Sarum Sequence for the Third Sunday of Advent

Continuing my project of offering translations and versifications of four sequences appearing in the Sarum rite marking the four Sundays of the season of Advent, I present “Qui regis” for the third Sunday. My source for these Sarum sequences is Charles Buchanan Pearson, Sequences from the Sarum Missal, with English translations (London: Bell and Daldy, 1871), though I have also consulted F[rederick] E[dward] Warren, The Sarum Missal in English (London: A. Moring Ltd, 1911) which employs Pearson’s versifications. I have also found the 2009 pdf of Fr. Anthony Chadwick’s Lectionary of the Sarum Missal [] and the digital reproduction of Walter Howard Frere, Graduale sarisburiense; a reproduction in facsimile of a manuscript of the thirteenth century, with a dissertation and historical index, illustrating its development from the Gregorian antiphonale missarum [] to be helpful in studying this sequence.

The following presents the Latin text with a slavishly literal translation by yours truly below each line:

Qui regis sceptra forti dextra, solus cuncta
You alone who rule over all scepters/kingdoms with your strong right hand,
Tu plebi tuae ostende magnam excitando potentiam.
Stirring up your great power, shine forth upon your flock/people.
Presta Illi dona salutaria,
Bestow saving gifts upon Him
Quem praedixerunt prophetica vaticinia.
Whom prophetic oracles foretold.
A clara poli regia
From your radiant throne in heaven
In nostra, Jesu, veni, Domine, arva.
Come, Lord Jesus, into our fields/farm lands.

Here is Pearson’s versification of this sequence:

Thou Who dost each earthly throne
Rule by Thy right hand alone,
Raise up Thy great power and shine,
Show Thy flock Thy face divine.

Saving gifts on Him bestow
Whom the prophets did foreshow.
From the palace of the sky
Jesu, to our land draw nigh.

This sequence does not appear to be inspired by either the Epistle (1 Corinthians 4:1-5) or the Gospel (Matthew 11:2-10) assigned for this celebration in the Sarum Rite. Rather it appears to be an adaptation of the assigned Gradual (Psalm 79/80). Omitting the mention of God enthroned upon the Cherubim, this sequence modifies the psalm text to declare that God not only reigns over Israel but over all kingdoms; it repeats the plea that God stir up his (great) power, with Israel and Jacob replaced with “your people” as the objects of God’s saving manifestation. The sequence’s desire that God would “bestow saving gifts upon Him Whom prophetic oracles foretold” may be a re-working of Psalm 80:17 where the psalmist requests that God “let his hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself.” The final sentence of the sequence shifts address to Jesus, asking that he come (veni) “from his radiant throne in heaven” (at the right hand of the Father) to human fields, presumably a reference to the manifestation to the shepherds at the birth of Christ.




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