Cantique de Jean Racine

O thou alone our hope, true sacred Word,
of heaven and earth the Day’s eternal light;
piercing the calm of night our prayer is heard:
Saviour divine, keep us within thy sight!

Pour out on us thy power in tongues of fire;
before thy voice let hell’s dominion flee;
and rouse at last the heart held in the mire,
which lies forgetful of thine own decree.

Upon this congregation, Christ our King,
look kindly, for we come thy name to praise;
receive the hymns of glory that we bring,
then send us forth, grace-filled for all our days.

A paraphrase-translation, close to the original but not word-for-word, which I wrote as a ‘programme note’ in 2014. This translation replicates the ABAB rhyme-scheme of the original text, but for the metrical form uses iambic pentameter in place of the original’s alternating lines of 12 and 10 syllables.


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