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Quem Terra, Pontus, Sidera


Office hymn that was historically prescribed for Matins on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary that have no proper hymn. The authorship of fortunatus (c. 530600) is disputed, but scholars agree that the hymn, written in iambic dimeter and showing an artistic use of rhyme, is the work of a skillful poet. The eight original stanzas of this hymn offer variations on the paradox of the Creator and Ruler of the universe housed in the womb of a simple virgin, and on the notion of Mary acting as the new Eve and as the gateway to heaven.

Bibliography: Analecta hymnica 50:8687, text. j. connelly, ed. and tr., Hymns of the Roman Liturgy (Westminster, Md.1957), translation and commentary. s. gaselee, comp., The Oxford Book of Medieval Latin Verse (Oxford 1928; reprint with corrections 1937). f. j. e. raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages (Oxford 1953).

[m. a. malone]

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