“Media Vita in Morte Sumus…”

MM,

Occasionally when I’m writing, I like to listen to some meditative music. Tonight… er, last night since it’s morning now, I was listening to Anuna. Anuna is the famous Irish choir that performs medieval and contemporary chants and songs. One of my favourite chants from them is Media Vita (pronounced “mey-dee-ah vee-tah”).

Media Vita is originally a Latin hymn said to be written by Notker Balbulus (c.840 – c.912). It later came to be used as part of the funeral rites of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. (See Wikipedia article on sequence (poetry).) The full Latin text of Media Vita is given below followed by the English translation.

Media vita in morte suumus
Quem quaerimus ad iutorem nihi site domine
Qui pro peccatis nostris

Chorus:
Sancte Deus, sancte fortis
Sancte misericor salvator
Amare morti ne tradas nos

In te speraverunt patres nostris
Speraverunt et liberasti eos

(Chorus 2x)

Media vita in morte sumus

In the midst of life we are in death
What helper do we seek except you, O Lord
You who for our sins

Chorus:
Holy God, holy and powerful
Oh holy compassionate savior
Do not give us over to the harshness of death

In you, our fathers placed their hopes
They placed their hopes and you freed them

(Chorus 2x)

In the midst of life we are in death

When I listen to this chant performed by Anuna, I can feel the power of it. Perhaps it is because the song is in Latin, and I have always found Latin to be a particularly beautiful languange. Perhaps it is because Anuna performs this chant excellently. Or perhaps there is some meaning in this chant that I find resonates with me. It is strange, but even as a pagan, I find this chant beautiful. Even realizing that it is originally written as a Christian hymn doesn’t faze me. Perhaps it is because this chant was written ages ago back when Christianity was closer to its original pagan elements. Listening to this chant, I get a sense of some of the pagan gods, most notably Jupiter (Zeus in Greek myth). Jupiter was the father god of Roman mythology, just as Zeus was the father god of Greek mythology. Perhaps Jupiter decided to hang around, even though people where intent on displacing him with a nameless, formless, transcendent god. Jupiter’s glory and power is reflected wonderfully in this song, even if the original writer may not have intended this.

Whether you are pagan or Christian or a person of any other faith, this is an amazing song as it reflects much about our relationship to god(s). I recommend giving it a listen sometime.

Media vita in morte sumus
In the midst of life we are in death

Blessings,
Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame

P.S. For those who know their Irish myth, yes, I have noticed that an Irish choir singing this may inadvertently attract the attention of Morrigan, fiercesome goddess of war and death. 😉

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