Altus Prosator

By Saint Columba of Iona (521-597)



A - Altus
The High Creator, Ancient of Days, and Unbegotten
was without origin of beginning and without end;
He is and shall be to infinite ages of ages
with Whom is Christ the only begotten and the Holy Spirit,
coeternal in the everlasting glory of the Godhead.
We set forth not three gods, but we say there is One God,
saving our faith in three most glorious Persons.


B - Bonos
He created good Angels, and Archangels, the orders
of Principalities and Thrones, of Authorities and Powers,
that the Goodness and Majesty of the Trinity

might not be inactive in all offices of bounty,
but might have creatures in which it might richly display

heavenly privileges by a word of power.


C - Caeli

From the summit of heaven's kingdom,

from the brightness of angelic station,
from the beauty of the splendor of his form,
through pride Lucifer, whom He had made, had fallen;
and the apostate angels too by the same sad fall
of the author of vainglory and stubborn envy,
the rest remaining in their principalities.


D - Draco

The Dragon, great, most foul, terrible, and old,
which was the slimy serpent, more subtle than all the beasts
and fiercer living things of earth,
drew with him the third part of the stars into the abyss
of the infernal regions and of divers prisons,
apostate from the True Light, headlong cast by the parasite.


E - Excelsus

The Most High, foreseeing the frame and order of the world
had made the heaven and earth. The sea and waters He established;
likewise the blades of grass, the twigs of shrubs;
sun, moon, and stars; fire and necessary things;
birds, fish, and cattle; beasts and living things:
and lastly man first-formed to rule with prophecy.


F - Factis

So soon as the stars, the lights of the firmament, were made,
the angels praised for His wondrous handywork
the Lord of the vast mass, the Builder of the heavens,
with praise giving proclamation, meet and unceasing;
and in noble concert gave thanks to the Lord,
of love and choice, not from endowment of nature.


G - Grasatis
Our first two parents having been assailed and seduced,
the Devil falls a second time, with his satellites;
by the horror of whose faces and the sound of whose flight
frail men, stricken with fear, should be affrighted,
being unable with carnal eyes to look upon them;
who now are bound in bundles with the bonds of their prison-houses.


H - Hic
He, removed from the midst, was cast down by the Lord
The space of the air is closely crowded
with a disordered crew of his rebel satellites; invisible,
lest men infected by their evil examples and their crimes,
no screens or walls ever hiding them,
should openly defile themselves before the eyes of all.


I - Inuehunt
The clouds carry the wintry floods from the fountains of the sea --
the three deeper floods of Ocean --
to the regions of heaven in azure whirlwinds,
to bless the crops, the vineyards and the buds;
driven by the winds issuing from their treasure houses;
which drain the corresponding shallows of the sea.


K - Kaduca
The tottering and despotic and momentary glory
of the kings of this present world is set aside by the will of GOD!
Lo! the giants are recorded to groan beneath the waters
with great torment, to be burned with fire and punishment;
and, choked with the swelling whirlpools of Cocytus,
overwhelmed with Scillas, they are dashed to pieces with waves and rocks.


L - Ligatas
The waters that are bound up in the clouds the Lord ofttime droppeth,
lest they should burst forth all at once, their barriers being broken
from whose fertilizing streams as from breasts,
gradually flowing through the regions of this earth,
cold and warm at divers seasons,
the never failing rivers ever run.


M - Magni
By the divine powers of the great GOD is suspended
the globe of earth, and thereto is set the circle of the great deep,
supported by the strong hand of GOD Almighty;
promontories and rocks sustaining the same,
with columns like to bars on solid foundations,
immoveable like so many strengthened bases.


N - Nulli
To no man seemeth it doubtful that hell is in the lowest regions,
where are darkness, worms, and dread beasts,
where is fire of brimstone blazing with devouring flames,
where is the crying of men, the weeping and gnashing of teeth,
where is the groaning of Gehenna, terrible and from of old
where is the horrid, fiery, burning of thirst and hunger.


O - Orbem
Under the earth, as we read, there are dwellers, we know,
whose knee ofttimes bendeth in prayer to the Lord;
for whom it is impossible to unroll the written book --
sealed with seven seals, according to the warnings of Christ --
which He Himself had opened, after He had risen victorious,
fulfilling the prophetic presages of His Advent.


P - Plantatum
That Paradise was planted by the Lord from the beginning
we read in the noble opening of Genesis;
from its fountain four rivers are flowing,
and in its flowery midst is the Tree of Life,
whose leaves for the healing of the nations fall not;
its delights are unspeakable and abounding.


Q - Quis
Who hath ascended to Sinai, the appointed mountain of the Lord,
Who hath heard the thunders beyond measure pealing,
Who the clang of the mighty trumpet resound,
Who hath seen the lightnings gleaming round about,
Who the flashes and the thunderbolts and the crashing rocks,
Save Moses the judge of Israel's people?


R - Regis
The day of the Lord, the King of Kings most righteous, is at hand:
a day of wrath and vengeance, of darkness and cloud;
a day of wondrous mighty thunderings,
a day of trouble also, of grief and sadness,
in which shall cease the love and desire of women
and the strife of men and the lust of this world.


S - Stantes
Trembling we shall be standing before the judgment seat of the Lord,
and shall give account of all our deeds;
seeing also our crimes set before our eyes,
and the books of conscience open before us,
we shall break forth into most bitter cries and sobs,
the necessary opportunities of action being withdrawn.


T - Tuba
As the wondrous trumpet of the First Archangel soundeth,
the strongest vaults and sepulchres shall burst open,
thawing the (death) chill of the men of the present world;
the bones from every quarter gathering together to their joints,
the ethereal souls meeting them
and again returning to their proper dwellings.


U- Uagatur
Orion wanders from his culmination the meridian of heaven,
the Pleiades, brightest of constellations, being left behind,
through the bounds of Ocean, of its unknown eastern circuit;
Vesper circling in fixed orbits returns by her ancient paths,
rising after two years at eventide;
(these), with figurative meanings, (are) regarded as types.


X - Xristo
When Christ, the most High Lord, descendeth from heaven,
before Him shall shine the most brilliant sign and standard of the Cross;
and the two chief luminaries being darkened,
the stars shall fall to the earth, as the fruit from a figtree,
and the surface of the world shall be like a fiery furnace.
Then shall the hosts hide themselves in the caves of the mountains.


Y - Ymnorum
By chanting of hymns continually ringing out,
by thousands of angels rejoicing in holy dances,
and by the four living creatures full of eyes,
with the four and twenty happy elders,
casting down their crowns beneath the feet of the Lamb of GOD,
the Trinity is praised with eternal threefold repetition.


Z - Zelus
The raging fury of fire shall consume the adversaries,
unwilling to believe that Christ came from GOD the Father;
but we shall forthwith fly up to meet Him,
and so shall we be with Him in divers orders of dignities
according to the everlasting merits of our rewards,
to abide in glory, for ever and ever.


Who can please GOD in the last time,
when the glorious ordinances of truth are changed?



Nota bene: This text is taken from the English translation of Columba's original Hiberno-Latin in J.H. Bernard and R. Atkinson, eds., The Irish Liber Hymnorum, 2 vols. (London: Henry Bradshaw Society, 1898).