Cives celestis patrie

[16] And the city lieth in a foursquare, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth: and he measured the city with the golden reed for twelve thousand furlongs, and the length and the height and the breadth thereof are equal. [17] And he measured the wall thereof an hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, which is of an angel. [18] And the building of the wall thereof was of jasper stone: but the city itself pure gold, like to clear glass. [19] And the foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper: the second, sapphire: the third, a chalcedony: the fourth, an emerald: [20] The fifth, sardonyx: the sixth, sardius: the seventh, chrysolite: the eighth, beryl: the ninth, a topaz: the tenth, a chrysoprasus: the eleventh, a jacinth: the twelfth, an amethyst.

In Western Europe from about AD 700 on there was a tradition of hymns detailing the marvels of heavenly Jerusalem –  ‘that city beyond the skies’. These hymns would mention the precious stones that were the basis of its construction, their colours, and the mystical attributes they were believed to possess. Cives celestis patrie (Citizens of the father’s realm) which dates from at least AD 900 epitomises this tradition, it was very widespread being found in manuscript collections all over the the continent as well in England. It’s performed below by Anonymous 4. Enjoy :-).


Text & Translation: Cives celestis patrie

Cives celestis patrie
regi regum concinite,
qui est supremus opifex
civitatis uranice
in cujus edificio
talis exstat fundatio.
Citizens of the father’s realm,
sing together to the king of kings,
who is the almighty architect
of that city beyond the skies,
thus constructed
and thus founded:
Saphirus habet speciem
celestis throni similem,
designat cor simplicium,
spe certa prestolantium,
quorum vita et moribus
delectatur altissimus.
The sapphire has a kind of beauty
like the beauty of the heavenly throne;
its meaning: the heart of simple folk
who stand and wait in certain faith
their actions and their way of life
delight the heart of him on high.
Beryllus est lymphaticus
ut sol in aqua limpidus,
figurat votum mentium
ingenio sagacium,
quis magis libet mysticum
summe quietis otium.
Beryl, pale yellow, crystalline
like sunlight in the purest water;
this signifies our inward prayers
to the mind of those that understand;
what delight greater can there be
than the mystic quiet of holy rest?
Chrysoprassus purpureum
imitatur concilium,
est intertinctus dureis
quodam muscillo jaculis
hoc est perfecta caritas,
quam nulla sternit feritas.
Chrysoprase, of royal purple
shows the nature of good counsel,
veined through with a little network
of a dorian, mossy tint,
it is like perfect charity,
uncowed by any savagery.
Jerusalem pacifera,
hec tibi sunt fundamina,
felix et deo proxima,
que te meretur, anima,
custos tuarum turrium
non dormit in perpetuum.
Jerusalem, o peace-bringer!
all these stones serve as your foundations;
happy, and next to God himself,
is the soul that deserves to dwell in you.
He who keeps and guards your towers
will be forever unsleeping.
Concede nobis, hagie
rex civitatis celice,
post cursum vite labilis
consortium cum superis,
inter tuos in ethera
nova cantemus musica. Amen.
Now grant to us, O holy one,
you who are king of the heavenly city,
after the changeable course of this life,
a dwelling with the ones above;
with them, your own above the skies,
new songs we shall forever sing. Amen.

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