROS'. None of the hymnals that we have tune information for uses "ST. ALPHEGE" for this text, which is why there is no mention of it.

It looks like you are using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue helps keep us running. Please consider white-listing Hymnary.org or subscribing to eliminate ads entirely and help support Hymnary.org.