Stabat Mater Dolorosa (“Under the World-redeeming Rood”)
Translation: Historic Roman Catholic Translation • 1687AD
“Bayeux” • 887

Since this is a “historic” translation, conscientious choirmasters should make sure their individual circumstances warrant its selection.

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Additional information about Hymn 484

This breathtaking translation of the STABAT MATER was allowed to be printed in London since it appeared during the reign of James II of England, a Catholic. He had converted from Anglicanism secretly in 1667, and refused to take a mandatory oath (1673 “Test Act”) denouncing the doctrine of Transubstantiation, instead choosing to relinquish the post of Lord High Admiral. A devout man, he once said: “If occasion were, I hope God would give me his grace to suffer death for the true Catholic religion as well as banishment.” His brother, who reigned as King of England until 1685, became a Catholic on his deathbed. Monsignor Hugh T. Henry has pointed out that some hymnals corrupted the hymn's true title, which the Brébeuf Hymnal correctly prints as: “Under the world-redeeming Rood.” These other hymnals erroneously printed the words as: “Under the world’s redeeming wood.” In an attempt to guess who created this elegant translation of the Stabat Mater, Monsignor Henry wrote: “It is not improbable that Dryden was its author, for his conversion to Catholicity took place in 1686—one year before the translation appeared—and he is known to have translated some of the old Latin hymns of the Divine Office. Certainly the unction, the poetic diction, the powerful rhythms, the close antitheses, of this exquisite poem are worthy of his pen.” The melody in the Brébeuf Hymnal is based on “O Mensch, sieh wie hie auf Erdreich.” The source of the text is: “The Office of the B. V. Mary in English, to which is added the Vespers in Latin and English, as it is sung in the Catholic Church upon all Sundays and principal Holy-days throughout the whole Year” (London: Printed by Henry Hills, Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty for his Household and Chappel; And are to be sold at his Printing-house on the Ditch-side in Black-Fryers, 1687) p. 393.